Colombians caught breaking the law are now becoming social media stars.
In a video which has now achieved viral status on Colombian social media, an intoxicated woman named Melissa Bermúdez is seen acting in a threatening and physically violent manner toward two traffic agents in the city of Medellín.
“You don’t know who you are talking to. Why are you filming me? It’s illegal (…) Why are you holding me up? What is this, ‘homie’?” she adds, while head butting a policeman.
The young woman was in the car with her father, Carlos Germán Bermúdez, who refused to undertake an alcohol test.
Germán allegedly fled from a collision with another vehicle and was driving under the influence of alcohol.
This is not the first such incident of the year, either. In March, Nicolás Gaviria Stanich, a 29-year-old student, also found himself trending on social media for his reaction to police attempting to intervene in an altercation with a taxi driver in Bogotá’s nightlife spot, the Zona Rosa.
In what has been termed a “national sport” by Jairo Libreros, a political analyst and professor of government at the Universidad Externado in Bogotá, videos of criminals are being uploaded to social media networks in a bizarre vigilante-style act of publicly naming and shaming criminals.
The debate has even reached Colombian Congress, with one senator saying, “We have a national police culture, which presumes that citizens aren’t innocent, but guilty… we are going to turn all Colombians into criminals.”
Colombia’s national police force has also been caught in the crossfire, amid claims of a lax justice system and charges of incompetence and corruption.
Still, a national Ipsos survey published this year found that police are the profession with the third most favorable image in the country, with a positive public opinion of 63 percent — after only the Catholic Church and the armed forces.
However, in a country edging closer to the culmination of 38 cycles of peace talks between the government and the FARC guerrilla group, average Colombians appear to be tired of listening to those in power.
This is certainly evident in Bogotá, a city ranked as having the world’s most dangerous transportation system for women, according to the Huffington Post.
The police force that monitors the capital of almost 10 million has its work cut out dealing with traffic infractions and petty crime on the city’s mass transport bus system, the TransMilenio.
System users seem determined to take the law into their own hands, as increasing numbers of thieves within the system are dealt whatever punishment other travellers see fit.
Meanwhile, for Bermúdez and her father, a potential 28-million-peso fine (nearly US$11,000) and loss of driving license could be the results of the family’s five minutes of YouTube fame.
Though Bermúdez is likely to be forgotten by next week, the craze of naming and shaming those breaking the law looks set to continue on Colombian social media.