Politics Spanish-language disinformation intensifies among Florida Latinos, worrying Democrats
Progressive groups mobilize Latino voters in N.C. by tapping culture, youth
Children of immigrants and Hurricane Maria refugees have helped expand North Carolina's Latino electorate.The mailers were created by four political groups trying to bolster Latino voting in a state that has seen immigrants’ children age into the electorate and Puerto Ricans arrive as refugees after Hurricane Maria in 2017. They are being shared online, put on refrigerators and becoming game cards in the Mexican bingo-like game “lotería.
MIAMI — Jelena Buvat, 55, a Venezuelan American preschool teacher in Missouri said she has watched one of her good friends in Florida become obsessed with conspiracy theories over the past several months, to the point where they hardly speak.
Since thebegan, the conspiracy theories popping up on her friend’s social feeds have intensified and include that wearing masks is a hoax, Joe Biden wants to defund the police and the idea of “kids in cages” was fake news disseminated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
‘It was awful’: Ex-Pence aide endorses Biden, blames Trump for U.S. coronavirus deaths
Olivia Troye, an ex-White House homeland security adviser who served as Vice President Mike Pence’s lead task force staffer for six months, endorses Biden in a video released by political advocacy group Republican Voters Against Trump. “Towards the middle of February, we knew it wasn’t a matter of if COVID would become a big pandemic here in the United States — it was a matter of when. But the president didn’t want to hear that,” Troye said in the video. “His biggest concern was that he was in an election year ... and the truth is he doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.
"Last summer, we would still have normal conversations," Buvat told NBC News by phone. "Now we hardly talk."
Conspiracy theories around the "deep state," billionaire Democrat philanthropist George Soros and QAnon have become a constant fixture on Spanish-language YouTube programs, WhatsApp clips and pro-President Donald Trump Facebook groups aimed at a Latino audience.
A YouTube video clip that made rounds in Miami claims that former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were attempting to secretly sell uranium to Russia — and that Russian President Vladimir Putin has all the information and is willing to collaborate with Trump to get to what took place.
Democrats fear the disinformation is having a powerful impact on Latino voters in Florida, skewing their views and amplifying Trump’s messaging. The far-fetched conspiracy theories have concerned Democratic strategist Evelyn Pérez-Vedía for months, and she said they are swaying voters.
Does Joe Biden Have a Latino-Voter Problem?
Biden should be able to close the deal with this crucial constituency.But when it comes to Latinos, Biden may have a problem. Although he’s dramatically outpacing Trump among Latinos overall, he’s falling behind Clinton’s pace, including in the key state of Florida. An analysis by Harry Enten at CNN found that Biden’s average lead among Latinos is 9 points lower than Clinton’s around this time four years ago. If Biden can’t close the deal with this crucial constituency, it could spell trouble for him across the country.
“It’s very troubling,” she said.
Florida is the largest battleground state where Trump has seen increased support among Latinos, according to a recent.
Some conspiracy theories have been heard on local radio. Miami’s Actualidad Radio, an AM radio station, interviewed a commentator Thursday who said the aim of the Black Lives Matter movement involves “brujeria,” or witchcraft, and “a vote for Biden is a vote for that.”
In August, Caracol Radio, another AM radio station, aired a paid program that claimed that if Biden won the election, the U.S. would fall into a dictatorship led by “Jews and Blacks.” Caracol later apologized for the content and said it banned the commentator from its airwaves.
Eroding trust in the media
The idea that Spanish-language news cannot be trusted is being pushed by YouTube channels, like, that urge viewers to subscribe so they can view Trump campaign events in Spanish and follow interviews that viewers “won’t see in traditional news outlets.”
Biden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) holds a sizable lead over President Trump among Latino voters nationally, though his lead is less than the one Hillary Clinton had over Trump with the voting bloc in 2016.A new poll of Latino voters by NBC News, The Wall Street Journal and Telemundo found that 62 percent plan to vote for the Democratic nominee in the fall, while just 26 percent plan to support the president. Clinton won 66 percent of the Latino vote in 2016, which itself was a drop from the 71 percent of Latino voters who supported former President Obama's reelection in 2012.
GR8 compared itself to Telemundo — which is owned by NBCUniversal, NBC News' parent company — and Univision, saying it was the “second most followed outlet during the Republican convention on YouTube.”
“People see the videos and the disinformation so many times that it gets to them. They feel they can’t trust the media, and that’s the most worrisome part,” Pérez-Verdía said. “Now they call Spanish-language media fake news.”
The two largest and most established Spanish-language networks are seeing more protesters confront their reporters and question their coverage.
A month ago, a caravan of angry protesters, honking their horns, rallied in front of Univision’s headquarters, calling it “mentiravision,” or “lie-vision.” In a widely circulated video recorded by a protester, a Univision photographer is shouted at and asked why they don’t air the truth.
In a video from July with over half a million views on Facebook, a local Telemundo reporter in Miami is told, “If it weren’t for Facebook, if it weren’t for social media, we would not be able to spread our message. We Hispanics feel we don’t have a news source that tells the truth.”
Florida Democrat asks FBI to investigate anti-Semitic, racist disinformation
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) on Wednesday asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate the origin of a series of social media posts and mainstream media publications in South Florida with anti-Semitic and racist messages.Mucarsel-Powell, who was joined by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) in her letter, expressed concern about a surge in "false or misleading information" on social media amongMucarsel-Powell, who was joined by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep.
Programs like, hosted by Colombian journalist Sandra Valencia in Medellin, are more sophisticated, with newscast-like openings. One program, which suggested Soros was behind the caravans of Central Americans attempting to come to the U.S., has over 1 million views. Valencia refers to herself as a patriot — reminiscent of the right-wing tea party patriots.
Valencia often defends or sides with Russia in her commentary. She has accused Germany of leading attacks on Russia for developing a coronavirus vaccine that was approved before large-scale trials were concluded. In the same show, she said Russia was attacked “for promoting information that was discrediting Joe Biden, when in reality they were not discrediting him,” but simply highlighting information they have always known.
Valencia often interviews Omar Bula Escobar, an analyst who touts his former U.N. experience and has. In one of his programs, for example, he accused Soros of "being behind" organized migration, child prostitution and "radical Islam."
Snippets of these shows that last over an hour are edited and disseminated on social media, WhatsApp and through text messages.
"The goal is to blur the narrative and say things that are false so many times that people start to believe it or they just completely tune out," said Randy Pestana, assistant director of research and strategic initiatives at Florida International University’s Gordon Institute for Public Policy. "People turn to their friends and family, which is where these texts and videos become so important, because you believe your family, you believe your friends."
Pestana pointed out that Trump himself retweeted a manipulated video of Biden supposedly playing the NWA song “F--- tha Police,” when he was really playing the song “Despacito” by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi during a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Florida.
Pestana said that during the Soviet era in Russia, disinformation aimed to blur the truth and create a fog where people were not sure what to believe, something Putin has been doing now.
“I don’t think the government of the United States is doing this, but I can tell you for a fact that Trump has done this consistently, which blurs the narrative,” Pestana said.
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