zelloOne of the interesting things about the current street protests in Venezuela is how technology has become an integral part of the puzzle. We all know that Twitter has become one of the main lines of communication, but perhaps an even more important tool is an app called Zello.

Zello is basically a CB radio,only that instead of functioning on a radio works over the Internet and on Smartphones. On different “channels,” people inform listeners about barricades, the presence of paramilitary gangs, and even strategy. It has become an indispensable player in the battles currently taking place in Venezuela’s streets. The other day, for example, Zello hooked up several of its channels to a live transmission from barricade-meister (“guarimbero-mayor”) Robert Alonso.

Love it or hate it, Zello has become indispensable to know what’s going on, when it’s going on. Using anonymous user names, people disseminate information in real time and spread strategies for dealing with contingencies. It is even used by people outside of Venezuela to encourage protesters.

It has spread so quickly that, obviously, the government has tried to block it.However, the app maker quickly modified it to avoid “tampering by the Venezuelan government.”

People who use it are addicted to it. I, for one, have never tried it – God knows there is only a limited amount in my RAM to deal with the protests, and I really don’t need to be hooked to a CB radio telling me about the guarimbas in San Cristóbal. But for the people back home, it’s become a must.

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  1. No offense, but lately this blog feels like it is several steps behind almost every other news outlet. The Zello thing has been going around for a while, complete with reports about infiltrados and the like.

    • Juancha,
      No offense, but this blog is not for keeping up to speed with events as they happen in Venezuela. It is mainly for Venezuelans abroad, and for foreigners looking for insight into Venezuela. If what you want is accurate, up-to-the-minute information on what’s happening on the ground, then this blog is not the place.

      • Your tone is out of place. I am a venezuelan living abroad and I usually look here for insight. I know it isn’t a news outlet and perhaps I could have phrased my comment better in that regard, but I come here for insight into what goes on in my country. This is not just old news, but pretty superficial ‘insight’, and I see no need to go about bashing a reader just because you don’t like what they said. This is old news and you’ve given way better insight on other matters in previous occasions.

        • I apologize for my tone, but I had no idea Zello existed until yesterday. Given how I try to keep up to date, I thought that maybe some of my readers would share the interest it peaked in me. I see now that I’m hopelessly behind on everything. I’ll stick to writing about stuff people probably don’t know about.

    • No offense, but your comments are completely worthless. This is not a news service. It is a blog with commentary and analysis on Venezuelan society and politics.

      • Thanks for that, I see there’s all levels of educated people here. I insulted nobody with my comment and I apologise if the writers of the blog felt insulted, but you have no cause for responding so rudely.

        • Nobody felt insulted, you’re perfectly entitled to your comment. BTW, in my defense, I have been very busy with my day job this past week (I’m an academic, and this was the first week of the fall semester here). Another reason to be angry with the guarimberos – how dare they launch a crisis when I’m so busy?

    • Might we add that the change in content provider(s) has also had a big impact. The zing is out of the writing and the content aside from being far removed from “real time” is just plain old boring now. Peppered only occasionally with a burst f life when F. Toro shows up for a post. The condescending tone of the reply to you is also another annoying element. I do miss the blog , as it was ….

      • Petrous,
        I appreciate the constructive criticism. I’ll try to improve my writing so that the blog doesn’t seem as boring.

  2. I am not sure if this is actually true, but I´ve heard that Zello is easy to trace, and that raids into people´s homes performed by GNB are usually made when they are looking for people active in Zello, be it giving instructions, info and what not. Once they know who it is and what they are saying they go straight for the neck.

    Since everything here is a rumour and since I have first hand experience in seeing how the intelligence authorities are tech savvy (and I mean these guys are able to do amazing stuff, I´ve seen it and experienced it first hand), I really do not know what to believe. I´ve used Zello but have since uninstalled it.

    I am now into using zamuros mensajeros certificados!

      • honestly, I don’t even know how would the government track you even if you had your gps on, it’s not like they can access that data. Applications might, but zello isn’t one of those and even if it was, they would have to be allowed by zello to read about it. Most they can do is try to trace by ip and unless they constantly check what ip belongs to who(ips change from time to time)then they would only have an approximation of they are(anything more specific than the city they are is unreliable)

  3. Zellocan be effective if it’s used by a small private room, or a large one with serious people. But when there’s too many people in one channel it becomes frustrating,more so where i live…Maracaibo.
    Lots of insulting,singing,fighting and rumors,no real useful stuff. Of course,Maracaibo is the butt of Venezuela,others like gochos or caraqueños might find more use for it.

  4. I want to thank this blog for spending the time in analysing the current situation in Venezuela. See the current problem for any Venezuelan living in a foreign country is the black-out of news. I live in Canada and it pains me to no end that the news is slanted towards Maduro…..and that the students are only protesting because they want to topple over the government. Like really??? This blog has actually written eloquently about the other major issues in places like San Cristobal (Tachira) with clarity and sensibility first. My parents live right on Ferrero Tamayo street…..where a ton of guarimbas are stationed. There was someone here trying to find up to date info and of course you’re not going to find it here……the problem is the repression of all news agencies in the country. Go to twitter and Youtube and you will find eyewitness accounts of what is happening. Want more info?? go to NTN24 or even CNN. Not quite satisfied? Turn to ABC Spain newspaper because they have always reported on Venezuela. The sad fact is that most of the news is coming from outside sources and it pains me (ok drives me nuts) to no end that international agencies get the story wrong at times. I am happy that because of the students and their technology savviness we are at least getting a peak inside the country. For some people on the outside Zello might be old news, but you know what??? For someone in the country it might make the difference between life and death. Thank you.

  5. I’m interested in learning readers’ thoughts about the role open source plays in all this. The recently covered fragmentation of its supporters, whether real or fabricated, and the passion around branding technology for the party or the canonization of policy are all fascinating aspects of it.

  6. i Zello all the time 24/7 almost! todo el mundo en la resistencia lo debe tener! arriba renezuela fuera el castro comunismo!!


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