Man, Santos sure is getting desperate. Colombia Reports writes today about the increasing use of smear tactics in the Colombia presidential campaign, "As Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus' popularity increases, so too do the attempts to sully his name." Last week banners started appearing with slogans criticizing Mockus, trying to tie his campaign to Chavez. CR continues:
Votebien political analyist Rodrigo Lozada says that the tactics seen today in Colombia "were copied from the campaigns in the United States. The idea is find the opponents' weak points, exaggerate and distort them, to make them look bad before society."
Maybe not such a surprise, given James Carville's role in the campaign...a smear campaign in Bolivia led to the election of Goni...another one of Carville's campaigns. But there is another political consultant who showed up in Colombia in recent days that probably better explains the situation, CR has the dirt:
Santos has relaunched his campaign strategy with Venezuelan spin doctor J.J. Rendon at the helm. Rendon has been called an "expert in rumorology" and 'the king of 'black' propaganda." In 2007 the Venezuelan publicist was almost deported due to accusations that he had blackmailed Congressman Nicolas Uribe by threatening that he would publish photos of the politician cavorting with prostitutes if Uribe didn't fire a certain employee. Uribe resigned from the Partido de la U campaign in protest when Santos contracted Rendon.
Since Rendon's arrival on the scene, a pro-Santos website has been launched, which attempts to discredit Mockus. The same banners that appeared in Cali are published on the website, along with videos and a cartoon depicting Mockus as Chavez's buddy. Again the inference is that Mockus is pro-Chavez atheist, who plans to extradite President Uribe.
Ah yes, Rendon (the one between Lobo and Uribe in the pic above)...who you might remember led the voter fraud charge in Venezuela in the 2004 referendum. Rendon also ran the campaign of former Venezuela president Carlos Andres Perez (eventually arrested for stealing public money) back in the 1980s, as well as doing PR work for Venezuelan defense ministers....ya know the defense ministers who killed hundreds of civilians during the Caracazo. He is especially notorious in Mexico, where, as Al Giordano pointed out, he was implicated in eight different criminal cases in 2001 for "printing anonymous propaganda… in which the proposals of the PAN party candidate for the mayoralty of Puebla, Luis Paredes Moctezuma, were distorted." Recently, he was seen shaking hands and advising Pepe "reconciliation" Lobo in Honduras. Sure is some good company Santos is keeping these days. Already since he joined the campaign, three of Santos' closest assistants have left the campaign, probably not too excited about cavorting with someone with such a lovely past as Rendon.
I don't think this is going to cut it though. His presence has already gotten a ton of press in Colombia and throughout the region, and its not exactly a secret what a slime ball this guy is. If Mockus is popular because he represents a change from "politics as usual", then a "politics as usual" smear campaign is not going to do the trick. Nice try Santos.