“Elections Without MAS” Trend Sponsored in the U.S.

A Spanish network expert who has analyzed Twitter accounts and hashtags used to influence politics, notably the sudden appearance of thousands of #BoliviaCoupTrolls during the 2019 coup and more recently, a manipulated trending topic in support of Operation Gideon, the failed mercenary invasion of Venezuela, is assessing a trend calling for Bolivia’s most popular political party to be excluded from the next presidential election. MAS (“the movement toward socialism”) is the Bolivian political party founded by Evo Morales.

Today, on the 195th anniversary of Bolivia’s independence and amid an indefinite general strike called in protest of yet another postponing of the presidential election by the de facto government, Julian Macias Tovar published a new thread to Twitter with some preliminary findings on the tag #ElectionsWithoutMas.

“The HT #EleccionesSinElMas was broadcast mainly from outside Bolivia, pulling the thread, we see that behind it are some of the dozens of foundations and media financed from the United States. After supporting the coup, they now want to eliminate MAS,” Macias Tovar wrote.

He notes the Bolivian locations but also, the international origins of the trend’s traffic. “At first glance, what is most striking is the concentration in La Paz of most of the tweets launched from Bolivia and, as the following cities that participated the most, belong to the US, Brazil, Spain, Peru and Russia.

A number of observers and Macias Tovar himself noted in the 2019 case of the Bolivian Coup trolls, many participating accounts are new and share similar formatting of the account name. “Most of the participating accounts are recently created, mainly in November 2019, with 8 numbers in the name, geolocated in other countries, such as one of the most active, Julio Orellana, created in February 2020, from the USA, and padlocked (private).”

Of the unusual Twitter interest in Bolivia at the time of the 2019 coup, Macias Tovar points out, “Let us remember that during the coup, in Bolivia there were only about 200,000 twitter accounts in total, and in just two weeks at least another 200,000 were created that participated supporting accounts (growing 100K in a week) and pro coup trending topics.”

Looking at the data, Macias Tovar notes that the #ElectionsWithoutMas trend is not only coordinated and internationally promoted but seems to be mechanized to a degree. He also underscores that the news vetting services, Fides, which distributes widely in Bolivia, is NED funded and that its director wrote pro-coup/anti-MAS OpEds at the time of the event.

Let us remember that the Bolivian news agency FIDES is the one that disseminates news to more than 50 Bolivian media and has been financed by the US for years through the NED, an institution associated with the CIA. The Jesuit Sergio Montes is its director and this is his editorial on the coup.”

OT will be updating on Macias Tovar’s work as it looks at US funding for these political operations against MAS in Bolivia.

Featured image: Graphic image of #BolivianCoupTrolls traffic during 2019 coup.

Translation: OT/EF

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