Who betrayed Petro... with the videos

Who is the mole that has betrayed Gustavo Petro? That is the question that those involved in the campaign of the leftist candidate repeat these days. Someone has leaked to some of the main media hundreds of hours of meetings in which Petro’s strategists discuss the main lines of his candidacy for the presidency of Colombia. Since that moment, suspicion and restlessness have been installed in the Petrismo, just at the moment in which the candidate had cut the advantage in the Hernández polls and seemed to be heading the way to victory.

Initially, after what was published by Radius Snail, Week Y Time, the advisers thought that it was an internal betrayal. Petrismo, four years ago, was a very monolithic movement made up of believers who had gathered around the figure of the former mayor of Bogotá. Almost all of them knew each other and were close to the leader. That one-man project crashed against the one who is today the president, the conservative Iván Duque. The conclusion of those who lived through the defeat is that Petro should expand his alliances and add political currents of other sensibilities. Right now, among those around him there are people who come from the center, the moderate right and even from Uribismo.

This movement is called Colombia Humana and in it is pure petrismo, that of the origins, and those that have been added later. Much of the electoral strength of Petro, who has obtained the best result of a progressive candidate in history in the first round, comes from this union. Between them, the new and the old, there is sometimes a certain rivalry for being the ones who advise Petro or simply for occupying the most powerful positions. The first thing that happened when the videos were leaked is that they looked at each other suspiciously. It was even thought that the mole was someone dissatisfied with the new role that had been assigned to him in these elections.

What’s more: it circulated in WhatsApp groups that the person in charge of organizing those meetings that have seen the light was responsible. The administrator, they concluded, is the one who can record Zoom sessions. “That person has not been, impossible. It is a theory that is refuted with the evidence, ”says someone who appears in the videos. Over the hours, the campaign team has analyzed the recordings and discovered that they start in July 2021, almost a year ago. And not all the images correspond to the Colombia Humana platform. Behind those videos, they begin to think and Petro has said so in public, there is an enormous technical power that, according to his hypothesis, only the state security agencies have.

They are convinced that no individual can invest eleven months of espionage on different platforms, collect all this material and, when the time comes – a little over a week for Colombians to go to the polls – secretly deliver it to the big media. His suspicion is that it is a case of state espionage. In the recordings that have been published so far, no obvious electoral crimes are intuited. In them, his advisors are seen commenting on how to discredit the right-wing candidate, Fico Gutiérrrez, or how to contain news about an alleged prison scandal that did not take its toll on him at the time.

The rival campaign, that of the construction businessman Rodolfo Hernández, wants to show that these meetings show a criminal action by Petro’s advisers to finish off their rivals. Other experts in political communication point out that they are natural and informal conversations between advisers who do not know that they are being recorded. The candidate has said that he will resign if in some of those videos that are about to be published in the coming days he appears asking one of his strategists to commit a crime.

Petro’s head of debate, Alfonso Prada, has filed a complaint about the recordings with the Attorney General’s Office for violation of privacy, secrecy and interception of communications. Advisors have likened this leak to Watergate. For now, no one knows for sure who is behind this massive leak that stars in the end of the campaign. Its impact remains to be known. In the daily polls that are published, a sharp drop in the intention to vote for Petro has not been reflected. Since the campaign, it is believed that they do not really have as much impact outside the bubble that is created between politicians and the media.

Beyond the content and its impact, what is clear is that there is a war between campaigns. In the middle of the first round, the right-wing candidate, Fico Gutiérrez, showed a microphone that he said had been found in his office. The Colombian police chief, with a serious attitude, took over the investigation and put his men to work on the case. To date, no police findings have been made. It turned out that this was not a microphone, but a ballast. Fico accused Petro without proof of being behind that espionage. Now, Fico has celebrated that his rivals have suffered what he denounced as unacceptable interference.

Communications interceptions are a national sport in Colombia. They are known as poking. State security forces are often behind them. The most famous episode was the DAS wiretaps, when opposition politicians, judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, human rights defenders and journalists were victims of espionage by the Administrative Department of Security – a kind of Colombian CIA – in the end of the Government of Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010). One of the most notorious victims was precisely Petro, then a congressman. That scandal was of such dimensions that it caused the disappearance of the DAS in favor of the National Intelligence Agency.

The espionage continued after the DAS was wiped off the map. In the midst of the talks with the extinct FARC guerrilla, the peace negotiators were spied on and the existence of an espionage network that took advantage of the Prosecutor’s Office equipment to sell its services to the highest bidder was even revealed. Two microphones were also found at the time in the office of the Supreme Court magistrate investigating the case of former President Uribe and more recently, at the end of 2021, the then head of the army, General Nicacio Martínez, ordered the illegal listening to politicians, journalists, magistrates and analysts. Martínez was removed from his position. Now it remains to be seen who is behind the recordings of Petro’s team, whether it is a mole who betrayed the leftist leader or whether a larger conspiracy is hiding.

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