Virginia Melián

Published On


Page Range

pp. 21-52

Print Length

31 pages

2. The Environment in Disguise: Insurgency and Digital Media in the Southern Cone

  • Virginia Melián (author)
This chapter analyzes how environmental activists used digital media to formulate, disseminate and organize an environmental protest action against the construction of pulp mills on the banks of the Uruguay River and against monoculture forestry in Uruguay. Three different groups, one grassroots organization based in Argentina and two environmental NGOs in Uruguay, led the protests from 2005 until 2009. The chapter traces the differences and commonalities between the NGO activists’ and the grassroots activists’ uses of digital media. NGO activists viewed media practices as a traditional one-way communication from the organization, whereas grassroots activists’ use of digital media was becoming a more personal and social form of communication. Age was an important factor, as older activists did not feel comfortable engaging openly in social media. Both the NGOs and grassroots activists saw the national media as the most powerful vehicle for increasing awareness about the protest because a wider range of people could be reached that way than through online, user-generated media. Given that environmental norms are generally weak in Latin America, the protest groups formulated their arguments in political and economic terms, rather than environmental terms. This “discourse camouflage” was designed to resonate with the priorities of national media.


Virginia Melián