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Video shows Venezuela procession, not ‘Indonesian politician’s supporters in Papua New Guinea’

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Misinformation and mudslinging is rife on Indonesian social media ahead of the February 2024 presidential election. In the latest case, footage of a Catholic procession in Venezuela has surfaced in posts that falsely claim it shows supporters of presidential hopeful Anies Baswedan in Papua New Guinea. The clip was in fact originally posted as a joke by supporters of a rival candidate before it was shared by netizens who appeared to believe it showed genuine footage of Anies’ fans gathered to support him.

“Wowwww… Anies Baswedan’s supporters in Papua New Guinea,” reads Indonesian sticker text on a video posted on January 25, 2024 by a TikTok account supporting the Indonesian presidential candidate.

“Hope Anies will be elected as president of Papua New Guinea.”

The video, which shows a massive crowd filling a large strip of road, was viewed more than 300 times before it was removed.

<span>Screenshot of the false post, taken on January 29, 2024</span>

Screenshot of the false post, taken on January 29, 2024

The post appeared ahead of Indonesia’s February 14 election that will determine the successor to popular two-term President Joko Widodo, who is barred from running to lead the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation again.

Nearly 205 million people are eligible to cast their ballots in the polls, where Anies — former governor of the capital Jakarta — is facing off against ex-Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo and Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto.

The clip racked up a total 417,500 views after it was shared by other pro-Anies TikTok accounts here, here, here and here.

However, the claim is false.

Satirical posts

The video was first shared by Prabowo fans who mocked Anies’ supporters for apparently confusing the Pacific Island nation of Papua New Guinea with the Indonesian region of Papua.

When deadly rioting erupted in Papua New Guinea in January, Instagram posts about the unrest shared by Indonesian news outlets were flooded with comments by people who appeared to believe it was happening in Papua — which shares a border with Papua New Guinea (archived links here, here and here).

A police strike over unexplained deductions from officers’ pay was blamed for stoking the violence in which at least 25 people were killed.

Some confused netizens blamed the unrest on Defence Minister Prabowo and said it meant they were “now more confident to vote for Anies”, noting his campaign promise to boost the salaries of Indonesian police and military personnel (archived link).

The video of a huge crowd subsequently emerged in posts from Prabowo fans joking that it showed Anies supporters in Papua New Guinea — a jibe at his purported new popularity there.

“Anies’ crowd is unstoppable in Papua New Guinea. I hope Mr Anies is elected to the top job there,” read an apparently sarcastic TikTok post by a Prabowo supporters sharing the video.

Another post on SnackVideo that shared the clip jokingly asked for tips on “how to make Anies’ supporters smarter” — apparently mocking them for confusing the two places.

Venezuela religious procession

A reverse image search on Google, followed by a keyword search on TikTok, found a longer video shared on January 15, 2024 in a post about a procession in Venezula — not Papua New Guinea (archived link).

The post’s caption has a series of hashtags: “#divinapastora #2024 #Barquisimeto”.”

<span>Screenshot of the genuine TikTok video</span>

Screenshot of the genuine TikTok video

Divina Pastora — or Spanish for the Divine Shepherdess — is a religious procession that takes place every year on January 14 in Barquisimeto, the capital of Venezuela’s Lara state, to commemorate the city’s patron saint.

More than 2.7 million Catholics took part in the 2024 procession, according to the state governor (archived link).

Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias detailed the route of the procession, starting from the Santa Rosa de Lima church — the permanent home of the Divine Shepherdess Virgin image — through Lara Avenue, Macario Yepez Square and Venezuela Avenue before arriving at the city’s cathedral (archived link).

A Google image search of these streets found a 2022 video on YouTube titled: “Venezuela Avenue | Barquisimeto | Venezuela” (archived link).

At the eight-minute mark, the video shows a yellow multi-storey building, with a big billboard for Daka electronics chain on its roof. The same building is also seen at the start of the TikTok video about Anies.

According to the narrator of the YouTube video, it was filmed near the intersection of Venezuela Avenue and Vargas Avenue.

Geolocation on Google Earth found the building is situated on Venezuela Avenue, between 20th Street and 19th Street, just a block away from Vargas Avenue.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the false video (top left), the genuine TikTok video (top right) and the 2022 YouTube video (bottom), with corresponding landmarks marked by AFP:

<span>Screenshot comparison of the false video (top left), the genuine TikTok video (top right) and the 2022 YouTube video (bottom)</span>

Screenshot comparison of the false video (top left), the genuine TikTok video (top right) and the 2022 YouTube video (bottom)

Governor Adolfo Pereira of Lara state posted a video and photos of the Divina Pastora procession on his official X account January 14, 2024 (archived links here and here).

One of the pictures shows a low-rise white building and two rows of people wearing yellow vests. Both are visible in the TikTok videos.

Google Maps shows that the building is the Iribarren Municipality Administration Office, located at the intersection of Venezuela Avenue and Vargas Avenue.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the TikTok video showing the Divina Pastora (left), the photo from the Lara governor (top right) and the Google image of the Irribaren municipality office (bottom right), with corresponding features marked by AFP:

<span>Screenshot comparison of the genuine TikTok video (left), the photo from the Lara governor (top right) and the Google image of the Irribaren municipality office (bottom right)</span>

Screenshot comparison of the genuine TikTok video (left), the photo from the Lara governor (top right) and the Google image of the Irribaren municipality office (bottom right)

AFP previously fact-checked misinformation that started as satire during Indonesia’s 2019 election, including posts targeting Prabowo and the Thai police. 

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