Colombia: Hookers, Book Cookers and the Zen of the Poison Pen

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Rendón: The Zen of the poison pen.

“They belong to a pool of Latin American publicity agencies, grouped together in the Interamerican Center of Political Leadership, with its headquarters in Miami, the United States. The have a monthly publication called Political Marketing, and they shield themselves academically behind the dubious prestige of Florida International University (FIU)….

J.J. Rendón, psychologist, publicist, with a degree in ontopsychology, who managed the presidential campaign of Carlos Andres Pérez, backed this theory by reaffirming that these are the two basic and necessary conditions that a rumor catches hold in the mind of the people: First, the subject of the story must have a certain level of importance so that it is repeated by he who hears it, and next, the facts must be dressed in a certain amount of ambiguity.” —Revista Latinoamericana de Comunicación Social, April 2001

Item: The New Rasputín (Semana, Colombia). File under “Gnostic neo-Donald Segrettism in contemporary Romance languages.”

Cross-reference with Dicking Democracy, Down South American Way. And see also

Rendón claims credit for electing the first president in the history of Venezuela to be convicted of stealing from the public treasury.

¿Quién es J. J. Rendón, el asesor de La U acusado de hacer campañas de propaganda negra contra los enemigos del gobierno?

Who is J.J. Rendon, the La U party advisor accused of conducting black propaganda campaigns against the enemies of the government?

The group he works with ran the campaigns of Mahuad in Ecuador, apparently. Later overthrown, and still fighting extradition, last I heard.

Mahuad is a Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University‘s Kennedy School of Government.

Where Rebecca McKinnon, late of CNN, learned to blog, wasn’t it? See also

The head of Ecuador’s Supreme Court ordered an investigation into charges that Mahuad’s decisions, which he defended as necessary to stop capital from leaving the impoverished nation, were made to benefit bankers and contributors to his 1998 presidential campaign. But Mahuad, who touted his Harvard degree in public administration during the campaign, remains in Cambridge despite calls for him to return to Ecuador to face charges.

What is it about Harvard, anyway? Mangabeira Unger. Calderón. Alejandro Toledo. Alckmin. Schleifer. Bill Gates. David “Fear and Misinformation Abound” Sasaki. …

See also Rendon, Art of the Dirty War (Ramón Betancourt, 2005) and the garishly headlined J.J. Rendon’s Sleaze-Art of Malicious Rumor (Al Giordano, NarcoNews, August 2004).

A Juan José Rendón hay que temerle. Eso dicen, hasta ahora en voz baja, fuentes del Ministerio de Defensa, del partido de La U y de la Vicepresidencia, donde él suele moverse con absoluta libertad. “Es un experto en propaganda negra”, “es un difamador profesional”, aseguran esos testimonios. Sin embargo, poco a poco su historial ha ido saliendo a la luz pública y cada vez son más las personas que dan la cara para exigirle claridad.

Juan José Rendón is a man to be feared. That’s what one hears from sources in the Defense Ministry, the La U party and vice presidency, where he operates with perfect freedom, though until now it is something they have only said in whispers.

El último de ellos fue el representante Nicolás Uribe, uno de los ‘rebeldes’ del partido de La U, quien relató en La W que J. J. Rendón -como se le conoce- lo amenazó con destruir su carrera política e inventarle una historia en la que diría que el joven dirigente político andaba en líos con prostitutas. Como Uribe estaba en México el agresivo mensaje fue recibido por su jefe de prensa, que grabó algunos apartes.

The latest of these is congressional representative Nicolás Uribe, one of the “rebels” of the La U party, who reported to Radio W that J.J. Rendón — as he is known — threatened to destroy his political career by inventing a story that would say that the young political leader maintained sexual relations with prostitutes. As Uribe was in Mexico at times, the aggressive message was received by his press relations aide, who recorded some of the conversation.

¿Por qué lo amenazaba? Básicamente porque J. J. Rendón le exigía que pidiera la renuncia de la directora del programa presidencial Colombia Joven, Ana María Convers. Rendón tenía unas grabaciones en su poder en las que, en una charla informal, Ana María Convers hacía comentarios en contra del gobierno y del vicepresidente, Francisco Santos.

