The Caribbean Series and Sanctions: Another Contradiction in the Official Narrative

The Caribbean Series and Sanctions: Another Contradiction in the Official Narrative

Published on 21 Feb 2023

The sporting event changed the narrative about the lack of resources in the country because of sanctions

Chavista troops did it again: the labels promoted by the Ministry of People’s Power for Communication and Information (MIPPCI) are the ones that have set the trends so far this year. However, the regime’s strategy is torn between victimization by sanctions and the prosperity of a country that celebrated a Caribbean Series in a new and huge stadium.

While street protests and demands for a salary increase continue, on Twitter the pro-government apparatus took on the task of pointing to economic sanctions as the culprit for the fact that the minimum wage in Venezuela is equivalent to USD 5 per month.

On the other hand, blaming the sanctions again does not tarnish the image of economic recovery that the government wanted to project to the world in the middle of the biggest baseball event in the region.

Our Data

From January 1 to February 10, 96 socio-political trends were positioned on Twitter Venezuela, accumulating around 40,121,160 messages; 82 of them were promoted by the ruling party, grouping 98.97% of the tweets generated in this period.

While between January 1st and 12th, the official communication was dedicated to position trends with propaganda messages about the unity of Chavismo, “the rebirth of the homeland” and the “people-government” union to achieve the prosperity of the country, on January 13th, with the intensification of protests for salary demands, ProBox was able to identify a change in the official digital narrative: sanctions are the only cause of any crisis in the country.

Last year from our observatory we registered only 11 trends and 3.2 million tweets coming from the ruling party on this topic; however, economic sanctions occupy the first place as the most recurrent narrative in the trends promoted by chavismo between January 1 and February 10 with 22 tags and more than 14.5 million tweets, doubling the number of tags compared to the whole year 2022 and generating 4.4 times more messages in this regard.

Are there protests? Sanctions are to blame

The year 2023 began with street protests in almost all of Venezuela, led especially by the teachers’ union and public workers demanding better salaries and the resumption of school activities. Although these days were made visible digitally, once again the communication machinery of the regime was in charge of overshadowing the facts by imposing its own narrative.

The central discourse around the sanctions served as a political response to the citizen protests, since not only representatives of the regime declared that “the salary situation is the fault of the sanctions”, but also in networks they reinforced the positioning of messages about “the impact of these measures against the people”, linking them especially with the decline of the national salary and the health system, positioning tags such as: #SanctionsDestroyTheSalary, #TheBlockadeKillsTheSalary and #SanctionsPunishHealth.

Caribbean Series washes the government’s face on Twitter

Despite the great increase in propaganda and discourse around the sanctions and Venezuela’s gold reserves in the Bank of England, as of February 1st the Officialism’s narrative took a significant turn again, opening the way to the second most positioned topic by the State between January 1st and February 10th: the Caribbean Series 2023.

Between February 2 and 10, the Caribbean Series was held in Venezuela, a professional baseball sporting event played at the “Estadio Fórum La Guaira” and the “Estadio Monumental de Caracas Simón Bolívar”, the latter inaugurated in La Rinconada by the Venezuelan regime for the celebration of this tournament and which was used as a flag of “progress and prosperity” as it is a modern venue with the largest capacity in the country, even becoming the second largest baseball stadium in Latin America, hosting almost 40,000 spectators.

Specifically, MIPPCI promoted 9 trends on this sporting event, totaling almost 8 million messages.

Tags such as #ViveLaEmociónDelBéisbol, #VenezuelaMonumental, #PatriaGrandeEsCaribe and #SiSeSePuedeVzla, were promoted by the MIPPCI and its twitter troops; leaving aside the conversation about “the damage of sanctions to the people” and reinforcing “the passion and national pride” for baseball and for La Rinconada Stadium, where the inauguration of the event took place in a game that broke the national attendance record and the official attendance record for a Caribbean Series game with 35.691 in attendance.

The change of narrative was positioned as a massive state propaganda of “enjoyment and national joy” despite the fact that it was a month of consecutive protests by labor unions for labor rights and in the midst of the tripartite meeting with ILO in Nueva Esparta, which ended without agreements on the minimum wage in Venezuela. However, despite the efforts of the government to sell the celebration of the Caribbean Series as a “perfect” event, failures were exposed in social networks, ranging from a blackout in the Monumental Stadium of La Rinconada, to the sale of “ghost seat” tickets that forced citizens to attend the games standing up.

On average at least 88.74% of the messages posted about the sanctions between January 1 and February 10 were made inauthentically, while the conversation around the Caribbean Series was much more manipulated with an average of 96% of its tweets made by possible automated accounts or users coordinated inauthentically to position and amplify the official propaganda around the event.

On February 14 and 15, four days after the final of the Caribbean Series and again in the midst of protests for salary demands, the ruling party resumed the narrative of denouncing sanctions by promoting #LasSancionesSonContraElPueblo and #CeseALasSanciones respectively; these grouped almost 3 million messages together (on average at least 97.4% made inauthentically), demonstrating how the State uses economic sanctions as an excuse for the lack of response to citizens’ demands.

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