An advertising agency, Lowe SSP3, and the Colombian government are again working this holiday season to persuade guerrillas to demobilize and return to their families.
On Dec. 7, a traditional Colombian holiday when children light candles, military helicopters dropped thousands of lights along paths traveled by the insurgents. The lights got tangled high in the trees where it was hard to remove them. Then, glow-in-the-dark billboards were installed along jungle rivers with the message, “Guerrilla, follow the light.”
Starting Dec. 17, “Operation Bethlehem” will light five strategically placed beacons to illuminate the sky every night until the end of the year. The beacons are placed in key town plazas or other safe places to indicate to guerrillas where it is safe to escape to.
The Colombian radio has been playing a rewritten Christmas carol that ends, “This Christmas, follow the light. Demobilize.” And a TV commercial concludes, “Follow the light that will guide you to your family and friends. Demobilize. At Christmas, everything is possible.”
Last year, during “Operation Christmas,” soldiers in two Blackhawk helicopters dropped in on supply paths that the guerrillas are known to use and decorated ten 82-foot trees with sparkling blue lights. The trees were rigged with motion sensors to turn the lights on when someone walked by. A banner next to each tree said, “If Christmas can come to the jungle, you too can come home. Demobilize. At Christmas, everything is possible.”
Here, read more about the efforts of Lowe SSP3 to get guerrillas to defect.