The FLIP has been investigating media’s reliance on government propaganda funds and previously found that commercial media had received large amounts of money from the city governments of Bogota and Barranquilla to present propaganda as news.
But no city dweller paid as much to maintain their mayor’s public image as the residents of Medellin, according to the press freedom foundation.
The FLIP’s investigation did not include 2018, the year in which the University of Antioquia found that the mayor was using public funds to promote the hard-right party of former President Alvaro Uribe ahead of elections earlier this year.
“Fico’s” gigantic propaganda machine
According to government documents released by the FLIP , Medellin’s government also paid pollster Invamer, which has consistently claimed that the mayor’s approval rating is higher than 90%.
The FLIP’s investigation revealed that particularly local public TV network Telemedellin was used to disseminate propaganda rather than provide a public service.
Local newspapers El Colombiano and Q’Hubo, and national media like weekly Semana, Caracol Radio and ADN were also paid to promote the “popular” mayor.
Medellin denies propaganda spending, gets sued
Medellin’s city hall immediately denied that it had spent 10 times more on the mayor’s image than on the Department for Women, which seeks to improve the lives of women in the city.
The FLIP subsequently sued the Medellin’s mayor’s office, formally demanding a rectification from Gutierrez’ office that claimed it had only spent only $11 million (COP36 billion) on propaganda in 2016 and 2017 contrary to the evidence put forth by the FLIP.