The broadcast of a secretly shot video in which a prominent Colombian politician discusses sexual encounters with other men is prompting a fierce debate about homophobia and journalistic ethics in this conservative South American country.
President Juan Manuel Santos and other figures have sharply criticized radio station La FM for broadcasting an eight-minute excerpt of a video recording in which former Senator Carlos Ferro and a police captain discuss sex in crude details and trade kisses while driving together in a car in Bogota.
On Wednesday, General Rodolfo Palomino resigned as head of the police over allegations of misconduct that included a subaltern's accusation that the chief, high-ranking officers and even members of congress abused their positions to demand sexual favors with young cadets.
In announcing an administrative investigation into the allegations, Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez cited the hidden-camera video as evidence in the case. Palomino's name is never mentioned in the recording and there is no apparent discussion of the alleged male prostitution ring inside the police force, which Colombian media have dubbed the “Community of the Ring.”
Ferro, who resigned as deputy Interior minister as soon as the video went viral on Tuesday, has denied any wrongdoing or abuse of his political position.
In an interview on Wednesday with Blu Radio, Ferro sidestepped questions about the video's content but blasted La FM's star anchor, Vicky Davila, saying she irresponsibly aired a private conversation that he had no idea was being recorded and is now part of judicial investigation. He also accused the captain behind the recording of laying a trap.
Santos, whose family used to own Colombia's largest newspaper, expressed disgust over the media's handling of the matter, saying it should prompt a deep reflection of when a journalist's job of informing invades upon an individual's good name.
Asked by CNN en Espanol's Patricia Janiot if he would have broadcast the video, Santos responded: “I'll return the question to you. Do you think divulging this video is good journalism?”
On Thursday, the parent company of La FM issued a statement saying Davila had resigned. It gave no reason and did not mention the recording.