Latin America Bureau

Venezuela: how photos get manipulated

Venezuela: how photos get manipulated

Published on: Sun Feb 23, 2014
Author: Luigino Bracchi Roa
Source: Alba Ciudad/Rebelió

This article provides graphic evidence of how some postings on social and other media have reproduced images culled from elsewhere and portrayed them as depicting events in Venezuela. Of course they do not prove that all images of violence in Venezuela are false, and the merry-go-round of image circulation in social media may mean that those tweeters whose names appear are not necessarily those who knew them to be false. LAB has translated this article from a posting on Rebelió The original, in Spanish, can be viewed here.

Dozens of images are circulating at this moment on social networks and in the media in different countries, as a way of alleging that there is a 'cruel repression' by the security forces of Venezuela against opposition demonstrations. Alba Ciudad has compiled some of these images in order to challenge this campaign of lies against Venezuela.


Above left: an opposition tweet shows a supposedly Venezuelan student beaten by '"fascist assassins" of the PSUV. Right: the phone in fact shows Unai Romano, a young man detained, beaten and tortured in 2005 by the Spanish police.


Above left:
Opposition twitter-user Daniela Frias posts a photo of a supposedly Venezuelan student on the point of tears, trying to hug a policeman. "You and I are both Venezuelans, friend," says the text of the tweet. Right: the image in fact comes from events which occurred in Bulgaria in 2013.


Above left:opposition tweeters show the image of a supposedly Venezuelan student being grabbed by the neck and dragged along by national guards. Right: the photo in fact shows repression of students in Chile in October 2011.



Above left: a tweet assures us that they formed a vast human chain against Maduro in Táchira, hand-in-hand and wearing yellow t-shirts, symbol of the right-wing party Primero Justicia. Right: the photo is in fact of a human chain formed in September 2013 in Cataluña, Spain, to demand independence for the region.



Above left: Last Sunday afternoon, the actress Amanda Gutiérrez tweeted this photo of a man allegedly being obliged to perform oral sex with two policemen, the victim apparently being a student who had been taken prisoner, tortured and raped by Venezuelan officers. Right: In fact the image comes from a page on a use-based adult website. The photograph tweeted by Gutiérrez had been cropped, because the 'police' (in fact porn actors in costume) were wearing uniform with the word 'Police' on it. The actress apologised and deleted the tweet, stating "I went over the top on this. I was so indignant when I saw what student prisoners appeared to being put through."


Above: The front page of the Argentine newspaper Clarín for February 13 2014 carried the image of a man with a rifle, apparently one of the "armed chavistas, yesterday, in Caracas (...) paramilitary groups, according to witnesses, opened fire on the crowd."  They gave the impression that these persons carried out the killings that occurred the previous day. The truth is that the person shown in the photograph is an officer of the CICPC (scientific police of Venezuela) protecting himself when 5 vehicles of this police unit were set on fire by violent opponents, a few yards from the entrance to their office in Parque Carabobo (Caracas). Other newsepapers and websites such as Infobae and El Mundo, Spain, carried similar distortions, omitting the original caption of this photo from EFE: "members of the CIPC walk in front of a vehicle set on fire during a march called by the opposition in Caracas, Venezuela."


 Above left:Opposition member Esteban Gerbasi tweeted this image of a student being fired on with shot gun pellets at very short range. "Dictatorship! Just one example...", he wrote. Right: In fact the image is taken of demonstrations in Río de Janeiro in June 2013  (see Photo No.10, here), and was passed off as an image of dictatorship in Venezuela.


Above left: Numerous tweets showed this photograph of security forces kicking a dog, with the caption: "The National Guard doesn't even spare dogs. Could it be that the dog is a nazi fascist?" Right: Members of the Misión Nevado pointed out that the photo is of  the Greek dog Loukanikos, which accompanied anticapitalist demonstrations there, not a dog being illt-treated by the Bolivarian National Guard in Venezuela.



Left: A tweet assures us that this is a child injured in the Táchira area by Bolivarian thugs. Right: the image shows a child crying while he receives treatment, and the location is  in fact Syria, a country mired in a bitter civil war.



Above left: After appearing on February 16 with President Maduro, metro worker José Navarro, who had been beaten up by demonstrators on Friday, was accused by the writer Leonardo Padrón and by numerous tweets of taking part in a charade, wearing his surgical collar the wrong way round. Right: Photos supplied via Esteban Trapiello demonstrate that this is incorrect: surgical collars can be worn this way round.



Above left: Journalist Ludmila Vinogradoff, on the web-page of the Spanish newspaper ABC, tweeted photos of a woman with her chest exposed, being dragged by police, claiming that this was happening in Venezuela. Right: These events in fact took place in Egypt in 2011.Sra. Vinogradoff deleted the article,and in another piece admitted her mistake. This was published in 2013, but continues to be retweeted regularly.













  1. Maco:
    Feb 23, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Hmmmm....pretty sure you think these are manipulated too...not like it would mattered if these photos were taken in 2013 or 2014 but hey...I'm a humanist so I guess I'm biased against socialism and any/other totalitarian styles of government.

  2. Maco:
    Feb 23, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Oh this one most definitely be doctored, right? Is this what you think utopia-socialism is supposed to look like? The army firing at unarmed citizens?

    Oh but no...right...this most be doctored, because it doesn't match your arrogant, PhD bullshit opinion on matters that you CAN NOT know about until you LIVE in the country where these things are happening!!! Or, you listen to the people that aren't sucking up to Maduro/Chavez, once and or all, and get behind them, rather than behind THE MOST corrupt government Venezuela has EVER seen!

    I mean, 56% inflation? Explain that to me, Mr. PhD!

