Seven officers in Colombia’s National Police force have been removed from their positions after accusations surfaced that they had been engaging in political proselytization on their social media accounts. One captain in the National Army is also being investigated, according to national media.
The dismissals came following investigations into claims made by vice-presidential candidate German Vargas that policemen were using their twitter accounts to advocate on the behalf of Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the current frontrunner in run-off elections against Vargas’ running mate, incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos.
National Police General Commander Rodolfo Palomino said that formal results from the investigations should be released prior to June 15’s second round presidential contest.
“I hope to deliver concrete results of this research no later than Monday or Tuesday in the following week, thus ensuring full transparency and full involvement of the police in support of democracy,” said the official.
According to the El Tiempo newspaper, other similar cases are being investigated across the Ministry of Defense.
Captain Jorge Enrique Orduz Salamanca of the National Army’s 32nd Aviation Brigade has been under investigation for related charges for the past two weeks, reported Cali‘s El Pais newspaper. The captain is married to Tatiana Cabello, a recently elected house representative, also from the Democratic Center party.
“State employees are prohibited from harassing pressuring, or influencing their subordinates in any way in support of a cause, campaign, or political controversy, including distributing campaign propaganda in favor or against any party,” a representative of the Inspector General’s Office, a state oversight body, told El Tiempo.
The complaints about police involvement in political activities came out last week, when Vargas denounced what he called “proselytization” in favor of Zuluaga, his running mate’s opponent in upcoming elections.
“Never in my life, and I already have many campaigns behind me, have I seen active members of the national police directly involved in campaign activities for the candidate Zuluaga” said Lleras said according to El Tiempo.
General Palomino had said previously this week that any persons found to be guilty of violating the neutrality of their public positions would be dismissed immediately.
At the time this article was published, Colombia Reports was unable to obtain confirmation from the National Police that the officers in question had indeed been dismissed.