HomeNewsBriefFARC Use Capture, Release of Journalist for Propaganda
BRIEF

FARC Use Capture, Release of Journalist for Propaganda

COLOMBIA / 31 MAY 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

FARC rebels deftly used both the capture and release of journalist Romeo Langlois for propaganda purposes and took advantage of his French nationality to seek the involvement of the Hollande government in any peace talks with the Colombian government.

After holding him for 33 days, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released Langlois on Wednesday to members of the International Committee of the Red Cross, former Senator Piedad Cordoba, and a representative of the French government in the village of San Isidro in the southern department of Caqueta, where he addressed members of the press.

Langlois was taken by the rebels on April 28 after the military unit he was accompanying on an counternarcotics mission came under attack by the FARC’s 15th Front. Three soldiers and a police officer were killed in the attack.

Langlois spoke of his captors in relatively positive terms, saying he had never been mistreated or tied up, and told those gathered that the guerrillas had always treated him “like a guest.” El Tiempo notes that, upon returning to Bogota, the reporter said the only thing he missed during his time in the jungle was the feeling of being cold.

In a press conference Thursday in Bogota, Langlois said the FARC had "scored a goal" with his kidnapping and release, using him for political motives. According to the AP, the FARC freed Langlois “on their movement's 48th anniversary on a specially built stage, hanging pro-peace banners in this remote southern hamlet and organizing a barbecue." Langlois also denied reports that he had been wearing military uniform at the time of his capture, an assertion the rebels used to claim that he was a “prisoner of war.”

InSight Crime Analysis

In releasing the journalist, the FARC doubtlessly hoped to gain positive press coverage. Their reputation has been marred by their participation in the drug trade, and by their heavy use of kidnapping as a tool to exert political pressure and extort funds. In December, they executed four hostages, men who had been held for up to 14 years, when the army launched a rescue effort. The rebels' statement earlier this year that they would cease kidnapping for ransom was met with skepticism by many.

This skepticism was fueled further by the FARC's early characterization of Langlois as a "prisoner of war." During the release, guerrilla commander Calacho Mendoza publicly apologized for this error.

On the whole, the rebels got everything they could have hoped to get from the incident. By demanding the presence of a representative of Hollande's government for Langlois' release, the FARC managed to internationalize the incident. And Langlois used his time in the spotlight to advocate for peace, reminding the press and members of the humanitarian team of the brutal reality of war in Colombia, which he characterized as “the poor killing the poor." (See video report from Al Jazeera, below.)

“The government has sold the idea that this conflict is over, but it isn’t," said Langlois. He also told reporters that the guerrillas are "tired of war," and had given him a letter to present to the French president, presumably asking for his help in facilitating peace negotiations.

While the Colombian government publicly says it will not negotiate with the FARC until the guerrillas declare a ceasefire, the rebels are likely hoping that outside pressure will force the state's hand.

A version of this article appeared on the Pan-American Post.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 23 MAY 2022

A reconfiguration of the groups that control micro-trafficking in Colombia’s capital city is responsible for the series of macabre homicides…

COLOMBIA / 11 MAR 2021

Forests in Colombia are being ravaged by illegal mining, a criminal economy that has come to rival the drug trade…

ARGENTINA / 3 FEB 2021

As workers across Latin America struggle to stay afloat amid economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, loan sharks offering…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.