Chavismo tried to hide discontent over wages with “support for the workers’ president”.

Chavismo tried to hide discontent over wages with “support for the workers’ president”.

Published on 10 May 2023

There was no raise.

  • The announcement regarding the minimum wage was not as expected by public workers, turning Twitter into another space where the protest taking place in the streets of the country became visible.
  • Once again, the MIPPCI promoted since May 1 tags to simulate the workers’ support to Maduro’s decisions regarding the food bonus and not the salary.

On May 1, Maduro’s announcement regarding the adjustment of the minimum wage was not as expected by most. By not actually increasing the salary, the Chavista government took a risk in the face of a society that has organized to protest for economic improvements for workers, especially so far this year.

Faced with evident discontent over the announcement, Venezuela’s Ministry of Communication and Information (MIPPCI) took the baton to rewrite the reality of Workers’ Day by pushing hashtags such as #TrabajoYPatria (work and homeland), #TrabajadoresConMaduro (workers with Maduro) and #MaduroEsPueblo (Maduro is the people), during the first three days of May.

Despite the efforts of the Chavista troops to hide, at least on Twitter, any sign of protest against the Government’s announcements, the civil society managed to open a space for itself and position tags on the social network demanding their rights.

We tell you what happened

A week ago in Venezuela, expectations were high among the 10 million public workers, retirees and pensioners who, in view of the economic crisis, were on edge for the expected salary adjustment announcement to be made by Nicolás Maduro on May 1st for Workers’ Day.

With a monthly minimum salary at Bs. 130 (US$ 5.2), after constant protests and tripartite meetings between representatives of the Government, private companies and unionists, workers expected and demanded a minimum salary close to the US$ 510 cost of the food basket. However, what they received was a bonus through the Patria System and an increase in the food ticket. The salary remained the same.

To summarize, Maduro’s announcement for workers was as follows:

  • Increase of the cestaticket from Bs. 45 (USD 1.82) to the equivalent in bolivars of USD 40 per month.
  • The delivery of a “War Bonus” whose amount in bolivars is equivalent to US$ 30.
  • The increase of the bonds is anchored to the price of the dollar according to the official exchange rate of the Venezuelan Central Bank.

The protest in the streets also took to Twitter

While on May 1, Chavismo called for a march in support of the Government and the announcements to be made by Nicolás Maduro, workers also marched on their own to demand better salaries. The demonstration that had as its destination the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, was stopped much earlier by pickets of the National Police, however, the protest continued on networks.

The hashtags #NoEsCualquier1Mayo (It is not any May 1st) (8,100 tweets apx.), #SalarioDignoYSuficiente (worthy and sufficient salary) (4,100 tweets apx.) and #SalariosJustos (fair salaries) (3,400 tweets apx.) managed to position themselves on Twitter during the workers’ day, although they were far from reaching the more than 700 thousand tweets of the hashtag promoted from the MIPPCI.

In 2022 economic demands, especially wages, were the main reason for digital social protest with 56 trends and 72% of the total messages driven by civil society. These protests were mainly led by the teachers’ union, with greater emphasis between July and August.

Chavista troops did their job

On May 1, MIPPCI promoted the hashtag #TrabajoYPatria, which accumulated around 734,000 tweets, commemorating Workers’ Day.

Despite the fact that the decision not to increase the salary was communicated during the official march, the following day (May 2) the MIPPCI positioned the trend #TrabajadoresConMaduro, which accumulated approximately 785,000 tweets, simulating support from workers to the President, to change the narrative of the various reports and videos of discontent in the official march when it was announced that there would be no salary increase.

On Wednesday, May 03, the MIPPCI account again boosted a hashtag related to the announcement and the workers’ march in favor of Maduro. With the hashtag #MaduroEsPueblo, the Ministry’s account shared photos of Nicolás Maduro at the march with the workers along with a message that read “La patria es la mujer y el hombre” (The homeland is the woman and the man).

On May 3, the Twitter account “Canet de la Patria”, as well as the Movimiento Somos Venezuela, among others, promoted the hashtag #BonoPuebloTrabajador2023, announcing the beginning of the delivery of such bonus through the Sistema Patria. This managed to trend with at least 5,015 tweets.

Protests continued, repression also

After the announcement of the increase of bonuses for workers, but not of the minimum wage as such, public sector workers, retirees and pensioners went out again to the streets of Caracas to protest, although they were assaulted by officers of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB).

The protest began in the vicinity of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), but later moved to the Francisco Fajardo highway, where they were met with pickets by the authorities.

This same day, the civil society hashtag #ProtestaYa was trending by denouncing and sharing videos reflecting the repression in the march.

Increased digital manipulation

The large number of messages associated with the hashtags pushed from MIPPCI go beyond the specific issue of workers’ support for Maduro’s administration. The Venezuelan regime has been polluting Twitter with propaganda, disinformation and spam for years, but it is getting worse every day. We alert that in February 2023 the amount of accumulated messages in the trends driven by 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 you that in social media, not everything massive is real.

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