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Sunday, December 19, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor

The Santos government is using the holiday season to reach out to the FARC.

Via the BBC:  Colombia army gives Farc rebels early Christmas gift

Special forces infiltrated the remote Macarena mountain range to dress a 25m (82ft) high tree with 2,000 lights.

Movement sensors will make the tree light up when guerrillas approach.

The army says it will put up trees in nine other rebel-held zones to spread the message that Christmas is a good time to abandon armed struggle.

[…]

The Christmas tree was installed near a rebel supply route in the region where the Farc military leader, Mono Jojoy, was killed in a large-scale military assault in September.

As well as lights, it was decorated with slogans saying "Demobilize, at Christmas everything is possible" and "If Christmas can come to the jungle, you can come home".

It is an intriguing move.  As Boz notes:

It’s hard to know how many FARC combatants will actually see the trees or the videos related to them. Symbolically, it’s a great Christmas message providing a peaceful way out of the conflict.

He also links to El Espectador which has the following rather impressive video:

Even if you can’t understand Spanish, I think you will get the point.  If you understand Spanish, the video is especially worth the 3 1/2 minutes needed to watch.

The basic message:  the guerrillas are currently separated from their families and that Christmas is a good time to demobilize and return home.  In short, if Christmas can come to the jungle, then it is possible to quit the fight.

Now, one has to note that a lot of this is PR, as the persons most likely to see this message are non-guerrillas.  Still, the notion of trying to induce demobilization, and in such a humane way, alongside the military pressure that has been applied strikes me as smart and potentially efficacious.

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