20 Nov

#DebateEnRedes: Aggression against Argentinian journalists in Bolivia prompted 50 thousand tweets in 24 hours

Por Ariel Riera, Celeste Gómez Wagner and Mariela García

Updated 27 de December, 2019 at 12:44 pm

If you only have a few seconds, read these lines:

  • A group of journalist had to seek refuge at the Embassy of Argentina in La Paz last Thursday, after being threatened and aggressed on the streets.
  • One of the most shared tweets was posted by Patricia Bullrich, who thanked Gendarmaria’s work, which “brought safety” to journalists.
  • The hashtag #JodansePeriodistas was a trending topic and was used to criticize journalism for receiving help from Gendarmaria after doubting its actions in the Maldonado case.

The institutional rupture that Bolivia has been through since the coup d’etat on Sunday, November 10, started a new chapter. One day after the Argentinian Senate approved a bill to declare repudiation of the coup, local and foreign journalists were threatened by the Bolivian minister of Communication, Roxana Lizárraga. Chequeado analyzed the repercussion of this subject in social media via Trendsmap and Newswhip. Here are the main conclusions.

As Lizárraga stated to the press, the “transition” government headed by Jeanine Áñez Chávez will indict the “journalists or pseudojournalists” for sedition. This means that, according to article 123 of the Bolivian Criminal Code, those who “publicly raise with open hostility to testify against any public servant or officer, prevent them to take office, or rise against the compliance with the law, […] or disturb the public order in any other way” can be punished with one to three years’ imprisonment.

On Thursday, journalists and filmmakers of many Argentinian communication vehicles were attacked by protesters supporting Morales’s resignation and defending the self-proclaimed president Áñez. Some chroniclers even appeared in social media posts with their name and surname. They had to be evacuated by the Argentinian Gendarmaria and take refuge at the embassy.

Meanwhile, last Friday morning, Lizárraga was interviewed by the journalist Ernesto Tenembaum at the radio Con Vos, where she said that the threats and aggressions reported were “completely false.”

Chequeado analyzed the activity about this subject on Twitter from Thursday, November 14, at 2:00 p.m. to Friday, November 15, at the same time, when, through an operation organized by the Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich, the journalists arrived in Argentina.

The peak of interactions occurred on Thursday, at 7:20 PM, after the attacks against the journalists were released. At this time, a tweet by Iván Schargrodsky, journalist of C5N and Rádio 10, was one of the most shared posts. His message mentioned the Argentinian ambassador in Bolivia, Normando Álvarez García, asking Argentinians not to go to Bolivia, because “there are no guarantees for anyone.”

Interactions on Twitter about the Argentinian journalists in Bolivia

Graph elaborated based on interactions on Twitter about Argentinian journalists in Bolivia between 2:00 PM on November 14 and 2:00 PM on the next the day. Via Trendsmap.

Via Trendsmap, Chequeado detected that, in this period, 51,100 tweets were shared about the subject, and the most used hashtags were #bolivia (9.4%), #jodanseperiodistas (“fuck the journalists”, with 4.8%, see below), #golpedeestadoenbolivia (“coup d’etat in Bolivia”, with 2%), #Telefe (as the journalist Mariano García, of this communication vehicle, was one of the Argentinians attacked after his interview with the leader of the Bolivian opposition, Luis Fernando Camacho), and #macriabreelparaguas (“Macri, open your umbrella”, with 1.8%, a hashtag promoted by C5N). Further, the words most mentioned in messages on Twitter were “Bolívia” (91%), “jornalistas” (61%), “argentinos” (33%), “golpe” (25%), and “argentina” (21%).

The most shared message was posted by the former Bolivian president Evo Morales, who, from Mexico, warned that there was an “unconstitutional government” in his country because, among other things, “the ‘minister’ of communication of the self-proclaimed ‘president’ of Bolivia threatens to arrest journalists reporting repression for sedition.” His tweet was retweeted 13.5 thousand times and received more than 27 thousand likes.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina released a notice informing that he “requested the authorities in power in Bolivia that they guaranteed the security and physical integrity of Argentinian communication vehicles in the Bolivian territory covering events of public knowledge.” The link for this publication stood out among all the tweets that shared some URL in their messages.

The Ministry of Security conducted an operation to return the teams of América 24, Crónica TV, Telefe Noticias, and TN to Argentina. On Twitter, the second most shared message was posted by Minister Bullrich, who thanked Gendarmaria for rescuing and saving “the Argentinian journalists threatened” in Bolivia.

Tweet: We rescued the Argentinian journalists threatened in #Bolivia. Thanks, @gendarmería, for your permanent commitment.

The most active account belonged to the channel C5N (@C5N), followed by the Ministry of National Security and Ulises Chaparro (@vivirporboca), a user with more than 16 thousand followers who often posts messages supporting Mauricio Macri and his political space.

In addition, the most influential accounts, i.e. with the largest number of followers, belonged to communication vehicles: the profiles of C5N, Clarín, and Crónica. Journalists of Clarín and Crónica were among those who sought refuge in the Argentinian embassy in Bolivia. On the other hand, via Newswhip, Chequeado registered that the post with most interactions on Facebook and the video with most views on YouTube about this subject were shared by another vehicle: Telefe Noticias.

#JodansePeriodistas

The help of Gendarmaria to Argentinian journalists prompted debates among Twitter users. The hashtag #JodansePeriodistas appeared in 15,200 tweets in the period analyzed. Users who used this hashtag considered that the chroniclers should not have accepted the help from Gendarmaria because of doubts rose by the journalism about this security force’s actions in the Santiago Maldonado case, a young artisan who died in Cushamen, in Chubut, after an operation in August 2017. In fact, the word “maldonado” was present in 15% of the tweets comprising the hashtag analyzed.

The most retweeted accounts with this hashtag have been mentioned above: @Vivirporboca and @elcara333. The latter has 11 thousand followers and mentions in their profile: “#MacriPicheto2023, #Vidal2023 #PatoBullrich2023 and I want to see the vice and her daughter Florencia in prison.”

These two profiles and @labelgrana (with more than 34 thousand followers and messages supporting Cambiemos) were the most active accounts on Twitter concerning the hashtag #JodansePeriodistas.

These three accounts have registered an increase in their number of followers since August, during the primary elections, as suggested by Trendsmap. In this period, the number of followers of @Vivirporboca increased from 7 thousand to 16 thousand; @elcara333, from 6 thousand to 11 thousand; and @labelgrana, from 27 thousand to 34 thousand.

* The Digital Democracy Room is a project of FGV DAPP in Brazil in partnership with Chequeado, Linterna Verde and Ojo Público. It’s goal is to monitor and analyze the digital conversations regarding the electoral context.

The analysis is available the website of Chequeado here.

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