Guatemalan Twitter User Arrested for "Inciting Financial Panic," First Arrest of its Kind in Central American History

Discuss

36 Responses to “Guatemalan Twitter User Arrested for "Inciting Financial Panic," First Arrest of its Kind in Central American History”

  1. jackwilliambell says:

    The interesting story here is, I think, how the police knew about Fernández’s twitter post in the first place.

    Was he very popular? Was he outed by one of his followers? Were the police monitoring his posts?

    The non-story? That a corrupt regime would jail someone for speech they found objectionable, no matter what form that speech takes.

  2. jackwilliambell says:

    Followup to my own comment: The police were almost certainly monitoring the hashtag #escandalogt, so that is the most likely way they discovered the post.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Que mendigos, ahora ya no se puede tener libre emision del pensamiento…. ni en internet…

  4. Xeni Jardin says:

    @jackwilliambell, #2 must certainly be the case. It is shocking to me that citizens within the country have been so bold in their Twitter dialogue. Such statements can result in grave consequences offline, and they do online as well, as we see here. In Guatemala, talk isn’t cheap.

  5. Anonymous says:

    @16
    You may think that I’m defending the government, that’s what your say at the end of your comment, but I’m not, In fact I believe that the UNE government has fail horribly, in provide security and stability to the country and surely I don’t sympathize with them any more than you do, I’m just interpreting the law for what it is, that’s what the law says that’s what the law does, whether we like or not.

    I don’t know if you live or have lived in Guatemala but rumors like this spread like powder and people actually freak out and do go to the institutions to withdraw their monies.

    I do agree that the government should do more good on focusing on resolving the case of Rosenberg than going after a twitter guy with no knowledge of the law.

    My concern is that in this climate of uncertainty, we don’t more need panic and rumors, unfortunately quite popular in Guatemala, to keep adding to the equation of instability in the country. That’s irresponsible.
    I’m not against anybody’s opinions because he’s is entitled to, but comments like this risk the security of all Banrural’s account holders, that includes retired employees, teachers, farmers, small business owners and so on, foreign to the assassination of Mr. Rosemberg, and also threatens the already fragile economic climate in the country.

    here’s an excellent article in Google-translated english to enlighten you about spreading fear and disinformation related to the Rosemberg case, and the stability of Banrural as a institution, regardless of weather or not their officials are corrupted, as Rosemberg poited out.

    http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.albedrio.org%2Fhtm%2Farticulos%2Fe%2Fev-122.htm&sl=es&tl=en&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

    And no, I not being sarcastic.
    Peace
    Ale p

  6. Anonymous says:

    how would people know you are actually collecting money for that guy? If anything I am sure you bank with Guatemala’s BANRURAL. while you are at that, could you hold the keys to my car and maybe my wallet?

    can’t believe there is always someone trying to take advantage of dumb people.

  7. Anonymous says:

    LIBERTAD DE EXPRESION, ES UN DERECHO.

  8. evilgeezer says:

    More on how to help with Jean Anleu’s (@jeanfer) fine is here (in Spanish but easy enough to figure out):

    http://ivanmendoza.net/personal/amigos/apoyo-a-jeanfer-2009-05-14

  9. nerak says:

    Sounds like what happened to Natalia Morar in Moldova following the “Twitter Revolution” protests on April 7. Unfortunately thanks to government bullying and abuse by plain clothes police officers, many Moldovans have lost their will to protest the communist regime.

  10. Anonymous says:

    @ale
    Throwing this guy in jail mereley for expressing an opinion is scary let alone that is total bullshit.
    You have to carry a deep totalitarian strain to think that this individual actually posed a major threat to the banking system.
    Just the fact that this law was enacted and passed shows you the utter control that the banksters have over you.
    It really disgusts me to know that in Guatemala, oppression of that caliber is justified by people like you. Deny it if u want….u are doing so.

  11. Anonymous says:

    LIBEREN A JEAN FER… hijos de puta… esto solo hace que nos llenemos de más coraje para mandarlos a la mierda…

  12. yulichoy says:

    This government spends a big percentage of time on activities such as “intelligence” and law making in their own favor.
    The Tweet in question is a free suggestion, not a panic inciting action. Thruth is, Colom is afraid, but after 12 years of campaign probably is not willing to leave office so easily.
    They have many laws passed in favor of government and to protect their coverups.
    There is a recent law passed that forbids civilian citizens to have more than 3 guns, and must pass a battery of exams to “earn” the right. The same law says that government executives and senators have the right to have unlimited guns and ammunition. Sounds like they are preparing themselves in case another narco is discovered among them, just as has been the case on recent months.

  13. alexisbellido says:

    The funny thing is that it seems the silly dudes at Guatemala’s government didn’t have a clue on how social networks work.

    If that corrupt government finds a way to continue after this mess millions of people around the world will be waiting for an apology of president Álvaro Colom and lots of resignations.

