12th Dec 2004
Venezuela is set to become the latest Latin American country to endorse widescale use of non-corporate open-source computer operating systems.
Announcing the decision at a recent forum on technology held in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, President Hugo Chavez said: "We are working on a decree to make it official and obligatory in Venezuela to acquire and foment the use of free software in the public administration."
Venezuela's radical move follows that taken by President Lula de Silva in Brazil earlier this year. Lula fought off vehement opposition from both the US government and corporations like Microsoft and Unisys, in order to introduce open source software into the country's public administration. In marked contrast to corporate software like Microsoft Windows, open source software is not only free to use, its code is open knowledge so that any one can adapt and improve it. The Brazilian government say that it will save them up to $4billion a year.
The city authorities in Munich, Germany were the world's first official administrative switch to open source software in May 2003 and since then the money saving benefits have begun converting the allegiances of governments across the world.
The US government have been using Word Trade Organisation channels in attempts to stem the tide towards open source software and Microsoft have threatened multiple law suits in Latin America, Europe and Asia. The corporation argues that some of their ideas have been used in making open source operating systems like Linux, although in reality they are simply using legal means to slow up the spread of open source software.