Last-minute propaganda offensives of Colombia’s government and the country’s police did not work out the way they may have anticipated.
The government was accused of abuse of power, stigmatization and breaching privacy laws after sending out propaganda text messages.
The police came under fire after a police propaganda video of controversial riot police ESMAD that included the illegal use of force.
President Ivan Duque did a last-minute address to the nation after which one journalist told Colombia Reports that “he is fucked beyond belief.”
Between 2PM and 5PM, dozens of people said they received a message that “#ConstructNotDestroy Peaceful protest is everybody’s right, but we will not permit that violent people affect the right to free manifestation, Government of Colombia.”
Hours later, citizens received a second message promoting an 8PM interview with the president on a cable television network.
“I believe this breaches my data protection rights,” one twitter user said.
“Another reason to march,” another responded.
“The family” shooting teargas at Colombians
The second propaganda offensive came from the National Police, which published promotional videos of the ESMAD riot unit that violently repressed student and indigenous protests earlier this year.
In the video, “the family” glorified shooting teargas at people.
Colombia’s anti-riot squad releases Hollywood-style trailer of them gloriously firing tear (at other Colombians) and marching intimidatingly through city streets, calling themselves “the family”. All of this a day before a massive national march against government #21n https://t.co/WmLEwCTQhO
— Toby Muse (@tobymuse) November 20, 2019
Twitter users immediately pointed out that the video showed a policemen shooting a teargas canister straight at protesters, which is illegal.
“Dismantle this human rights violating death squad instead,” one Twitter user said.
“ESMAD are the worst pieces of shit the country has second only to the piece of shit president we have,” another added.
Duque’s final stigmatization attempt
Last but not least, President Ivan Duque took to national television in which he made the baseless accusation that “some see the right to protest as an opportunity for agitation based on lies that only seek to generate division between Colombians. We will not allow that some return us to old, senseless confrontations.”
Hay unos pocos que ven en el derecho a la protesta una oportunidad de agitación basada en mentiras, que lo único que buscan es generar división entre los colombianos. No vamos a permitir que algunos nos devuelvan a viejas confrontaciones sin sentido. pic.twitter.com/ogKo5J6WC8
— Iván Duque (@IvanDuque) November 21, 2019
The speech came hours after UN Human Rights chief Alberto Brunori rejected the “stigmatization of social protest,” primarily promoted by Duque and his far-right Democratic Center party.
All of the organizations promoting the anti-government protest have called for peaceful protests. In fact, the majority of the organizations demand Duque implement peace policies opposed by his party.
The president, however, has focused on violent incidents that have marred protests and in multiple cases were carried out by undercover police officers that allowed colleagues to break up the protests.
So far, Duque’s denial of the validity of the protesters’ demands and his government’s efforts to stigmatize the protesters appear to have only had adverse effects.
In a poll released by commercial television network Caracol on Tuesday, 70% of Colombians said to be behind the protests. A previous poll showed that the president has a disapproval rating of 69%.