The leaking of recordings by Gustavo Petro's team clouds the campaign in Colombia
Gustavo Petro during a campaign event in Bogotá, on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
Gustavo Petro during a campaign event in Bogotá, on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.Fernando Vergara (AP)

The leak of a series of recordings in which different members of Gustavo Petro’s campaign discuss strategies to attack and discredit his political rivals, who are known just a few days before the second round of the presidential elections that pits him against Rodolfo Hernández, promises muddy – even more – the final stretch of elections marked by the polarization between two antagonistic options. From the Historical Pact, the motley left-wing coalition that supports Petro, feel they are victims of an espionage scandal, despite the fact that the source of the leaks is still unclear, while from other political shores they question with renewed vigor their ways of to campaign.

The controversy erupted after the magazine Week published on Wednesday night a package of videos of internal meetings in which several members of the leftist alliance participate. In the recordings it is evident, among other things, that in the campaign they sought to control the damage before the news that leaders of the Historical Pact would have offered criminals in prisons that would not extradite them, amid the dust storm for the proposal of ” social forgiveness” mentioned by Petro. Or the way they planned to discredit Federico phyco Gutiérrez, the right-wing candidate, and undermine the options of Alejandro Gaviria, one of the candidates of the center coalition that Sergio Fajardo eventually headed.

The controversy emerges at a time when Petro has caught up with Hernández in the polls, which for now point to a technical tie in the second round on June 19. The former mayor of Bucaramanga, an unclassifiable politician with a populist and anti-system discourse, who has also starred in leaks in which he makes violent or sexist statements, began the final stretch with some advantage, but Petro has closed the gap. This Thursday he surpassed Hernández for the second consecutive day in the ‘tracking’ made by the GAD3 firm for the RCN Channel, with 48.5% of the preferences compared to 46.7%. The 77-year-old businessman, who had already refused to appear at the debates with Petro, also announced this Thursday that he has decided to cancel all his public appearances until the elections, as he claims to fear that they will threaten his life.

In his first reaction, the left-wing leader pointed out that his campaign was actually the victim of an espionage scandal, and that Week she was “desperate” at her rise in the polls. “They are simply publishing the evidence that we were illegally recorded. Who is it? The same ones that gave him recordings: the Government. A ‘Watergate’ that must be investigated by an independent commission”, she wrote on Twitter. She also assured that the magazine has hours of recordings made through the communications platform of Colombia Humana -her movement-, and asked that they be published in full, without editing or manipulation, so that each citizen can draw their own conclusions.

The main protagonist of several of the leaks published so far – in some of which Petro himself appears, but barely participates – is Senator Roy Barreras. Regarding the episode of the meetings in the prisons with the so-called “extraditables”, although the context is not so clear, Barreras suggests “exploding” the scandal in a controlled manner, as if it were an explosive. In other recordings, he proposes distributing roles to take “political actions” with the aim of dividing the center, a typical campaign strategy, and going “to attack Alejandro Gaviria.”

“Fortunately when listeners listen to this and the other recordings they find that what is there is absolutely normal, legal”, Barreras defended himself early this Thursday in an interview with Radius Snail. “There is not even an adjective or an insult to the competitors, who are of course in the marketing electoral electoral threats”, he pointed out before echoing the espionage complaint launched by Petro. What the recordings make clear, he has pointed out, is “that our campaign has been spied on, wiretapped, infiltrated; what is a crime”.

One of the victims, Alejandro Gaviria, has already indicated that he intends to vote in the second round with some reservations about Petro, considering it the “more responsible, institutional and liberal” option for change. He recently told EL PAÍS that he considers that other figures in the center underestimate the risks of an eventual government of Rodolfo Hernández. As a result of the videos that have circulated, he published a new reflection on your social networks. “I received many attacks. Some of them vile and liars. From the left and from the right (…) Of course, many of the attacks and slander hurt me. But I am not going to be left brooding on grudges and collecting grievances,” she wrote. “I reject pettiness in politics, but I believe that one should make decisions thinking above all about the future of democracy and the well-being of all.”

Other political figures struck a much less conciliatory tone. “Not only do I not share his ideas, I also reject his methods,” said Fico Gutiérrez from the right, who never stopped attacking Petro during the campaign. “They have spent years destroying anyone who confronts them and does not kneel. They use all forms of fighting. They divide tasks in private, so that some appear as angels in public. False”, reacted Fajardo, who is also mentioned in the recordings, has had countless disagreements with Petro that have divided the alternative sector and has made it clear that he does not intend to vote for him, despite the fact that his programs had several meeting points . “Clean politics can be done. Do not hesitate. The time will come. These are the same as always, ”he valued.

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