Colombia since 2012 spent a total of $1.15 billion on propaganda campaigns, more than the annual operating costs of its entire justice system.
According to a report from Colombia’s Comptroller General’s Office, the government spent $1.15 billion on “publicity” from 2012 – January 2014, greater than the Justice Department’s $1 billion in operating costs for 2014.
Even when adding the Justice Department’s $3 million in investments, bringing its total budget to $1.3 billion, the marginal difference gives state-sponsored propaganda programs about the same amount of national influence as the rule of law.
Interestingly, throughout the first four months of 2013 when President Juan Manuel Santos was in the heat of his pre-election campaign, over 91% of publicity spending went towards promoting the administration’s achievement history, while the remaining 9% went to citizen information on how to access government programs and engage with public entities.
The Comptroller report noted the nine state agencies that control over 80% of all publicity contracts.
- Department for Social Prosperity
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry of Defense
- Ministry of Labor
- Ministry of Trade
- Ministry of Agriculture
- Ministry of Information Technology and Communication
- Ministry of Mines
- Ministry of Health
In an interview with Colombian newspaper Semana, Senator Ivan Duque, ally of bitter Santos enemy ex-president Alvaro Uribe, said that the amount the government invests in promoting itself is more than that going towards environmental and science/technology investment.
“Publicity contracts and events of just the top five government agencies could rise from 129,000 educational scholarships to 429,000.”
Those on Santos’ side are quick to point out that government operational spending is 30% less than it was during Uribe’s time in office.
The Santos government has promised to lower publicity spending by 40%, travel and living expenses by 15%, cellular and paperwork expenses by 10% while all at the same time reducing spending on vehicles, gas, security and bodyguards.
At the present moment, none of these reductions have been made.
- Así se habrían gastado $2,3 billones en publicidad y eventos (Semana)
- Comptroller report
- Budget presentation (Finance Ministry)