Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | February 28, 2012

FARC manuals instruct cruelty in treating hostages

In November 2011, authorities in Caqueta department, together with an anti-narcotics brigade, found a FARC “manual” with instructions on how to tie up and control hostages.

It read: “The prisoners must be guarded the 24 hours and the most dangerous with the corresponding security—the chain and the lock—to avoid the fleeing. … If the enemy attacks by surprise and it is impossible to save the prisoners, those in charge must take care to ‘down them’ .. never to their faces. … Remember that an object taken in combat, like a flashlight or a water bottle ‘’Made in CIA for guerrillas,’ could have been made especially to satisfy your curiosity with an explosion. If you have prisoners, make them open it.”

The documents included schedules to keep, and illustrations done by hand. Authorities discovered alias “Guajiro,” a 17-year-old boy, was forced to draw them after he fell asleep while on guard. Guajiro produced pencil-drawn images of uniformed policemen and military tied with chains and rifles pointing at them.

Several other types of instruction manuals were also found.

About blowing up bridges, electrical towers and other infrastructure with dynamite, a manual read: “.. the explosives must be placed at the base. Otherwise they do not fall.” “The community is warned ahead of time that the bridge will be blown up. If there are cars or people on it, too bad.”

About extortion: “It is forbidden, for anyone, the use of a cell phone.” “The owners of the farms must pay the tax on time. At the first no payment, there will not be a fine of one million (pesos). At the third no payment, (he will be) expulsed from the region.” “All should register the number of cattle and pay the tax for each one.”

About relations with rural communities: “Who arrives in a community and does not present a letter of recommendation will not be allowed in the region.” “Who enters unknown personnel without permission, on the third time will be expulsed from the region.” “Those who send children to study (outside the community) will only be allowed to have them return during holidays.”

About land mines: “Who plants land mines on the path for the enemy must hand in a route with points, for you not to blow your legs.” “In case you blow the legs, do not make ‘escaramuza’ because the enemy can be nearby. Wait until someone helps you.”

It is unfortunate that such “instructions” or “guidelines” are not news to us, Colombians. At least to me, it’s not news: The words printed in the FARC manuals seem to be recycled from verbal instructions given by Liberal generals back in 1899 during the War of the Thousand Days, especially the part about treatment of the enemy. According to writer and historian Arturo Álape, the grand-father of the FARC founder, Manuel Marulanda, was a horn blower for the Liberal troops when he was a boy, and Marulanda grew up hearing his grand-father’s tales and playing make-belief war with pipes he fashioned into rifles and guns.

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