U.S. Accuses Russia Of Causing South American Unrest, As Riots Sweep Through The Continent

the kremlin in moscow
Michael Parulava / Unsplash

The U.S. is accusing the Russian Federation for the increase of riots that have been sweeping through South America. According to The New York Times, the State Department found that a high number of tweets inciting protests came from Twitter accounts based in Moscow. The findings come after Russia has been accused of trying to influence the 2016 election in the United States.

After the State Department ran an analysis of social media that precluded numerous protests in numerous countries, they found an eerie pattern. In Chile, around 10 percent of all tweets supporting protests in late October originated from Twitter accounts that had a high certainty of being linked to Russia.

The protests were sparked after the government proposed a fare hike. The resulting outrage caused massive riots in many cities, where members of the public burned down train stations and claimed the lives of 29 people. President Piñera was even forced to declare a state of emergency and promise a referendum on the matter in 2020.

A similar situation emerged in Bolivia. Twitter accounts that were based in Russia jumped from publishing less than five tweets per day to over 1,000. Though it is not known how much the tweets specifically influenced the protests, the public dissent grew so large that it caused the resignation of President Evo Morales.

Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Chile were all targeted by Russian-linked accounts that would post nearly identical messages within 90 minutes of each other. The campaign continued for a month.

fire burning in Chilean protest
A fire burns during a December riot in Chile Marcelo Hernandez / Getty Images

Politicos believe that Russia is attempting to expand its influence in Latin America for two specific reasons. The first is based in their support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Many of the countries that had been targeted by Russian propaganda had governments that had been calling for Maduro’s resignation.

The second reason is that Russia potentially hopes that political unrest with diminish the influence of the U.S. in the region.

Russia is “playing a geopolitical role in this hemisphere against what they consider its main enemy — the United States,” explained Carlos Vecchio, an anti-Maduro Venezuelan envoy in Washington.

“It’s crucial that the international community understands that Russia has become an important ally to support Maduro, and we need to deal with this,” Vecchio added.

In addition to social media, Russian state sponsored television network Russia Today (RT) is a staple in many Latin American households. Experts estimate that the channel reaches 18 million people every week across 10 countries in Latin America.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can potentially address the issue when he visits Colombia later this week. In December, Colombia’s Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez accused Russia of spurring protests through social network campaigns.

In the U.S., experts are claiming that Russian bots are already attempting to influence the campaign of Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.