Members of a Colombian rebel group are putting down their guns and busting out their rap skills for peace.
Last week, the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC–EP) released a music video with Cuban rap group Cuentas Claras.
This is the second rap video the rebel group has released, and was produced to commemorate the 50–year anniversary of the FARC´s formation, to coincide with the ongoing peace dialogues that have been taking place in Havana. FARC's first video, released in August 2013, reached just under 500 views.
Music has been on one of the FARC–EP´s propaganda tools in recent years, but they had previously focused on the more traditional Colombian genre of cumbia.
The “Pueblo colombiano pa’ la mesa” song was recorded in Havana during the peace talks between the guerilla group and representatives of the Colombian government, which they agreed on a ceasefire during the presidential elections on May 25.
While there has been progress in the peace talks, the Colombian government has not stopped the offensive against the guerrilla group and there are still pending issues related to the agreements linked to issues like transitional justice and victim’s reparations.
Colombian People for the Roundtable
For now, FARC and Cuentas Claras are using the song “Pueblo colombiano pa’ la mesa” (which means "Colombian people for the roundtable"), as an opportunity to help end decades of conflict in Colombia.
During the national tour of the Cuban Rap Agency — the office of the Cuban Institute of Music, which promotes hip-hop artists — VICE News spoke to the members of Cuentas Claras, a group that formed in 2004 in the Cuban underground.
In the video, Cuentas Claras sings with Tanja Nijmeijer, a FARC member who is originally from Holland, joined the guerrilla group in 2002 and now belongs to its ring of leaders.
“We met the guerilla members through mutual friends. We wrote the song and recorded it. It took a few practice rounds, but everything was very quick. Now, since it has been made public, we have been fairly surprised by the online impact,” Cuentas Claras vocalist Amayry Liebre told VICE News.
Nijmeijer’s presence in the video could help raise the musical group’s level of recognition while contributing to the peace process.
“She sings and we do too. The song might help promote the band, but we don’t do things with that objective in mind, we just got involved because it could contribute to putting an end to this painful conflict, which weighs heavy on this South American country,” Liebre said.
Cuentas Claras' intention is to offer their personal viewpoint on the world and society, to give a voice to people who suffer from “discrimination and injustice.” The ten tracks reflect their concerns, living issues and worries.
In the video the group sings, “in the name of the exploited, of the barefoot and malnourished kids, of the underpaid and unprepared women and men of the threatened peasants.”
“We speak about the things that are not working in society and affect the people. Our hip-hop is from the street. The rap belongs to the masses,” Liebre told VICE News.
Meanwhile, a concert has been organized for the release of their second album entitled, “Sin tribu y sin Rey” — which translates to: "without a tribe and without a king."