Rapping rebels release video to rally Colombians behind peace talks

The Associated Press
May 13, 2014 11:03 AM

FILE - In this March 26, 2014 file photo, Dutch-born guerrilla Tanja Nijmeijer, of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, sings a tribute to FARC founder Manuel Marulanda, on the sixth anniversary of his death, in Havana, Cuba. Colombia’s largest rebel group is trying to rally support for peace talks with a new rap video. Nijmeijer features prominently in the video, which exalts the FARC’s role as a defender of Colombia’s peasants. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes, File)

BOGOTA - Colombia's largest rebel group is turning to rap music to try to rally support for peace talks.

The fast-paced, 4-minute clip that began circulating on social media Tuesday is called "Colombians, everybody to the peace talks." It was produced by negotiators in Havana for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia along with Cuban rappers Cuentas Claras.

Featuring prominently in the video is Dutch-born guerrilla Tanja Nijmeijer, who is taking part in talks after Colombia suspended a warrant for her arrest and extradition to the U.S. for her role in the 2003 kidnapping of three American defence contractors.

Sporting a camouflaged tank top and an army-green rebel cap, Nijmeijer melodiously extols the FARC's defence of Colombia's peasants as "the reason for my life." Another negotiator making a cameo is Miguel Pascuas, one of the FARC's founders a half-century ago during a violent war with the state over land rights.

The nearly two-year-old talks have been under fire as Colombians head to the polls later this month. President Juan Manuel Santos has staked his re-election bid on a promise to negotiate a landmark accord with the FARC. But his closest rival, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, an ally of powerful former President Alvaro Uribe, has been gaining in the polls while criticizing the government for being too soft on the rebels.

The FARC video shows that rebel negotiators aren't in any rush to give up longstanding demands for a bilateral cease-fire and a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution to give a bigger voice to marginalized groups. But interspersed with diatribes against Colombia's elite, images of abuses by security forces and U.S.-funded fumigation planes is a message of optimism about the peace talks.

In a statement accompanying the release, the FARC says that "to reach peace, we must learn to speak without fear, without taboos."

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