Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said this week that the country's public administration will switch to open source software over the next two years, according to reports.
Over the next three months the Ministry of Science and Technology will prepare a plan of how all ministries will migrate to open source software, according to a report by online news service Venezuelanalysis.com. It reported that these plans will then be implemented over the following 24 months.
Venezuela is expected to save millions of dollars on Microsoft licence fees by migrating to Linux. In 2004 it paid $7.5m in licence fees, according to Venezuelanalysis.com.
Linux has already been used by Venezuelan companies for a number of years. In 2001, Venezuelan bank Banco Mercantil was one of the world's first major financial institutions to port its back-end infrastructure to Linux.
Other countries in Latin America are making the same choice. A survey released earlier in December found that 42 percent of Argentine companies are using Linux. Brazil also uses open source: earlier this year the Brazilian state of Parana said that it would be moving 10,000 government employees to an open source email and calendaring application.
Cost is not the only deciding factor for companies in Latin America choosing to adopt open source software. Creating local jobs, the ability to translate the software into local languages and political considerations can also be important. Cuba, for example, cannot legally import Microsoft software from America due to the US trade embargo.