Category Archives: Manipulating information

Colombians protest against kidnappings

After the murder of 11 deputies by FARC guerrillas, Colombians decided to go to the streets and yell “No More Kidnappings“. It started as a citizen initiative, but soon the democratic security government, big companies and mainstream media supported it and invited people to join. The huge demonstration took place on Thursday 5 July at noon. Even Second Lifers protested. But leftist Alternative Democratic Pole preferred to convoke its “own march”, because it didn’t want to be supportive of president Uribe, who is also considered [by them] responsible for the death of the local lawmakers.

equinoXio had a big special with some pictures from its “correspondents” in 5 cities (Bogotá, Medellín [twice], Cali, Manizales, and Pasto). Padrino José, writing from Cali, recalls his experience:

They marched today, I was there, but what I felt was the loneliness of the deputies’ families, amidst callings from political caudillos taking advantages from banners, flags and puppets calling for rejection [of kidnappings], I saw the pre-candidates for next elections fishing in Cali river’s troubled waters. But the saddest thing and that what I didn’t want to listen was the way deputy [Carlos] Charry’s daughter [Carolina] was treated while she read a grateful letter in behalf of the families and who was booed by the crowd as she said:

“… Our deads belong to us. Thank you for mobilizing to reject the government’s policies…”

And it’s them, the relatives, who in a unobjectionable mix of pain and loneliness sheltered by a blanket have in my opinion the best version of what happened: unfulfilled promises, cancelled appointments, begs everywhere in a 5-year restless search for their release and nothing could achieve it, the will of the parts in order to help in the right moment was an already earned right and they couldn’t get it, and to their surprise, now, when they clamour for their deads the voices of pain seem to be selfish and strategic and they will surely hold up the path to reach an ending.

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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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Uribe’s defence on primetime [“Al Gore rejected me” :'( ]

While Tuesday’s debate on paramilitarism in Antioquia was broadcasted on a national public network on the afternoon, Thursday’s press conference was held on primetime on every national networks, with TV, radio and agencies like EFE, AP and AFP journalists and correspondents chosen by invitation (excluding print press, maybe punishing El Tiempo for its “centred” editorial on the issue, which is “infamous” according to Pablo Escobar’s cousin and presidential adviser José Obdulio Gaviria) and the news that U. S. former vicepresident Al Gore had cancelled its participation at an enviromental forum in Miami the next day for the “‘deeply troubling” allegations by opposition congresspeople. This is bad news, but for him, not for the country, specially after Democrat senator Patrick Leahy “re-freezed” US$55 million for Plan Colombia earlier this week. The same night, earlier, during another press conference with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, Uribe angrily said “I’m worried because the political friends of the guerrilla, who pose here as political enemies of the ‘yankee imperialism’ go often to the U. S. to discredit Colombian government”. I “covered” the press conference “live” for digital magazine equinoXio.

Uribe’s fanatical supporters claim that Uribe “swept” Congressman Gustavo Petro’s allegations, specially because he was fast at denying his links with paramilitaries, but I think he actually evaded some of the important questions and treated quite disdainfully La W Radio‘s Félix de Bedout and Caracol Radio‘s Néstor Morales, by calling them “doctors”. He maybe hit well back on the allegations against his family, but some serious things came up. Remember the picture of Uribe’s brother Santiago with the drug-dealing clan Ochoa? Well, Uribe said he was taken a picture with Justo Pastor Perafán, another drug dealing lord currently in a U. S. prison. When AFP correspondent said he was a friend of friends of paramilitaries (that’s true, as you can see by the currently imprisoned congresspeople), he did not answer clearly.

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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