FSFLA joined in 2005 the FSF network, previously formed by Free Software Foundations in the United States, in Europe and in India. These sister organizations work in their corresponding geographies towards promoting the same Free Software ideals and defending the same freedoms for software users and developers, working locally but cooperating globally.

What is the Free Software Foundation Latin America? (FSFLA)

The Free Software Foundation Latin America (FSFLA) is an organization formed by people who strongly believe in Free Software, who got together in order to promote and defend the use and development of Free Software, and people's rights to use, study, copy, modify and redistribute software. The Constitution of FSF Latin America details our mission and objectives.

FSF Latin America is a sister organization of Free Software Foundation (FSF), Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), and Free Software Foundation India (FSFI).


FSFLA's members form a board that is ultimately responsible for FSFLA's actions and positions, based on its mission and its objectives, and on input from its community of volunteers and from sister and partner organizations. Current members are:

  • Alexandre Oliva
  • Andres Ricardo Castelblanco
  • Daniel Yucra
  • J. Esteban Saavedra L.
  • Luis Alberto Guzmán García
  • Octavio Rossell
  • Oscar Valenzuela
  • Quiliro Ordóñez Baca
  • Tomás Solar Castro

Board Observers

FSFLA's board invites external participants into its board for various reasons: to strengthen relationships with other organizations, to keep former members in touch, and to get to know better potential future members. Current board observers are:

  • Adriano Rafael Gomes
  • Alejandro Forero Cuervo
  • Alexander Cadavid Giraldo
  • Alvaro Fuentes
  • Anahuac de Paula Gil
  • Beatriz Busaniche, former FSFLA board member
  • Carolina González
  • Christiano Anderson
  • David Domenech Castillo
  • Eder L. Marques
  • Elkin Botero
  • Exal de Jesus Garcia Carrillo, former FSFLA board member
  • Fabianne Balvedi
  • Franco Iacomella
  • G. Nagarjuna, representing FSF India
  • Gabriel Saldaña
  • Georg Greve, FSFE's founder and former president
  • Glauber de Oliveira Costa
  • Gustavo Sverzut Barbieri
  • Henrique de Andrade
  • Harold Rivas
  • Islene Calciolari Garcia
  • Jansen Sena
  • Javier Barcena
  • Jomar Silva
  • Jorge Jerónimo Benavides E.
  • Karsten Gerloff, representing FSFE
  • Kenny Ossa
  • Leo Arias F.
  • Mario Bonilla, former FSFLA board member
  • NIIBE Yutaka, representing the Free Software Initiative of Japan (FSIJ)
  • Octavio Ruiz Cervera
  • Omar Botta
  • Omar Kaminski
  • Paola Miño Quintero
  • Pedro Rezende, former FSFLA board member
  • Ramiro Castillo
  • Richard Stallman, representing FSF
  • Roberto Salomon
  • Rubens Queiroz de Almeida
  • Sócrates Piña Calderón

Work groups

FSFLA has a number of work groups that anyone can join, to take part in FSFLA's activities. Your help is welcome!

Former board members

  • Beatriz Busaniche
  • Enrique Chaparro
  • Exal de Jesus Garcia Carrillo
  • Federico Heinz
  • Fernanda G Weiden
  • JuanJo Ciarlante
  • Mario Bonilla
  • Pedro Rezende

Constitution for FSF Latin America

Constitution of FSF Latin America

1. FSF Latin America (henceforth FSFLA) is an organization whose mission is to promote and defend the freedoms and rights of software users and developers, specifically the freedom to write, use, redistribute and modify all the software they use.

2. FSFLA will foster the participation of regional actors in the global context, in order to help safeguard Free Software's legal and philosophical framework, acting in joint concert with the other FSFs (Free Software Foundations) to promote and defend Free Software, as well as to follow and influence public policies related to it. Towards those ends, FSFLA will:

3. FSFLA is the Latin American sister organization in the world-wide network of Free Software Foundations, all with the same mission.

4. FSFLA is organized as a group of individuals that form its board.

5. FSFLA may establish juridic arms as necessary or convenient to fulfill its mission.

The board

6. The board is the decision-making body of FSFLA. Every decision and action taken by FSFLA must have had prior approval by the board.

7. The board may decide to delegate to individuals or groups of individuals autonomy to make decision and carry out actions on behalf of FSFLA, within a determined scope. While this delegation is in effect, the delegates have obtained prior approval from the board for actions specified in the delegation decision, but reports on their actions based on the delegation act must be readily available to the board upon request.

