Thursday, May 28, 2009


Totalitarianism does not necessarily exist in the form of a government. Totalitarian practices are also found in other forms of organization such as in guerrilla groups. Here I compile pictures of one of the most brutal narco terrorist groups of the modern world - the FARC of Colombia.

May 27th marked the 45 anniversary of its foundation. Although in their beginnings in the early 1960s the FARC was a Marxist guerilla, this changed drastically after the fall of communism in 1989 when they stopped receiving funds from Cuba and other governments and turned into the biggest known army of drug dealers and terrorists in the world. With connections to the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez, links to the IRA, ETA, the Russian mafia and even terrorist groups in the Middle East, this group of narco terrorists of 15,000 actively works on drug cultivation and production, attacks civilizan populations, and sistematically kidnaps minors, forcing them to subhuman conditions, rapes and forced labor. Whereas they still play the political card, in reality kidnapping and drug dealing are the biggest source of finance and objective of the FARC. they argue that they fight for socialism but that is only a mascarade for their crimnal activities.

The FARC are considered a terrorist group by all international groups. Throughout their existence they have been responsible for the assassination, torture and kisnapping of hundred of thousands of Colombians.
One of their most detestable practices is the forced kidnapping of minors and sexual enslavements of adolescent girls. Under captivity these girls are raped by the FARC "chiefs" and then forced to abort.

This colombian child was brutally murdered by the FARC after an attack of that group to a civilizan population

Members of the 'Front 27' of the FARC decapitated this child, engaging in a typical act of barbarity. They accused this minor of not sharing their ideals and refusing to join them. After murdering they filled his body with explosives and send him in a gift wrap to the Colombian army. With the body came a letter in whcih they openly assumed responsibility for the crime and to make things for tetric they made "fun" of their actions. His crime was committed in the department of Meta.

This is the note of the FARC found in the body of the murdered child. In it the FARC recognize responsibility.

At the Municipality of Santander de Quilichao Department of Cauca. September 13, 1997. Narco Terrorists of the Jacobo Arenas (6th Front of the FARC) found themselves surrounded by the army and in retaliation opened fire without caring for the presence of civilians in the area. As a result, Gloria Lorenza Esperanza Guetio Ipia, aged 10 was killed. Three other little girls: MARIA ANTONIA IPIA POSCUE, AMALIA YULE IPIA, LAURA MARCELA IPIA (niña) were wounded.

Torture and assassination of Rodrigo Paraquive by the FARC. May 19, 1993. Municipality of Florián, Department of Santander. Piraquive died as a result of a brutal torture that involved burning his face with sulfuric acid, then decapitated and shot in the head.

Massacre of young Afro Colombians in the city of Buenaventura. April 1st, 2005.

These are the FARC 'Concentration Camps' where the group confines those that are kidnapped in brutal conditions reminesenct of Auswitch. Prisioners are kept in 'cages' as slaves and forced to cruels and degradant tretments.

13 year old adolescent kidnapped by the FARC.

A FARC 'Soldier Boy' October 2, 2007.

Human Rights Organization clearly condenm and prohibit the use of minors in armed conflicts.

A disturbing picture. As a trophy of war this picture captures the moment in which these children and adolescents are kidnapped and FARC members celebrate.

According to statistics over 649 minors have been victims of mined fields planted by the FARC and the ELN (another guerilla group in Colombia).

A study reveled that between 1980 and January 1, 2008 - 140 girls, 498 boys and 11 adolescent under 18 were known victims of crafted mines designed by the FARC. The study revealed that in the departments of ntioquia, Cundinamarca, Santander, Boyacá, Cauca, Nariño, Tolima, Bolívar, Norte de Santander and Meta present numerous mined camps without yet exploting. Today, over 688 municipalities in 31 of the 32 departments of Colombia are planted with personal mines. This means that 62% of Colombian territory is planted with mines. For this reasons the Colombian army in the past years have actively send their anti explosive squads to actively engage in the essential and yet dangerous task of cleaning Colombia of mines.

BBC Mundo, Colombia, Liberen a los Niños (16 de Mayo del 2003)
CAMQ, Es Necesario Quitarle Los niños a la guerra
DEUTSCHE WELLE, Niños soldados: victimas y victimarios
Flickr from Yahoo, FARC Kids - Los niños de las FARC - Enfant Soldats
Human Rights Watch, "You'll Learn Not to Cry": Child Combatants in Colombia" (September, 2003)
HubPages, "Not a Pretty Picture: The FARC in Fotos"
Isla Information Services. Latin America: Special Reports, Testimony of Luis Guilberto Murillo-Urrutia, Former Governor of Choco State, Colombia before House Committee on Foreign Affairs (April 24, 2007)
Latin American Studies, FARC Women and Children Guerrillas
Victims of Terrorism Foundation: Colombia, Indiscriminate Attacks


Repression against political opponents in North Korea is extensive to the entire family across generations.

North Korea is probably the most totalitarian and repressive regime of our time. Under the Juche ideology, persecution of dissidents include consequences for the entire family and descendants. This means that if the grandfather committed a political "crime" in 1955, their offspring in the 21st century are still pointed "as enemies" of the government and sent to concentration camps.

In North Korea a crime could be something as extreme as not bowing properly in front of the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il

The Juche Tower in Pyonyang

The Juche Tower (officially referred to as the Tower of the Juche Ideology) is a monument situated in Korea's capital Pyonyang. Its construction was finished in 1982 and it is located across from the Kim Il Sung Square. The geographical coordinates of its location are 39°1'3.52"N, 125°45'48.05"E. Construction of the tower was commissioned by the state on the occassion of the 70th birthday of Kim Il Sung. It is rumored the tower was designed by Kim Il Yung's son - the current ruler Kim Jong Il

Linked to the tower is a sculpture of 30 meters height represented by three figures: A hammer, an ox and a pen representing workers, peasants and intellectuals.

The name of the tower comes from the Juche Ideology developed by Kim Il Sung through a combination of anarchy, auto dependence, Korean traditionalism and socialism.

Concentration Camps

The approximate number of camps is as follows: Four death camps and 17 forced labor camps:

- Three caps for women((Kaechon [S. Pyong-an] [2], Sinuiju [N. Pyong-an])
- Four camps for pregnant women subjected to forceful aborts and infanticide (Nongpo/Chongjin City [N. Hamgyong], Onsong [N. Hamgyong], Oro [S. Hamgyong], Yodok [S. Hamgyong])
- Two camps for women with children(Bukchang [S. Pyong-an], Hwasong [N. Hamgyong])
- In the camps there are 13 places designed for tortures, one of them in (Hamju-kun [S. Hamgyong])to torture women exclusively

Death Camps

- Danchun [Province S. Hamgyong] (Prisoners are forced to work in gold mining, death by hunger and subhuman conditions are prevalent)
- Haengyong [Province N. Hamgyong] (Prisoners are forced to work in coal mining and farms are labored by men, women and children. Mass muurder by gas chamber is reported here
- Jeonger-ri [Province N. Hamgyong] (Prisoners are forced to work in copper mining and iron as well as logging, brick production and farm work. Many are deliberately murdered in gas chambers and forced to die of starvation. Images that bring back the worst of Nazism

Selling Images to the World

North Korea like other totalitarian states is known for its famous grandiose "celebrations" and mass rallies.

Pioneer Camps

Indoctrination of children and youth is brutal in North Korea, even worst than in Cuba. The leader of the Communist Youth is the son of Kim Il Jong, future successor to the totalitarian throne.

Among other things if a child comes out of a classroom and passes through a hall with the portrait of Kim Il Jong (common in all schools) it has to praise the great leader in loud voice.

The existence of intellectuals in North Korea is a mere joke. Rather than independent thinking their role is to memorize the complete works of Kim Il Sung. Artists are prohibited to use any form of abstract paining: all has to be 'Socialist Realism.

Children in this picture are probably in a 'Pioneer's Camp.' As ironic as this might seem those who are here are the "lucky" ones as they are the family of the elites, the only ones authorized to live in the capital Pyonyang. Beyond the capital lies the vast country side where starvation and living conditions are brutal.


Note how the spontaneity of these children is discouraged. They cannot freely ride, they have to do so strictly under the "marked lanes."

Probably raising their hands as an ode to the "Dear Leader" Kim Il Jong,

Sources: Images about North Korea were compiled from the website:
A list of all sources used i this post are 'coming soon'

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Alina Stefanescu, a fellow blogger with an excellent and instructive website on totalitarianism (Totalitarianism Today) had the courtesy to write about birth of this blog. She also also interviewed me:

A new blog chronicling the images of totalitarianism.

May 21, 2009
Alina Stefanescu
Totalitarianism Today

In my web wanderings, I discovered a wonderful blog which conveys the history of totalitarianism through images. The blog's author, who will heretofore be known as "El Companero" agreed to answer a few questions for me. The image to the right, which I discovered at his blog, reads "Fidel truly carries forward Christ's principles. Save us Fidel from the false priests..." The extent to which propaganda in Cuba made use of religious imagery is explored on El Companero's blog.

