Daniel Coronell is the journalist behind the recent string of revelations which has exposed former President Alvaro Uribe‘s now-evidently hypocritical opposition to the Colombian government’s peace talks with the FARC rebels.
With more than 20 years of experience as journalist, Coronell has broken some of the biggest stories in Colombian politics while also remaining active in academia as a journalism professor and research fellow in Colombia and abroad.
He is currently a columnist at the Colombian weekly Semana. After acting as director of Colombian television network Noticias Uno, in 2011 Coronell became director of Univision, the largest Spanish-language news channel in the United States.
Coronell has been a fierce critic of Uribe for more than a decade, publishing stories, documents, and opinion pieces which have detailed the questionable ties and activities of the now-Senator and his family.
Back in 2002, Coronell revealed that a helicopter owned by Uribe’s father had been found at a cocaine processing center in the south of Colombia in a 1984 raid by local police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Following the story, Coronell and his family received a number of death threats, causing the journalist to go into exile between 2005 and 2007.
In 2009, the Semana columnist broke a story about Uribe’s two sons receiving privileged treatment in their private business dealings through decisions made by officials under Uribe’s authority.
In spite of attempts by Uribe to discredit the journalist, paradoxically over mafia ties, US network Univision hired Coronell to become an executive for its Spanish news department, further increasing his profile. In 2012, a year after he was hired by the US network, Univision promoted Coronell to Senior Vice President and Executive News Director.
In October of this year, Coronell revealed that during his administration (2002-2010), Uribe had offered the FARC a demilitarized zone and to block the extradition of guerrilla leaders in order to advance peace talks with the rebel group.
The revelations caused great scandal as Uribe as he, along with his far-right Democratic Center political party, has been a vocal opponent of the current administration’s peace efforts in Havana, Cuba.
Throughout the negotiations, President Juan Manual Santos has consistently been accused by Uribe of “capitulating to terrorists” and handing-over the country to “Castro-Chavismo,” a reference to Uribe’s political opposites in Venezuela and Cuba.
Coronell’s columns have exposed Uribe’s criticisms as insincere in attacking the current administration for doing almost exactly what the ex-President himself had attempted while he was in high office.
Following the October 4 column, Uribe issued denials and attempted to clarify his actions as president, while also accusing Coronell of working with Santos to defame his “good name.”
In the next issue of Semana (October 12), Coronell revealed that Uribe had offered $500,000 to the FARC for “social projects” in order to appease the rebels and convince them to come to the negotiating table.
His third column (October 20) in the series of revelations showed that Uribe was even willing to offer the FARC rebels seats in Congress in an eventual peace deal.
Uribe attempted to deny these allegations as well, claiming that he never offered public money to the rebels and that congressional seats would align with the Constitution, meaning only those who “political” crimes would be able to enter politics.
Almost as if he had planned Uribe’s denials, Coronell’s most recent column showed both of the ex-president’s rebuttals to be false.
In his most recent piece entitled “The indelible traces,” the journalist opened the with the following: “The last few weeks have not been good for Senator Alvaro Uribe…the archive of his actions and declarations have begun to contradict him better than any of his adversaries.”
Coronell then proceeded to show, through intercepted phone conversations of mediator Henry Acosta who tried to secure talks with the rebels, that public funds were indeed offered by then peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo.
Also revealed was the existence of a video of Uribe in which he says that the Constitution would have to be changed to allow the rebels who were responsible for atrocities to enter Congress.
Coronell posted a tweet with the video Sunday: “Already three thousands people have seen the declaration of Alvaro Urive describing how guerrillas would enter Congress.”
To the courts
The website Los2Orillas has reported that both Coronell and Uribe have filed defamation suits against each other with the Prosecutor General’s office after the recent revelations and the public responses.
Coronell filed that complaints after Uribe said he was “allied with the Mafia.”
Uribe, in addition to the defamation suit, has requested that authorities investigate the manner in which the journalist obtained personal communications of the ex-president.