Let there be lights: how Colombian government is trying to lure rebel fighters home for Christmas
Paul Bignell is an Assistant News Editor at The Independent. He has previously been the acting News Editor of the i Paper, a home news reporter for The Independent for one year and a reporter for the Independent on Sunday for six years.
Friday 14 December 2012
It has to be one of the more unusual attempts from the Colombian government to put an end to Latin America’s longest standing armed conflict: scattering 10,000 LED lights over vast swathes of the country’s hinterland, in an attempt to lure FARC rebels home for Christmas.
The video, produced by advertising agency Lowe SSP3 and which launches next week, shows the innovation used in recent years to get the Marxist/Leninist revolutionary guerrilla group who have been involved in armed conflict with the government since 1964, to surrender.
As the second round of peace talks began in Cuba last month, many ordinary Colombians are hoping next year will see a complete end to the violence from both sides of the conflict, which has blighted the country for decades.
Using military intelligence reports, the agency found that the guerrilla command posts had been repositioned throughout different areas of Colombia, in an attempt to prevent desertion.
Operation Bethlehem’s key objective was to give the FARC guerrillas a ‘guiding light’ which leads the way to freedom.
The team travelled with army and navy protection, to key towns located close to FARC camps.
The campaign uses TV and billboards, as well as powerful beacons of light placed in key town plazas. They are currently illuminating the sky every night giving the demobilising guerrillas a direction to go to if they manage to escape from their camps.
Over 10,000 LED lights were dropped by the Army on foot and from helicopters along key Guerrillas routes in the jungle, to guide those wanting to leave.
The agency created glow in the dark stickers, which the army laid out, on foot, on trees along strategic pathways. Working in conjunction with Military Intelligence, the agency identified pathways where vehicles carrying supplies for the guerrilla pass and attached the glow in the dark stickers to them.
Taking into consideration that the rivers are the jungle’s highways, they also installed glow in the dark billboards carrying the following message: “Guerrilla, Follow the Light”
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