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Guerrilla Numbers Dwindle as Colombian Army Embarks on Fierce Media and Social Campaign

Guerrilla Numbers Dwindle as Colombian Army Embarks on Fierce Media and Social Campaign

By Dialogo
December 23, 2014




Guerrilla groups are reeling from the continuing success of fierce social, military and media demobilization campaigns led by the Colombian government.

In the southeastern state of Caquetá alone, more than 130 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have left the guerrilla group this year – and in total, more than 1,240 men, women and children have demobilized throughout the country, according to the Ministry of Defense.

“Lately, some of the longstanding members of the guerrilla are demobilizing,” said Captain Ronal Romero, Planning Chief of the Ministry of Defense’s Group of Humanitarian Attention for the Demobilized (GAHD), an organization that provides financial, social and psychological support to guerrilla members who turn themselves in. “We are seeing that many of them feel disillusioned by the way things are going.”

The recent wave of demobilizations is a result of increased military pressure on one hand and the coordinated efforts of six different government institutions on the other. Those efforts, managed by GAHD and the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (ACR), provide benefits to those who renounce their weapons and pledge to follow a path towards social reintegration. Altogether, this two-tiered strategy has led to the disbandment of nearly 13,000 guerrillas since 2008.

Former guerrilla members who want to demobilize and enjoy all the judicial and financial benefits the government offers must follow a relatively strict path. First, they must turn themselves in at a police station or at an Army unit, where they will be housed, fed, and clothed for about two weeks.

“The whole path towards reintegration starts with a process of reconciliation,” Capt. Romero said. “The Soldier welcomes the guerrilla member who chooses to demobilize. He shakes the hand of his former enemy.”

After turning themselves in, former guerrillas are interviewed and then required to sign an affidavit, stating the criminal group they used to belong to and forsaking any further involvement with it. Authorities compile a file with this information and send it to Bogotá, where it is evaluated by a special committee formed by envoys of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defense, and other government institutions. The committee analyzes each individual’s claims and looks at their criminal records in order to approve them for a number of financial and judicial benefits. So far this year, 82 percent of the claims were accepted.

All demobilized men and women are given housing in rural residences known as Peace Homes; there are specific facilities for men, women, and families. Most people stay in these communal houses for 60 to 90 days, where they receive food, psychological evaluations, basic education, health services, and a clothing bonus of about $300. Additionally, they’re given about $3 per day to spend on whatever they prefer. Each former guerrilla’s reintegration process costs about $1,300, according to the GADH, and everything is fully funded by the Colombian government.

On the judicial side, crimes associated with armed rebellion – such as the illegal possession of firearms, the use of privileged communications, and the illegal use of Army uniforms – are pardoned. However, crimes like murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking carry normal sentences.

Following their initial stay in the peace homes, former guerrillas are urged to move to cities where they can work closely with personnel from the ACR’s reintegration centers. They must serve 80 hours of community service and follow certain protocols in order to earn money. At the end of each month, they can receive up to $240 if they attend high school – approximately 85 percent of all demobilized men and women only have a primary education – a technical college education fully paid for by the government, and regular meetings at one of the ACR’s 32 reintegration centers.

All of these benefits have been publicized through massive media campaigns, including pamphlets dropped in the jungles, spots aired on local and national radio stations, and TV commercials. The media campaigns often run during strategic events – like the World Cup and Christmas – times when guerrilla fighters feel the most alone, according to Capt. Romero.

The Ministry of Defense spends an average of $3 million per year on massive media campaigns to promote demobilizations. They have been so successful that in 2012 and 2014, the demobilization television ads even won Cannes Lions, the advertising industry’s most prestigious awards. But that recognition is just a minor indicator of the program’s success.

“We are offering people the services they need,” Capt. Romero said. “And more importantly, they are returning to society.”



Guerrilla groups are reeling from the continuing success of fierce social, military and media demobilization campaigns led by the Colombian government.

In the southeastern state of Caquetá alone, more than 130 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have left the guerrilla group this year – and in total, more than 1,240 men, women and children have demobilized throughout the country, according to the Ministry of Defense.

“Lately, some of the longstanding members of the guerrilla are demobilizing,” said Captain Ronal Romero, Planning Chief of the Ministry of Defense’s Group of Humanitarian Attention for the Demobilized (GAHD), an organization that provides financial, social and psychological support to guerrilla members who turn themselves in. “We are seeing that many of them feel disillusioned by the way things are going.”

The recent wave of demobilizations is a result of increased military pressure on one hand and the coordinated efforts of six different government institutions on the other. Those efforts, managed by GAHD and the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (ACR), provide benefits to those who renounce their weapons and pledge to follow a path towards social reintegration. Altogether, this two-tiered strategy has led to the disbandment of nearly 13,000 guerrillas since 2008.

Former guerrilla members who want to demobilize and enjoy all the judicial and financial benefits the government offers must follow a relatively strict path. First, they must turn themselves in at a police station or at an Army unit, where they will be housed, fed, and clothed for about two weeks.

“The whole path towards reintegration starts with a process of reconciliation,” Capt. Romero said. “The Soldier welcomes the guerrilla member who chooses to demobilize. He shakes the hand of his former enemy.”

After turning themselves in, former guerrillas are interviewed and then required to sign an affidavit, stating the criminal group they used to belong to and forsaking any further involvement with it. Authorities compile a file with this information and send it to Bogotá, where it is evaluated by a special committee formed by envoys of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defense, and other government institutions. The committee analyzes each individual’s claims and looks at their criminal records in order to approve them for a number of financial and judicial benefits. So far this year, 82 percent of the claims were accepted.

