The Media in Colombia: the Information Manipulation Business
by Yesid Bubú Baltazar
(Translated by Rich Henighan, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
In recent times, the international geo-political context has shown that those who dominate information have the power to control peoples’ minds. In present-day Colombia the major political and economic machines can be seen to manipulate the private media at whim, thus maintaining control over public opinion.
It is no secret that Alvaro Uribe’s belligerent, authoritarian discourse and his Democratic Security policy are sustained by the high esteem they enjoy in public opinion. This is due to the relentless publicity for Uribe’s so-called “policy achievements”, broadcast mainly on the private channels RCN and Caracol.
All military outcomes of armed confrontations in the present conflict are glorified in the media to favor the State. Little or nothing is said about how much balderdash the government invents in order to show results in the midst of all the misery, death and inequality generated by the bloody, bellicose Democratic Security policy.
One clear example is the “false positives”, which there was so much pressure to publicize. Why don’t the media deploy all the information and disclose the truth to the public about all the Government’s fabricated “false positives”? Why does the Government single out as terrorists all the reporters and alternative media that try to get to the truth of these events, so as to publish it and expose to the world the real causes of this “bloodless” Colombian conflict?
It is enough to say that – just like what is happening with health care, education and housing – access to information is being restricted more and more as a right and is quickly becoming closer and closer to a macroeconomic policy. With the privatization of the media, any players with the economic means can buy, traffic in, manipulate, twist, destroy and hide information, or inject it into society at their convenience.
Access to knowledge brings with it better understanding of our realities, our situation and our social conflicts. One step towards such knowledge is access to information, for which the main transmission channel is the media. The major political and economic sectors of the country are very clear that to allow a society free access to information and knowledge represents great danger to their capitalist interests.
If we start to think and try to understand the underlying reasons for this chaotic state of affairs, then we can identify injustice and realize that passivity makes us accomplices to many injustices. This simple state of awareness can undermine any imposed authoritarian policy. Those who govern us know this and that is why their public agendas and plans – and above all their private ones - always make a priority of controlling Colombia’s main media.
This history policy manipulating Colombia’s media has been such that, for a country that calls itself a democracy, unimaginable numbers of journalists have been murdered in the last thirty years for doing honest journalism in Colombia. These were journalists who could not be bought, who told the country and the world about endless injustices and exposed the culprits.
For that reason, socially responsible journalism will always be a target for State terrorism. Clear examples of this are Comunicadores para la Verdad y la Vida and Emisora Payu’mat of the ACIN, which suffered attacks on their facilities – and the threats, warnings, exiles and deaths continue, all for speaking the truth.
Written by: YESID BUBÚ BALTAZAR - Comunicador para la Verdad y la Vida – Municipality of Florida, Department of Valle del Cauca.