Chavismo promotes Maduro’s “anti-corruption fight” on Twitter amid new PDVSA embezzlement scandal

Chavismo promotes Maduro’s “anti-corruption fight” on Twitter amid new PDVSA embezzlement scandal

Published on 22 Mar 2023

Tareck El Aissami announced his resignation as oil minister

  • MIPPCI promotes hashtags such as #GuerraContraLaCorrupción and #ManoDuraContraLosCorruptos to wash the face of chavismo before the new PDVSA embezzlement.
  • While chavismo points to Maduro as a “leader against corruption”, civil society promotes the hashtag #MaduroEsCorrupción.

Since last Saturday, March 18, the trends promoted by the Ministry of Information and Communication respond to a clear strategy: the idea that Nicolás Maduro is fighting against corruption and that, furthermore, he has no responsibility for the scandal regarding a new multi-million dollar embezzlement of PDVSA.

The promotion on Twitter of hashtags such as #GuerraContraLaCorrupción, #ManoDuraContraLosCorruptos or #MaduroGolpeaALasMafias were promoted by the MIPPCI in the midst of a series of arrests of high-ranking Chavista officials accused of corruption and linked to the circle of Tareck El Aissami, one of the main representatives of the ruling party’s leadership with the greatest power in the country. However, civil society has also responded on Twitter by promoting the hashtag #MaduroEsCorrupción, as a counterpart to the official campaign in networks.

We tell you what happened

On Saturday, March 18, it was reported that the National Anti-Corruption Police arrested two judges of Aragua state and the mayor of the Santos Michelena Municipality of Aragua state for participating in acts with criminal gangs and receiving bribes to allow them to operate in the region.

However, the arrests continued and escalated to higher level officials such as the head of the National Superintendence of Crypto-assets and Related Activities (Sunacrip), Joselit Ramírez, PDVSA’s Vice-President of Commerce and Quality Supply, Colonel Antonio Pérez Suárez, as well as the Deputy and former Minister of University Education, Science and Technology, Hugbel Roa. All of them linked as part of the team of Tareck El Aissami, who has already announced his resignation as Minister of Petroleum.

The crimes of which they are accused include the disappearance of 3 billion dollars that did not enter PDVSA, the structuring of a network of front men to cover up the thefts and even the alleged configuration of a prostitution ring that served government officials.

To understand the size of the embezzlement under investigation, the economist and director of Ecoanalítica, Asdrúbal Oliveros, reveals a surprising figure: the missing amount is equivalent to 12% of the Venezuelan State’s foreign currency income in 2022.

The amount of the embezzlement seems to escalate as days go by. A report by Reuters agency points out that PDVSA has stopped collecting since 2020 around 21 billion dollars for the sale of oil. This could have represented 6 years of an average salary of $300 per month for the million people who work for the public administration (non-military) and that at this moment many receive a minimum salary of less than $5 per month.

MIPPCI tries to wash Maduro’s face on Twitter

From the first day of the announcement of the arrests, rumors about the rupture within the Chavista leadership were evident on Twitter, despite this, the digital conversation was dominated by the hashtags promoted by the Ministry of Information and Communication, all linked to reinforce the idea of the alleged anti-corruption fight undertaken by Nicolás Maduro.

On Saturday, March 18, MIPPCI promoted #WarAgainstCorruption, which accumulated approximately 1,950,000 tweets. On Sunday 19, the same line was maintained by promoting the hashtag #ManoDuraContraLosCorruptos, adding up to approximately 1,710,000 messages. On Monday 20, two tags were promoted from the Ministry: #JuntosContraLasMafias which accumulated approximately 1,910,000 tweets (also trending in Cuba) and #MaduroGolpeaALasMafias adding at least 175,000 tweets. On Tuesday, March 21, the narrative promoted by the State maintained Maduro’s line against corruption with the hashtag #MaduroGolpeaALosCorruptos, trending not only in Venezuela but also in Cuba and Nicaragua, adding up to approximately 1,905,000 tweets.

In the first two weeks of March alone, 97.08% of the posts in the tags promoted by MIPPCI were generated on average by inauthentically coordinated or possibly automated accounts; a trend of fake content that has been going on for years to promote specific ideas and guidelines to hide the conversation that is generated organically on social networks.

Civil society also drives trend on corruption

On March 19, while MIPPCI was promoting its anti-corruption hashtag, civil society took to Twitter to promote #MaduroEsCorrupción, a digital campaign to denounce the current situation experienced by Venezuelans, initially promoted by members of the Encuentro Ciudadano party but joined by the general civil society in response to the “anti-corruption” announcements and operations carried out by the government.

Although the social protest trend accumulated around 3,000 messages vs. more than 1.7 million for the pro-government trend, it served to break the State’s propaganda and disinformation narrative and make visible what citizens think and experience.

Are the good ones more?

The strategy in social networks to instill the idea that Chavista corruption is something isolated is not only evident but also coordinated through the Twitter squad.

The journalist and director of, Victor Amaya, assures that within one of the communication groups of the Chavista troops, they commented that this Wednesday, March 22, at noon, they had not been able to reach the million tweets of the MIPPCI tags because Twitter had suspended many automated accounts linked to the Patria platform.

“The narrative that is promoted in networks is to make people think that corruption is being detected and set aside and that in general the Government is the only one fighting corruption, which is not true,” says Amaya, who also recalls that since the end of 2022 the portal Armando Info has published information on this type of corruption operations within PDVSA, so Maduro was aware of what was going on.

More and more tweets

The large number of messages associated with the tags promoted by the MIPPCI go beyond the specific topic of the alleged fight against corruption promoted by the government in recent days. The Venezuelan regime has been polluting Twitter for years with propaganda, disinformation and spam, but it is getting worse every day. We alert that in February 2023 the amount of accumulated messages in the trends promoted by the MIPPCI increased considerably; the Chavista Tropa Tuitera generated 39 million tweets to lie about the Venezuelan reality and the average number of tweets per trend continues to climb. For this reason from ProBox we remind that in social networks, not everything massive is real.

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