Internet as a gateaway for censorship: a glimpse of Venezuela´s situation

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Internet as a gateaway for censorship: a glimpse of Venezuela´s situation
Presenter(s) Luis Souto, Lorenzo González
Title(s) International Parternerships, Partnerships Coordinator
Organization(s) Un Mundo Sin Mordaza
Project(s) Tu Voz Es Tu Poder, #EstoEsTuyo, #SOSVENEZUELA
Country(ies) Venezuela, USA
Social media @sinmordaza
2017 theme Communications & Design

1) We begin with a presentation on the general situation in Venezuela. Then we will have a brief introduction to our organization. After enumerate and explain the obstacles facing all NGOs in Venezuela due to censorship.

2) We will have a panel conversation with our attendees about how they circumvent the difficulties in their countries of origin. Then, we will do a workshop, dividing attendees in groups of 5-6 people and we will provide documentation on the obstacles faced by World Without Mordaza to operate in Venezuela. Participants must find creative solutions to the obstacles and present them to the group.

3) We will discuss the work done by Sin Mordaza in recent years and how the Internet has been our primary tool of communication and organization to promote human rights activism.

Format Presentation, conversation and panel discussion
Target Groups Activists and communicators
Length 1 hour
Skill Level Novice
Language English

Session Outputs

Next Steps

Additional Notes

Relevant Resources


IFF session on Venezuela

  • speaker is from an NGO that works in Venezuela, Chile, USA
  • activity: visualize powerlessness
  • situation in V: starts in 1998 when Chavez took power
  • all institutions (except parliament) are controlled by government
  • supreme justice (member of regime party) says parliament can't make laws
  • economic collapse
  • social crisis
  • $15/month is a good salary
  • most money comes from oil, and the price has dropped, so personal incomes are down
  • food and medicine are scarce because of oil prices and corruption
  • Intl Transparency says V is the most corrupt country in the world
  • high mortality rate
  • prices change every day
  • inflation ~550% per year, likely to be >1000% in 2017
    • hard to know whether something is expensive or cheap
  • mafia with mask of a state
  • some elections cancelled, claimed because there wasn't enough money
  • CNN Spanish was closed in V by telecommunication ministry, after reporting on passports for sale in V embassies worldwide
    • a V passport allows travel to several countries (incl spain) without a visa
  • last year two TV stations were closed by govt
  • ~88 radio/TV stations have been closed
  • one company (CEO is in regime party) is the only legal importer of paper, for newsprint
    • ~22 newspapers have closed in the last two years, for lack of paper
    • some >100 years old
  • internet is only gateway to evade censorship
  • 42 websites blocked
    • half for reports/complaints against govt
    • half for bolivars/dollars black-market currency exchange prices
      • in V it's illegal to buy dollars, only legal way is through banks
      • legal rate is $1 / 10 bolivars, only for food/medicine, rarely available
      • lots of artificial roadblocks
      • e.g. if you're travelling, you're allowed to buy foreign currency for the trip
      • but you have to register far ahead of time
      • intermediate is $1 / 100 b, or 600b
      • black market rate is more like $1 / 4800 b
  • NGOs that work for education, medical, human-rights are having problems
    • restriction on access to public information
    • constitution says citizens can ask for info from ministrys
    • but they don't give you real data
  • intidmitation comes from two groups
    • official govt
    • paramilitary groups: if the police can't legally kill you, they send death squad
    • vice president accused ~48 NGOs of being intl conspiracies to supress the revolution
  • intelligence services have a division for security/internet
    • hacks accounts of NGOs
  • obstacles imposed upon victims of human rights violations
    • govt blocks access to victims
  • other countries have problems too
  • 60% of Venezuelans have internet access
  • 2014, big protests (against Maduro govt?), "SOS Venezuela"
    • people all over world standing in "SOS"-shaped groups, post photos
    • NGO CEO was arrested/exiled because of organizing the protests
    • arrested despite pacifist message, govt claim was that followers subconscious message was of violence
  • other internet campaigns
    • stand-up comic explaining human rights
    • photo contest
    • social media is the way to reach people who want to resist dictatorship
    • especially when there is no independent tv/radio/newspaper
  • people who have internet can then spread the message to 40% who don't
  • website blocking is mostly DNS poisoning, not so much DPI
  • govt controls backbone, all private ISPs must use it
  • govt is currently working to deligitimize opposition political parties
    • must show minimum level of support, file lots of paperwork
    • starting to look like Nicaragua
    • next national elections are supposed to be in 2018
    • regional in fall of 2017
    • but they may not happen