Jorge Villa “Passionate in our debates, mature in our decisions”
Charismatic, warm, and extremely active in the defense of the common interests of the region’s various Internet groups, particularly of the Caribbean peoples. These are the qualities that define Jorge Villa (Cuba), who has served in different roles at LACNIC over the course of the organization’s 15-year history.
From this perspective, he noted that the role of the LACNIC community has been instrumental in breaking away from its historical role in the colonial model and defining its own strategies to ensure the proper management of the numbering resources assigned to Latin America and the Caribbean.
When did your relationship with LACNIC begin?
I’ve known about LACNIC since the very beginning, since it was simply idea that gained momentum after a meeting held here in Havana (1997 or 1998) during which leaders of several of the region’s major academic networks participated in a forum called Enredo.
During the first Network Workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean (WALC) held in 1998 in Rio de Janeiro, I met Raúl Echeberría and Juan Carlos Alonso, two people who played a key role in the inception and development of LACNIC. I met both of them once again while participating in other editions of these workshops in Mexico City (2000) and Santo Domingo (2002), and somehow we always managed to stay in contact either directly or through common friends. It was through them —and also through some Cuban colleagues (particularly Jesús Martínez, one of LACNIC’s first directors)— that I gained a better understanding of what was being done.
When it was announced that LACNIC V would be held here in Havana (October 2003), I was among the first to register for the event. By then, I had a better understanding —better than many of my colleagues— of the importance of the organization that had been created. Personally, to me it meant the continuity and growth of the work that was being done in Cuba. At that meeting I ran into some old friends made many new ones. Simply put, I felt that I was also part of that Latin American and Caribbean community. And this relationship has continued to improve throughout all these years.
What roles have you played within the LACNIC community? Did they meet your expectations? What aspects would you highlight?
My work within the LACNIC community can be summarized in four roles: member of the Latin American and Caribbean IPv6 Forum (FLIP6) Program Committee, regional representative to the NRO Number Council/ASO Address Council, member of the Latin American and Caribbean Network Operators Forum (LACNOG) Program Committee, and Coordinator of the fellowship program for members of the community.
First and foremost, I want to thank the community for having trusted me to serve in these roles — I hope I have not let anyone down. I always try to give each of these activities my all, approaching each challenge with the idea of learning, collaborating, making a contribution.
Obviously these are very different roles and each implies great responsibility. I always try to contribute —even if it is only a tiny bit— so that the community will continue to grow.
Above all else, I would emphasize the importance of the people who helped me and supported me in each of these roles, both LACNIC staff and members of the community. I have an outgoing personality and love talking to people and making friends. This means that I really enjoy it when people see me as just another member of the community and feel they can approach me, comment, ask for my help, perhaps for professional or personal advice.
Some of the satisfactions that summarize these experiences include having contributed to the consolidation of FLIP6, to the strengthening and growth of LACNOG, to the implementation and strengthening of the sponsorship program for members of the LACNIC community, as well as the success achieved after concluding the process for transitioning the IANA functions’ stewardship role to the global Internet community.
What role do you think the LACNIC community has played in the management of number resources over the past 15 years?
I think the LACNIC community has played a key role, without which the region would be at a true disadvantage in terms of being able to come up with its own strategies for development.
For historical reasons, those of us who were born and raised in the so-called ‘third world’ often find it difficult to break away from our historical role in the colonial model. But our region has had, has, and will continue to have the potential for development and to make the developed world see us as equals.
In this sense, the LACNIC community has been essential, as it has guaranteed the proper management of the number resources assigned to the region (over the course of 15 years) and helped create relationships based on trust. Thus, it has allowed many organizations in the region to grow and better deploy their networks and services, while others have understood the importance of having these resources in order to design a better future for our countries. Thanks to this community in which many regional actors are involved, our voice is heard in every forum, on a level playing field with the other regions, regardless of our level of development.
The LACNIC community is definitely an essential pillar for both the region’s present and its future, where the use of new information and communication technologies is increasingly becoming a transformative force.
What are the LACNIC community’s identifying features?
This is a multinational, multiracial, multiethnic community, and this makes it very strong. We all learn from each other. We try to live as a true family, with respect and solidarity, fighting against any form of discrimination, and promoting transparency and relationships based on trust. As in any other family, conflicts sometimes arise among some of its members. We Latinos are passionate in our debates and often radical in our opinions. Luckily, however, we have generally managed to take away the positive aspects of each situation and kept moving forward. This is an unmistakable sign of maturity.
It is a community committed to its goals and its people, always coming up with new ideas, willing to work and participate, involved in every issue within its scope that might benefit the region.
It is a community which strongly advocates for women and promotes their participation.
It is a community that has worked and works to incorporate everyone, trying to overcome the language barriers that (in some cases) still limit communication and participation. In this sense, I think it’s fair to highlight the work carried out with the Caribbean community.
How do you envision Internet governance 15 years from now?
Imagining what the world will look like in 15 years is an interesting exercise, as everything is changing at high speed. In that time frame, I believe Internet governance will be much more streamlined and solid than it is today. Surely new actors will become involved, among them many young people. Above all, I see many people from our region participating and contributing.