8. The board is permanently session on telecommunication forms chosen by the board for this purpose.

9. The board should attempt to make all decisions by consensus. In the absence of consensus after a period of discussion, any of the board members may call for a vote, in writing. Voting should be open for at least a period determined, in advance, by the board, for that kind of decision. If, at any time before the deadline, the valid votes already determine the result, the decision can be considered effective immediately. Votes not cast before the deadline are considered invalid. Votes are only valid if given in writing.

10. Decisions for adding or removing board members, modifying the constitution and decision-making protocols, terminating the organization, starting or terminating any of its juridic arms, as well as delegating power to make any such decisions, require approval from at least two thirds of the valid votes.

11. All other decisions in which consensus could not be achieved are made by voting, such that the chosen alternative is the one that, when compared in turn with each of the other alternatives, is preferred over the other alternative, i.e., a simple majority for binary decisions, and a Condorcet winner for more general decisions. In such decisions, the member that calls for the vote will only count her own vote if needed to break a tie. She may vote or alter her vote after the deadline, such that the tie is broken.

12. When participating in FSFLA decision making, board members must privilege, above anything else, FSFLA's mission, FSFLA's objectives, FSFLA itself and the FSFs network, in decreasing order of importance, giving preference to long term progress over immediate advantages.

13. Board members may, at their own discretion, delegate in writing their votes to other board members.

14. By 'in writing', we mean on paper, with notarized or previously-registered-with-FSFLA signature, or in digital written telecommunications, with notarized or previously-registered digital signing keys or certificates. The board may, in exceptional circumstances, accept unsigned content as 'in writing'.

15. The board may invite external observers to take part in the permanent session and other internal communications. Observers can offer their opinions but they don't vote and can't stop consensus, so they can't be held responsible for FSFLA's decisions. In fact, it must not be assumed that observers endorse or agree with such decisions.

16. All board communications marked as confidential, as determined by the board, are not to be disclosed by board members or observers to third parties. Unless decided otherwise, present and future board members and observers are granted access to past and present confidential communications, as well as to future confidential communications for the duration of their relationship with FSFLA. Confidentiality remains after the termination of such relationship.

Juridic arms

17. The board may decide to establish formal organizations to act on behalf of FSFLA.

18. The board shall establish mechanisms to ensure that such juridic arms abide by decisions of the FSFLA board, and that its goods and interests are at FSFLA's disposal.

19. FSFLA board members who vote in such juridic arms are required to vote according to FSFLA board decisions, unless there are reasons to believe this would be unlawful. In this case, the member ought to warn the board in advance and give it time to show it to be lawful or to revise the decision.


20. If the FSFLA board decides to terminate the organization, all resources, goods and interests owned by its legal arms, or under possession of board members, shall be turned to other members of the FSF network.

How to participate in FSFLA?

There are several direct and indirect ways to participate and contribute to FSFLA's work and objectives.

The most direct way to contribute is to join any of the open forums and active workgroups in our organization.


Regular information about our work, such as monthly bulletins and publishing of press releases.


General list for discussion on Free Software-related topics, its use, distribution and development in Latin America.


For everyone who can cooperate with translation of documents, web pages, newsletters and other information needed for FSFLA's work in some of the organization's work languages.

Anti-DRM campaign

If you want to join the fight against the DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) menace in Latin America, join the workgroup of the Anti-DRM campaign.

Campaign against "Softwares Impostos"

If you want to participate in FSFLA campaign against "Softwares Impostos" in Brazil, send this list a copy of your letter to the president of Brazil, your signature for the petition against the software imposed by the Brazilian Receita Federal, as well as your ideas, suggestions and delations.

Free Open Standards

If you're interested in getting involved in actions of spreading knowledge and encouraging adoption of standards that promote interoperability and avoid monopolies and exclusive dependencies, and of delation and opposition to proprietary standards, this is the group for you.

(GNU)^2 initiative

To increase FSFLA's contact with communities and activists committed to Free Software in Latin America, we've launched the GNU National User Groups initiative (GNUGNU in Spanish and Portuguese). If you're a member of one such organization or would like to start one and want to share experiences, join the mailing list.

