El Tiempo, hilariously described as “Colombia’s New York Times” by Vanity Fair, wrote a lyrical article about the constructional greatness of the new library on the campus of Colombia’s biggest public university, the National University.
The title itself, “Modern library at the National University inaugurated, thanks to a donation of Luis Carlos Sarmiento”, kind of made me raise my eyebrows, because it wasn’t just extremely long for a title, it also seems kind of irrelevant to mention who donated the money for the library in the title, unless you owe the donator something.
The article itself spent nearly 400 words on the wonders of the building, did some serious namedropping of all designers and architects and of course, again mentioned the building was donated by Colombia’s richest man Luis Carlos Sarmiento.
Sarmiento, owner of Banco de Bogotá, Banco AV Villas, Banco Popular and Banco de Occidente is Colombia’s richest man and number 140 on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people.
At the end of the article, in less than a 100 words, the article spoke of a “discordant tone” during the inauguration of the architectural masterpiece. “Hooded vandals” had been breaking windows and sprayed graffitis on the new building and had detained two undercover police agents.
Interesting. Most other media focused on the protest against the influence of the banking magnate on the public university and completely forgot to mention the greatness of the donation and the architectural magnificence.
What El Tiempo considered of lesser importance than the building and its wonderful sponsor, was picked up by AFP, El Espectador, Caracol and you name it.
Both AFP and Caracol mentioned the policemen were armed and caught while taking photos of the students attending the protest. They were handed over to the city’s deputy secretary of Security after a few hours, who objected the infiltration of armed police in student protests.
Other media ignored the selflessness of Don Luis as much as El Tiempo ignored the protests of the students and the possibly armed infiltration of a non violent student protest, condemned by both the university and local authorities.
None of the other media mentioned graffiti or broken windows, but it’s obvious some windows were broken and I haven’t yet seen a building in Colombian big cities that doesn’t have graffiti, which makes me seriously doubt the quality and bias of Colombian media compared to that of Colombia’s very own New York Times; El Tiempo.
Author Adriaan Alsema is editor-in-chief of Colombia Reports