Colombian Election Disinformation Networks – Identifying the Role of Paramilitary Groups
An Investigative Report – December 2022
Nisos researchers conducted additional research on Spanish-language disinformation networks that they initially identified previously. They have identified continued expansion of the disinformation network presence in the Latin American region.
The Venezuelan government-linked Chalecos Amarillos network identified in the Nisos report Colombian Election Disinformation Campaign: The Role of Venezuelan Leftists (March 2022) and continued to spread disinformation and messaging in favor of leftist candidate Gustavo Petro in the recent election.
Nisos researchers have made the following discoveries since that report was published:
- The ongoing efforts appear to have been folded into a broader umbrella organization for disinformation efforts and news stories promoting left-wing causes and candidates in the region called the Alliance of Alternative and Community Media (ALMAC or RedALMAC).
- The stories carried by ALMAC affiliates range from legitimate news stories to outright disinformation and everything in between. A large number of ALMAC affiliates regularly share stories highlighting alleged ties between the Gulf Clan and the Colombian government, call attention to the killings of social leaders by paramilitaries, and promote Petro as the only presidential candidate able to bring peace to the country.
- Petro emerged victorious in the second round where both candidates favored negotiations with dissident members of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN).
- Chalecos and other ALMAC affiliates also began to move on to other, broader geopolitical topics – such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the regional boycott of the Summit of the Americas that was hosted in the U.S. – to promote additional disinformation.
This new research suggests that the networks will remain active in the region. Outside powers such as Russia and Iran have invested significantly in Spanish language outlets, and networks like Chalecos will continue to use social media platforms to push this disinformation with impunity. Organizations like ALMAC will give such campaigns a veneer of authenticity, due to the fact that the organization masquerades as a legitimate media conglomerate and some affiliates do carry legitimate news stories.
To learn more, download the complete Nisos Research report.
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