Events, booths and promotion

Discussion about FSFLA's presence in events, preparation of booths and promotional material, volunteering to be present at stands in events to present Free Software phylosophy, FSFLA's, FSF network's and GNU project's work and objectives, or simply be there to present our promotional materials: T-shirts, buttons, flyers, flags, stickets, etc.

Web Site

FSFLA's web site is under permanent construction. Information pertaining to Free Software in FSFLA's geographical work area, be it news, events, legislation, politics, etc, can be presented on the web site and is always welcome.


To carry out one of FSFLA's high-priority objectives, we have a mailing list for discussion about Free Software in education, to which we invite academics, educators and interested activists.

Business Models

We also have a mailing list to work on business models and assistance to profitable projects, be them individual or collective, at companies, cooperatives of by independent professionals who wish to work on Free Software-based businesses.

Public Administration

This group is intended to support public administrations and government entities that already work with Free Software or are evaluating the political decision to add it to their agendas.


If you work on press or diffusion and would like to cooperate with FSFLA's communication work, we count on you to this end. Even though information discussed in the list is not confidential, coordinated publication is desirable, therefore we request readers and participants to wait for official announces before publication.

Thank you very much for your cooperation with FSFLA.

Thanks GNUs!

FSFLA wish to thanks all its volunteers, but specially to:

Aurélio A. Heckert
design of FSFLA's logo.
Free Software Foundation Europe
host of our Internet services.
former sysadmins of our servers.
Alfonso Alí Herrera
provided legal information about Cuba.
ONG Derechos Digitales de Chile
provided legal information about Chile.
FSFLA translators team
responsible for translations of documents, messages, webpages and announcements.
Luis Coelho, Eder Marques y Marcelo Santana
coordination of the FSFs booth at FISL 7.0.
Mario Bonilla
registration and yearly maintenance of the fsfla.org domain name.

What is Free Software?

``Free software´´ is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ``free´´ as in ``free speech,´´ not as in ``free beer.´´

Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms. Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission.

You should also have the freedom to make modifications and use them privately in your own work or play, without even mentioning that they exist. If you do publish your changes, you should not be required to notify anyone in particular, or in any particular way.

The freedom to use a program means the freedom for any kind of person or organization to use it on any kind of computer system, for any kind of overall job, and without being required to communicate subsequently with the developer or any other specific entity.

The freedom to redistribute copies must include binary or executable forms of the program, as well as source code, for both modified and unmodified versions. (Distributing programs in runnable form is necessary for conveniently installable free operating systems.) It is ok if there is no way to produce a binary or executable form for a certain program (since some languages don't support that feature), but you must have the freedom to redistribute such forms should you find or develop a way to make them.

In order for the freedoms to make changes, and to publish improved versions, to be meaningful, you must have access to the source code of the program. Therefore, accessibility of source code is a necessary condition for free software.

One important way to modify a program is by merging in available free subroutines and modules. If the program's license says that you cannot merge in an existing module, such as if it requires you to be the copyright holder of any code you add, then the license is too restrictive to qualify as free.

In order for these freedoms to be real, they must be irrevocable as long as you do nothing wrong; if the developer of the software has the power to revoke the license, without your doing anything to give cause, the software is not free.

However, certain kinds of rules about the manner of distributing free software are acceptable, when they don't conflict with the central freedoms. For example, copyleft (very simply stated) is the rule that when redistributing the program, you cannot add restrictions to deny other people the central freedoms. This rule does not conflict with the central freedoms; rather it protects them.

You may have paid money to get copies of free software, or you may have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of how you got your copies, you always have the freedom to copy and change the software, even to sell copies.

``Free software´´ does not mean ``non-commercial´´. A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important.

Rules about how to package a modified version are acceptable, if they don't substantively block your freedom to release modified versions, or your freedom to make and use modified versions privately. Rules that ``if you make your version available in this way, you must make it available in that way also´´ can be acceptable too, on the same condition. (Note that such a rule still leaves you the choice of whether to publish your version at all.) Rules that require release of source code to the users for versions that you put into public use are also acceptable. It is also acceptable for the license to require that, if you have distributed a modified version and a previous developer asks for a copy of it, you must send one, or that you identify yourself on your modifications.

In the GNU project, we use ``copyleft´´ to protect these freedoms legally for everyone. But non-copylefted free software also exists. We believe there are important reasons why it is better to use copyleft, but if your program is non-copylefted free software, we can still use it.

