On June 14, the residents of the Chopcca peasant community in the Huancavelica region of the Peruvian Andes released after several negotiations eight technicians from the Gilat telecommunications company.

The kidnapping of these technicians was not because the residents wanted to collect a ransom, or because they were mistaken for potential criminals. Villagers took these extreme measures because they believed that the technicians planned to install a 5G network antenna that, according to their own beliefs, would help transmit the coronavirus.

The release of the technicians was carried out after the same members of this community were convinced that the operators did not intend to install any 5G antenna, in addition to being convinced that this technology has nothing to do with the transmission of the virus that causes the COVID- 19.

The dreams of technological advances collide with the Latin American reality

This anecdote would be humorous if it were not a reflection of Latin American reality.

In several countries of the region there are already projects to start creating a 5G network on the continent, which will be a fundamental tool to boost the development of the region.

In Mexico, Telcel is testing this technology. For more than 5 years, the company has requested permission to use the radio spectrum destined for 5G. According to the IDC consultancy, in the country, the first commercial applications of this technology could arrive in 2021. Telcel or AT&T could be the first companies to offer the service. The installation of these networks continues despite the declaration of a pandemic due to COVID-19.

However, according to the consulting firm The CIU, due to the coronavirus, incentives to invest in the deployment of infrastructure for this technology have been reduced in the short-term.

Colombia and Uruguay are the countries that have made the most progress in deploying the 5G network. Colombia began with pilot tests of the network, which will be carried out by the companies Movistar and Huawei. Meanwhile, Uruguay has already verified that the deployed network complies with the radiation limits. Among the first uses that would be given to this network would be as a tool to combat the coronavirus.

The CIU analysts place Mexico and Chile as the following countries that could show significant advances in Latin America with this technology, due to the fact that they are expected to deliver tenders.

Argentina, Brazil, and Costa Rica plan to follow these steps by 2021.

Lack of knowledge about the network could be the main danger

The pandemic caused by the newly discovered coronavirus has caused a delay in the deployment of this technology. However, that is the least problem that Latin America has, as we saw in the case of Peru.

Lack of knowledge about what the 5g network is and what it is for can be the main drag that could ruin the deployment of this technology worldwide.

This problem is not unique to Latin America. Other countries have experienced it to a lesser or greater extent. On January 25, 2020, the first series of global protests against 5G was organized.

These movements, powered by organizations like Stop 5G International, have spread fear globally, arguing that the electromagnetic spectrum of this technology could cause harm to humans, despite being at a much safer level than other widely used technologies.

In the UK these attacks against 5G began to be observed. Perpetrators always argued health hazards, which are not supported by any evidence. These began to spread in Europe and now happen in Latin America.

The lack of access to information and education in Latin America can make the region a breeding ground for these virulent ideas, especially in the most marginalized sectors of the population.

These consequences are an obvious result of the marginalization in which a large part of the population of the continent has been kept. It is not at all (or at least not entirely) the fault of groups that for generations have been excluded from quality education, food, and health. Or worse still, with the discourse of science and progress, the exploitation of the poorest has been justified.

While millions of Latin Americans are still excluded from the benefits of science and progress, it will be most normal for them to react in a hostile way to all of its advances.

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