Venezuela: The Internet Goes Dark in Táchira

Marianne Díaz
Posted April 19, 2014 from Venezuela

[Reposted from Global Voices Advocacy</a href> under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. license]

After sixteen days of protests across Venezuela, the Internet went dark in the state of Táchira, reportedly for 36 hours. Twitter users and news sites reported that electricity also appeared to have been cut in the area. On February 21, the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal tweeted:

10:59 pm Vecinos del estado Táchira reportan que se cumplen ya 24 horas sin servicio de Internet ABA de Cantv #20F— El Universal (@ElUniversal) febrero 21, 201410:59 pm Neighbors from state of Táchira report that they have gone 24 hours without Internet service from CANTV.

Moises Maldonado, an engineer in Táchira, tweeted:

En Táchira estuvimos sin Internet, agua, luz, comida, gasolina, transporte, comercio. Pero si con bolas, las que necesita Venezuela. — Moisés Maldonado (@MaldonadoMoises) February 21, 2014In Táchira we were without Internet, water, light, food, gasoline, [public] transport, commerce. But we do have balls, which is what Venezuela needs right now.

It was in Táchira that the protests began. Violent repression of demonstrators has been especially severe in the state, and many have reported military helicopters flying over head. Noticiero24 tweeted:

TÁCHIRA: militarizada y sin Internet Vuelven los sobrevuelos y se mantienen barricadas.— Reportero24 (@Reportero24) febrero 21, 2014TÁCHIRA: militarized without Internet The flyovers return and barricades are maintained.

Internet blackouts of this magnitude are unprecedented in Venezuela. But web blocking is not. Over the last six months, as inflation has soared to over 50%, foreign currency valuation sites have been blocked en masse. Since protests escalated last week, hundreds of blogs and websites covering news and political issues have been reported as blocked, both on Twitter and on the crowd-sourcing platform, Herdict. For over a week, users throughout the country have reported difficulty accessing Twitter and a dramatic overall drop in Internet speed.

In this most recent incident, some citizens explained that the blockage was only on government-run ISP CANTV, and that they were able to access the web through mobile connections. But others said that they were unable to get online using other ISPs. Journalist Lorena Arráiz tweeted:

Ya se cumplieron 24 horas sin conexión de internet del servicio de ABA. #Tachira— Lorena Evelyn Arráiz (@lorearraiz) febrero 21, 2014It's been now 24 hours without internet connection from the ABA service.

After two days of darkness, service returned. Science and Technology Minister Manuel Fernández apologized for the disconnection, saying that there had been "problems at northern Táchira and in San Cristóbal," caused by the "many fires in the city."

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Comments 3

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May 01, 2014
May 01, 2014

Dear MarianneDiaz,

Your post tells us how vital a communication tool the internet is for the people of Venezuela. The blockages are worrisome, but I sense from your letter that the spirited citizenry will prevail. I hope you will continue to keep us updated on events in your country.

With kindness, Kit

Cali gal Michelle
May 16, 2014
May 16, 2014

Marianne- I am sorry to read of these blackouts, interrupting internet service which can have such an enormous impact on a community, region, and country. You have given an idea here of what others were thinking and how they responded by including the various social media links. Do you have an idea of how to improve connection and access for those in your region?

Thank you for your submission to this campaign!

Kasindi bulambo
May 21, 2014
May 21, 2014

vous avez partagé les obstales d'utilisation de l'internet dans vote pays. alors que songez-vous pour avoir les pistes de solutions face à ces obstacles?