Colombia’s government critics victim of ‘illegal smear campaign’

Leading opposition politicians claim Colombia’s authoritarian government is involved in a smear campaign to influence next year’s elections elections.

Senator Roy Barreras announced criminal charges against guards of President Ivan Duque and members of the ruling Democratic Center party for their alleged participation in the plot.

Senator Ivan Cepeda additionally claimed that intelligence agents were conspiring with members of Duque’s far-right party to discredit opposition candidates.

Senators Roy Barreras and Ivan Cepeda

The accusations followed a publication of a video by government-loyal weekly Semana that showed Barreras picking up a rucksack containing a relatively small amount of cash.

Semana implied that the money was suspicious despite the fact the money didn’t seem to exceed the maximum amount of a single ATM withdrawal.

In a press conference, Barreras reiterated last week that the the “Roy Video” scandal fabricated by Semana was the latest example of “media loyal to the regime” publishing “illegally obtained information” to smear government critics.

Semana has published multiple “false” and “questionable” claims that favor the government, according to fact checking website Colombiacheck.

Government’s “modus operandi” to smear critics

  • Police and intelligence officials illegally shadow and intercept the communication of critics to fabricates accusations
  • Illegally obtained information is given to government-loyal media
  • Media subsequently publish “deceitful” headlines effectively slandering government critics
  • Government supporters replicate this “fake news” on social media
  • Media subsequently report on the “scandal” on social media
  • Alleged victims of the smear campaigns are sued over the false claims
  • Media report on the lawsuits against government critics
Source: Senator Roy Barreras

Colombia Reports exposed the “barrage of lies and propaganda” of another government-loyal news outlet, television network RCN, in May.

Colombia turns on media amid barrage of lies and propaganda

According to Barreras, the alleged criminal conspiracy to smear government critics may have been going on for years.

Cepeda told the commander of the National Army, General Eduardo Zapateiro, on Sunday that “it is time that you explain why alleged military intelligence ‘reports’ are regularly and systematically filtered to news media.”

The opposition senator previously accused politicians loyal to Duque’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, of being behind the smear campaign allegedly carried out with the support of the security forces.

Both Barreras and Cepeda announced legal action to end the allegedly illegal attempts to smear opponents and critics of the government and its political allies.

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