Category Archives: Lies

False quake alarm in Bogotá [video]

Ignorance. That’s the word which would summarize what happened on Tuesday 28 August in Bogotá. After Peru’s earthquake, and as every time a quake happens near Colombia, Bogotans remember, again, they should be prepared for this kind of disasters, but they (we) don’t. Around noon, someone who had nothing best to do, called several companies and government offices, pretending to be an engineer of Ingeominas (Colombia’s geological institute), and told them that an earthquake was going to take place in the city around 5 PM. The emergency hotlines, as well as the National Seismologic Network phone lines, collapsed. The rumour had been around since several days ago.

Even though most people with some education -or with some kind of common sense- know that earthquakes can’t be predicted (so far, of course), some buildings, specially downtown, started to be evacuated, and panic started. As you can see in the video, a surveillance worker for a military hospital told Caracol TV: “the order was to evacuate the [normal] people, not the patients”.

Nevertheless, the fear a big earthquake will strike Bogotá someday is by no means groundless. As Víctor Solano reminds us:

All the city of Bogotá is located in an intermediate seismic threat area. (…) the impact of an earthquake in Bogotá would be huge because the norms for an earthquake resistant architecture were adopted too late and that’s why 80 per cent of the buildings could collapse loudly.

Solano also criticized the media coverage and asked them to be more “responsible”. For example, some media outlets, like El Tiempo or Caracol Radio, claimed the National University of Colombia campus was evacuated, which wasn’t true (later they corrected the wrong information they provided).

The worst thing is that for almost two centuries a “prophecy” by father Francisco Margallo y Duquesne rings the ears of a lot of Bogotans every August: “The 31 August a year I won’t tell / successive earthquakes will destroy Santafé” (Bogotá’s colonial name, which was taken up again on 1991-2000). Although in 1917 (when several earthquakes actually struck the then big town) and 1973 the Margallo prophecy was about to be fulfilled, the last time Bogotá has been hit by a high magnitude earthquake was February 1967. On May there was an earthquake which left no victims (it was a Saturday around midnight, so I didn’t feel it). Maybe some people let themselves sway because of the date. In a Catholic country, is not strange to find some devote souls asking to go back into praying, as if a natural disaster was a punishment from God. The fans of the “triangle of lifehoax also show up on the forums. Of course, not everyone is so ignorant.

Bogotá’s mayor office has been working for years in a campaign in order to teach Bogotans what to do and how to prevent these events. Though the campaign has been praised, it seems that, if you see what happened on Tuesday, most people don’t take heed of it. As Hodracirk says, “it was a flashmob known only by one person” (the pranker, of course). It seems that, on one side, that campaign and everything we can do in order to learn how to prevent these disasters need to be spread. On the other, that we must be responsible and not to believe everything we find or read on the net. Ignorance is not just “daring”, as we use to say here, it may also be dangerous.

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Paramilitary leader’s “self-interview” causes outrage

Self-interview
Paid advertising featuring an interview with paramilitary chief Macaco, published on El Espectador (clic the picture to see the full page… I apologize for the bad quality of the picture)

On Saturday, weekly newspaper El Espectador published on his page 16A a “paid advertising” featuring an interview with Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo, also known as Javier Montañez or Macaco, former commander of the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) now demobilized Central Caribbean Bloc (BCB), whose “Justice and Peace” confession is scheduled for this week. Jiménez presents himself as a “peace businessman”. Jiménez replaced late Carlos Castaño as the BCB commander, when he joined the AUC while being a drug dealer (he could be extradited to the US because of this).

Of course, the Fundación Villa de la Esperanza, which paid the ad, is supported by Jiménez. In the “self-interview”, Jiménez keeps justifying the reasons he entered the AUC, claiming he was forced to do so. About paramilitary chief Salvatore Mancuso’s confession three weeks ago, when he implicated a lot of key people in Colombian politics (including current Vice President Francisco Santos and his cousin, Minister of Defence Juan Manuel Santos), economy, military, police and even large American and domestic companies, which allegedly supported the paramilitary death squads, Macaco says: “Mancuso’s truth is his truth and this country won’t be able to take it as a thermometre to measure we the ones who follow him, because my truth, as the other commanders’ one, has another nuances. My truth is, mainly, the one about the confrontation against guerrillas and the liberation of some regions from the insurgent oppression”. Later, he says “if the truth [will lead] to rise more resentment, why [should I] tell the truth?”. His confession will refer about “the confrontation of BCB in the regions and how illegal economies worked” there, where the 7,000 members of the BCB “worked”, from south of Bolívar Department, at the north of the country, passing by Santander Department and the Magdalena Medio region, until the Guaviare jungles and the southern Pacific coast, all places where they are allegedly responsible of massacres and murders.

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Colombian main newspaper misquotes (deliberately?) Italian magazine article on Bogotá

Last week, Italian weekly L’Espresso published an article praising the great changes Bogotá has been experiencing during the last 12 years, more or less, when Colombian capital city has been ruled by three good mayors. The article, The Bogotá miracle, was written by Antonio Carlucci, and lists some of the reforms and good things these politicians (mathematician and philosopher Antanas Mockus, economist Enrique Peñalosa and former union leader Luis Eduardo Garzón) have introduced here, as well as the wonderful places you can find in this big city.

As usual, Colombian media praises these pieces which encourage foreign turists to visit (and spend their money at) this troubled country. Néstor Pongutá, press attaché at Colombian embassy in Roma and correspondent for a Cali newspaper, picked up the L’Espresso article at El Tiempo, though he was kind of “creative” and invented a lot of sentences Carlucci never wrote about Bogotá. Both pieces called Colombia-based Italian blogger Doppiafila’s attention. At first, he thought the internet version of the article was edited, so he asked for someone in Italy to send him the print article scanned, to compare it with both the online piece and Pongutá’s article. He got the scanned article and realized Pongutá made some inventions: Continue reading