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Transparencia Venezuela

EsPaja: Combatting disinformation in Venezuela 


The Problem
In Venezuela, governmental opacity prevails, with resources and media utilized to propagate misinformation. Authorities employ "communicational hegemony" to censor and manipulate narratives, resulting in information deserts and widespread distrust. Over a decade, more than half of mandated documents remained undisclosed, further concealing critical data like national budget and health indicators. This fosters false news, undermining democracy, and societal trust. Civil society suffers from the dearth of reliable information, hindering journalistic endeavors and public discourse.  

The Approach
Since its launch in October 2019, has been dedicated to combating disinformation in Venezuela, operating from Caracas and participating in international fact-checking networks like Latam Chequea. The group conducts fact-checking, training, and investigations on disinformation that reach over 3,500 individuals through workshops throughout the country. Their podcast "Hablemos Paja" and cartoon character Pajito Prevención further promote awareness by encouraging citizens to verify information they receive. distributes a Citizens' Action Manual against Disinformation, in both digital and printed formats, to share simple tools individuals can use to learn how to identify disinformation and avoid falling victim to it. The manual is also included in the weekly newsletter Entérate, a free printed publication distributed in 39 vulnerable communities of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas. They've also developed a Telegram bot for automated fact-checking requests, receiving around 40 inquiries weekly.  

The Impact

  •'s fact-checking initiatives prompted significant shifts in Venezuelan political discourse. For instance, their investigations into Venezuela News, a propaganda outlet purporting to be a news agency, exposed multiple instances of disseminating false information. This revelation sparked public debates and raised awareness about the manipulation of information for political ends. 

  • The project monitors social media accounts, such as that of politician Luis Ratti, and identifies the dissemination of false or manipulated content.  Their efforts led to the community reporting such content, resulting in the suspension of Ratti's account.  

  • After consistently debunked posts published by the Venezuelan Minister of Information, his account stopped issuing misleading information on issues such as Covid-19 vaccine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

  •'s work in training communities and civil society organizations has had a direct impact on information literacy. Documented cases show that 43 Venezuelan organizations across seven regions implemented the "Stop, Doubt, Search, Cooperate" fact-checking protocol to verify information.  

The Future will intensify efforts to combat disinformation, especially during crucial electoral events in Venezuela. They plan to distribute a manual targeting children and adolescents in collaboration with NGO Cecodap. Investigations will focus on government manipulation tactics, including victimization narratives and control over media outlets. Additionally, will continue research on disinformation linked to illicit economies and collaborate with international partners to track Russian disinformation in Latin America.