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‘Crazy’ conspiracy theories targeting Latinos ‘a new phenomenon’ on Florida Spanish-speaking radio

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US President Donald Trump, embroiled in a scandal over his communications with Ukraine, is facing growing calls from opposition Democrats for impeachment proceedings to be launched against him AFP / SAUL LOEB

According to a report from Politico, conservative activists are making inroads within the part of the Latino community that is immersed in politics by pushing conspiracy theories about Democrats, Black Lives Matter and presidential nominee Joe Biden through both a popular app that circumvents mainstream newsfeeds and via Spanish language radio.

As one Latino Democratic strategist put it, “I’ve never seen this level of disinformation, conspiracy theories and lies. It looks as if it has to be coordinated.”

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At issue is the use of WhatsApp which is popular in the community, particularly when it comes to the group chat feature where it is a free-for-all when it comes to unsourced information and extremist rabble-rousing.

According to the report, WhatsApp’s popularity stems from the fact that a user doesn’t need a U.S. phone number or designated mobile service provider.

“In South Florida, veteran Latino Democratic strategist Evelyn Perez-Verdia noticed this summer that the WhatsApp groups dedicated to updates on the pandemic and news for the Colombian and Venezuelan communities became intermittently interspersed with conspiracy theories from videos of far-right commentators or news clips from new Spanish-language sites, like Noticias 24 and PanAm Post, and the YouTube-based Informativo G24 website,” the report states. “For instance, in a Covid WhatsApp chat group, a Republican posted a statement that real Catholics can’t be Democrats, which Evelyn Perez-Verdia found objectionable. But the group chat’s founder and administrator, businessman and former Republican Miami-Dade County Commission candidate Alfred Santamaria, said he didn’t ban the comment because he believed people should have freedom of expression.”

Among the other topics that have featured prominently is how “Black Lives Matter and other activist groups are planning a ‘siege’ on the White House later this month” and anti-Semitic smears aimed at longtime rightwing bogeymen George Soros.

Worse still, the disinformation is being distributed worldwide with an accusation that former Vice President Joe Biden is a pedophile was amplified to the point where “#BidenPedofilio” was trending in Spain.

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According to Raúl Martínez, a Democrat who served as mayor of Hialeah, “It’s really just a free-for-all now. It’s mind-boggling. I started in politics when I was 20. I’ve never seen it like this.”

Roberto Tejera, a political independent who hosts a show on Actualidad Radio agreed.

“It’s not right-wing. I don’t have a problem with right-wing stuff. It’s QAnon stuff. This is conspiracy theory. This goes beyond. This is new. This is a new phenomenon in Spanish speaking radio. We Cubans are not normal,” he explained, “but this is new. This is crazy. This is f*cking crazy.”

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