People holding the Venezuelan flag
People holding the Venezuelan flag Reuters

A new report has shed light on a disinformation campaign against opposition leader María Corina Machado, with state-controlled media and government propagandists creating montages that falsely depict U.S. flags at her rallies, Infobae reported.

Citing an investigation by Cazadores de Fake News (fake news hunters), the outlet aligns with a broader strategy by regime leaders and propagandists to label Machado as a U.S. agent. Cazadores de Fake News, led by Adrian Gonzalez, documented that the presence of U.S. flags at a Machado event in Cabudare, Lara State, on May 29, 2024, was orchestrated by Alexandra, a member of the Free Alex Saab Movement.

The investigation detailed that the video showing the flags was first published on X (formerly Twitter) on May 29, 2024, at 6:02 p.m. by Venezuela News, an outlet known for spreading political disinformation. Photographs and videos from the event showed Alexandra coordinating with individuals carrying the flags, amplifying the false narrative.

Key propagandists identified in the investigation include Michel Caballero Palma, Pedro Carvajalino Amaya, and Roigar López Rivas, known as Capitán Salitre. All three are involved in government media and are associated with Venezuela News, funded by Camila Fabri and owned by Carvajalino.

They also have ties to government party PSUV and the Ministry of Communication and Information. These propagandists have been instrumental in spreading the disinformation, with top official Diosdado Cabello further amplifying the false narrative on his weekly program.

Cazadores de Fake News highlighted that this disinformation tactic is part of a broader pattern. Since 2022, they have documented at least eight incidents where pro-government militants have attempted to discredit opposition leaders through staged events. These incidents are then magnified by pro-government media to sway public opinion.

The investigation into the U.S. flags incident involved detailed analysis, including facial recognition tools that identified Alexandra from previous regime events. She was found in photographs at a PSUV event and other pro-government activities, confirming her role in the disinformation campaign.

The pattern of using pro-government militants to create false narratives against opposition leaders is well-documented, with similar tactics previously employed against figures like Juan Guaidó. Cazadores de Fake News concluded that the dissemination of photos and videos from the May 29 event was a deliberate act of electoral disinformation, aiming to undermine Machado and mislead the public.

The reported campaign comes as the Venezuelan government lags the opposition in all polls ahead of the July 28 elections. The Maduro government has also withdrawn an invitation to the European Union to oversee the elections, adding more uncertainty to the process.

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