WordPress blocked in Guatemala

By: Rebekah Heacock on 29 June 2009

Guatemala's ongoing political crisis, which began with the murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg and has been fueled largely by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and blogs, reached a new level over the weekend when several ISPs began blocking access to WordPress.com. This is the first known case of widespread Internet filtering in the country.

Reports of the blocking first reached Twitter on June 26, when user @demuxer noted that some Internet users in Guatemala were unable to access WordPress and wondered if Chapintocables, a political blog created after Rosenberg's death, was somehow involved:

The news spread through Twitter and Facebook, with many Guatemalans encouraging their fellow Internet users to report the blocking on Herdict, which tracks reports of inaccessible sites worldwide. Reports from Guatemala saw a spike over the weekend, with WordPress.com reported inaccessible nearly 30 times.

The block was initially attributed to technical errors, but as WordPress continues to be inaccessible, opinions are changing. Eduardo Arcos of Alt1040 writes [ES]:

Supuestamente se atribuyen problemas técnicos, pero el sentido común dice que se trata de un intento por parte del gobierno guatemalteco de reducir el acceso a información independiente, libre y crítica sobre la crisis política que se vive en el país y la relación con el caso del Twitter de Jeanfer.

[The block has been] allegedly attributed to technical problems, but common sense says that this is an attempt by the Guatemalan government to reduce access to independent information that is free and critical about the political crisis experienced in the country and the respect for Jeanfer of Twitter. [the man who was arrested for criticizing the government on Twitter].

David Alayón of Bitacoras concurs [ES]:

Desde hace unos días, los usuario de Wordpress.com residentes en Guatemala no tienen acceso a este servicio. Se ha descartado la posibilidad de ser un error relacionado con los proveedores de Internet y se baraja el hecho de que el propio gobierno lo haya bloqueado.

For several days, the Wordpress.com users in Guatemala have had no access to the service. The possibility of this being an error related to Internet service providers has been ruled out, and [opinion] has shifted to the idea that the government has blocked it.

Today Chapintocables reported [ES] that three ISPs, Turbonet, Telgua and Tigo, are currently blocking access to WordPress.com:

Actualmente, TurboNet, Telgua, y Tigo son los que tienen restringido el acceso a nuestros blogs, los invitamos gentilmente a que levanten este bloqueo, porque ESTAMOS EN GUATEMALA, NO EN CHINA.

Currently, TurboNet, Telgua and Tico have restricted access to our blogs, we gently invite them to the lift the block, because WE ARE IN GUATEMALA, NOT IN CHINA.

According to Twitter reports, WordPress.com is still accessible through ISP Cybernet de Guatemala S.A.