Urna de Cristal, Colombia

Published on 29 January 2023

Urna De Cristal (UDC) is an e-participation platform launched by the presidency of Colombia in 2010. The platform allows citizens to raise queries/concerns to any government department/agency, put in requests for grievance redress with a guarantee of an official response. It also has an e-consultation space where government departments can solicit public opinion for aiding policy development. UDC has Web TV and Internet radio channels, and linkages to social networking and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, Youtube and Instagram. This case study on UDC attempts to address the following questions: What visions of citizen engagement inform UDC?; What norms of citizen engagement are legitimated through UDC?; Has UDC contributed to a cooperative and democratic dialogue between state agencies and citizens? Stakeholder interviews were analysed in the historical context of Colombian democracy, that has been marked by a continued co-existence of electoral politics with violent in-fighting between groups, representing the traditional elites in power, popular movements excluded from the political arena, and criminal organisations funded by narco-trafficking. This study of UDC reveals that the project is marred by deep mistrust and suspicion that citizens bring to any formal interactions with authorities, the lack of government’s investment in ensuring safety and inclusiveness of the platform, and the limited digital capabilities of citizens. As a result,
this initiative for amplifying citizen voice runs the risk of ending up as mere chatter.

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Berrío-Zapata, C., and Berrío Gil, D. S (2017) Urna de Cristal, Colombia. Case Study. IT for Change.

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