An officer of Colombia’s National Police has spoken out against her firing from the force following her dismissal for her alleged public political participation while acting as a public servant.
Colombian police officer Laura Patricia Zuleta Quintero recounted her story of being dismissed from the force claiming that she was not given “due process” to explain her defense, Colombia’s Semana news magazine reported on Friday.
The 25-year-old Zuleta, with an impeccable four-year record on the police force, explained that she was fired over forwarding a message from another trooper on the social media platform Whatsapp that spoke ill of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and the ongoing peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC.
The message that got her fired
Zuleta claimed that she was not the composer of the controversial political message, but she did admit to forwarding it. The message read as follows:
“Plan B of Santos in the second round [of presidential elections]: they announced the signing of a partial peace agreement that includes a bilateral ceasefire from hostilities. There will be whatever document, but they will announce it as the definitive signature of the conflict. It will be supported by the FARC. The idea is to look for favorability like when the beginning of the [peace] process was announced and [President] JMS reached 70%. This will be seen as the solution for re-election in the second round [on Sunday], and from thereafter, the country will become a demilitarized zone for kidnapping and extortion. Please spread.”
The spreading of the political message by members of the National Police has generated all kinds of reactions considering that “a public servant should not act as a multiplier of political messages and the fact that they were private does not exonerate them from responsibility,” or as police commander General Rodolfo Palomino put it, “He who sins innocently is innocently condemned,” reported Semana.
In her defense, Zuleta admitted to forwarding the message; however, she questioned the manner in which she was expelled and claimed there was no due process to allow her to explain what happened.
“I accept that I forwarded the message, but what if someone had taken my phone and then forwarded it by me? It would’ve ruined my career without having the tiniest of responsibility,” said the dismissed officer.
According to Zuleta, receiving political messages and internal forwarding among members of the police is commonplace, raising debates about regulations within public institutions and reviving the question of whether or not members of the public sector should be allowed to vote.
The former police officer indicated that she did not have any interest in meeting with the high command to reverse the decision.