An altered press cartoon… To attack the press.
On 13 March 2021, Rafael López Aliaga, a candidate in the 11 April 2021 general election on behalf of the Renovacion Popular party, published an altered cartoon by cartoonist Mechaín Doroteo from Perú21 that had initially appeared on the front page of El Otorongo the day before.
The original cartoon showed the candidate pushing a rock with the words “fake news” on it, which was intended to crush a truck containing Covid-19 vaccines. Denouncing the manipulation and an attack on his freedom of opinion, the cartoonist explained to Perú21 that his cartoon was about the disinformation campaign launched by López Aliaga to discredit the vaccination campaign.
In the version posted on López Aliaga’s Twitter account on 13 March, the term “fake news” is replaced by “corruption is over” (se acaba la corrupcion). The logos of various media and political parties appear on the back door of the vehicle. Mechaín told Cartooning for Peace that he had initially reported the altered cartoon to Facebook, but later he withdrew his report by fear of seeing the situation escalating.
According to many local observers, the publication of this cartoon by the neo-conservative candidate represents a worrying attack on press freedom. It is prejudicial to the cartoonist and the newspaper who produced and published the original cartoon, and constitutes a manipulation of journalistic content intended, according to Andrés Calderón, a professor at the Universidad del Pacífico, to ” liken the media to parties and companies to corruption”. According to him, this suggests that, if Aliaga comes to power, he could take concrete measures against certain media, with the probable exception of one television channel – Willax – on which he appears frequently.
Cartooning for Peace condemns the misappropriation of the original intention of the cartoon for political purposes. This situation, which Mechaín considers regrettably “usual”, echoes cases reported by press cartoonists such as Michael de Adder (Canada) and Zapiro (South Africa).