Since mid-January, when Juan Guaidó laid down an open challenge to the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's presidency, Venezuelans in the country and abroad have looked high and low for reliable information about what is really happening in their country.
¡Qué angustia, qué nervios, qué desesperación! pic.twitter.com/WXEHJ32cva
— EDO (@edoilustrado) February 23, 2019
So much anxiety! So much distress! So much despair!
Users have gone to the far edges of the internet to find trustworthy reporting on the political crisis, due to a lack of independent traditional media, along with widespread state censorship that has caused closures of key online and broadcast media outlets. Among those outlets that are still operating, here are a few that Global Voices’ community members recommend.
The dearly loved Arepita (“little arepa“, referring to the local corn-based snack cake) offers a daily summary of the complex and ever-changing situation, with a generous dose of notorious Venezuelan humour. Arepita is distributed in the form of an email newsletter — unlike a website, this is difficult for authorities to censor.
En cualquier parte del globo terráqueo ?, te contamos de tu Venezuela amada en código venezolano, emojis, un poquito de humor… y de vez en cuando, hasta con una canción. Somos un newsletter hecho con corazón. Suscripción gratuita❤️ https://t.co/8lSX8Tfwtv
— Arepita (@SoyArepita) February 28, 2019
In any part of the globe ?, we tell you about your beloved Venezuela in Venezuelan code, emojis, a little bit of humour… and from time to time, even with a song. We are a newsletter made with heart. Free subscription ❤️
Other news sites, such as Efecto Cocuyo (“Firefly Effect”), and a longstanding intellectual institution of the Venezuelan diaspora, the English-language Caracas Chronicles, have also turned to newsletters as a way to share their content with loyal readers without risking censorship.
With the forced end of the radio show he was a part of, Luis Carlos Díaz and Naky Soto, a veritable digital media power couple in the country, have taken to social networks and Patreon to spread daily videos explaining different aspects of the situation in an easy, didactic and shareable manner. Díaz is a long-time contributor to Global Voices.
Respondimos la pregunta de @marimaguita sobre “los retoños del chavismo/madurismo” y nos permitió hablar hasta del destino del dinero sucio tus tantos años de corrupción.
Mira el video completo en https://t.co/HjCDrniHgR pic.twitter.com/ALUPPkiObj
— Luis Carlos Díaz (@LuisCarlos) February 27, 2019
We answered @marimaguita's question about “the sprouts of chavismo / madurismo” and this allowed us to speak about the fate of dirty money from many years of corruption. Watch the full video…
Others have focused on helping readers to navigate the information overload. One group has been creating periodic reports in the form of easily shareable infographics that summarize the latest events, under the simple tagline “What is happening in Venezuela?”
— Caps (@El_Caps) March 4, 2019
What is happening in #Venezuela? – # 4M – Report at 7:00 p.m.
Given the poor quality of internet access in the country, along with the constant misinformation that makes the Venezuelan web hard to navigate, these infographics have proven valuable for citizens trying to help their families and friends remain informed about the situation.
Les estoy mandando estás imágenes a mis conocidos que viven en zonas a las que les han cortado el internet. Cuando bajan a la ciudad o entran a un wifi, se enteran de todo rápido. Gracias a quienes los hacen. https://t.co/LDQEN5HabA
— Cuero Seco (E) (@capelaez) February 26, 2019
I am sending these images to my acquaintances who live in areas that have been cut off from the internet. When they go down to the city or enter a wifi, they find out everything quickly. Thanks to those who make them.
Other visible figures within the social media sphere have turned to WhatsApp and Telegram as a means to share reliable information with those who follow them. This is the case of the renowned telecommunications journalist, Fran Monroy, who currently keeps three WhatsApp groups for different purposes:
Abrimos 3 grupos de Whatsapp: 2 son unilaterales: UNo de información verificada, otro de nuestro programa @codigoabierto y un tercero para libre discusión de tecnología. Si quieres pertenecer a ellos, simplemente manda un DM y te mandamos la información. ¿Si va?
— Fran Monroy Moret (@fmonroy) February 17, 2019
We opened 3 WhatsApp groups: 2 are unilateral: One of verified information, another of our program @CodigoAbierto, and a third one for free technology discussion. If you want to belong to them, simply send a DM and we will send you the information. Ok?
Opposition political leaders are also producing their own media of sorts. While they are receiving ample attention from international media outlets, major national media groups give them little if any space to explain their positions. To reach their actual and potential supporters, they are instead using video and audio streams, Telegram and WhatsApp groups.
Despite the many attempts of state actors to disrupt online communication or influence online narratives, Venezuelans are finding ways to gather, organize and assess information on their own terms.