The Maduro regime is restricting access to a volunteer registration website launched on Monday by the opposition called VoluntariosXVenezuela. The website allows any Venezuelan citizen to register as a volunteer to help deliver humanitarian aid into the country.
According to interim president Juan Guaido, 600,000 Venezuelans have registered to volunteer in the humanitarian efforts through the website.
The Maduro regime maintains an eclectic collection of opinions on the aid campaign. Maduro himself has voiced a number of theories on the aid, ranging from claiming that it is a fake campaign launched to justify a military invasion of the country to claiming that the aid amounted to “crumbs” and is “rotten”.
Maduro’s decision to turn the matter of the humanitarian aid into a battleground is likely the result of at least two perceptions. First, Maduro might think that allowing the aid into the country would be tantamount to admitting that his presidency–and chavismo in general–have destroyed Venezuela and left the country unable to produce for itself. Second, Maduro is likely worried that the success of the opposition-led campaign, which involves many nations he has whipped up to be Venezuela’s enemies for years, would result in poor optics for himself and the ruling PSUV party.
The attempt to disrupt access to VoluntariosXVenezuela were confirmed by Netblocks.org, an organization that tracks state-sponsored interference with the internet. Below, Netblocks.org’s tweet and report on the matter:
The news comes just a day after Motherboard reported that the regime “appears to be trying to hack” and spoof websites with the aim of disrupting grassroots organization and possibly steal the personal information of activists.
According to the article, there is evidence to suggest that Venezuelan state actors have mounted a campaign to create websites that look like popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, as well as Gmail, but that in fact are owned by the Maduro regime.
In practice, a user who thinks that they are signing in to their Twitter account would actually be unwittingly giving their username and passport directly to the regime.
According to Motherboard:
[CrowdStrike VP Adam] Meyers said that they don’t have enough data to know how effective the phishing campaign was. But the hackers could have potentially hit hundreds of people, given that Guaido recently said that almost 100,000 people have signed up to help bring aid.
Rivas said that Venezuelan visitors of VoluntariosxVenezuela were redirected to the fake site by the state-controlled ISP CANTV, which was manipulating the Domain Name System, or DNS. Other technologists and internet users in Venezuela reported the same findings.
“It’s clearly a concerted effort to phish credentials of victims in Venezuela,” Meyers said.
Regime Arrests Seven Humanitarian Workers
The Direccion General de Contrainteligencia Militar (General Directorate for Military Counterintelligence, DGCIM) arrested seven humanitarian workers today at an aid station in Maracay, Aragua state.
According to El Nacional, the workers were setting up a humanitarian aid station in preparation for the anticipated arrival of aid from Colombia on February 24. The station was composed of tents, chairs, and a sound system. Aside from detaining the workers, the DGCIM also took an undisclosed number of vehicles as well as their tools.
El Nacional claims that similar aid stations have popped up in at least 10 other states. Aside from serving as aid-delivery points, the stations will also count with staff to register individuals who require aid at the community level.
US Senator Rubio Makes Cucuta Trip
United States Senator for the state of Florida Marco Rubio arrived in Cucuta, Colombia today to visit the ongoing humanitarian efforts destined for Venezuela.
According to El Nacionlai, Rubio and a small entourage that includes U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States Carlos Trujillo toured the area bordering Venezuela, which is currently being used to warehouse humanitarian aid.
Below, Rubio’s tweet announcing his visit:
The aid warehoused in Cucuta is scheduled to be transported into Venezuela on February 23.
Rubio also visted the Tienditas international bridge, on which the aid is supposed to enter Venezuela:
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