Resilience while working under a repressive regime – experiences from Efecto Cocuyo, Venezuela
About Efecto Cocuyo
The independent news website Efecto Cocuyo was born in 2015 out of a crisis. In 2014, a period of political unrest, censorship and self-censorship, three people were killed in Caracas, Venezuela's capital, during a demonstration against the government. Luz Mely Reyes, who worked at the time for a national print outlet, started tweeting directly from the event, and her followers tripled in four days. She and some colleagues recognized their fellow citizens' need for reliable information as well as a journalistic opportunity. They devised an organization that could have the "firefly effect": small lights (citizens and journalists) that together could illuminate the entire nation. It was created both as an outlet and as a school for journalists. Reporters Without Borders names Efecto Cocuyo one of the few independent media outlets in Venezuela. Most of their crises are due to political repression.
Efecto Cocuyo is built on four pillars: To train, to inform, to maintain close ties with people, and to develop the organization. All of them have been instrumental for their resilience strategy, by creating a community of support, or building institutional capacities. Administration and finance have been crucial in dealing with crises, as well as the creation of internal policies, protocols and crisis committees, and strong national and international support networks. The latter developed more or less unintentionally in the beginning, but then Efecto Cocuyo cultivated them strategically. Empathetic and supportive leadership, and team training in physical, digital and emotional health have also been key.
Top 5 recommendations for resilience while working under a repressive regime
"We tend to underestimate the ability to do harm of those who wield power. We have a tendency to overestimate our ability to withstand attacks. We are very fragile in the face of hostile governments."
Luz Mely Reyes, Editor-in-chief, Efecto Cocuyo, Venezuela