AFP Fact Check: misleading web posts add fuel to Bolivia crisis

La Paz (AFP) –


The resignation of Bolivia's Evo Morales and his replacement by a little known conservative senator has sparked a surge of misleading social media posts.

Here's a selection of misinformation debunked by AFP's fact-check service.

- Morales and 'friends' -

A black and white photo shared thousands of times on social media purports to show Morales with drug lords Pablo Escobar and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman:

The photo is a composite of three separate pictures.

Several reverse searches of images turned up this picture of Escobar:

Many websites have this picture of a smiling El Chapo, exactly as he appears in the composite:

This photo of Morales with a woman, taken in 2017, shows him exactly as he appears in the fake photo:

- Anez's tweets-

Since taking over as Bolivia's new interim president on November 12, stories have circulated that Jeanine Anez, a bible-brandishing conservative Christian, deleted old tweets criticizing indigenous people, including one in which she described Morales's Aymara community as "satanists".

Screen captures of what were purported to be old tweets were circulated on social networks.

AFP's fact checkers found one of these tweets to be false, but three of the tweets had indeed been erased by Anez.

One of the deleted tweets, marking the Aymara New Year, says: "Hopefully the Aymara new year won't see the light of day. Satanists, no one can replace God!"

Questioned about these messages, Anez accused the Morales administration of using "digital warriors" to falsify twitter accounts.

"I've seen a couple of tweets I've never written," she said, without explaining which ones they were.

- Gunship shooting -

A night-time video showing a helicopter firing on what appear to be homes went viral, with a ticker describing it as a military attack on civilians in Bolivia:

In reality, the video is of a February 2017 gunbattle in the western Mexican state of Nayarit between members of a drug cartel and Mexican federal forces:

- Ole, ole, ole... Evo, Evo? -

A celebrating crowd sing and chant in a widely shared video purporting to show Morales being greeted with cries of "Evo, Evo" on his November 12 arrival at Mexico City airport:

However, the sequence was in fact recorded on August 13, when Club America soccer fans welcoming goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa shouting "Ole, ole, ole, Memo, Memo":

- Morales 'brother' -

A video shared 30,000 times on social networks since November 10 purports to show Evo Morales' brother aboard a plane being insulted by other passengers:

However, the video, dating from 2016, in fact shows an incident involving Carlos Zannini, a former Argentine government official: