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The British Government Is Launching A Brand New Public Relations Campaign To Whitewash Its Image In Colombia

According to Declassified UK, the British embassy in Bogotá is funding a new public relations effort to “improve perceptions” of the UK in Colombia. The initiative is being launched at a time when the United Kingdom is backing Colombia’s oppressive security forces. According to Foreign Office papers obtained by Declassified, the UK embassy spent £6,000 in 2019-20 on a “perception analysis of the UK’s soft power in Colombia” that assisted in “identifying future interests to combine in public messaging and social media.”

Polls of Colombians were conducted, “which assisted the Embassy in developing the most effective approach.” Following the release of survey results, Colin Martin-Reynolds, the British ambassador in Colombia since 2019, set aside £25,000 to launch a new “environmental and biodiversity awareness campaign.”

The centerpiece would be a new “season” between the United Kingdom and Colombia, dubbed UKCOL2021. In June, it was formally launched. According to Human Rights Watch, at the time, Colombian police were violently suppressing protests, which resulted in the deaths of about 63 individuals. The British embassy in Bogotá did not issue a statement denouncing the deaths. Declassified has previously reported that Britain has been sponsoring two programs in recent years to help Colombia’s notorious police.

From 2015 to 2020, the UK’s National Crime Agency taught Colombian police in a multimillion-pound, top-secret five-year initiative, while a UK military unit of up to nine troops is also “assisting” the Colombian police. This group also backs Colombia’s military forces, which have killed thousands of people. Colombia is a key ally for the United Kingdom in South America, with a number of large mining firms listed on the London Stock Exchange operating there.

Colombian President Iván Duque, who has been in office since 2018, represents the right-wing Democratic Centre Party (PCD) and is widely seen as the probable successor to controversial former President Alvaro Uribe Velez. Uribe formed the PCD in 2013 in response to the then-ongoing peace talks between the government and left-wing rebels aimed at bringing the country’s long-running civil conflict to a conclusion.

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