#AlertaVenezuela: December 9, 2020

#AlertaVenezuela is leading the way in identifying, exposing, and explaining disinformation within the context of one of the Western Hemisphere’s largest crises in recent history, where the fight for control of the information space will continue to pose a challenge for the region.

Top Story

Maduro regime’s Periscope broadcasts were the most engaged-with during the parliamentary elections

In the aftermath of the December 6 regime-controlled electoral exercise, Nicolás Maduro and his supporters celebrated the “installation” of a new National Assembly while the opposition coalition represented by Juan Guaidó described the electoral process as a “fraud.” Periscope accounts for Maduro and his Ministry of Communications were the most engaged-with on social media between December 6 and December 7, 2020.
 
Maduro scheduled the parliamentary elections for December 6 amid criticismfrom Venezuelan opposition leaders and foreign governments who said the process was an irregular attempt to legitimize the Maduro regime’s control of the National Assembly, which had been the last opposition-controlled institution in Venezuela since the previous parliamentary elections in 2015.
 
On December 7, Maduro’s Consejo Nacional Electoral (“National Electoral Council,” or CNE) announced that electoral turnout was 30.5 percent and that Maduro’s coalition had won 69.4 percent of the vote. The results gave Maduro’s coalition the majority of the 277 seats in the National Assembly, of which Guaidó is its current president. Guaidó is also recognized as interim president of Venezuela by over 50 countries.
 
During the election, the Maduro regime used state-backed television channel VTV broadcasts to declare the “legitimacy” of the votes. These broadcasts were reproduced on Twitter’s video live-streaming app Periscope, where the Maduro regime garnered the most interactions, according to a search using social media listening tool BuzzSumo between December 6 and December 7.
 
On December 6, Maduro’s account posted the most engaged-with broadcast on social media. In the beginning, the video showed Maduro voting in Fuerte Tiuna, a move that Efecto Cocuyo’s journalist Eugenio Martínez qualified as “unprecedented” and “dubious” because, according to the CNE’s website, Maduro’s polling place had changed a few hours earlier. Maduro explained – without any evidence – on December 8 that he “legally” made this change due to a supposed plan of Colombian President Iván Duque to kill him.
 
Maduro’s Periscope broadcast also included a press conference, in which Maduro said, if his candidates win the majority of seats, he would work alongside them to counter U.S. sanctions. Moreover, Maduro announced that a massive vaccination campaign would start in Venezuela in April. Maduro’s broadcast garnered 49,200 viewers and 4,400 engagements on social media.

Screencap showing five Maduro’s broadcasts (orange boxes) garnering most of the engagements on Periscope, followed by the Ministry of Communications (green boxes). Broadcasts of the National Assembly (red box) and opposition representative Delsa Solórzano (blue box) were the ninth and tenth most engaged-with, respectively. (Source: DFRLab via BuzzSumo)

Maduro posted another four broadcasts on the elections that appeared among the most engaged-with broadcasts on social media. Between December 6 and December 7, the Ministry of Communications posted three broadcasts of VTV’s programs covering the parliamentary elections. The most viewed Ministry of Communications’ broadcast gathered 3,800 viewers.
 
Contrary to the Maduro regime’s broadcasts attempting to legitimize the parliamentary elections, the Periscope accounts for the National Assembly – managed by Maduro’s opposition – and for opposition representative Delsa Solórzano, posted two broadcasts saying the Maduro’s elections were a “fraud” and congratulating the abstainers. Both broadcasts showed a press conference by Observatorio Contra el Fraude del 6D de la Asamblea Nacional (“National Assembly Anti-Fraud Observatory of December 6”), of which Solórzano is the spokesperson. The National Assembly post garnered 506 engagements and 24,200 viewers, while Solórzano’s amassed 479 engagements and 25,900 viewers.

Talk of the Country

In the Media

On December 4, Argentinian independent website Infobae published “La dictadura de Maduro ahora amenaza con dejar sin trabajo a quienes no concurran a las urnas: “¡Al que no vote, que lo boten!” (“Maduro’s dictatorship now threatens to remove from job those who don’t go to the polls: ‘If he doesn’t vote, fire him!’”). The article details how Iris Varela, former minister of the Penitentiary System and now representative-elect for Maduro’s party, Partido socialista unido de Venezuela (PSUV), sent an audio message to the managers of that ministry ordering them to fire those who do not vote during the parliamentary elections. According to Infobae, Iris’ threat is part of a Maduro regime strategy to gain legitimacy by constraining Venezuelans – who depend on state aid – to vote and then increase the number of voters during the parliamentary elections. Infobae’s piece also quoted Diosdado Cabello, Maduro’s second-in-command and now National Assembly representative-elect, who on November 30 said “if you don’t vote, you don’t eat, you are quarantined without eating.” Infobae’s article garnered 23,900 interactions on Facebook and Twitter combined, according to a search using social media listening tool CrowdTangle.
 
In Venezuela on December 7, independent news outlet Efecto Cocuyopublished “OEV registró puntos de control político en 60 por ciento de los centros de votación el #6D” (“OEV identified political checkpoints at 60 percent of polling places on December 6”). In the article, Efecto Cocuyodescribes Observatorio Electoral Venezolano’s (OEV) investigation that found that 60 percent (which would amount to approximately 239 of 398) polling places still had political checkpoints “to coerce” voters into supporting the Maduro regime during the December 6 election. The article said Maduro did not meet his guarantee to remove the political checkpoints, which he offered to the European Union and the Mesa de Diálogo Nacional, the moderate opposition parties that participated in the parliamentary elections. Moreover, Efecto Cocuyo found that the Maduro regime retained the people’s Carnets de la Patria – a document Venezuelans use to get state aid – the day before the elections, “to pressure them to vote” on December 6.

On Social Media

The keyword “Abstención” (“Abstention”) trended on Twitter between December 6 and December 7, 2020. Marcos Lima Martínez, a Venezuelan doctor, was the most retweeted account to use “Abstención,” according to a search using social media listening tool Meltwater Explore. Lima posted on December 6 that abstention during the regime-facilitated parliamentary elections “cannot be attributed to any leadership” and was the people who “talked” against the scarcity of food and access to public services in Venezuela. After the CNE announced the first results of the elections on December 7 showing abstention was almost 70 percent, economist and writer Jano García posted the second most retweeted post stating that abstention “will not do any good” as “the socialist tyranny will continue to reign and starve the people thanks to the military power that Maduro controls.”

Official Statements

Rusia y Venezuela hemos venido uniéndonos profundamente en el espíritu y en el alma de lo que debe ser un siglo XXI para la humanidad. El pueblo envió un mensaje muy claro de sus deseos de paz y de democracia. Les agradezco verdaderamente su presencia por todo su interés en este proceso democrático de Venezuela. Un ejemplo de lo que es el respeto a la soberanía de los pueblos.”

“Russia and Venezuela have been joining deeply in the spirit and soul of what ought to be a 21st century for humanity. The people sent a very clear message of their desire for peace and democracy. I truly thank you for all your interest in this democratic process in Venezuela, an example of respect for the sovereignty of the peoples.”

– Maduro on Twitter on December 8, 2020, after a meeting with the Russian delegation that oversaw the parliamentary elections.

The U.S. condemns the illegitimate Maduro regime’s fraudulent Dec. 6 legislative elections. They do not meet any minimum standard of credibility and are nothing more than an attempt to steal Venezuela’s democratic future. We call on all countries to reject this electoral sham.”

– Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, on Twitter on December 7.

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