See Categories of Free Software for a description of how ``free software,´´ ``copylefted software´´ and other categories of software relate to each other.

Sometimes government export control regulations and trade sanctions can constrain your freedom to distribute copies of programs internationally. Software developers do not have the power to eliminate or override these restrictions, but what they can and must do is refuse to impose them as conditions of use of the program. In this way, the restrictions will not affect activities and people outside the jurisdictions of these governments.

Most free software licenses are based on copyright, and there are limits on what kinds of requirements can be imposed through copyright. If a copyright-based license respects freedom in the ways described above, it is unlikely to have some other sort of problem that we never anticipated (though this does happen occasionally). However, some free software licenses are based on contracts, and contracts can impose a much larger range of possible restrictions. That means there are many possible ways such a license could be unacceptably restrictive and non-free.

We can't possibly list all the ways that might happen. If a contract-based license restricts the user in an unusual way that copyright-based licenses cannot, and which isn't mentioned here as legitimate, we will have to think about it, and we will probably conclude it is non-free.

When talking about free software, it is best to avoid using terms like ``give away´´ or ``for free´´, because those terms imply that the issue is about price, not freedom. Some common terms such as ``piracy´´ embody opinions we hope you won't endorse. See Confusing Words and Phrases that are Worth Avoiding for a discussion of these terms. We also have a list of translations of "free software" into various languages.

Finally, note that criteria such as those stated in this free software definition require careful thought for their interpretation. To decide whether a specific software license qualifies as a free software license, we judge it based on these criteria to determine whether it fits their spirit as well as the precise words. If a license includes unconscionable restrictions, we reject it, even if we did not anticipate the issue in these criteria. Sometimes a license requirement raises an issue that calls for extensive thought, including discussions with a lawyer, before we can decide if the requirement is acceptable. When we reach a conclusion about a new issue, we often update these criteria to make it easier to see why certain licenses do or don't qualify.

If you are interested in whether a specific license qualifies as a free software license, see our list of licenses. If the license you are concerned with is not listed there, you can ask us about it by sending us email at <licensing@gnu.org>.

If you are contemplating writing a new license, please contact the FSF by writing to that address. The proliferation of different free software licenses means increased work for users in understanding the licenses; we may be able to help you find an existing Free Software license that meets your needs.

If that isn't possible, if you really need a new license, with our help you can ensure that the license really is a Free Software license and avoid various practical problems.

Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110, USA

Objectives for Free Software Foundation Latin America (FSFLA)

Just like its sister organisations, Free Software Foundation Latin America's (FSFLA) main goal will be to promote and defend the freedoms and rights of software users and developers, specifically the freedom to write, use, redistribute and modify all the software they use.

FSFLA will foster the participation of regional actors in the global context, in order to help safeguard Free Software's legal and philosophical framework. It will act in joint concert with the other FSFs (Free Software Foundations) to promote and defend Free Software, as well as to follow and influence public policies related to it.

Towards those ends, FSFLA will:

  1. Spread and promote Free Software as a concept, according to the FSF's definition.
  2. Participate and influence public policy decision-making processes that concern Free Software, so that they will reach conclusions that support Free Software's philosophy and principles.
  3. Defend the rights of Free Software users and developers, offering education and legal support regarding use, development, distribution and defence of Free Software, and especially software distributed under the FSF's own licences.
  4. Help all kinds of endeavours, public or private, whether entrepreneurial, cooperative, individual or collective, which seek to consolidate new business or operating models based on Free Software.
  5. Foster Latin American developers' active participation in the development, improvement and adaptation of Free Software programs.
  6. Dialogue with governments in the region to encourage them to adopt Free Software as a matter of public policy, and to help them give this policy an appropriate legal framing.
  7. Encourage educational institutions to use exclusively Free Software in all instances in which pupils are expected to use computers.


