Colombia’s Anti-FARC Battle Plays Out on Airwaves, Social Media
By Dialogo October 08, 2012
BOGOTÁ — The Colombian military must counter the symbols and rhetoric employed by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, specialists in psychological warfare and local politics told a group of officers at a four-day seminar in Bogotá.
Ronald P. Archer, special advisor to USSOCOM (Special Operations Command) said that the FARC — Colombia’s most violent terrorist group — still has “significant power despite being defeated militarily.”
Speaking Oct. 2 at Bogotá’s Club Militar, he said the FARC now focuses its ideological activities on recruitment, indoctrinating combatants, directing propaganda at civilians in conflict zones and feeding lies to Colombians and people overseas.
“The Armed Forces needs to take the initiative in improving civilian-military relations and this will in turn combat the FARC’s claims that the state has abandoned their territory.” Archer told his audience. “The FARC’s propaganda must be studied in its minutiae to improve our understanding of the insurgent’s narrative.”
Consistent messages work best
Archer said the Colombian military’s narrative must be consistent — and that it must focus on cultural, religious and civic values shared by most of Colombia’s 46 million inhabitants. He pointed out that even though the family is the moral compass that guides Colombian culture and offers security, “the FARC rejects the idea of a traditional family and replaces it with a revolutionary identity.”
Archer said that the terrorist group’s romanticized, revolutionary propaganda reaches universities — which are ideal recruiting grounds for new FARC combatants — yet is outdated and far removed from the realities on the ground.
“The FARC realized very quickly in the 1980s that they had to get their message out there and directed their efforts to an international audience,” said Henry Cancelado, a political scientist at Bogotá’s Universidad Nacional.
“The FARC’s reliance on actual foot-soldier activity is minimal alongside their management of the media and their political marketing — for example, publishing videos on YouTube. They truly believe and know that the more public they make their cause, the better and the further their message will reach.”
Using social media wisely
These days, said Cancelado, Colombia’s Armed Forces are up to speed on Facebook and Twitter, and in creating a counter-narrative to FARC propaganda. “If the FARC lose the support of their followers and active members, it does not matter how much money or how many bullets they possess. They are going to lose.”
Salúd Hernández, a correspondent for Colombia’s El Tiempo and Spain’s El Mundo newspapers, suggested that the practice of using radio stations to call upon guerrillas to demobilize and turn themselves in be ended. She said it was well-known that guerrillas do not listen to those particular radio stations, and that those who do are subsequently punished by their superiors.
Added Cancelado: “We should be affecting and damaging their support networks and image overseas. The struggle must be won with social support and showing up their moral corruption.”
Archer noted that the FARC’s key support “comes from the regions of Colombia that have been subjected to years of guerrilla indoctrination.” And while those ideologies “may be leading the guerrilla group down an antiquated path,” he said that populations living in those regions need to see real change and promises fulfilled in order for the government to win their hearts and minds.
The struggle for political power in the brother People of Colombia, between the incumbent Governments and the FARC guerrilla movement must be staged at the peace table. And the dialogue of the two parties should be free of hatred, the feeling of pain which generate wars, and of the pain and ardor of revenge. Leaving these and others negatives elements behind can help them achieve a good dialogue and a happy outcome for the homeland of Colombia, and everything because of Colombians, from Colombians and for Colombians. From Puerto Rico, we wish the best to our brother country. What a poor memory Colombians have. The Farc initially was the armed arm of the extreme left. At present, its previous philosophy of struggle for social claims disappeared as the Soviet Union is gone and it was changed for a lucrative business of death, based on the drug trade, kidnappings, extortion, robberies, etc. To begin to negotiate with bandits is difficult, because their business is so lucrative that it is also supported by hidden forces, they will never deliver it. This is shown in the history. LetÂ´s continue struggling and praying to our HEAVENLY FATHER to change their hearts is our exit. The vast majority was shocked by the war of bullets and don't see other wars, for example, the life blood that is lost in hospitals by State corruption, the malnutrition of millions of Colombians that is reflected in their ravenous faces, the indignity of extreme opulence of very few "Christians", opposite masses in misery of cramped capitals. IsnÂ´t that a war, you myopic people. they think they are so special with their army, and they haven't even been able to handle a little group of rebels freedom for all those who are kidnapped. Innocent people... It doesn't do any good to keep up a fight that causes so much pain and property damage, and that is frowned upon by the world. It is much better to implement government agreements for employment with fair remuneration, education and health for all combatants. This will truly bring peace, progress and a bright future for this great Colombian country. Foreign investment, industry and tourism will grow exponentially; consequently, the average Colombian will raise his standard of living like he never dreamed before. There will be no need to go to other countries, since Colombia will have everything readily available. Greetings. Wars helped reduce population, which in my opinion is the cause for the misery in Colombia and in many parts of the world. Today you don't see that, a lot of technology and complex weapons are being deployed and very little results (deaths). The world population has to be decreased because in a few years we won't even have water for our grandchildren, and there will certainly be wars. It is urgent to find ways to achieve this reduction, it