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Monday, April 22, 2024

UF students support Venezuela on social media using hashtags, posters

UF students are using Facebook to broadcast the many Gator faces that support Venezuelan student protesters.

Raquel Larrañaga, a 22-year-old UF architecture senior, compiled hundreds of photos of students holding up posters with their name, country and two campaign hashtags: #ImYourVoiceVenezuela and #PrayForVenezuela.

About five student protesters have been killed as of Thursday in anti-government protests in cities across Venezuela. Many more have been injured or jailed.

Larrañaga said she feels a huge responsibility to promote the cause in the U.S.

“We’re not there to fight for our country and go to the streets and show our support,” she said. “So we have to show support in another way. We have to spread the word.”

She said she promotes the cause via social-media sharing. Social media is especially important in light of Venezuela’s limited access to media. Many media channels have been censored in Venezuela, and even Twitter has been restricted.

“If they don’t have access to it, we will provide the world with information,” she said.

Bruce Floyd, UF’s social media specialist, said social media is important as a low-cost way to promote ideas.

“If you can’t access a particular service that allows you to communicate with the world, then obviously that limits your opportunities,” he said.

Larrañaga said displaying the names of students’ countries on the posters represents a global support for the cause.

“They know that there’s someone out there that knows what’s happening and that wants their liberty as much as they want it,” she said.

Larrañaga met with other students Monday on Turlington Plaza to gather more pictures. They brought a sign that said “Ask me about Venezuela.”

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Estefanía Lalinde, a 19-year-old UF health science freshman from Venezuela, took photos of students on Turlington to support “Venezuelan students who are out there fighting for their lives,” she said.

The photos that Larrañaga has compiled will most likely be shared beyond Facebook.

Andreina Nash, a 21-year-old UF marketing and telecommunication junior, made the YouTube video “What’s going on in Venezuela in a nutshell.” The video went viral and now has more than 2 million views.

Larrañaga said Nash wants to make another video and asked her for pictures.

“I wish I could be there,” she said. “This is the best I can do.”

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 2/21/2014 under the headline “Students support Venezuela via social media, photos,"]

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