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.