/ 27 November 2006

Spanish crime video backfires

A video designed to highlight rising crime under Spain’s Socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has backfired on the opposition People’s Party after television news pictures used in it turned out to have been filmed abroad or before Zapatero came to power.

One scene was shown to have been filmed when the opposition party was itself in power. Pictures of police and rioters battling it out on the streets of Barcelona turned out to have been shot in 1996.

“I can only think that it must be an attempt at self-criticism,” quipped Zapatero after the gaffe was revealed.

Things got even worse, however, after one fuzzy scene of men firing pistols turned out to have been shot not in Spain, but in the notorious Colombian city of Medellin. “It comes from a skirmish between drug traffickers in 2003,” the television station Cuatro reported. There was no denial from the People’s Party.

Critics accused the conservative party of scaremongering and deliberately manipulating the images — which include pictures of recently arrived African immigrants being treated by the Red Cross — in order to link rising crime with Spain’s immigration boom.

“This is manipulative and dangerous,” said Angeles Yague, of the United Left Party.

The People’s Party has denied that it deliberately lied, and blamed the production company that it subcontracted to do the work. It originally claimed that the 1996 pictures were used because of an error in the labelling of the videotapes. It has not said whether the pictures from Colombia were used because of a similar mix-up. — Â