Operation Christmas

Lowe-SSP3 was asked to create an idea to increase demobilizations in the number of terrorist guerrillas in action.

Background

The FARC is the largest and oldest insurgent group in the Americas. It conducts bombings, unlawful killings, mortar attacks, kidnappings, forced displacement, extortion and hijackings and is universally considered a terrorist group.

It has been estimated that FARC supplies more than 50% of the world’s cocaine, with its ‘fund-raising’ from taxation of the illegal drug trade estimated at $1 to $3.5 billion annually. The guerrilla war has caused more than 600,000 deaths during the conflict; and displaced 3.7 million Colombians. Since 2002, the GAHD (the Colombian Ministry of Defense’s Group of Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilized) have promoted guerrilla demobilization. Efforts have included Government-sponsored TV and radio advertising campaigns, and a process known as "reinsertion", whereby the Government offers amnesty.

Idea

Demobilizations have become more difficult. Firstly, because the remaining guerrillas are those with greater conviction and secondly, they have relocated to more isolated rural areas and have reduced access to communications.

Consequently there was an emerging need during 2011 to reinvigorate the demobilization effort and take it to this increasingly hard to reach audience.

Our strategy focused on taking the sentiment of Christmas to the heart of FARC’s jungle strongholds. We created three consecutive Christmas demobilization campaigns, all focused on the same objective but built upon evolving insights.

Results

Across our three Christmas campaigns we saw 590 guerrillas demobilize. Pre-campaign, the average proportion of demobilizations occurring over Christmas was 9.9% of the annual total. For 2011-2013, across our campaigns, this rose to an average of 15%.

The campaigns were key. And guerrillas themselves report that the campaign had a considerable impact, which is recognized by the Colombian National Security.
The proportion of child soldier demobilizations has increased since our campaigns launched, up to 25% by 2013 – the highest proportion ever for child soldiers’ demobilization.

 

 

 

 

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