  1. In order to understand Free Software's importance to society, users and developers need to have broad knowledge of the meaning and consequences of software's legal aspects. Thus, disseminating this knowledge among people contributes to the main objective of getting ever more people to use, develop and redistribute Free Software.
  2. At all levels of regulation, from technical through legal measures, from local to global forums, decisions are being made that concern people's rights in the digital age, in particular the freedom to write, use and share free programs. These regulations range from the deployment of DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) to the practices of many government agencies that require the use of proprietary software in order to interact with them electronically. From negotiations on the patentability of software ideas to the legitimacy of computer programs that can decode certain data formats, the freedom to write and distribute free programs is in jeopardy. The defence of the rights of users and developers would be woefully incomplete without a serious engagement in these issues.
  3. Free licenses, specially GPL (GNU General Public License) and LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License), are frequently the target of attacks all over the world. These attacks mostly come in the form of misinformation that aims at creating fear and doubt about their applicability. Users and developers will benefit from FSFLA's work diluting fears, clearing doubts, strengthening and giving legal backing to the licensing model which forms the foundations upon which the community rests.
  4. For users and developers to keep their freedom in the long term, it is important that Free Software continues to demonstrate that it is a sustainable model for a community of software users. Thus, supporting the search for sustainability models is a significant contribution to the freedom of users and developers.
  5. The vision put forth by the proprietary model is that software is an industrial product that is bought in its final form, and is to be used only as the developer made it. In contrast to this image, FSFLA will promote the participation of Latin American developers in Free Software projects to practically demonstrate the philosophy that software is a cultural technique, which must be free for anyone to learn and practise. When people see more of their own neighbours taking part in Free Software projects, it will become easier for them to understand that we are all invited to participate in its development, whether directly by writing code, or indirectly by asking or paying others to do so. This change of attitude, from passive users to co-responsibles for the development and maintenance of free programs, enables users to better understand the virtues of Free Software's social system. The participation of Latin American programmers in the development of Free Software projects will result in more Free Software for everyone, and is the preferred means for Latin Americans to exercise the skills needed to write, improve and adapt the software we use.
  6. When governments use software, they do so in order to process, store and transmit data that belongs to the citizens, on whose behalf they are acting. Each time a government forfeits its freedom, it does so in the name of its citizens, thus betraying their trust, and denigrating with its example the value of freedom and independence. When it uses non-free software to process sensitive data its citizens are required by law to provide, the public administration puts the security and persistence of the data at jeopardy, as well as its own sovereignty. The natural counterpart to the citizen's obligation to provide the data is the commitment on the part of the government to submit the processing of this data to the same level of transparency and public scrutiny as the rest of its governance acts. This can only be achieved with Free Software. Encouraging governments to adopt policies based on Free Software is a way to promote independence, freedom and transparency in the public administration.
  7. Education should not be exclusively about facts, but also about values. When educational institutions use non-free software, they are communicating antisocial values: the idea that software must not be shared, that there is knowledge that belongs to others, which we don't have the right to learn, only to "consume". Those to which this message is conveyed will stand little chance to enjoy and defend rights they are unaware of having. FSFLA must thus promote an educational model based on software as a cultural technique and in the principles of freedom and cooperation, essential values of the Free Software philosophy.

Declaration of Intent - Free Software Foundation Latin America

A few months ago, a group of people gathered with the intention of planning the structure and setting the goals of the future Free Software Foundation Latin America (FSFLA), an organisation meant to become a sister to the United States of America's Free Software Foundation (FSF), Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)" and Free Software Foundation India (FSFI).

We started our discussions in november 2004, in light of the fact that Free Software's worldwide growing popularity and widespread use raises the need for a network of FSFs working in a coordinated fashion, upholding and strengthening Free Software's philosophy, legal framework and ideals, in consonance with the FSF's definition.

Free Software Foundation Latinoamérica will become yet another actor in strengthening this international FSF network.

Free Software Foundation Latinoamérica's main goal will be to act together with the rest of the FSFs in the promotion and defence of Free Software, as well as to help guide and influence policies which concern, have an effect on or are affected by Free Software.

We are leading our discussions together with the presidents of both FSF and FSFE, Richard M. Stallman and Georg Greve, as a means of keeping Free Software Foundation Latinoamérica in close touch with its peers from its inception.

To be a sister organisation means to practice the same values and philosophy, as well as to share objectives. The coordinated work with our sisters is a key ingredient to avoid divisiveness within our movement.

So far, our core team is composed by the following people:

We are making slow but steady progress to strengthen our network of partners, with the conviction that we must pay special attention to the maturity, integrity and solidity of our team.

At this point, we are drafting the specific goals of the organisation, as well as the political foundations of its structure, which will certainly parallel our sister organisations' lines of work.

If you wish to come in contact with us, please do so by e-mail at info@fsfla.org.

If you wish to be informed of our progress in the creation of the organisation, please subscribe to our announcement mailing list

Last update: 2008-02-21 (Rev 2811)

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