Venezuelan Teachers Are Among the Most Active Protesters Online

Teachers’ Day brought digital and street protests in Venezuela. How did the government respond to their claims of persecution, miserable salaries, and lack of protection during the pandemic? It recognized teachers as “shapers of love”

Google gave us a nice Doodle to celebrate Teachers’ Day in Venezuela, but they had little to celebrate on January 15th. The Human Development Laboratory (Ladeshu) denounced that Venezuelan teachers live in a “precarious salary situation,” compared to teachers from other Latin American countries. The unions denounced that they’ve been forced to migrate or do other jobs that allow them to survive given the miserable salaries they receive, the lowest in the region. NGO Provea denounced on its Twitter account this Friday the presence of paramilitary groups in a protest carried out by teachers in front of the Ministry of Education in Caracas. 

Teachers are usually incredibly active in protests on social media, so Probox collected all the information from their digital protests in 2021. 

Credit: Fundaladeshu

What’s real? 

  • The press and civil society positioned a trending topic for Teachers’ Day, with reports on education in the country and protests over salaries and lack of conditions for teachers. The hashtag #DíaDelMaestro has 99.5% of organic behavior (messages sent by real users).
  • In 2021, the Organized Teachers Union promoted at least 36 digital protests with approximately 121,352 tweets. 
  • On average, 65.16% of these messages were made by real users, however, the inorganic nature varies because these tweets are authentically coordinated for digital protests. 
  • 23 of the trending topics promoted by teachers refer to wages, demanding raises and late payments across the country. Some examples:
    • December, 21st, 2021: #QueremosNuestroPagoAhora (#WeWantOurPaymentNow) 12,000 tweets. 
    • January, 27th, 2021: #MaestrosSinSueldo (#TeachersWithoutSalary) 5,972 tweets.
    • April, 8th, 2021: #RespetoAlDocente (#RespectOurTeachers) 4,776 tweets.
  • Eight trending topics referenced the crises in the Venezuelan educational system, the precarious conditions of educational establishments, and the call to return to in-person classes in the midst of the pandemic. Some examples:
    • February, 3rd, 2021: #MaestrosReclaman (#TeachersClaim) 5,417 tweets. 
    • August, 12th, 2021: #EducacionProblemaDeTodos (#EducationIsEveryonesProblem) 2,547 tweets.
    • October, 8th, 2021: #MaduroIrresponsable (#IrresponsibleMaduro) 6,239 tweets.
  • The remaining trending topic is about the arrest by the SEBIN of Robert Franco, leader of the teachers’ union:
    • March, 12th, 2021: #LibertadParaRobertFranco (#FreeRobertFranco) 1,184 tweets. 

What’s manipulated? 

  • The MIPPCI promoted two trends on January 15th: one for Teachers’ Day and the second one for Nicolás Maduro’s checks and balances speech before the National Assembly.
  • The Teachers’ Day hashtag promoted by MIPPCI, #MaestrosForjadoresDeAmor (#TeachersShapersOfLove), had 142,000 tweets with a 68.18% of inorganic behavior. 
  • The messages around these tweets focused on the success of biosecurity measures taken in schools across the country. 
  • Is this new? Not really. Last year, teachers promoted the hashtag #MaestrosHumilladosPorMaduro (#TeachersHumiliatedByMaduro) and they denounced their dire working conditions. In response, MIPPCI promoted the hashtag #MaestrosDeLaPatria, with messages about how Maduro dignified teachers’ salaries, benefits and protective measures during the pandemic.