Systematizing our digital security accompaniment from 2018-2020: findings and reflections

derechos digitales colectivos
18 marzo, 2021
Systematizing our digital security accompaniment from 2018-2020: findings and reflections.

Sursiendo, Comunicación y Cultura Digital. Chiapas, México. Marzo 2021.

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Tracing back our steps, pausing, observing each one to grasp that our journey doesn’t fit in this society of progress, where “lo que pasó pasó…” and we tend to bury the past.

But in Sursiendo, we firmly believe that you can’t look ahead without knowing what you left behind; if not, you will keep on planting and harvesting the same things and the fruit will rot. It’s necessary to observe the footsteps of those before us that have traveled the same path, or others alike that we haven’t had time or the energy to explore.

In this spirit, in October 201 9, Sursiendo decided to embark a big challenge: we wanted to review our process of «Digital Security Accompaniment for Grassroot Organizations in Chiapas 201 8-2020» (DSA-2020) and extract meaningful lessons that allow us to understand and improve our work, as well as sharing this information with others.

Even though DSA continues, we decided to frame our systematization until April 2020. In our workshops and within our organization, we also decided to inspire ourselves in non-human species. We took bats as a reference, animals that through ultrasound learn from each other, reading echoes (which are emissions from the past).

The DSA 201 8-2020 initiative seeks to mitigate digital risks that grassroot human rights (particularly land, women, migrant, environment rights) movements face in their activism and work. The systematized process lasted 28 months, from January 201 8 to April 2020 and began with an initial assessment.

Our work focused on San Cristóbal de Las Casas (Chiapas), though we also collaborated with people from other parts of the State like Tonalá, Palenque and Comitán. This region is particularly important because Chiapas is a State full of biodiversity and natural commons. It’s native population is predominantly indigenous and because the State borders with Guatemala, it becomes part of the migrant route for Centroamericans. As a result, there are many human right defenders, as well as indigenous and rural communities in resistance against extractive industry that suffer violence, criminalization and prosecution, with a particularly high rate of violence against women and non binary people.

The support that Sursiendo provides has always intended to be long-term and comprehensive: from a critical political perspective on technology, to digital security capacity building, personalized technical support, digital security incident documentation; and organizational protocol and policy design.

All these features make DSA 201 8-2020 a new type of experience in digital security and has encouraged us to revive the process, unpack and re-elaborate this puzzle that reveals new parts.

This document is a summary of the full systematization report in which we intend to share our findings with those who want to or already are implementing digital security accompaniment. This is for our “future selves”, for those organizations, collectives and allies that work in collective digital care. We hope that these lessons allow us to engage with what other people have learned and, through this exchange, embark in new collective experiences that contribute to transforming reality.

Download report (.pdf)