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An Archaeology of Media Spectacle, 1974–2008

An Archaeology of Media Spectacle, 1974–2008

(p.41) Chapter One An Archaeology of Media Spectacle, 1974–2008
Guerrilla Marketing
Alexander L. Fattal
University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses the question: how did the state come to believe that branding could help defeat the FARC? It goes back in history to trace mediatization of the Colombian conflict, that is the ways in which media played an increasingly central role in the war as it wore on. The chapter focuses on three inflection points. The first is the shift from agitprop, Soviet-style propaganda, to what the Colombian urban guerrilla group, the M19, called "armed propaganda." The second transformation was when Pablo Escobar, boss of the Medellín Cartel, adapted "armed propaganda" in his bid to avoid extradition to the United States, putting it at the service of an urban war that terrorized city residents and kidnapped high profile hostages, especially journalists. The third inflection point is the FARC's usage of hostages in a cynical bid to break what it describes as a "media siege" that does not allow it to speak for itself, and the public backlash to its efforts. In tracing the semiotic sensibility of Colombia's armed actors and the way the learned from each other, the chapter traces a history of the emergence of brand warfare.

Keywords:   mediatization of the Colombian conflict, M19, Medellín cartel, FARC, agitprop, armed propaganda, hostages, media siege, Pablo Escobar, history of brand warfare

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