Latin America Looks to Blockchain to Improve Human Rights, Reporter SaysNov 2, 2020
Felipe Erazo is an investigative journalist who researched the disappearance of 65,000 people during decades of civil war in his home country of Colombia. Now he specializes in reporting on blockchain and cryptocurrencies for Cointelegraph and believes these technological innovations hold the key to improving human rights across Latin America.
Felipe felt the brunt of Colombia's war himself when a guerrilla group sought to recruit his elder brother, who was only 10 at the time, into their army in a remote southern area of the country. His mother resisted and faced two attempted assaults against her before she took the decision to flee the region.
Despite a peace accord forged in recent years, about 150 community leaders have been murdered in the South American country's ongoing violence, Felipe said on the latest episode of the Follow the White Rabbit podcast.
That is why he says nascent projects in Colombia are important as they look to address human rights issues by using blockchain. Felipe highlighted a plan to create a censorship-resistant micro-blogging platform that would allow victims to report abuses in remote, rural areas of the country where there are seldom government officials. The platform also hopes to overcome a major deterrent to Colombians reporting crimes. Felipe described how the police allegedly leak accusations to the very perpetrators who can then exact revenge on the victims for reporting a crime.
"In Colombia, we face the huge problem of self-censorship. Warning about violations of human rights in remote areas is unprotected but (the platform) can guarantee your anonymity," he said.
Felipe has years of experience working as a freelance writer and foreign exchange currency analyst, at several forex broker firms and media outlets around the world. His work, especially looking into cybersecurity and financial systems, led him to explore cryptocurrencies. Since 2015, he has seen how these alternatives to fiat currencies can address perennial problems in Latin America where adoption is high in ailing economies such as Venezuela and Argentina.
Oil-dependent Colombia has suffered volatility in the peso currency and has a banking system that only offers credit at high interest rates. This has driven many of Felipe's compatriots to seek out cryptocurrencies, he said.
"Cryptocurrency is no longer the future. It's the present," he said.
The greater awareness is also leading to political pressure. With the Covid pandemic crushing the economy, calls have become louder in Congress for payment distributions to be implemented with blockchain, Felipe added.
"This is why I fell in love with blockchain," he said. "You can talk about it in the context of how to contain the pandemic, how to save your country's economy and how to save your own money in the form of cryptocurrency."
To hear more about the breakthrough technology's impact on Latin America's human rights, follow us down the rabbit hole: listen to the conversation here or on your favorite streaming service.