Colombia: Bomb Blast Targeted at Controversial Former Minister

Tuesday 15 May 2012 was a tense and heavy day for most Bogotanos. The day started with a car bomb, deactivated by the authorities, in the Eduardo Santos neighbourhood, a few blocks away from the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police of Bogotá. Hours later, as protests [es] (which left 3 injured) emerged in the National University of Colombia because the Free Trade Agreement with the United States was entering into force, a bomb exploded on Caracas Avenue and 74 Street, in northern Bogotá.

Initially it was reported that the bomb exploded in a bus, but as more information came in, reports confirmed that a magnetic bomb was left by a walking man on the hood of the car of former interior Minister Fernando Londoño Hoyos [es], 67, a conservative lawyer and politician who held that office during the first years of former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez‘s administration. Two of his bodyguards, the driver of the bus, and two other people were reportedly killed [es], though official reports still claim only 2 died. Londoño was taken to a hospital t0 undergo surgery to remove a piece of metal from his chest.

Mr Londoño has been controversial [es]: he was involved in a financial scandal involving stocks of an oil company named Invercolsa and was barred from public office in 2004 for 15 years out of conflict of interest. After he left the Ministry, he started a morning radio programme, La hora de la verdad [es] (“The hour of truth”), devoted to supporting former president Uribe's policies and attacking FARC and other left wing guerrillas. He was also actively writing op-eds for El Tiempo and El Colombiano newspapers. He supported current president Juan Manuel Santos during the elections, but as many other staunch supporters of Uribe, he felt betrayed and now opposes most of his policies. The Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) condemned [es] the attack.

This attempt prompted thousands of reactions.

Car Bombing in Bogotá, Colombia targeting former Interior Minister Fernando Londono. Photo by David Maiolo under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Journalist Carolina Ruiz (@CaroRuizG) tweets [es]:

El terrorismo nos afecta a todos, independiente de las creencias políticas. Qué pendejada echarse culpas.

Terrorism affects us all, no matter our political beliefs. It's so silly to blame each other.

@JuliethBlues states [es]:

Lo peor que podría pasar es que a Londoño caiga en un atentado, su martirización le daría un poder impresionante a la ext.derecha

The worst thing that might happen is that Londoño gets killed in an attempt, his martyrisation would give the far right an impressive power.

Dan Gamboa Bohórquez (@larepuvlica) wonders [es] about the possible reasons of the attempt against Londoño:

Fernando Londoño debe tener información peligrosa. Es la única explicación para atentar contra alguien irrelevante en la actualidad.

Fernando Londoño must be holding dangerous information. That is the only reason for attacking someone currently irrelevant.

Richie (@MelisMatik) links the attack to other events in the day [es]:

Muy sofisticado el atentado. Súmenle día de protestas y votación del Marco para la Paz en el Congreso… ¿Para quién será el mensaje?

The attempt was quite sophisticated. Add to it the day of protests and voting in Congress of the Legal Framework for Peace… For whom will be the message?

(Mr. Londoño devoted his latest radio editorial piece [es] to this framework).

Many Twitter users harshly [es] criticized [es] the media [es] coverage [es] of the attack [es]: (Warning: The next three links lead to sites with strong images) newspapers [es] and TV newscasts broadcast bloody images [es] of the injured, including Mr. Londoño [es], and the country's main radio network interviewed live [es] the mother of Mr. Londoño's driver, which was deemed sensationalist [es]. @LaCaballero writes [es]:

Los periodistas de medios masivos COLABORAN con el terrorismo. Ayudan a sembrar el miedo, la [z]ozobra, la confusión.

Mainstream media journalists COLLABORATE with terrorism. They help sow fear, uneasiness, confusion.

Andrés Guerra Hoyos (@andresguerraho) tweets [es]:

Lo mas duro es entender que existe una parte del Pais que hoy esta Feliz con el atentado en Bogota, Infames

The hardest thing is to understand that there is a part of the country that is happy with the attack in Bogotá. They're so despicable.

Roberto S (@manoloparis_) criticizes [es] some ‘theories’ on the attack:

Por eso es que nos va como nos va, no falta la mente torcida que ya esta diciendo que es un autoatentado, Por Dios, y los medio[s] harán eco.

That's why we are doing like this, there's always the wicked mind already saying this was an auto-attack. For God's sake, and the media will echo it.

Frustrated, Olga Cuartas (@Olpacu) tweets [es]:

Ni para rechazar un acto terrorista somos capaces de unirnos como sociedad.

We're not even able to unite as a society to reject a terrorist act.

María (@lamarialeja) asks [es]:

No jodamos. ¿ Aún están usando esa falacia de “los buenos somos más”?.

F*** this. Are they still using that ‘we the good people are more’ fallacy?

Finally, @dianadaista reacts to the reactions (1, 2, 3) [es]:

1) Los atentados se han hecho en múltiples y muy diferentes gobiernos, vayan a culpar al mandato de su madre. 2) Londoño y los demás afectados son seres humanos, hacer chiste de ellos no te hace más irreverente ni interesante. 3) Quien se considere periodista, no puede estar arrojando juicios de valor y teorías así como así, para eso existen la taberna y la cerveza

1) Attacks have occurred in many different administrations, go blame your mother's rule. 2) Londoño and the other affected people are human beings, mocking them doesn't make you irreverent nor interesting. 3) Anyone who considers themselves journalists shouldn't be judging and theorizing just like that, pubs and beer are best for that

In the blogosphere, Aleyda Rodríguez from Pulso Social writes about the coverage, rather than the reactions, on social media [es], and Javier Moreno shares his thoughts [es]:

Promover la confusión es preferible. Lo que importa es sostener la guerra activa en todos sus frentes. El juego de acusaciones subsiguiente es útil a los asesinos pues genera polarización, desconfianza y agresividad. (…) El mensaje de la explosión es abierto pero al mismo tiempo llega a quien debe llegar: cada cual lo interpreta a su conveniencia y cualquier interpretación es válida en tanto que no hay cómo refutarla. La amenaza es más efectiva y amplia cuando no se sabe de dónde proviene. Una amenaza sin firma es una amenaza contra todos.

[For Colombian terrorists] promoting confusion is preferable. What matters is keeping the war active in all its fronts. The following game of accusations is useful to the murderers because it creates polarisation, distrust, and aggressiveness (…) The message of the explosion is open but at the same time reaches its intended destination: each one interprets it out of their convenience and any interpretation is valid as long as there's no way to refute it. The threat is more effective and wide when its origin is unknown. An unsigned threat is a threat against everyone.

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