CLS Strategies, a DC PR firm linked to the U.S. government, spent $3.6 million to spread fake news on Facebook and Instagram promoting the coup government in Bolivia and the right-wing oppositions in Venezuela and Mexico. Let’s hold them accountable!
After the overthrow of President Evo Morales in Bolivia last year, the coup government hired a D.C.-based public relations firm called CLS Strategies to boost its image and attack Morales’ MAS party. CLS did just that by spreading fake news that reached hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Even Facebook eventually caught onto their lies, suspending 100 pages on Facebook and Instagram linked to CLS.
Spreading disinformation erodes democracy. Exhibit A is Bolivia, where because of CLS and a false report put out by the Organization of American States, people still wrongly believe that the elections in Bolivia were marred by fraud, despite this being debunked time and time again. Just as we denounce the U.S. government when it interferes abroad, we need to denounce U.S. companies when they do the same. This is especially true since CLS has deep ties to the U.S. government and Democratic party.
The CLS fake news network not only spread lies in Bolivia to help the coup government, it also spread propaganda against the Maduro government in Venezuela and the López Obrador government in Mexico. CLS spent $3.6 million on Facebook ads alone, and it is still unclear as to who exactly financed these operations.
After Facebook deleted the fake accounts, CLS issued a press release announcing an internal investigation aided by a law firm and that their “head of Latin America practice” had been placed on leave. An internal investigation that may never see the light of day is not enough.
Join us demanding that CLS take the following steps:
- Transparency: The internal investigation must be released to the public and it must include a breakdown of the social reach and influence that their propaganda networks had.
- Accountability: Everyone involved in this propaganda network must be fired.
- Restitution: CLS Strategies should pay $3.6 million (equal to the amount they spent on advertising on Facebook) to independent and grassroots media in Bolivia, Venezuela and Mexico.
For more information about this unfolding scandal about CLS, read this article by journalist Ben Norton of The Grayzone and this analysis by a team of Stanford researchers. CODEPINK remains committed to educating ourselves and others about the realities of U.S. intervention in Latin America, a task which is difficult in the era of corporate media monopolies and fake news.
Leonardo, Medea, Michelle and Teri
P.S. Our CODEPINK store has these amazing pink Guayabera shirts made by a Cuban women's cooperative. You can still grab your own as an act of challenging the blockade on Cuba!