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Colombian Senator Removed and Disqualified, Triumph for Social Networks?

On October 16, 2012 the Attorney General's Office removed Senator Eduardo Merlano from office, disqualifying him from holding public office for 10 years after finding him guilty of taking advantage of his position as senator to avoid a traffic ticket. Merlano refused to take a breathalyzer test last May in Barranquilla, when he was caught driving without a license and allegedly intoxicated.

The following video shows Merlano refusing to meet the requirements of security officers:

News of the dismissal was well received among Colombian netizens [es], who attributed the achievement to an online campaign [es] calling for Senator Merlano to resign. His name became a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtags #ChaoMerlano [es] and #Merlano [es].

From Bogota, Daniel E. (‏@skovaretta) [es] comments:

@skovaretta: Es innegable que el rechazo masivo por las redes sociales aceleró la destitución de Merlano…desde las redes podemos empujar a la justicia

@skovaretta: It is undeniable that the massive rejection led by social networks accelerated the removal of Merlano…from the Internet we can enforce justice.

Stella Navarro‏ (@stella_navarro) [es], in Medellin, celebrates citizens’ power:

@stella_navarro: No es simplemente que se inhabilité a #Merlano. Es sentir, como casi nunca ocurre en Colombia, que juntos podemos más que la corrupción.

@stella_navarro: It is not simply that #Merlano was disabled. It's the feeling, that almost never happens in Colombia, that together we can fight corruption.

Meanwhile user @SexoSinCensura2 [es] advises:

@sexoSinCensura2: redes sociales demuestran la fuerza de las opiniones de un pueblo, #unbuenconsejo no hacer jamás lo que hizo #merlano #chaomerlano

@sexoSinCensura2: social networks demonstrate the strength of peoples’ opinions, #unbuenconsejo (a good piece of advice) never do what [Merlano] did #merlano #chaomerlano

Lizeth Rojas‏ (@Lizeth_R) [es] states:

@Lizeth_R: Se comprueba de nuevo la importancia de las opiniones en redes sociales.

@Lizeth_R: The importance of opinions on social network sites is proven once again. #ChaoMerlano

Daniella Aguilar‏ (@AguilarDaniella) [es] emphasizes:

@AgularDaniella: Los colombianos pedíamos la renuncia de Merlano, pero nos salió aún mejor por la puerta de atrás, destituido e inhabilitado #ChaoMerlano

@AgularDaniella: We Colombians asked for Merlano's resignation, but it worked out even better for us through the back door, dismissed and disabled #ChaoMerlano

For his part, Anderson Useche (‏@AnderUseche) [es] congratulated the campaign aimed at the senator's resignation:

@AnderUseche: Felicidades a @renunciesenador ejemplo de la fuerza de las redes sociales, no bajar la guardia y seguir denunciando mas casos de corrupción

@AnderUseche: Congratulations to @renunciesenador (resign senator) an example of the power of social networks, remaining vigilant and continuing to report more cases of corruption.

But the controversy over the cause of the Merlano's dismissal has just begun. Twitter user @jfredys [es], as well as others [es], claims the interests of the Attorney General to be the primary motivation for the Senator Merlano's suspension. Miguel Silva Moyano ‏(@SilvaMoyano) [es] and Chente‏ (@Ekufar) [es] warned that Attorney General Alejandro Ordoñez Maldonado's [es] reasoning for the dismissal is based on his campaign for reelection as attorney general:

@SilvaMoyano, Los que hoy se están auto-atribuyendo la sanción a Merlano deberían saber que lo destituyó un Procurador en Campaña de reelección

@SilvaMoyano, Those who are self-attributing Merlano's suspension should know that an attorney general running for reelection dismissed him.

@Ekufar, “Inocencia en 2.0″ .Creer que #Merlano se fue por 20 trinos y NO por campaña del proCURAdor del JopusDoy

@Ekufar,”Innocence in 2.0″ .Thinking that #Merlano was dismissed because of 20 tweets and NOT because of the attorney general's campaign

For others this ‘good news’ has been hampered by the possible replacement [es] of Merlano, that has become a controversy [es] because it involves Astrid Sánchez Montes of Oca, the sister [es] of a supposed parapolitical. Internet users have also shown their dissatisfaction with many [es] other unsolved cases [es] of the Colombian justice system.

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