By APCNews GOA, India, 24 June 2005
APC’s new member ESLARED — also rendered as EsLaRed (meaning, "It’s The Net") — is an abbreviation for Escuela LatinoAmericana de Redes, or the Latin American School of Networking). It has, as its goals, building human resources and research in telecommunications, computer networks and information technology in Latin America and the Caribbean.
It also works in research, technology transfer and promoting appropriate technology to foster "scientific, technical and social progress" in the region.
ESLARED is located in Mérida. This is the capital of the western Venezuelan state of the same name that is not far from the border with Colombia.
ESLARED sees its overall focus as being on development, and improving access to the internet, besides capacity building. Over the years, this group says over 2000 participants have benefited from their training activities and many of them are currently in key roles in their home countries.
Besides, its work has helped build, it says, a social network of trainers during its thirteen years of activities. This encompasses “men and women from Latin America and the Caribbean with a common goal of using ICT for the development and community problem solving, which has proved a big success."
EsLaRed organises periodically workshops — called WALC, after the Spanish acronym for ‘Latin American Workshop on Networking Technology’ — in several Latin American countries.
The last one was carried out in the south-eastern Peruvian city of Cusco, in the Sacred Valley of the Andes mountain range. Cusco was the capital of Tahuantinsuyu (or Inca Empire).
“It was a very, very high level training about ICT, not only in its technical aspects but in social ones too, “ commented Carlos Alberto Saldarriaga Vidalón, of another APC member, CEPES of Peru.
At the time of writing (end June 2005), ESLARED was gearing up to hold the VIII Latin American Workshop on Networking Technology (WALC 2005) in Mérida, from July 25 to 30, 2005. See its Spanish site on the event at http://walc2005.ula.ve and the English resources for the same at http://walc2005.ula.ve/english/
ESLARED’s "high-level" training in ICTs in Latin America has been continuing since 1992, and the group has been working in collaboration with APC members — including Colnodo from Colombia, CEPES of Peru, and the APC Latin American ICT policy monitor initiative.
"It became then evident that there is a commonality of interest among our organizations and this prompted us to apply for membership (of APC)," commented ESLARED’s general manager Edmundo Vitale.
"ESLARED was established to respond to the need for training Latin Americans in the design, installation, management and administration of computer networks at the service of academic centers," explained Vitale.
This group has the support of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) of Trieste, Italy. It offered ten main events from 1992 to 2004, and draws from qualified instructors from North America and Europe, which it says has attracted a large number of participants from Latin America and the Caribbean region.
"Since 1998 we have established a pattern of changing the venue of the training activities every other year to have a greater local effect in different countries. Thus in 1998 we were hosted by the Federal University of Rio in Brazil, in 2000 by UNAM in Mexico, in 2002 by the PUCMM in 2204 by UNSAAC in El Cuzco, Peru, whereas in the odd years the training ctivities were held in our home institution in Mérida," adds Vitale.
Members of ESLARED were also crucial in the development of the wireless broadband data communication network that spans the state of Mérida in Venezuela since 1998.
Its activities include organising national and international courses, seminaries, symposia and workshops. ESLARED has also been consulting on ICT. It undertakes research and development on ICT, with particular emphasis on the needs of the developing countries.
Its training objective is to "achieve a critical mass" of professionals in networking infrastructure, information transmission, integrated network services, and new technologies". This, it hopes, would help in the expansion of activities related to the internet development in the Latin American and Caribbean countries, with an emphasis on education, health improvement and productivity enhancement.
ESLARED has been working on networking technology since 1992, and as a formal organization since October 1999. It was founded by Ermanno Pietrosemoli (currently president), Edmundo Vitale (general manager), Luis Núñez and José Silva. Presently, Nestor Angulo Reyna is secretary, and Aquilina Sanchez Diaz functions as comptroller.
It is an institutional member of the Universidad de Los Andes and the Parque Tecnológico de Mérida.
Carlos Afonso of RITS (Brazil) commented, “ESLARED is one of the best inititatives in its field in the region, coordinated by very committed and competent compañeros.”
Said Julian Casasbuenas, APC chair and director of Colnodo in Colombia: “I believe that having ESLARED as an APC member will strengthen, in a very important way, the presence of APC in the region. The Foro Latino Americano de Redes is the most important technical training space in the region in networking issues.”