FARC Using Emerging Media Platforms to Disseminate Message

By Dialogo
May 15, 2012

With communiques signed from “the mountains of Colombia,” websites, and even a Twitter account, the FARC guerrillas are also fighting on the web, a space that is more agitated than ever since they captured the French reporter Romeo Langlois on April 28.

The FARC, the oldest guerrilla group in Latin America, founded by campesinos and leftist intellectuals in 1964, is currently taking advantage of the new technologies to send its messages, with the expected frequency when dealing with hostages.

The FARC (communists) “managed to adapt to the communications media, which allow them to give much faster replies than they used to,” explained Alfredo Rangel, director of the Security and Democracy Foundation.

Thus, the FARC website has become the guerrillas’ official media outlet. Ironically, the site is hosted in Arizona, United States, a country that is the declared enemy of the FARC.

Other websites that share its line of thought also reproduce the FARC’s communications, such as Anncol (New Colombia News Agency), and its blog, or even the Bolivarian Press Agency.

The web has become one of the safest places for the guerrilla, which practically put an end to direct contacts with the press out of fear that they might be located if they use other communications systems, as happened to FARC spokesman Raul Reyes in 2008, when he was killed during a bomb attack in Ecuador, where he was found thanks to his satellite phone.

In addition, the blocs have websites that they are continually moving from one address to another due to the official cybernetic pursuit, he added.

“Our website is continually attacked and blocked; our radio stations are bombed to dust,” denounced the FARC secretariat in the text.

The activity on the web is so varied that in recent days a Twitter FARC account emerged with some 5,000 followers, the authenticity of which has neither been confirmed nor denied by its commanders.

Its last message on the social network, which was reproduced in diverse communications media outlets, announced Langlois’s “prompt release.”

But, according to Avila, the Twitter messages must be taken “with much precaution.”

This researcher believes that they are written by somebody close to the guerrilla commanders, but he recalled that the FARC are “a collective body, not an NGO where somebody might post a tweet. It would be as if every general were to say on Twitter what they believe has to be done in the Army.”

In fact, a Twitter account with the name of Timochenko, the same as the alias of the FARC’s top leader Timoleón Jimenez, has emerged. But in this case it would seem to merely be the gesture of an admirer.