Chavismo’s Twitter troops overshadow deforestation denouncement in Amazonas

Chavismo’s Twitter troops overshadow deforestation denouncement in Amazonas

Published on 22 Jan 2024

NGO SOS Orinoco targeted for attack

On Wednesday, January 17, the hashtag #NoAlaDesinformación (No to Disinformation) was positioned on X (Twitter) as a direct response to the denunciation made by the NGO SOS Orinoco about the increase in deforestation in the Yapacana National Park (Amazonas).


While SOS Orinoco published a video with satellite images of the Yapacana hill denouncing how illegal mining in the area continues to increase “despite the media show of the national armed forces”, different users sympathetic to the regime and accounts related to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) spreaded messages labeling the report as “disinformation”.



On the SOS Orinoco complaint


SOS Orinoco published a video on its social media accounts denouncing how only two months after the military operation Autana, in which the FANB supposedly managed to eradicate illegal mining in Yapacana National Park, the area deforested by this illegal activity increased by 15 hectares.


“Illegal mining in the Yapacana hill continues to increase despite the media show of the National Armed Forces”, assures the NGO in the video released.


Planet Explorer satellite images show a comparison of September 2023 (date on which the Autana military operation ended) with November of the same year, showing a new deforested area in the vicinity of the zone apparently dismantled by the FANB.



About the FANB operation


On September 28, 2023, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro decorated FANB military personnel for the alleged success of Operation Autana in Yapacana National Park.


In his speech, Maduro assured that 14,000 illegal miners had been evicted, a total of 27 illegal mining towns were dismantled and 51 people were captured during the operation.


He also made a list of the confiscations during the military operation: 11 mining vessels, 350 electric plants, 1,678 motor pumps, 124,838 linear meters of hose, 49 crushing mills and 284 suction turbines with which they destroyed river bottoms. 124,838 linear meters of hose, 49 crushing mills and 284 suction turbines, with which they destroyed the river bottoms.


At the time, SOS Orinoco doubted the effectiveness of the operation, stating that “the economy of Puerto Inírida (Colombia) did not show any downturn as a consequence of the operations in Yapacana”, as an indication that mining activity had decreased.



Digital troops are deployed against SOS Orinoco


A study by ProBox showed that the trend #NoALaDesinformación accumulated around one thousand messages among which a complete tweet stands out as the most repeated message, demonstrating the coordination of users to position the hashtag that sought to denounce as “disinformation” the video presented by SOS Orinoco:


[Translated Message] @Asucreazona Evident complicity of certain sectors, stateless NGOs that do not denounce the theft of our territory or our resources in the Essequibo by Guyana and its imperial accomplices #NoToDisinformation



Mining: a problem beyond Yapacana


According to reports from organizations such as SOS Orinoco and Clima 21, about 2.2 million hectares of forest have been lost, which represents about 17 times the size of the Caracas Metropolitan Area.


Illegal mining in the country is not only on the rise, but has been boosted even more under the complicit gaze of the regime that promoted the creation of the Mining Arc as a State policy to find greater resources through the collection of gold.


However, in September 2023, Maduro asked Vice President Delcy Rodríguez to lead the process of reforestation, afforestation and recovery of environmental balances. Furthermore, at the 2022 Climate Change Conference (COP27) Maduro spoke about the importance of “ecosocialism” and his commitment to the environment, but completely ignored the Mining Arc.


This communication strategy of the State is not new; ProBox has shown how, since at least 2019, the government has been in charge of positioning trends in X to divert the focus of attention from an issue that makes it uncomfortable or generate propaganda that obscures the reality presented by NGOs and civil society in general, using various mechanisms ranging from automated accounts or bots, to the coordination of users in a non-authentic way such as the “Tuiteros de la Patria” (Tweeters of the Homeland).


For environmental experts, the big problem with mining-driven deforestation is that mercury-affected areas in southern Venezuela and heavily deforested areas will take thousands of years to recover.


For more information on socio-political manipulation on social media you can follow us as @ProBoxVE.

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