Why was Uribe being threatened? Basically, it was because J.J. Rendón demanded that he call for the resignation of the director of the presidency’s Young Colombia program, Ana María Convers. Rendón has recordings in his possession in which, in an informal conversations, Convers makes negative comments about the government and Vice President Santos.

And why did he want the woman borked?

Ana María Convers aceptó que las opiniones eran suyas, pero que fueron sacadas de contexto para perjudicarla. En su relato a La W contó que ella fue grababa por Ana María Ospina. Esta persona tenía en su momento contratos con la Vicepresidencia -entidad a la que pertenece administrativamente el Programa Colombia Joven-; además, según la funcionaria, trabajaba para J. J. Rendón. Las mujeres tuvieron una conversación en la que la segunda la grabó a escondidas y le entregó la cinta a Rendón. “No es cierto que las grabaciones las haya hecho por orden de J. J. Rendón. La directora sabía que yo grababa las sesiones de trabajo, con ella o sin ella. Me servía para reportar y construir memoria institucional”, afirmó a SEMANA Ana María Ospina.

Convers has admitted those were her opinions, but that they were taken out of context in order to hurt her. In an interview with W, she said the conversation was recorded by Ana María Ospina, who had contacts with the Vice-Presidency — to which the Young Colombia program is subordinated, administratively. Furthermore, the Young Colombia director says, she worked for J.J. Rendón. “It is not correct that the recordings were made on the orders of J.J. Rendón,” Ospina told SEMANA. “The director knew I was recording our working sessions, whether she was there or not. The recordings help me to prepare reports and build institutional memory.”

Antes del escándalo, J. J. sólo había aparecido esporádicamente en la vida nacional. Llegó a Colombia para las elecciones legislativas de 2006, traído por el actual ministro de Defensa, Juan Manuel Santos. Fue nombrado asesor de cabecera del nuevo partido de La U, que fue el gran fenómeno de la contienda.

Before the scandal broke out, J.J. had appeared only occasionally on the national stage. He came to Colombia for the legislative elections, brought in by the current Defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos. He was named an advisor to the leadership of of the new La U party, which was the major phenomenon in those elections.

Las habilidades de J. J. como estratega político son conocidas en varios países de América Latina. Y en Colombia empezó bien, hasta cuendo tocó otros hilos del poder. Asesora al Ministerio de Defensa, donde aunque no tiene contrato, ha dictado conferencias sobre estrategias de comunicación a oficiales y a curtidos generales de varios soles.

J.J.’s abilities as a political strategist are well known in various Latin American nations. In Colombia, things went well for him at first, including in other areas of government. An advisor to the defense ministry, where although he has not been formally hired, he has given talks on communication strategies to officers and influential generals.

Los círculos políticos acusan a J. J. Rendón de haber sido el artífice de montar las campañas difamatorias en contra de los ex candidatos presidenciales Rafael Pardo Rueda (liberal) y Carlos Gaviria (Polo Democrático). Él niega los señalamientos y dice que siempre actúa legalmente. En una entrevista con María Isabel Rueda dijo: “Si todo es dentro de la ley, no tengo escrúpulos”.

Political circles accuse J.J. Rendon of having been the architect of defamatory campaigns against presidential candidates Rafael Pardo Rueda (Liberal) and Carlos Gaviria (PDA). He denies these charges and says he always operates legally. In an interview with María Isabel Rueda, he said: “As long as it is not against the law, I have no scruples.”

El columnista de El Espectador Ramiro Bejarano aseguró en una de sus investigaciones que “Rendón no es sólo asesor de ese desastroso partido de La U, sino que (desde) que este enigmático publicista anda merodeando las altas esferas oficiales, la política se vulgarizó, porque ahora se controvierte a críticos y opositores a través del rumor, la conseja, la calumnia, el desprestigio, calculadamente propalados por los medios oficialistas”.

El Espectador columnist Ramiro Bejarano said in one of his investigative pieces that “Rendón is not just an advisor to the disastrous La U party. Ever since this enigmatic public relations man started hanging out in the upper circles of the power elite, politics has gotten more vulgar, because now critics and opponents are held in check by means of rumor, innuendo, slander, character assassination, which are knowingly spread by news media friendly to power.”

Rendón también ha alimentado la polémica en Venezuela, donde en la época del referendo asesoró la campaña de la oposición y al perder, fue uno de los que difundió las denuncias de fraude. Y en México, donde el periodista Ramón Betancurt lo acusó en medio de la campaña electoral del país azteca de ser el “rey de la propaganda negra, de la desinformación, del rumor como arma de propaganda política”.

