SANTIAGO — Carabineros de Chile have asked that singer Mon Laferte be summoned to account for saying the police and military set Metro fires. Some argue the police have bigger fish to fry. But in an ocean of accusations, Laferte arguably is a big fish.
On Nov. 30, Carabineros de Chile (Chile’s national police) issued a press release saying they had asked the National Prosecutor of the Public Ministry to summon singer Mon Laferte and lawyer Klaus Dreckmann. The Carabineros want the two summoned “as soon as possible” to give statements to the prosecutors investigating the Santiago Metro fires, “in order to provide all the background information they have to make such serious charges.”
The “serious charges” are statements that the police were responsible for Santiago Metro fires that occurred in the initial days of the social crisis.
Specifically, the police take issue with a comment Laferte made during the “Janiot: PM” program on Univision. The show’s host and Laferte were discussing the initial violence and arson attacks on Santiago Metro stations that led to police and military in the streets. In response, Laferte said, “there are many cases where the same police and the same military were the ones who were doing the burning … that still is unclear.” The program was posted to YouTube on Nov. 20. Laferte’s comment comes at the 10:20 mark.
Dreckmann, who until recently worked for the Valparaíso Regional Prosecutor’s Office, is in hot water for a tweet from his account on Nov. 25 which backed up Laferte’s statement: “What the singer said is true … Not only did they [the Carabineros] actively participate in the burning of the subway, they have killed, tortured …”
Response to Mon Laferte’s Comments
In their press release, the Carabineros “categorically” rejected the statements above and said that the request that Laferte and Dreckmann be summoned is “notwithstanding the civil and criminal actions” they will take regarding the statements.
On Nov. 25, Minister of Defense Alberto Espina spoke on “Bienvenidos” (Canal 13) and likewise pointedly rejected Laferte’s statement: “It is a slander, it is a slander to maintain that the military in Chile—which has nothing to do with the military 40 years ago, is not the heritage of any political sector—would have burned critical infrastructure like the Metro.”
He added that words such as Laferte’s are “an unacceptable imputation. Those statements are what harms and affects the climate that must exist to seek to solve this problem.”
The news that government agencies might pursue individuals for statements like this streaked across the Twitterverse and spawned new galaxies of stars, tweeting support or condemnation for one side or the other, as reported by El Desconcierto.
Other media have also jumped into the fray, if only to analyze what was said in a legal context. Attorney Macarena Vengas, for example, did not see a crime. “It is a personal opinion, it does not incur the crime of slander,” she told La Cuarta. Laferte “imputes a crime in the interview, which is being investigated, and points this out by expressing that ‘it is being studied.’ Having made this reservation, it is clear that it is a personal opinion, which is not an affirmation, and therefore would not incur the crime of slander,” Vengas added.
Lawyer and former TVN panelist Daniel Stingo told La Cuarta that he thought it was absurd that the Carabineros were chasing after Mon Laferte and that there was “no point” to it.
There arguably is a point, though, to the extent Laferte is not just a private person knocking about the internet. She is a wildly popular singer and a vocal critic of Chilean authorities.
As reported by The Daily Mail, Laferte has 10.5 million social media followers and “is the most listened to Chilean artist on Spotify worldwide.” Moreover, just days before her Janiot: PM interview, she won the 2019 Latin Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and also created a stir when she stopped on the red carpet and exposed her breasts which bore the message, “In Chile they torture, kill, and rape.”
Therefore, if someone like Laferte says or does something that crosses the line between opinion and slander, the effects could be huge.
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🗣️ #MonLaferte Laferte has stayed close to the movement, sharing her stories of necessity and inequality before music “saved her.” The singer has also been protesting in her own way, like baring her chest inscribed, “In Chile they torture, rape and kill,” at the Latin Grammys.
Mon Laferte Has Yet to Respond
In an odd twist, even before the Carabineros press release, BioBioChile reported that Dreckmann said that his account was hacked and that someone else wrote the offending tweet.
The situation has affected Dreckmann substantially on a personal level, he says: he has suffered a huge backlash which has forced him to close some personal accounts (including the account used to make the tweet), “because he was afraid that the person who had taken the account could continue writing tweets.”
Dreckmann also told BioBioChile that he has an idea how the hackers did it: “It was through the Team Viewer application … and with a spyware they collected the keystrokes.”
He also explained that he has no objection to the Prosecutor’s Office getting involved in the situation because the situation has also “affected them a lot”—the backlash was also directed at the Public Ministry because of the lawyer’s professional link to the institution.
Dreckmann has since created a new Twitter account, where he apologized to the recipient of the Nov. 25 tweet, Sergio Melnick.
Laferte has yet to respond publicly to the controversy generated by her words.
Robert Travis grew up in San Francisco, California, and moved to Santiago, Chile, in July 2018. In addition to editing and writing for Chile Today, he practices law from afar with Travis & Travis. He’s thrilled to be living in the same hemisphere as “the world’s longest left,” Playa Chicama.