Guatemala: "El Efecto Streisand," Update on Twitter User Arrested For One Tweet On Political/Financial Crisis

Update on the case of Jean Ramses Anleu Fernández, aka "jeanfer" (shown handcuffed, above), the Guatemalan Twitter user arrested for a tweet related to the assassination of a whistleblower attorney who sought to expose corruption in a state-run bank (background).

* Today, Anleu was raided, arrested, sent before a judge, and sentenced. That's all in one day. Anleu's single, 96-character tweet resulted in a judge ordering detention and a $6,500 fine for inciting financial panic, which is a punishable offense in Guatemala. Until he can pay that sum -- more than most Guatemalans earn in a year -- he will be held at a detention center. He is sentenced to be held under house arrest after the fine is paid. I do not yet have copies of the sentencing documents, so I don't know for how long.

* Here is Juan Anleu's blog. He is a 37-year-old I.T. guy in Guatemala City who loves books and "geek stuff."

* VIDEO: Above, a Guatemalan newscast which implies that military police in Guatemala are seeking to arrest a second Twitter user who posted tweets about the Rodrigo Rosenberg murder, and the resulting crisis shaking Guatemala's political and financial systems.

* TIME has a story up about the Rosenberg assassination scandal that was the subject of Anleu's "criminal tweets." Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices also has a blog post up.

* News organizations in Central America are referring to "el efecto Streisand" in their accounts of the Twitter reaction to the Rosenberg case and @jeanfer's arrest. Here's what that means.

* Twitter traffic on the Rosenberg case, and on @jeanfer's arrest, is exploding. And with it, panic. A number of users are re-tweeting rumors that military police are hunting down other Twitterers, or that other arrests have already happened. Others are literally posting rallying cries, such as "Twitteros! Unidos! Jamas serán vencidos!" ("Twitterers! United! Never again will we be defeated!"). One such slogan in the banner at left (via).

* Some report that street vendors in Guatemala are selling DVD copies of Rosenberg's "pre-death tape" in which he accuses the Guatemalan president for his impending murder. Tonight, there is unconfirmed word (now reported on Guatevision) that one or more of the street vendors selling those DVDS have also been arrested for "inciting panic."

* Additional frequent retweets include observations like this one from @strgt: "If a tweet is enough to condemn someone for a crime, an 18 minute [YouTube] video should be enough to condemn [Guatemalan president Álvaro] Colom for ASSASINATION." Another wrote, "The death of attorney Rosenberg has returned [Guatemala] to life." Others have proposed "google-bombing" the Banrural website, or rallying to make #escandalogt a "trending topic" on the social network. Still others caution fellow Guatemalan Twitterers to watch what they tweet, presuming police are monitoring.

* Anleu's internet supporters are petitioning for charges to be dropped, and collecting funds via Paypal to pay his fine and legal fees. Details posted in the comments thread for this post. Anleu's supporters are also uploading TV reports about his case to YouTube, and dissecting inaccuracies in those reports with comment overlays. Guatemalan TV news organizations appear ill-informed about Twitter. One report I watched implied that he was a crazy provocateur who waged a mass email campaign of "financial terrorism." Not so. Mr. Anleu was arrested for having tweeted a single, 96-character thought.

* Libertopolis again live-streamed street protests today. This time, the protesters were out to support the arrested Twitterer.

* The "International Commission Against Impunity" in Guatemala has issued a list of persons who must not be allowed to leave Guatemala, pending investigation of Rosenberg's assasination.

* Someone has created a phony Banrural Twitter account.

* PHOTOS: At top, Jean Anleu as he is handcuffed and taken into jail. Below: Anleu's mother observing his sentencing today. Both images courtesy of Flickr user Surizar (cc), more in this photo set. Here is a more upbeat photo of Anleu, as he is met by Twitter friends at jail.


  1. I’m a good friend of many in Guatemala. A team of Prensa Libre, one of the most popular newspapers there, was at the trial with Manolo Guerrero, a very well known Mexican web developer in the region, and with Jean’s family.

    Manolo has offered his Paypal account: to help raise funds to get Jean out of jail and many in Latin America have started to contribute already. Use the title JEANFER on your Paypal payment if you wanna help.

    A Guatemalan prison is a very dangerous place and Jean is just a regular guy expressing his views on the Net. He was very unlucky to be there just when a corrupt government was trying to cover all its dirty businesses. We have to help this guy to get out of jail and make sure this never happens again.

    If any stupid government can take any Twitter user to jail then we better shut the fucking Internet down and become slaves for the rest of our lifes.

    You can contact me to get you in touch with Prensa Libre, Manolo and Jean’s family if you need to validate the identity of this Paypal address.

    Thanks for your support.

