Austin app helping Venezuelan resistance through life-saving communication

The Zello app was originally created to use as a walkie-talkie replacement. Now, the resistance in Venezuela is using the app for communication.

Technology developed in Austin is helping people around the world keep in touch — including in Venezuela, which is currently dealing with civil unrest over an unpopular president.

When the Zello app was created in 2007, those working for the communication company would have never guessed just how the technology would be used.

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"No way, no way," CEO Bill Moore said. "The original idea was texting's kinda clumsy on a phone, phones are designed to talk, but what was missing was a radio-style communication using your phone."

While it's still used as a walkie-talkie app here in the U.S., it's become a hub for organizing political resistance in Venezuela.

"We represent the resistance, which is, what we believe, the true opposition to Nicolas Maduro's tyranny," Maria, the organizer of the channel Venezuela Hasta Los Tuetanos on Zello, said.

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Maria lives in Miami and for safety reasons, she said she didn't want KVUE to use a picture of her or release her last name. 

She runs the Zello channel that can be heard around the world. Zello allows her the chance to give people in her home country information, even after the government shuts down other forms of communication. 

Info like finding medicine or alerting of possible dangers.

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"Because of Zello we have been able to, what we believe, save lives by warning people about Maduro's armed forces coming to attack," Maria said.

"It's a go-to app when the stakes are high," Moore said. "It's like a radio, but imagine the reality is everyone has a radio and it works all around the globe."

Because even though this app wasn't designed to be used like this, Zello is happy it can help to save lives.

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