#AlertaVenezuela: November 4, 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

Accounts with a self-identified location of Venezuela used keywords “Trump” and “Biden” the most to support the U.S. presidential candidates, causing them to make Twitter’s trending topics in Venezuela on November 3, 2020.

The results of the U.S. elections will influence the future of Venezuela. The United States has increased the economic, diplomatic, and judiciary pressure against the Maduro regime since the Obama Administration, through sanctions, travel bans, and criminal warrants. Moreover, current U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have supported Juan Guaidó, who is recognized by more than 50 countries as interim president of Venezuela. Throughout the campaign, Trump has used Venezuela humanitarian crisis to attack his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, by claiming he and the Democrats would turn the United States into “a large scale version of Venezuela.”  Biden has explained, however, that he will pressure the Maduro regime to allow free elections, and would continue to increase sanctions on Maduro and his allies as during the Obama Administration. Both Trump and Biden had also been fighting to win the Venezuelan  American vote in Florida, a state Trump won on election day, in part because of significant support from Cuban Americans.

According to a search of 442 trending topics for November 3 on Venezuelan Twitter between 12:01 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Caracas time) using social media monitoring tool Trendinalia, the keywords “Trump” and “Biden” were among the top 10 trends that were used the longest. “Trump” trended for 13 hours 30 minutes, and “Biden” trended for 10 hours 5 minutes.

“Trump” (orange box) and “Biden” (green box) were the second and seventh most-used out of 442 trending topics on Venezuelan Twitter on November 3. (Source: DFRLab via Trendinalia)

Social media listening tool Meltwater’s Explore showed that accounts with locations set to Venezuela posted “Trump” and “Biden” 27,217 and 13,745 times, respectively. Venezuela appeared as the twelfth most active location of accounts mentioning both keywords.

Venezuela-based accounts (green boxes) were among the most active using “Trump” and “Biden.” (DFRLab using Meltwater’s Explore)

Venezuelan independent journalist Nelson Bocaranda appeared among the most engaged-with posts using “Trump,” claiming voters “will take revenge” for Trump’s “disastrous handling of the pandemic.” Bocaranda’s post was the fourth most engaged-with at 2,080 interactions (likes, replies, and retweets).

Anti-Maduro Venezuelan news website AlbertoNews’s post appeared among the most engaged-with using both “Trump” and “Biden,” with 1,640 engagements. AlbertoNews cited Trump’s statement given during an interview with Colombian legacy media outlet El Tiempo. AlbertoNews posted that Trump claimed Biden is weak and, for that reason, “attracts” the support of Venezuelan socialists Maduro and Diosdado Cabello, Maduro’s second-in-command and president of Maduro’s Constituent National Assembly.

Humberto Gonzalez, who describes himself on its Twitter account as member of Republicos.org, an anti-Maduro political movement that aims to establish a political system as “the Republic of the United States,” appeared among the 12 most engaged-with accounts using “Biden,” at 103 interactions. In his tweet, Gonzalez quoted a post from Orlando Avendaño, an editor-in-chief of El American, a far-right Latino-targeting U.S. news outlet, that amplified Trump’s claim that “a vote for Biden is to give a vote to the socialists, to the communists.” On August 27, 2020, the DFRLab identified Avendaño had translated Trump’s false claim into Spanish that Biden and his party are “fully in favor” of “the extreme” late-term abortion. Avendaño amplified this claim on Twitter alongside other former colleagues who worked at Miami-based media outlet Panam Post until the last week of September 2020.

Talk of the Country

In the Media

On November 1, The New York Times published “Trump, Venezuela and the Tug-of-War Over a Strongman.” The article described Trump’s approach to Venezuela had yielded “some political success” among Florida’s Latino voters on the eve of the U.S. election but “left the Maduro regime standing.” According to The New York Times, Trump had “unformed views but was curious about Venezuela” in spring 2017. The New York Times showed that Trump was interested in Venezuela’s oil wealth as well as the country’s dominance of the Miss Universe contest, “which he once owned.” Moreover, the article said Trump was also focused on his reelection by targeting Venezuelan American voters in Florida. The New York Times also noted that Trump had distanced himself from Guaidó since June 2020, and Trump’s Twitter feed “went all but silent” on denunciations against Maduro in fall 2020. According to a search using social media listening tool BuzzSumo, The New York Times’s article garnered 2,400 engagements on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit combined between November 1 and November 3.

In Venezuela on October 29, Venezuelan independent media outlets of Alianza Rebelde Investiga and Connectas published, “Cuba y Venezuela: 20 años de un matrimonio conveniente y dispar” (“Cuba and Venezuela: 20 years of a convenient and uneven marriage”). The article discussed the Convenio Integral de Cooperación Cuba Venezuela (CIC), a bilateral agreement between Cuba and Venezuela signed on October 30, 2000. According to the investigation, the agreement initially sought to exchange 53,000 oil barrels per day from Venezuela with over 13,000 Cuban medical personnel and drugs. The article showed that the CIC has changed over the past 20 years, including, for instance, Venezuela promised the daily shipment of 93,000 oil barrels to Cuba in 2005. The journalists confirmed with patients who depended on the supply of medicines that were included in the agreement that, in Cuba and Venezuela, some of these medicines were still not available at state pharmacies, even before the novel coronavirus pandemic. According to the article, the lack of public data and the refusal of officials to grant interviews also made it impossible to confirm how much oil Cuba and Venezuela exchanged. However, according to the testimonies of Cuban farmers and former workers of the Maduro regime, the U.S. sanctions imposed against both countries and the economic crisis have affected the production and transport of fuel and oil.

On Social Media

The hashtag #6DVictoriaPerfecta (“December 6, perfect victory”) trended on Twitter between October 28 and October 29. The account for Cabello’s TV Program Con El Mazo Dando was the first to post #6DVictoriaPerfecta, was among the top 10 most active accounts with the largest audiences, and used the hashtag in 586 posts. On his Twitter account, Diosdado used #6DVictoriaPerfecta to say that Maduro’s supporters will be victorious in the parliamentary elections for the National Assembly that Maduro has scheduled to be held on December 6, 2020.

Official Statements

The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted. We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and, if somehow, they get to Venezuela, they will be eliminated there. Iran has announced its intention to engage in arms sales, and Venezuela is an obvious target because those two pariah regimes already have a relationship.”

“I was informed that Leopoldo López arrived in Spain and contacted his bosses to call for supposed elections, but, in reality, he intends to generate violence. He wants to turn Madrid into the epicenter of the conspiracy. I demand that the Spanish government take action.”

– Maduro on Twitter on October 29, 2020.

Vamos todos juntos! Para expulsar a los crueles que promovieron sanciones que no sufren, ellos que viven como ricos en Bogotá, Miami, Madrid. Con cada voto detendremos las sanciones, los bloqueos, los sabotajes, las agresiones.”

– President Trump on Facebook on October 29, 2020.

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