is urgent to intensify the war, that way it will be over soon. As long as there is corruption, injustice, impunity, inequality, privileges and lack of opportunities, it will be very difficult to achieve real and long-lasting peace. The description for guerrilla is different: the dictionary says: the person who kills, sets fire, steals, kidnaps, etc. is a bandit. From now on they will be called BANDITS. Furthermore, 80% of the 40 millions residents, every time they commit arbitrary acts, the bandits will be left without mothers. GENTLEMEN JOURNALISTS, LEADERS AND SERVERS OF THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT: COULD IT BE THAT THESE ARMED GROUPS, SUBVERSIVE, PARAMILITARY OR OF ANY OTHER COMBATIVE DENOMINATION AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT, ORIGINATE BECAUSE OF THE INJUSTICE COMMITTED AGAINST DEFENSELESS, SIMPLE CITIZENS, BECAUSE OF THE GREED TO OBTAIN WEALTH, NO MATTER HOW, AT THE EXPENSE OF THOSE COMPATRIOTS IN POSITION OF INFERIORITY OR VULNERABILITY? TO SHOW AN EXAMPLE OF THIS SOCIAL INEQUALITY, REFER TO THE NEWS AIRED BY NOTICIAS UNO ON SATURDAY FEBRUARY 9 OF THIS YEAR, DURING ITS BROADCAST AT NINE O'CLOCK AT NIGHT, HEADLINING THE DISPUTE ON THE REPEATED FRAUD COMMITTED AGAINST THE COLOMBIAN SOCIAL SECURITY, BY THE OCCUPATIONAL RISKS INSURANCE COMPANY POSITIVA S. A. AND THE AUTHORITIES AREN'T TAKING ANY ACTION! IMMUNITY?... CARTE BLANCHE? ("Z")... IMPUNITY?... WHAT SECRET INTERESTS, OBSCURE AGREEMENTS OR PERMANENT BENEFITS HOLDS THE POLITICAL CLASS IN ORDER TO BE PERMISSIVE WITH THESE CORRUPT BEHAVIORS THAT COMPROMISE THE SUPREME EXECUTIVE POWER, MINISTERS OF CORRESPONDING DEPARTMENTS WITH THEIR CONTROL AND MONITORING BODIES; OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE NATION, OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC; HOUSE AND SENATE AS LEGISLATIVE POWER WITH THEIR POLITICAL CONTROL AND THE OTHER POWER THAT SADLY HAS BECOME TRIVIAL, THE WAY ["IN"]JUSTICE HAS. COMMENT OF MARINO VEEDOR, FIGHTING FOR THE PEACE AND EQUALITY OF THE COLOMBIANS, VICTIMS OF THE TYRANNY OF THE DISASTROUS CORRUPTION THAT IS DESTROYING OUR BELOVED COUNTRY, WHERE WE CAN ASK OURSELVES, MALICIOUSLY, AND WHERE IS THE MANAGER WE CHOSE FOR THIS COMPANY? for many years the separation between the state established legitimately and the groups outside the law has increased, because of capitalist inequality of services, education, health, paved access ways so that the one who grows food has the ability to take his products to the city; on top of all this we have to create a system so that the farmer is not robbed by intermediates, a farmer comes with a bag of bananas and the inter pays for it as they wish, there is no one to put a price on those products, that's why they stop growing legal crops and they start growing the illegal kind, because the illegal is bought in bulk and they don't have to carry and beg in order to be able to sell what they have produced. The day the government protects its farmers, things will change. the struggle for political power between the governments in the sister-country Colombia is not doing any good. The dialogue between the two parties should be free of hatred, of the feeling of pain caused by wars, and of the pain and ardor of revenge. What is happening with the Colombian people and our governors, any illiterate person with delusions of dictatorship comes around and takes away from us half of the Caribbean Sea, and nevertheless we go on as if nothing happened, our indolence and that of our ruling class have caused that, for several decades, our neighbors have been trying to take advantage of our natural resources under the accommodating watch of our governments, who only think about profiting during their time at power for their own stingy interests. I think and respectfully suggest that our army and our police must initiate projects, provide education, attend issues on primary health in all those small towns where the State has not arrived yet, with all that it takes farmers to avoid being bought by the outlawed groups. The army and the police should have two groups in parallel, one to maintain military and police presence and another to provide State presence by offering services like the ones described above. This way we will be restoring the confidence that peasants of Colombia have lost. In a prestigious newspaper form Tolima, I read the statements of a great man who was an attorney of the nation, and who states the actual truth on how all the bad things are not just the FARC and he's right. Everyone in the country blames them for everything because the state is behind them, but they neglect or go along with what's most damaging for the country, and that's the fucking administrative corruption where a company steals billions and if they get caught, these criminals who steal our taxes are treated delicately and with benevolence, and are locked up in cells where they have all their toys, and if they are retired, they continue to receive their juicy pensions. This has to change and surely Colombians will live better in the future. How can I believe this lady Salud Hernandez, correspondent of the newspaper El Tiempo. I think it's disrespectful to write these publications, according to her the army radio stations don't fulfill their purpose as subversive people do not listen to them, because according to this lady, the guerrilla men are punished for listening to these stations. But I suggest she do more research on this topic because this issue goes beyond listening or not to the army radio stations, because in the course of these months and years the demobilization of these illegal armed groups has increased due to direct and indirect matters regarding radio broadcasting of the messages; as the demobilized guerrilla men themselves say, they have been listening secretly to these stations, and messages are given through relatives of these subversive people, informing them on the plans and benefits provided by the government regarding the demobilization. With this I'd like to tell this lady that this is only one part of what is done with the radio broadcasting and that I think it's strange that this educated and experienced lady doesn't study the topics before writing or speaking. I KEEP THINKING THAT IF COLOMBIA SHARES THIS CAKE, WE WILL REACH PEACE MORE OR LESS, OTHERWISE WE WILL CONTINUE PROMOTING WAR.