All demobilized men and women are given housing in rural residences known as Peace Homes; there are specific facilities for men, women, and families. Most people stay in these communal houses for 60 to 90 days, where they receive food, psychological evaluations, basic education, health services, and a clothing bonus of about $300. Additionally, they’re given about $3 per day to spend on whatever they prefer. Each former guerrilla’s reintegration process costs about $1,300, according to the GADH, and everything is fully funded by the Colombian government.

On the judicial side, crimes associated with armed rebellion – such as the illegal possession of firearms, the use of privileged communications, and the illegal use of Army uniforms – are pardoned. However, crimes like murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking carry normal sentences.

Following their initial stay in the peace homes, former guerrillas are urged to move to cities where they can work closely with personnel from the ACR’s reintegration centers. They must serve 80 hours of community service and follow certain protocols in order to earn money. At the end of each month, they can receive up to $240 if they attend high school – approximately 85 percent of all demobilized men and women only have a primary education – a technical college education fully paid for by the government, and regular meetings at one of the ACR’s 32 reintegration centers.

All of these benefits have been publicized through massive media campaigns, including pamphlets dropped in the jungles, spots aired on local and national radio stations, and TV commercials. The media campaigns often run during strategic events – like the World Cup and Christmas – times when guerrilla fighters feel the most alone, according to Capt. Romero.

The Ministry of Defense spends an average of $3 million per year on massive media campaigns to promote demobilizations. They have been so successful that in 2012 and 2014, the demobilization television ads even won Cannes Lions, the advertising industry’s most prestigious awards. But that recognition is just a minor indicator of the program’s success.

“We are offering people the services they need,” Capt. Romero said. “And more importantly, they are returning to society.”
Cool, this way everything's going to improve They keep insisting on the lie that this country is worse and worse every day. Only Santos believes it We need to understand the actions taken by a group on its way to signing a peace agreement in Colombia, it's also an indication of their lack of intentions to give up their criminal ways. It's nice that Radio Melodia informs us of what's happening 24 hours a day with news and excellent classical music... What happened to the Itagui council member Angela Maria Cano Come on, Santa Marta, we're going to win The measure to withdraw the benefit from charging a toll on 13th Street to Mosquera exists for a reason. I wonder if they do it will it hurt a lot of people who go live in Mosquera, and who work in that municipality, could it be that the pedestrian crossing will be improved by putting bridges on three corners and across from the Sena. Or is the bidder losing too much money and wanting to recover his investment in maintaining the street, who can answer our question They say the war is ending but what about all the attacks the armed forces are carrying out now. I still don't believe anything. The regional commanders aren't subject to a peace process, did not easily renounce the power they've acquired in their regions, and they run all the sale and production of coca there. So? What peace accord is being signed in Cuba? I will continue to pray to God the highest to have mercy on these innocent children who aren't to blame for what mistaken people do who think that they can get a lot using evil and who have nothing, because in the end divine justices reigns...It is time to reflect... Doesn't it seem absurd to you that the professionals in charge of evaluating children's everyday behavior, refer to parents in saying that being an example is the most important thing above many others and that children record and imitate everything they see around them, mainly during the first years of life; therefore drug addicted, alcoholic, agressive, thieving, abusive teenagers ... or those traumatized with different abnormal behaviors. THEY WILL VISUALIZE THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN, GREAT GRANDCHILDREN FROM WITHIN SUCH CHAOS AND then come out saying that we're wrong. Well, what scientific studies are they talking about, or who has really followed up on a significant number as a true representative sample of children adopted by dysfunctional couples that shows what is being said, when they continue to fight over this condition? Now they believe that nothing happens if the kids grow up with 2 moms or 2 dads that in addition fondle each other in front of them. WE NEED TO THROW AWAY THE ADVICE ABOUT GOOD BEHAVIOR IN THE HOME SO that children can copy good models of life. I hope they give a good showing in turning over the former head of DAS Maria del Pilar Hurtado and this way show that there is democracy to inform. And let it be front page news because this is a great blow to A.U. Uribe yes, yes, very true I like that you're informing me about what happens in the world. Thank you for this news. This is not true. You just say the same thing. How are they going to tell the people these things when it can't be avoided in the countryside? The Government should not offer the demobilized guerrillas incentives to attract them to civilian life, such as vehicles and other things, but it should offer them secure employment, decent housing or a way to get it by facilitating opportunities, studies, etc. Some fight to survive, others fight in defense of just causes. I think it's so silly I say what technological news I think it's really pretty, too I do not believe in the transparency of this report.
What I do believe is that the FARC ARE AND WILL BE TERRORISTS.
THIS IS NOT A PEACE TREATY, IT'S MORE OF A PEACE DEAL, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTINUE TO INTIMIDATE AS LONG AS THEY DON'T TURN IN THEIR WEAPONS, DON'T CLEAR THE MINES THEMSELVES AND DON'T FREE ALL THE PRISONERS OF WAR.
AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, THEY SHOULD ROT IN JAIL. It's that the peace process is for that handful of criminals there in Cuba because the rest have been kidnapped physically and as time goes on they've brainwashed them with physical and psychological terror. Their minds have been kidnapped. But freedom lives like an instinct within each living being and please don't stop your persuasive outreach for those who turn themselves in and harsh treatment for the rest who are the true terrorists murderers kidnappers rapists rascals narcos extortionists etc. There aren't many of them in Cuba and a few more are in Venezuela and a small handful in Colombia. Congratulations, GLORIOUS COLOMBIAN ARMY.
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