Presidential Elections

Viral attack video traces back to president’s ally

A viral video blaming presidential candidates Yasna Provoste and Gabriel Boric for violence during the social uprising anniversary protests has been linked to a government official. An ally of President Sebastián Piñera has signed a cheque that paid for the domain of a group claiming to have produced the video. Government officials have previously attacked left-wing candidates, for which they were reprimanded.

A computer science student of Universidad de Chile has revealed that a viral video linking presidential candidates Gabriel Boric and Yasna Provoste to violence during the social uprising anniversary protests in mid-October was produced by an internet marketing firm.

The YouTube account that started proliferating the video is linked to Leiter Agency Design, which has among its clients the government’s press office (Segegob). The video, ostensibly produced by a group called Violencia y Mentiras (Violence and Lies), is hosted via a domain that was paid for with a cheque signed by Segegob director of communications Juan José Bruna Carafí.

Carafí also worked for the Avanza Chile Foundation, which organized President Sebastián Piñera’s second campaign.

Segegob has not commented on the issue, but Piñera’s chief adviser, Cristián Larroulet, shared the video on social media, as did presidential candidates Sebastián Sichel and José Antonio Kast.

Government Links

After the revelations of the government links, lawmaker Marcela Sandoval, of Democratic Revolution party, a Boric ally, said she will request the Comptroller General to investigate undue government intervention. Sandoval was quoted as saying by local media that “seven days before the elections … this time with Segegob officials, they would be involved in the broadcast of a video that blames opposition candidates for acts of violence.”

Previously, the government has tried directly to link Boric and Provoste to vandalism during the mass protests, although both repeatedly condemned violence. In October, Interior Undersecretary Juan Francisco Galli claimed both candidates were encouraging “a feeling of impunity” by endorsing a pardon bill for those accused of vandalism and still held in pre-trial detention. 

Lawmakers requested a Comptroller General investigation. On Nov. 12, the entity said these “subjective assessments … may affect those candidacies,” so Galli should “refrain from issuing statements or opinions.”

The Video

Violencia y Mentiras produced a video in documentary format. It focuses especially on supposed victims of looting during the protests, which blame Boric and Provoste directly. The video also attacks the pardon bill currently under discussion. 

On its website, the group claims to include “Chilean men and women who believe in freedom, peace and democracy” and “who have always rejected violence, strongly oppose the pardon bill and are and will continue to be on the side of the victims.”

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