  3. MGatehouse:
    Feb 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Maco has provided many links to photos and images and added commentary critical of LAB. LAB has no means of assessing each image. We were careful to preface the article by Luigino Bracchi Roa, above, with an introduction making clear that the article does not prove that all images are fake or manipulated, or even that those posting them knew them to be false.

  4. Barney Rumbles:
    Feb 23, 2014 at 05:39 PM

    Actually many of the pictures Maco is linking to are from a 2010 event:

  5. Batson:
    Feb 23, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Outstanding research Mr. Luigino Bracchi Roa.

  6. Daniel:
    Feb 24, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    Here is what I totally HATE

    "as a way of alleging that there is a 'cruel repression'"

    ALLEGING ? Maybe SHOWING, or HELP PROOF. BUT make no mistake, there is absolutely no doubt that in Venezuela there is a cruel repressions coming from a DICTATORSHIP, and controlled from CUBA.

    Rectify this post, before your newspaper is censured - President Maduro Would most likely say so.

  7. Carlos:
    Feb 24, 2014 at 06:35 AM

    I'm Venezuelan, sadly I left my country 9 years ago when I saw all this thing coming. However, my parents, other family members and friends still live there. Now my photoshop genius, tell to my mom and dad the lack of chicken, meat, milk, eggs, toilet paper, are caused by photoshop or gimp. Tell my parents how their saving has evaporated because an inflation of more than 50% in the last years. Tell my mom and dad the neighbor that was killed in front of their door less than a year ago caused by the out-of-control crime was a photoshop makeup. Explain to my family how photoshop can help them to get a decent medical treatment.

    Yes, there are few pictures here and there that are manipulated, but a very large number are not. I invite you to go to Venezuela and experience first hand what is happening there instead writing no-sense and aligning to a "left" government that has been for over 14 years in power but has done too little for the people of the country.

  8. lamtep:
    Feb 24, 2014 at 06:51 AM

    ....also pictures from the German concentration camps were said to be manipulated, and 5 million human beings were killed????

  9. Richard Estes:
    Feb 24, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    If the opposition succeeds with the assistance of the US, I hope that the poor people of Venezuela arm themselves for their protection, and fight back against the inevitable repression, because when a government that has been democratically elected numerous times is overthrown, there is only one solution, the Operation Condor, Pinchet type solution.

  10. Why lie?:
    Feb 24, 2014 at 06:12 PM

    Again, looks like a lot of those photos people are putting up from the maduradas site actually happened last year

    April 17th to be precise.

  11. JJ:
    Feb 24, 2014 at 08:02 PM

    Your interpretation of the Clarín page is mistaken and biased. Who burnt the vehicles is as yet unclear, as some witnesses place the blame on the armed paramilitary groups enraged by the shooting of one of their own. You are also disregarding the EFE caption. On the other hand, why is a policeman in civilian clothing and no identification carrying a deadly weapon during a civilian protest? These inexcusable distortions are bound to happen when media is censored and information blackouts are imposed in order to protect those in power from the consequences of their abuses. What's your excuse?

  12. Robert Carajo:
    Feb 25, 2014 at 02:01 PM

    right over their heads
    good article

  13. Carlos:
    Feb 27, 2014 at 03:04 AM

    Dear Luigino, If you are really serious about what you are talking about I invite you to include the following material in this website and explain what is happening here.

    This video: from CNN contains an inset from VTV, the major Venezuelan pro-goverment TV station with Diosdado Cabello, President of the Venezuelan "Asamblea Nacional" (formerly known Venezuelan Congress which was renamed by Chavez after the Cuban "Asamblea Nacional") showing a picture that in his words is an evidence of the guns arsenal which belong to a Colonel who challenge the current government actions. Later the reporter from CNN reports the pictures come from this web site: The more interesting thing is they are also toy guns.

    Now who is the liar? This is not a random personnel from the government. This is the president of the congress, senate or "Asamblea Nacional", whatever you want to call it.

  14. Carlos:
    Feb 27, 2014 at 08:43 PM

    Dear Luigino, I'm still waiting for you to add the information that I just shared with you in my last comment. I hope that you find useful to show the very Venezuelan Government is behind of some these fake and out of context images.

    Don't tell me that this task is too difficult and you don't have time. I gave you all the sources and updating is more an exercise of copying and pasting that anyone with basic blogging or HTML knowledge can perform in no more than 10 minutes.

    Sorry, I forgot, you are part of the left machinery trying to cover the sun with one finger.

  15. Brian:
    Feb 27, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    Tell the truth and out roll trolls to tell you how wonderful life was in venezuela before the revolution : as if the barrios looming large over Caracas fidnt tell a different story . The photo manipulation we see here is the same sort users malign Gadafi and Libya and Assad and Syria . The need to lie does a cause insupportable .

  16. Brenda Heard:
    Feb 28, 2014 at 02:44 AM

    And the Middle East has well known this problem. Here's a brief study on one image I did: "The Recycled War Victim US/Iraq? Israel/Lebanon? Iran/Iran?"

  17. Mirco Palmiro:
    Feb 28, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    With this article you don't help Venezuela, Fake or not Fake is not the problem. Please go to Venezuela and take you photos it will be worst that you post here.

  18. Purple Library Guy:
    Feb 28, 2014 at 04:04 PM

    What amazes me about this is the aggressive response in the comments. I cannot imagine not being ashamed that my side is lying. Here we have people trying to convince us of the righteousness of their cause . . . by denouncing and browbeating someone for telling the truth. How can I believe anything someone says, if their reaction to the truth someone else says is that they should shut up about it, that they are scum for daring to tell the truth?

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