Colombia: FARC ideologue and musician reportedly killed

UPDATE – 2015
In 2008, Freemuse reported – as seen below – that the Colombian rebel musician Julian Conrado had been assassinated. We have since received information indicating that he is alive and participating in the peace negotiations between FARC and the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba. See for instance this article, El cantante de las FARC será el negociador en el proceso de paz


13 March 2008

Rebel ideologue and musician killed

At dawn on 1 March 2008, Colombian military forces were reported to have killed a rebel group’s popular revolutionary songwriter, Julian Conrado, as well as a dozen others, in a US-backed air-raid on a rebel camp.

By Martin Buch Larsen, Freemuse 

Luis Edgar Devia Silva also known as Raúl Reyes and Guillermo Enrique Torres Cueter also known as Julián Conrado were among the most publicly known figures of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). They both figured on the U.S. Department of State’s ‘Most Wanted list’ for their alleged involvement in FARC’s illegal drug trafficking, extortions and kidnappings.

According to Associated Press, Raúl Reyes had become the public face and main spokesperson of FARC, and he was, until his recent death, considered a possible successor to the organisation’s present leader who is in his 70s. Julián Conrado, on the other hand, often appeared with a harmless guitar rather than an automatic weapon at his side. He was a senior member of FARC, and he has written numerous popular revolutionary songs for the FARC organisation.

“This is the strongest blow dealt to the terrorist group to date,” said the Colombian Defense Minister, Juan Manuel Santos, at a conference following the air-raid. According to BBC News, the Colombian Defense Minister said that the military had tracked the location of Reyes’ and his camp through information obtained by the government’s network of informants. A total of 17 rebels and one soldier died in the operation, which involved Colombia’s army, police and air force, the Defense Minister said.

“Buy one for the revolution”
Songwriter ‘Julián Conrado’ was born in 1954 in Turbaco, Colombia. Prior to his death he had written more than 100 ‘praising’ songs for FARC. The first songs by Conrado and other local musicians were compiled on an album named “Mensaje Fariano” in 1989. This double album was disseminated through the Bolivarian radio network ‘Voz de la Resistencia’ (Voice of the Resistance) and following the release, it grew in popularity among FARC supporters.

FARC has continuously ‘employed’ musicians and composers like John Palo, Luke Iguarán, Cristian Perez, and Camilo Germán Vargas in order to promote and spread their ideology. The musical production of FARC lists more than 15 albums – including local songs in music traditions like ‘Vallenato’, ‘Porro’ and ‘Llanera’.

The popular and quick-to-smile ‘rebel’ seemed out of place in Latin America’s most brutal civil conflict, as he played the guitar, recounts a commentator on the online news-wire After a public appearance in 2001, Julián Conrado offered one of the thousands of the FARC-sponsored CDs to a by-passer. “Buy one for the revolution,” he said.

About the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist revolutionary guerrilla organisation founded in the 1960s. The organisation claims to represent the rural poor in a struggle against Colombia’s wealthier classes and opposes the United States’ influence in Colombia.

The organisation is considered a terrorist organisation by Colombia, Canada, USA and the European Union. The movement has been accused of illegal drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and a number of other illegal activities.

Julian Conrado

Sources: – 1 March 2008:

Julián Conrado, el hombre de confianza de ‘Raúl Reyes’

BBC News – 1 March 2008:

FARC aura of invincibility shattered

Associated Press / FOX News – 1 March 2008:

No. 2 FARC Commander Reyes Killed in Gunfight

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