FARC Rap About Peace Talks

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A rap video released by Colombian guerrilla group the FARC expresses a defiant position towards the peace talks set to begin in Norway in October, and continues the rebels’ tradition of releasing musical propaganda.

The nearly-five minute video shows a group of rebels on a hillside, some of them playing guitar and drums in the background, while a young man and woman, wearing Che Guevara shirts and FARC apparel, rap about the upcoming peace talks.

The chorus changes throughout the song, but relies on variations of the slogan “I’m going to Havana” to do various things, including “speak with the bourgeois who searched for us and could not defeat us.”

The song begins by referring to President Juan Manuel Santos as “Chucky” Santos, presumably a reference to the president’s alleged similarity to the Chucky character, an old Internet meme in Colombia.

Only one verse makes references to the FARC’s involvement in drug trafficking, criticizing those who “accused” the guerrillas of being “narcos” and extraditing them.

The song criticizes US support for the war in Colombia and Brazil for selling Tucano aircraft which is then used to bomb the FARC.

The tune presets a defiant position towards the peace talks, expected to be supported by Cuba and Venezuela. One refrain describes the government as “sending experts with diplomas” who want to “trick” the rebels.

The video ends with the musicians dressed in civilian clothing and walking away carrying luggage, presumably traveling to the country that hosts the peace talks. FARC top commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry, alias “Timochenko,” also makes a brief appearance at the very beginning and end of the video, stating in the final few seconds, “We have sworn to overcome, and we will overcome.”

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The political content of the song is unsurprising — all the expected namechecks of FARC leaders who died in battle (Mono Jojoy, Alfonso Cano, Manuel Marulando, Raul Reyes) are there, as well as a criticism of former president Alvaro Uribe, who is described as a “pureblood” who “only knows about massacres.”

The timing of the video may be intended to thumb the nose at the Colombia government, and to release a boastful pro-FARC statement to counteract media coverage focusing on the rebels’ weakened position in entering the peace talks. And as the Wall Street Journal notes, the video is in marked contrast to the video statements previously released by the FARC, which typically “consisted of gray-bearded, bespectacled commanders speaking directly into the camera reading remarks laden with Marxist rhetoric berating the government.” The rap experiment could be the guerrillas’ attempt to present a more “modern” image, security analyst Alfredo Rangel told the newspaper.

Music has long formed part of the FARC’s propaganda. One political leader, Guillermo Enrique Torres Cueter, alias “Julian Conrado” or “El Cantante” (The Singer), released multiple vallenato songs praising the FARC until his capture last year in Venezuela. The FARC have also released an upbeat merengue song asking listeners to move their hips, grab a partner, and watch out for the guerrillas’ explosives. Sample lyric: “Traca, traca, traca, tra, [meant to be the sound of a machine gun], the government will fall.”

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