False positives 2.0: Semana knew everything but censored it

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La Silla Vacía reveals that Semana had the same investigation as The New York Times but decided to lock it up after talking to members of the government

False positives 2.0: Semana knew everything but censored it

Colombia seems to be going through a critical moment of political and judicial crisis. In addition to the media release and subsequent imprisonment of Santrich, the New York Times revealed new false positives by the Colombian army.

According to the NYT, Gen. Nicacio Martinez of the Colombian army was asking his subordinates for deaths to show results. That is, a new version of the false positives that occurred during the government of today senator Álvaro Uribe Vélez.

La Silla Vacía revealed that the Colombian magazine Semana had the same investigation with the same sources and the same documents as NYT for about a month. The report was going to occupy the cover of the magazine, for Holy Week, but after the directives of Semana talked with members of the palace, Alejandro Santos, director of the media, would have decided to shelve the investigation.

Ricardo Calderón, a long-standing investigative journalist, was in charge of the investigation, which was the subject of several editorial boards and where it would have been decided that it was worthwhile to put the text on the cover. La Silla Vacía explains that there are three versions of what happened:

1 President Iván Duque met in Palacio with the owners of Semana, Gabriel Gilinski and María and Felipe López. According to the sources consulted by that means, during the evening the topic of the investigation of the false positives arose and Duque would have requested to verify the information well. So it would have decided to postpone the publication of the investigation.

Read also: Colombia and its 'institutional crisis'

2. The other version talks about that at that dinner nothing was discussed about the false positives, but about the cover of April 14 titled "Security, red alert". Duque's claim would have strained relations between the owners and the president. Santos decided then that it was better to postpone the publication and inform the government. In this way, the clash between Semana and the government would be reduced.

In statements that La Silla Vacía picked up, Santos denied this version, but he did confirm that Jorge Mario Eastman, Secretary General of the Colombian Presidency, visited the facilities of Semana after that dinner. The Secretary finally convinced the journalists not to publish the investigation. In fact, the high official confirmed that he knew of the investigation of the magazine, but that it was a work in progress.

3. The third version of the facts is that Eastman did not ask for the investigation to be shelved, but due to lack of time to verify the information and a trip, they postponed the publication. In all three possibilities, it is agreed that due to the lack of verification of the information, the publication would have been delayed.

Given the delay to publish, Calderón's sources looked for New York Times journalist Nick Casey. Unlike Semana, the NYT editors saw the potential of the news and after verifying Casey's reporting work, they gave the publication the green light. The journalist made more reports, including his attendance at the press conference of Guillermo Botero, Minister of Defense. So much relevance they saw in the investigation that the news was carried in Sunday's newspaper in its English version and in its Spanish version. Digitally, the coverage was also broad.

Before the publication of the Times, Santos says that the American media cheated them and that this is part of the competition between media. The question that remains in the air is if they censored Semana and eventually gave in to government pressures.

LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from "Falsos positivos 2.0: Semana tenía la chiva y la censuró"

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