Santos, the heir apparent to Uribe’s throne, is now in the fight of his life (that is, the only fight of his life, since he’s never run for public office before). So what does a former minister of defense do when he’s back on defense?
Go on offense, of course.
The Colombian media is reporting that Santos has brought into his campaign a character variously known as Rasputin, a master of “dirty war,” and someone who I’ll go ahead and characterize as the Karl Rove of Latin America.
Juan José “J.J.” Rendón is supposedly a master of the whisper campaign. A Venezuelan who worked for the opposition in 2004 during the recall referendum, he was involved in the latest presidential campaign of Honduras’ Porfirio Lobo, as well as other shenanigans in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. He’s also had business in Colombia, working on behalf of Uribe’s party and helping it take the legislature in 2006.
Apparently he plays dirty. Once he threatened to destroy the career of a rebel Colombian senator by linking him to prostitution. Another time he allegedly smeared a Mexican politician by spreading pamphlets claiming the man was a pederast.
He says he’s won all but two of the 22 campaigns he’s been involved in. From a 2007 Semana article:
Political circles accuse J.J. Rendón of having been behind the defamatory campaigns against former candidates for president Rafael Pardo Rueda (liberal) and Carlos Gaviria (Polo Democrático). He denies the reports and says that he’s always acted within the law. In an interview with María Isabel Rueda he said, “If it’s within the law, then I don’t have any misgivings.”
Spoken like a true sociopath. Really, though, the media reports seem a little overblown, as if we’re supposed to believe that in Latin American politics, you have to bring in an evil wizard from abroad to play dirty. More like an evil wizard you can throw under the bus if the plan backfires.
Anyway, the report in La Silla Vacia cites an unnamed source claiming that Jota Jota has been in Santos’ campaign for awhile now, which might explain the rumors that circulated about Mockus’ Parkinson’s before he admitted publicly to having the condition. I hope he’s watching his back.