This Venezuelan movement seeks to turn being conservative into something cool. They disavow the status quo in the country since 1999, propose a break with the “State of Parties” and “the false opposition of collaborators of the regime” from social media.
By Rodolfo A. Rico
The Repúblicos – a Spanish term meaning “outstanding citizens conversant with statesmanship and political matters” – define themselves as a political movement and not as a party. They believe that the solution for Venezuela is a U.S. military intervention and consider a significant section of the Venezuelan opposition as a farce. They were among the last to acknowledge that Trump had lost an election or, rather, that Biden would rise to power; they see philanthropist George Soros meddling everywhere and are influential on social media.
Alberto Franceschi, a representative of the now defunct Venezuelan congress (as the Legislative was formerly named) for the Proyecto Venezuela party (center-right), is one of the most prominent members of this Venezuelan Alt-Right movement, Repúblicos. Franceschi is the one who uploads content on both the movement’s website and YouTube channel. On his personal video channel, he has 32 thousand followers.
Humberto González is another of the visible Repúblicos, with 565 thousand followers on his Twitter account. By late 2020, before the US elections, we had estimated them at 615 thousand. Then, we classified him as member of a network of Venezuelans who supported Donald Trump as incumbent presidential candidate and even joined his campaign on the electoral fraud against him. He is also a columnist for La Razón weekly.
They are not the only ones, but they are the most prominent. The Repúblicos website shows a group of people who are constantly posting and giving each other feedback. Not only Venezuelans engage, but also activists from other Latin American countries.
Presence across social media
The Repúblicos have both personal and institutional accounts on WhatsApp, Telegram, YouTube, Twitter, Parler, and Gab – the latter two social media deemed friendly to extreme right-wing groups in the U.S. They partner with such news channels as Parte de Guerra (Battleground Report) with more than 36 thousand subscribers and over 6 million views since 2014. Just for comparison, Efecto Cocuyo (Dragonfly Effect), a Venezuelan independent media outlet that has also been on YouTube since 2014 barely exceeds 5 thousand subscribers and 900 thousand video views. The Freedom Post, a related media outlet also emerged this year, started with 100 thousand views according to internet analytics service Similarweb in January of this year; but now it is below 50 thousand, possibly influenced by Google’s algorithm change occurred this year.
In the Repúblicos WhatsApp group, Venezuelans abroad stand out. Let us remind that a WhatsApp group allows a maximum of 256 subscribers. After downloading the members of this group, we noticed that it has 180 people. Of that total, 91 of the phone numbers bear Venezuelan code and the rest from other countries: U.S. (34), Spain (15), Colombia (7), and Chile (6). On Telegram, the Repúblicos also have a channel with 190 more people. However, Telegram does not allow identifying people’s phone numbers.
The Repúblicos disavow the Venezuelan constitution of 1999, propose a break with what they call the “State of Parties”, and are against political solutions to the Venezuelan situation by means of an electoral process or an agreed transition. They also consider “the false opposition of collaborators of the regime” joint culprits for the destruction of the country and do not recognize any of the electoral contests conducted since 1999. On what they probably do agree with Chavismo is the need for a Constituent Congress to draft a new constitution.
Being uncomfortable and against political correctness is the trademark of the new right wing worldwide – seeking to turn being conservative into something cool as they are facing the “socialist” Goliath all over the planet. Furthermore, they do this by networking on the Net, seeking to change minds tweet by tweet and one video at a time.