    Say goodbye to power old school Guatamalan policitians.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hola, soy Manuel Morales (promeme), esta noticia en Guatemala nos tiene consternados como comunidad de twitteros y bloggers, como es posible que arresten a alguien por dar una opinion personal mientras otros supuestos grandes corruptos estan sueltos haciendo y deshaciendo a su gusto, creo que esto atenta a la libre expresion. El comentario de Jean nada tiene de sugestivo para convocar a la gente a hacer algo, creo que debe ser analizado desde un contexto integro, es solo un comentario de lo que el pensaba hacer como rechazo a una supuesta gestion totalmente corrupta de muchos funcionarios.

    Guatemala pide libertad de expresion.

    PD: este comentario no fundamenta panico financiero de ninguna forma, no quiero expresar mi comentario sobre BANRURAL y agrego la palabra “supuesto” para que no sea mal interpretado mi comentario aunque no quisiera hacerlo pero dadas las circunstancias.

    Manuel Morales,
    info@manuelmorales.net

  15. CensuradoEnGuatemala says:

    @26

    So basically, Ale p, you think that this law is fair.

    We have to throw people in jail for badmouthing a bank.

    And instead of creating an environment of trust, we should punish people for protecting their money.

    I don’t know if YOU lived here, but there was another bank called “Bancafe” that stole a lot of money from their clients, and before that “Banco metropolitano”, “Banoro”, “Banco promotor”…

    Should I go on?

    People commited suicide when they saw their money was gone.

    And who do you think passed this silly law?

    EXACTLY

    So, in a way, you ARE defending the government.

    Your account in Banrural could be used for money laundry.

    Knowing that, would you keep your money there?

    The funny thing is, the bad guys are taking their money out as we speak…

    FREE OF SPEECH IN GUATEMALA!!

  16. jmangt says:

    “how would people know you are actually collecting money for that guy? If anything I am sure you bank with Guatemala’s BANRURAL. while you are at that, could you hold the keys to my car and maybe my wallet?
    can’t believe there is always someone trying to take advantage of dumb people.

    I’m sorry to say that the campain for money is not a hoax. It is real @jeanfer is a friend of ours and trust me when I say that here in Guatemala $6,500 is more money than a person makes in a year. We really, really, really need your help. @jeanfer is going to stay in Jail until we can come up with the money. And even then he is going to spend a year in house arrest.

    This is a matter of defending OUR/YOUR freedom of speech. If this is allowed next time it would be you behind bars asking for help from strangers.

    Please donate in paypal to manolo@manoloweb.net with the title jeanfer.

    God bless you all.

  17. olea says:

    Please focus yourself in the real problem: Guatemala is a ruined country by the rich oligarchy. Read the the article at time.com.

    Watch the video declaration from the assassinated Guatemalan lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg subtitled into English.

    This is only the top of an iceberg.

    A comment in my blog (in Spanish, sorry).

  18. Anonymous says:

    @jeanfer was fined $6,500 for “financial panic”: http://bit.ly/escandalogt

  19. axl456 says:

    #11 owned by #15 xD

  20. Anonymous says:

    GUATEMALA VS INTERNET

    ROUND 2

    FIGHT!

  21. Anonymous says:

    “The first action people should take is to remove cash from Banrural, and break the banks of corrupt people,”
    Q. What’s no suggestive about this comment?

    Let the Judicial System do their job, and do not sacrifice the security of all the account holders, which includes regular people and small business among others, just because the Banrural’s head managers are corrupted. That’s so irresponsible.

    Besides it’s against the law. Imaging doing the same thing in the US?

    La ley establece que comete delito de pánico financiero quien elabore, divulgue o reproduzca por cualquier medio o sistema de comunicación, información falsa o inexacta que menoscabe la confianza de los clientes, usuarios, depositantes o inversionistas de una institución sujeta a la vigilancia e inspección de la Superintendencia de Bancos. La normativa fija las sanciones entre Q5 mil y Q50 mil más prisión de uno a tres años.

    “The law states that committed the crime of financial panic who produce, reproduce or disseminate by any means or communication system, false or inaccurate information which undermines the confidence of customers, users, depositors or investors in an institution subject to supervision and inspection The Superintendency of Banks. The legislation sets out penalties between Q5 and Q50 thousand thousand more imprisonment of one to three years.”

    Ale P.

  22. Anonymous says:

    All the above commentaries are very interesting and full of truth. I just want to add that given this kind of actions by goverments, we should use pseudonims or nicknames instead of real names, and encourage people to do so, its the only way to express yourself without putting yourself in danger. From now on, if I ever want to bitch about something involving goverment, i’ll do it from a cyber coffe or public internet spot and using a false name instead of my “official” account.

  23. alexisbellido says:

    And now these persons that call themselves the Guatemalan government want ten years of jail for @jeanfer, the Twitter user that just expressed his thoughts.

    Here the article in Spanish.

  24. jsolares says:

    So he gets arrested mere hours after his tweet, yet in a year plus months the president has been in power he has failed to point to any of the people that are always trying to destabilize his administration.

