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#Sepantodos: A Hashtag That Promotes Citizen Participation in Tijuana

Juan Manuel Gastélum Bets on Social Media

TIJUANA.- Juan Manuel Gastélum was invited to the series of lectures that CESUN university held in celebration of their 21st anniversary, he concluded the event with his lecture titled "Menos Face y más Book: Redes sociales de participación ciudadana" (Less Face and More Book: Social Networking of Citizen Participation) on the school's cafeteria.

Gastélum, who was wearing jeans and an untucked shirt, took the mic to not only share his experience and vision, but to answer questions that ranged from polite to shy and skeptical, which were very necessary for the awakening of a society who happens to be more aware and participative than ever before.

It's no secret that social media has played an important role in Mexico, when having tense or crisis moments. The Internet, which some legislators have tried regulating, has worked in favor of citizen's complaints and has been useful in pressuring public officials in more than one occasion.

The federal ex-representative has praised these qualities during his lecture and explained how he opted to start using Facebook.

In 2014, one of his videos went viral, organically (which means that it wasn't sponsored), helped him to understand the reach that these social media platforms have, which in turn makes public feedback easier.

This video showed us another side of Gastélum, a demanding one, defending the northern border region against the tax reform that threatened to raise tax fees up to 16%.

After noting the phenomenon that the video created, the then local representative identified social media as a resource to get in touch with the people and focus his work on what a politician's duties entail: representing its citizens. Get to know their needs and fight for it.

In that sense, social media is ideal for that since it's also free of charge, without forgetting that traditional media can lie or not give the full news, while on Facebook or Twitter we have access to a bigger amount of points of view, because they're public and democratic spaces where we can all produce and consume information at the same time.

VIDEO: GASTÉLUM REJECTS THE TAX REFORM

With this in mind, the lawyer created his own hashtag: the #Sepantodos (roughly translates to #ListenEveryone), a previously used hashtag to inform the citizens of his work in Congress and that up until recently has been in use to inform the people of different projects that benefit the city of Tijuana.

As an example, Juan Manuel Gastélum presented a video that will soon be up on social media with testimonies of multiple entrepreneurs that have their businesses on the famous Revolución avenue. Young people who work within the brewing, culinary and fashion industries that has resulted in a Downtown Tijuana renaissance.

Laughter was no stranger to his lecture, we saw a pretty relaxed and unpretentious Gastélum who tried to connect with his audience all the time, regardless of the sense of mistrust that is normally generated when politicians talk nice to us.

He, who left his politician suit back home, gladly accepted positive and negative comments, even though he sometimes could only agree with the other person.

For example, one of the subjects that was mostly talked about during the Q&A session was not directly related to social media or to Gastélum, but with the luxurious lifestyle that a lot of politicians enjoy and that we can now follow closely thanks to the Internet.

At least three students took the opportunity to question him on the fact that some legislators that, without having a formal education or a true calling, got all the way to Congress with a monthly salary pay of more than $148 thousand pesos. Gastélum's response was an invitation to vote so that we can prevent this from happening and not let that affect the country anymore.

The lecture concluded with a session filled with concerns that will probably form part of a future, better-prepared lecture.

After the talk, the former legislator shared his opinion on the event to San Diego Red, referring to it as an activity that he enjoyed, regardless of the comments that were made.

"I felt very comfortable, firstly because I was asked questions and secondly because it paves the way towards having the opportunity to interact more. […]I'm so glad and grateful that CESUN gave me this opportunity to spend time with the students", said Gastélum.

VIDEO: JUAN MANUEL GASTÉLUM AT CESUN

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Elizabeth.rosales@sandiegored.com

Translated by: edgar.martinez@sandiegored.com

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