Rendón has also stirred up controvesy in Venezuela, where during the referendum he advised the opposition, and when the opposition lost, was one of those spreading charges of elections fraud.

E-vote fraud, in fact, a point that ORVEX continues to hammer on. Weird story, that.

And in Mexico, where journalist Ramón Betancourt called him, in the midst of an election campaign, “the king of black propagaganda, of disinformation, of rumor as a weapon of political propaganda.”

J. J. le dijo a SEMANA que no es cierto que en sus campañas políticas se utilice la guerra sucia. Que ya esta acostumbrado a que lo desprestigien, pues cuando los partidos que asesora ganan, siempre los perdedores buscan su caída.

J.J. told SEMANA that it is not true that his political campaigns use “dirty war” tactics. That he is used to being slandered, because when the parties he advises win, the losers always want to bring him down.

El asesor cuenta con amigos en el gobierno. Algunos ministros lo llaman a pedirle opiniones sobre cómo comunicar sus acciones. Fue uno de los primeros que se enteraron de la captura de ‘Don Diego’, la semana pasada, porque fue consultado sobre el plan de comunicaciones de la histórica noticia. Juan Manuel Santos es su ministro más cercano. Al fin y al cabo, fue quien lo trajo, cuando lideraba La U, y la amistad entre los dos se fortaleció hasta el punto de que en una eventual candidatura de Santos, muy probablemente Rendón sería un asesor clave. Con frecuencia, J. J. le hace comentarios sobre el impacto de su gestión sobre sus posibilidades presidenciales. También es contertulio de José Obdulio Gaviria. En ocasiones han pasado horas haciendo largas disquisiciones sobre la situación del país.

The consultant has friends in the goverment. Some cabinet ministers call to ask his opinion on how to communicate their official acts. He was one of the first to know of the capture of “Don Diego” (Montoya) last week, because he was called in to consult on the communication plan for the historic news. Juan Manuel Santos is the minister he is closest to. After all, it was Santos, when he led La U, who brought him in, and their friendship has grown to the point that if Santos decides to run for the Senate, Rendón would be a key advisor. J.J. frequently provides him with commentary on the effect his actions will have on his presidential prospects. He is also a close advisor to José Obdulio Gaviria. They sometimes spend hours in long conversations about the situation in Colombia.

Rendón no ha dejado su actividad como consultor internacional. De hecho, presentarse como ‘fundador’ de La U, el cerebro que llevó a un partido con cuatro meses a ganar unas elecciones legislativas o el estratega que ayuda a mantener el 70 por ciento de popularidad de Uribe, le ha abierto muchas puertas. Como publicista y sicólogo se ocupa de su propia imagen y le da una gran prioridad a ella. Cuando Ramiro Bejarano escribió una columna en su contra mandó a hacer un focus group para evaluar qué tanto daño le habían hecho. Y la semana pasada, cuando recibía periodistas, se cambiaba su camisa por la chaqueta de cuello oriental con la que aparece siempre en las fotos.

Rendón has not abandoned his activity as an international consultant. In fact, billing himself as the “founder” of La U, the brains behind a party that won legislative elections after four months in existence and the strategy that keeps Uribe’s popularity at 70 percent, has opened many doors for him. As a publicist and psychologist, he takes care with his own public image and sets great store by it. When Bejarano wrote a column against him, he called for a focus group to see how much damage has been done. And last week, when he met with journalists, he changed his shirt for the jacket with an oriental collar in which he is always photographed.

Kind of like Jimmy Wales.

Es un hombre duro. Le han escuchado tratar a gritos a Carlos García, el presidente de La U. Pasa sus temporadas en Bogotá en un hotel, donde vive solo, trabaja mucho, escucha noticias las 24 horas del día y cultiva una vida espiritual basada en prácticas zen.

He is a hard-nosed man. He has been heard to scream at Carlos García, president of La U. He spends his time Bogotá at a hotel, where he lives alone, works long hours, listens to news 24 hours a day, and cultivates a spiritual life based on Zen Buddhism.

Zen koan:

A good horse runs even at the shadow of the whip

Yes, but does a dumb beast possess the Buddha nature?

More soon.

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