    I find that laughable, but we will not be silenced!!, is the goverment not corrupt? can they prove without doubt that it’s not and thus prove that he was indeed providing false information?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Read this article on The Daily Beast about the Guatemalan crisis:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-05-13/president-murderer-or-both/

  26. Anonymous says:

    @Xeni televised newscast ran a small story on this case, totally denigrating Jeanfer and basically shows how he was being treated as a delinquent.

    They are saying he got arrested for “sending emails where he says the bank is bankrupt and he is urging explicitly for residents to withdraw money”

    THERE ARE NO SUCH EMAILS.

    Here’s the video of the Story, along with the inconsistencies pointed out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaSZNzUyquM

  27. Anonymous says:

    La ley establece que comete delito de pánico financiero quien elabore, divulgue o reproduzca por cualquier medio o sistema de comunicación, información falsa o inexacta que menoscabe la confianza de los clientes, usuarios, depositantes o inversionistas de una institución sujeta a la vigilancia e inspección de la Superintendencia de Bancos. La normativa fija las sanciones entre Q5 mil y Q50 mil más prisión de uno a tres años.

    The guy isn’t guilty… the law says that anyone who produces, reproduces or disseminates by any means or by any communication system, FALSE of INEXACT INFORMATION that negatively affects the confidence of the clients, users, depositors or investors, is guilty of the crime of financial panic. I must say that his statement was neither false nor inexact information, only a suggestion. I hope he gets his day in a (non-corrupt) court, and walks away a free man.

  28. Anonymous says:

    “The first action people should take is to remove cash from Banrural, and break the banks of corrupt people,”

    What’s false or inaccurate about this? It sounds like an opinion, or a call for action, but not an accusation that the bank is insolvent (which is what banks don’t want you to say, because they’re ALL insolvent all the time).

  29. Anonymous says:

    Exijamos que liberen a Jeanfer. ¡No a los atentados contra la libertad de expresión!

    Werner Ramírez

  30. Anonymous says:

    Ale @11:

    “Let the Judicial System do their job, and do not sacrifice the security of all the account holders, which includes regular people and small business among others, just because the Banrural’s head managers are corrupted. That’s so irresponsible.”

    Absolutely: there’s nothing I hate more than people who whinge about being arrested on trumped-up political charges and having to spend massive amounts of time, money, effort and personal security fighting the government in what might even possibly be a relatively fair court of law!

    The only thing worse are people who keep banging on about torturing innocent prisoners. Folks, we’ll eventually let them go! And hardly any of them die in custody!

    And Lord knows that Guatemala, with its “tacit state support of clandestine, illegally armed organizations linked to state agents and organized crime … [and] harassment of human rights defenders and justice workers through politically motivated criminal charges, office ransackings, and electronic surveillance” (Amnesty International) is precisely the sort of place you can get a fair shake! What could go wrong?

    “Besides it’s against the law. Imaging doing the same thing in the US?”

    Why imagine? Say it with me! “Tonight, I want you to go to the ATM machine, and I want you to draw out everything it will let you take. And I want you to tomorrow, and I want you to go Sunday. If you put a plastic card in an ATM machine the last thing you’re going to get is cash.”

    Whoops — my bad. That was US Republican Senator Richard Burr, in a speech last month, relating what he was telling people in the midst of the credit crisis in late 2008.

    I’d love to think you were being deliberately sarcastic in your post, but I fear you weren’t.

    See, when your government decides that ambiguously “inciting panic” and “defaming of the government” are crimes, then your only safe course of action is to curl up, shut up, and shut down — or else vigorously support the state in all its actions and hope that you still don’t end up on the wrong side of the memory hole.

    We’re close enough to that in the United States and Europe, thanks, but at least we can still see daylight between us and the worst of the world’s juntas. And that, my friend, is who you’re defending.

    -National Broccoli

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well, just so you know, what he did is a crime. There has been a law that makes destabilizing a financial institution with rumors and such illegal for a couple of years now.

    There have been attempts before to do such a thing trough emails and fliers, etc not related to the current mess, a bank almost went under after unsubstantiated rumors that the bank was bankrupt spread like fire. After that particular instance the law was created.

    Believe me, I despize the current government and I can understand why people would think this was politically motivated, but I think is just due process according to the law.

  32. Anonymous says:

    @jeanfer could face a condemn from 5-10 years in prison, if is found “guilty”. During the last 5 years people committing million dollar bank fraud are free, that is really unfair.

  33. Anonymous says:

    You can donate to manolo@manoloweb.net via paypal with the title jeanfer

  34. Anonymous says:

    He was fined with $6500 please help donate via paypal to manolo@manoloweb.net with the title jeanfer

  35. TharkLord says:

    Re: #11
    Mr. Fernández’s truthful and accurate posting is an excellent example of non-violent resistance to corruption and injustice.

    The, what’s it called? Umm.. Oh yes, “boycott”, has a long tradition of being used by some pretty amazing people. Think Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, etc. Happens all the time. Should happen more often.

    This isn’t about trying to cause panic, but inspire courage, idealism and integrity. This is a good thing. Expecting people to keep their deposits in a corrupt bank is a bad thing.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Talk about streisand effect uh

Leave a Reply