On June 20, 2012, French reporter Romeo Langlois released the shocking video of the FARC guerrillas’ ambush of the Colombian Army unit he was embedded with last month. The FARC retained Langlois for a month, after he turned himself into the terrorist group to save his life. The army unit was raiding cocaine labs located in two different areas of Caquetá, in southeastern Colombia. This video not only provides evidence of the reality of the Colombian conflict, but also proves the inexistence of a protocol regarding embedded reporters in Colombia.
The video is shocking. Langlois shares a few hours of his life accompanying Colombian Army men carrying out a routine, yet risky operation. In the video, the fearless men answer Langlois’ questions, even as the FARC’s ambush forces them to break into squads during the second raid. Sargent Cortes, who escorts the French reporter to an area where a chopper will hopefully evacuate him, talks to Langlois about his family. A few minutes later, he lies dead next to Langlois. In addition to Sargent Cortes, another Colombian army hero dies in front of Langlois. News outlets report daily about Colombian Army and FARC confrontations, but this is one of the few times that a complete clip of the cruel Colombian conflict has been made publicly available. It is also probably the first time that anyone has seen a soldier die and hear his brave breath vanish.
As cruel as the video is, the video provides evidence of the absence of a Colombian Army protocol regarding the presence of embedded reporters in critical missions. Without this protocol, no civilian should be allowed to join any Colombian military unit. Langlois’ presence likely added a distracting factor to the unit he joined. Colombian military strategists and experts should analyze this recording to improve military strategy. The video should feed the design of a much needed “embedded journalist protocol”, considering that the Colombian Defense Ministry that it will not stop allowing embedded reporters to join military operations a few days after the ambush and the subsequent Langlois’ kidnapping by the FARC terrorists.