Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe may lose his last major defender in Colombia’s mainstream media as newspaper El Tiempo considers sacking columnist Jose Obdulio Gaviria for presenting fictitious events as facts.
In his column, Gaviria had asserted that Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo, who has been representing the government in preliminary peace talks with guerrilla group FARC, had used the negotiations in Cuba to arrange the liberation of a kidnap victim “with strong ties to a certain business consortium whose top leaders unconditionally support [President Juan Manuel] Santos and the so-called ‘peace negotiations’.”
The column caused furious responses from both Jaramillo and El Tiempo director Roberto Pombo, while the family of the kidnap victim denied any government interference and told the newspaper the column was “full of falsehoods.”
In a letter to El Tiempo the Peace Commissioner said the column was “a complete invention.”
“The problem is not just the lack of veracity, but the evident aim to distort the government’s attempt to bring a peace process with the FARC to fruition with false information,” Jaramillo said.
In response, Pombo told RCN Radio he was angry with Gaviria, accusing his columnist of “abusing” El Tiempo and of “sabotage” in order to “torpede the peace process.”
In an interview with W Radio, the El Tiempo director said he was considering firing Gaviria, who is the last remaining Uribe ally with a prominent spot in the media after RCN Radio decided to not extend the contract of former Vice President Francisco Santos.
According to Pombo, he has been holding off on a final decision in regards to Gaviria because he did not want to make any decisions while “my blood is still boiling.”
Gaviria, who initially said his column was based on “reliable sources” later toned down saying his column consisted of “political literature.”