The first episode of the online series that promised to “morally do away with” former President Alvaro Uribe received more than 3.5 million views in the first 24 hours after its release.
“Matarife” is the work of attorney and journalist Daniel Mendoza, and based on decades of investigation by one of Colombia’s most senior journalists, Gonzalo Guillen.
The series’ initial success is another major blow for Uribe, who already is under investigation by the Supreme Court over his alleged manipulation of witnesses who have testified about the former president and his brother’s former death squads.
Colombia’s traditional news outlets largely ignored the series amid pressure by Uribe’s far-right party, the Democratic Center (CD), to prevent media attention.
The CD sent a letter of protest to the Colombian edition of Rolling Stone for announcing the release date of the series’ first episode and showing its trailer on the magazine’s website.
It is unjustifiable that Rolling Stone should lend itself to being a sounding board and thus become an accomplice to illegal actions by irresponsible people who make defamation and slander a means of ongoing belligerent and senseless political action.
Contrary to the far-right party’s claims, journalism is legal in Colombia. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the journalists after Uribe sued them for slander.
The ruling was a turning point and — despite the absence of a conviction — made it legal to call the former president a murderer, a narco, a paramilitary and a mafioso based on available evidence and testimonies.
Highlighting Uribe’s ties to organized crime, however, continues to be dangerous for Colombian journalists; Mendoza received multiple death threats ahead of Matarife’s first episode.
Guillen, who is now editor-in-chief of news website La Nueva Prensa, has reported on Colombia’s mafia since the 1970s and has had a price on his head almost permanently since then.