  2. I’m EXTREMELY angered by the fact newscasts (like Noticiero Guatevision, just a few minutes ago) are saying wrongly that Jeanfer was senging mass emails from a computer inciting people to withdraw money from this bank because it was bankrupt.

    I REALLY hope he countersues for difamation when he gets out.


    they have arrested a man (Jose Encarnacion Leiva) for distributing copies of the Rosenberg video.
    What will it happen next? UGH.

  3. local Guatevision has just confirmed that a street vendor has been arrested for “conspiracy” in the selling of the cds with audio of Rosenberg’s video

  4. I’m sorry but am I the only one who just doesn’t buy this story? Doesn’t anyone else think it could be possible that this is some elaborate hoax just made up to create even more buzz around Twitter?

  5. #4
    You comment made me laugh. Everything would be simpler for us Guatemalan. We’re waiting for you to come to Guatemala and see it for yourself, mate. Things are FUCKED UP here.

    I was tipped off this afternoon by some friends that told me that I could be next, because I have been sharing information about the whole situation in the country. It’s scary to know that your liberty is jeopardized by your freedom of speech (or lack thereof).

  6. Doesn’t anyone else think it could be possible that this is some elaborate hoax just made up to create even more buzz around Twitter?

    Step away from the computer (or other connected device.) Climb the stairs. Go outside. There’s a real world. Some of it sucks.

    Next up: Apollo space program – viral marketing for Tang?

  7. What I’m scared of is that this kind of stuff is actually just a smokescreen, deliberately put up by the government to distract the populace from the fact that their dictator is a proven murderer who deserves a violent overthrow.

    Look for the government to throw the population of Guatemala a bone by releasing this prisoner, proving their beneficence and allowing people to get the anger out of their system.

    I know it’s easy for me to suggest a revolution in Guatemala from my armchair in America, but dammit if this situation doesn’t deserve one then what does.

  8. If someone thinks this is not real. Just follow the hashtag #escandaloGT on twitter, follow the links there to independent news outlets, Google it, searh for guatemalan protest on you tube, you could see videos of the street protest that are happening

  9. I hope he gets off. The fear on his mother’s face in the picture is striking I can’t imagine what she’s going through. I wonder if this guy is going to dissapear shortly after being released :\

  10. So appropriate that i watched Apocalypto again tonight. This makes me see the resemblances even more between that time and now.

  11. I dont know what to say because there is too much to say…

  12. Yeah could have been worse, though. He could have been busted for driving a train without a license. Can that guy type?

  13. i’m actually really really happy boing boing is covering this so much, i’ve got some ties to this wonderful / fucked up country and it doesn’t come up enough in conversation. the united states did a ton to get it to the profoundly sad state it’s in today

  14. Can anyone officially confirm the paypal a/c in the first post as being a good place to send money to?

    Xeni, got a better a/c for us to get money to Jeanfer?

  15. If things get much worse in Guatemala, pretty soon its citizens will have as few rights left as we do in the USA.

  16. I can confirm the Paypal account I mentioned in the first comment is real, it has already received funds from many people, including me and many of my friends.

    If you want to confirm details please email to Manolo Guerrero (manoloweb [at] and follow him in Twitter. He’s informing from Guatemala and is in touch with Jean’s family.

  17. @24: Fail.

    As much as the US is slipping the past decade or 2, we are NOWHERE near as bad as Guatemala.

    Please, educate yourself.


  18. Alexisbellido,

    I can confirm that I am the Grand Poobah of the Internet, and so everyone is required to pay me $1 a day to peruse my tubes :)

    If Xeni can confirm it, I’ll happily donate.

  19. Thanks Xeni and BoingBoing for the great coverage.

    Cory is right, I’m afraid, in that these things are distractions, but they’re also intimidation tactics. They don’t want us talking and protesting against them.

  20. #26, please stop being a self-righteous ass. My comment is what’s known as ‘sarcasm’. Educate yourself.

    Of course it’s worse in Guatemala than it is here. Duh. The point is this: if you don’t care about your rights, wherever you are, you are likely to lose them.

    I guess I have to spell it out these days, as the general intelligence level of Interweb users seems to drop lower every single day. *sigh*

  21. You know guys, I am close to someone in the middle of this mess, I would love for all this to not be happening and definitely do not agree with what the twitter user was posting, but damn, I’m going to fight for this right to post it.

    — From Guatemala

  22. @#11: sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t happening but rather that the government arrested this person for the explicit purpose of later releasing them, as a distraction. Basic authoritarian control technique: throw ’em a bone. But first you need a bone to throw them.

    And look, I was right.

  23. I’m really really happy boing boing is covering this so much, i’ve got some ties to this excellent..

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