Case Insight – Alumni Update May 2021
Erika (‘Kika’) Nieto is a Colombian influencer with millions of followers in social media. In 2018, responding to a viewer’s question in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ video, Kika shared her view of marriage according to her faith, while expressing tolerance for all other views. An activist complained about the clip, and a national court denied Kika’s right to freedom of expression, ordering her to remove the video under threat of imprisonment. The case is now pending review in the Constitutional Court of Colombia.
Santiago Guevara is an Areté Delegate (2016) and Blackstone Fellow (2018) from Bogotá, Colombia. He is a co-founder of Nueva Democracia, and part of the legal team representing Kika. We asked Santiago to share some insight in this case.
Santiago, tell us about Nueva Democracia, and your role in the organization.
Nueva Democracia is a Colombian foundation dedicated to the formation of young people, the defense of human dignity, and advocacy in support of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience. Our main goal is to cut into the public debate to promote the common good and achieve real cultural change. Our work includes strategic litigation of constitutional challenges, interventions in executive orders and legislative measures, and the training and engagement of Colombia’s upcoming leaders. We partner with other organizations in Colombia and abroad, like ADF International, providing national and regional expertise, collaborating on cases and campaigns, and activating engagement through effective and growing networks of motivated advocates.
I am co-founder of Nueva Democracia and currently working in strategic litigation and in the formation of new members.
What is Nueva Democracia’s involvement in Kika’s case, your role, and what motivated you (organizationally and personally) to get involved?
Nueva Democracia is representing Erika Nieto in this case, and I am one of the lawyers in the legal team. Our involvement in the case started immediately when the judge issued a warrant for Kika’s arrest, for not obeying the order to remove her video from YouTube. Our legal team stepped in and persuaded the judge to eliminate the warrant.
We knew as soon as we heard about the order to remove the video that we needed to get involved. This case is such a clear violation of freedom of speech and religious freedom, with implications not just for Kika, but for all Colombians. If they can get away with doing this to such a public figure, no one is safe.
ADF International has been involved with us since the beginning, offering resources, perspective, and support. Having that support has been crucial.
What is the core legal issue at stake here, what are the potential implications of it?
The Constitutional Court must decide whether what was expressed by Kika Nieto, based on her Christian faith, is a legitimate opinion in our democracy. What is at stake in this case is truly the freedom of speech and religious freedom, not only of Kika Nieto but of all Colombians, and beyond that for Christian public voices all across Latin America.
If the Court decides to protect Kika Nieto’s rights, all judges in the country will have to decide similar cases according to this precedent, so this case has the potential to represent a guarantee for the respect of freedom in Colombia.
What (if anything) has surprised you about this case? What encouragement and growth have you received as a result of working on this situation?
I am positively surprised with Kika’s courage to legally challenge the censorship with which she has been met. But I was even more surprised that the judge who ordered the removal of the video considered (and said) that the opinion was equivalent to Nazism.
Seeing this all unfolding in front of us made me realise that it is becoming increasingly urgent to work on these cases, because not only are we exposed to confrontation with activists who think differently from us, we are also exposed to the arbitrariness of the judges. We need structural legal protections in place.
What are the next steps in this case?
Kika published a video a few days ago, describing the whole situation that she has since experienced as a result of this case. It has been well received by her followers, with thousands of comments in support. The next step we’re pursuing is to get the Constitutional Court to select the case for review. We hope this video and public approach provide incentive for the Court to weigh in on this issue, in favor of freedom.
See Kika’s video here.
What can the ADFI Alumni community do to help?
First, I would like to mention that several members of this community are already involved with this situation. There are Delegates and Fellows who work and collaborate with Nueva Democracia, and several Delegates in the incoming Areté Academy Latin America class working with us as well.
I think the greatest help we can receive is your prayers for the selection of the case, and that the ruling of the Court is favorable.
Besides that, helping us to make this case public! We need people to know what’s going on and to realize what’s at stake. Public support will help provide the impetus for the Constitutional Court to select the case.
What encouragement or advice would you give your fellow Alumni in their own areas?
Some advice that always encourages me to keep working in this case is that even in adverse situations such as this (bearing in mind the incredibly liberal and progressive tendencies of our Constitutional Court), there is always the possibility of winning if rigorous and strategic work is done. Although the circumstances in general in the world seem unfavourable at this moment, there are many victories that can be achieved in the fight for freedom. Our call is to boldly use our talents, intellect, and energies for Christ, and the results belong to Him.
You can find more information about Nueva Democracia on their website.