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Nicaragua, here I go!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/12/2009 - 17:36


Yes, I know I had already said I would be travelling next week to the Central American Free Software Encounter. However, I was close to not making it.

I had got a sponsor for the plane ticket, and counted on it. However, in a depressed economy, you cannot count on anything… Least of all on a company being able to give you money for nothing.

On Wednesday, I was informed I... would not be getting the money. And although a Mexico-Nicaragua-Mexico flight is not too expensive (I got it for US$330 with TACA), it is bad to suddenly understand you have to pay this amount you didn't consider, and that it has to be right away.

Well, I was crying my sorrow near Fernando "El Pop", who had originally contacted me with my prospective sponsors. He said we could ask for donations at La Cofradía Digital, a site he set up several years ago and that for a long time was a main referring point to the Mexican Free Software community and friends. I hesitated — I felt it to be more or less like standing on a corner to beg for money. But, yes, El Pop does not ask — He does. So, a short couple of minutes later, my pledge was published.

Less than 48 hours, I am very happy to inform you that the money was raised, that the 100% of the ticket1 has been covered, and that I am a very happy man.

I never thought so many people would end up giving money from their own pockets to see me away from this country.

Thank you all!

  • 1. Of course, it was slightly over 100% of the ticket. I will donate whatever I get over the needed amount back to Cofradía, as someone else may need it
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Startups here and there

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 12/13/2008 - 20:21

David Welgon has a nice post regarding his opinions on pros and cons on running a startup in Europe (Italy) and the USA (SF/Bay area). The first of the Italy cons got my attention:

Less of a startup culture and mentality. It's more typical to get a "job for life" and hang on to it for all you're worth. Many Italians are tremendously creative, industrious, inventive people, but are going to find it more difficult to express that in some form of business.

I know I am unlike many people, specially in this field... But anyway. I live in Mexico. Many factors in The Way Things Work are pushing people towards having an enterpeneur mentality - And what you see as a point against, I see as a very big advantage.
Some people have what it takes to run a business, and that's great. However, I think it is wrong to assume most people will benefit from running their own business - And specially in a country as mine. I cannot speak much about Europe, but from what you say, it confirms it is a good model of what I'd like Mexico to morph into.
Too many people start their companies with dreams of glory, thinking they have something to differentiate from the rest of the marketplace - and they lack it. So instead of enriching an existing company with more, and better focused, technical talent, they will end up making it poorer with yet another generic company with nothing new to offer, paying famelic wages to their employees, finding a way to skip the social security payments. And there are lots of legal ways to do so in Mexico - and a growing segment of the population has neither health care nor retirement savings, as this makes their day-to-day incomes substantially more juicy... But the future will bite them hard. Well, not only them - It will bite all of us. I still think we will inevitably, sooner or later, evolve into a more caring society, a society where the strong protects the weak, where it (via the State, the government) ensures nobody has under the minimum needed to have a decent life.
And, although I am essentialy a Socialist at heart, I do recognize there is place for people getting more money than others - After all, courage and creativity should be encouraged, and true enterpeneurs should get compensed for what they give to the society - But the ridiculous, stupid differences we get to see, specially in third world countries (remember that the world's richest man, Carlos Slim, lives on the same city I do, and around ~15 years ago even lived less than five blocks away from me... But I do have close family where having food daily on the table is far from a fact) are something that should disappear for good.
Loyalty to your employer and long-term job commitment are two values I hold very dear, and hope to be able to practice. So far, I have worked for eight years for UNAM (1999-2003 and 2005-present), and I hope to continue here for many years to come. I was just talking about this with a friend - The payment itself is far less than what I could get somewhere else, but the work conditions and long-term viability are more than enough to repay for the difference. And I am sure many of my friends and acquintances would be much better off if they stopped prioritizing getting more money now in respect to leading a better, richer life - And, of course, if we all valued more giving back to the society, as we will probably all need to ask from it sooner or later.

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