Alina: Why did you decide to create your blog, Totalitarian Images? Was there any particular inspiration? A reason why it went from idea to actuality?

El Companero: I strongly believe in the preservation of historical memory across generations, particularly from events and ideologies that were destructive, exclusionists and divisive. To this end I thought of a blog as a powerful tool to articulate ideas, particularly when they are accompanied by images. Since we live in a media based society I thought of focusing on the ‘image’ as an essential communication device to send information and hopefully communicate with others.

My blog is opened to any one interested in the meaning and implications of totalitarianism, particularly the uninformed ones. I refer to those born after the fall of the Berlin Wall totalitarianism could seem like a distant thing extracted from cold war propaganda. Some of them, immersed in different political causes might be confused with images about Che Guevara and certain ideologies without really understanding the implications of supporting political systems that step over individual freedoms and in the name of particular ideals and an alleged “equality”.

Alina: Yes, the young American hipsters are terribly fond of Che Guevara. I've always wondered how he would feel about their iPhones and paraphenalia. Strange the form self-loathing takes these days... But back to your inspiration...

El Companero: My inspiration was nurtured on my personal experience living in a totalitarian society. As a native of Cuba I was born and raised witnessing first hand the damaging effects of power, tyranny, polarization and extremism. I witnessed the so called ‘Repudiation Acts’ in Cuba and saw how neighbors, friends and even family rejected, humiliated and discriminated each other only for thinking differently and being on different sides of the political spectrum.

Alina: I should note that you maintain another blog as well-- a blog about Cuba. Given the extent to which information we receive about Cuba constitutes propaganda for either side of the political spectrum, I was excited to discover this highly personal contribution to the public conversation about Cuba. Did you start blogging about Cuba from some sense of personal interest or duty?

El Companero: My personal interest comes from being a Cuban native, a feeling an internal desire more powerful than myself to inform the world about what is happening inside my country. As you probably know in Cuba the newspapers, radio and TV stations are a property of the government and an instrument for apology and triumphalism, not a mechanism to criticize and inform about the real social, economic and political conflicts of society. My blog is only a grain of sand in a bigger ocean of bloggers, part of a virtual community of Cuban forums and websites that convey information reported from democrats and independent journalists inside the island. My objective is not to consider my blog or my information an absolute truth, but only a part of it with the aim that people around the world informed themselves from different sources (mine, the official reports from Cuba, and many other newspapers and sites) and then reached their own conclusions.

Alina: How would you describe your political perspective (i..e. anti-communist, socialist, independent, Arendtian, post-post-modern, you name it:) Tell me how you got there.

El Companero: I am a strong believer in Human Rights as the basis of modernity. I do not have anything against socialist systems as long as are the result of democratic elections, part of a government based on the rule of law, divisions of power, and utmost respect for individual liberties and divisions of power. In Cuba I hated socialism as I equated it with oppression, but later on as I lived in a democratic system I realized that despotism has many disguises, it could be in the form of socialism, revolution, nationalism and militarism. Thus, now I am a critic of any form of dictatorial government regardless of its ideology.

Alina: Excellent point. Militarism and nationalism seem a particularly dangerous pair in the current environment. But let's talk about abstractions and other things we find in books. Latin American books are sorely missing on my Top 100 Books About Totalitarianism Project. What books would you add?

El Companero: It is not possible to comprehend totalitarianism in its entirety without an analysis of Latin American and Caribbean history. This hemisphere provided an interesting manifestation of totalitarianism in the form of ‘caudillism’. Since its independence from Spain in 1824 Spanish America has lived more time in dictatorship than in democracy. This certainly makes Latin America a case study to understand more about the different manifestations of totalitarianism. The totalitarian influences in Latin America come from strong Spanish patriarchal traditions and African heritage as well as from other ideologies imported from abroad.
  • John Lynch, Argentine Dictator: Juan Manuel de Rosas, 1829-1852
  • John Lynch, Caudillos in Spanish America, 1800-1850
  • Steve Stein, Populism in Perú: The Emergence of the Masses and the Politics of Social Control
  • Carlos Alberto Montaner, Journey to the Heat of Cuba: Life as Fidel Castro
  • Lauren R. Derby, "In the Shadow of the State: The Politics of Denunciation and Panegyric during the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1940-1958" Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol 83, No 2 (May, 2003), 295-344
  • Lauren R. Derby, "The Dictator's Seduction: Gender and State Spectacle During the Trujillo Regime" Callaloo, Vol 23, No. 3 (Summer, 2000), 1112-1146.
  • Robert H. Dix, "Populism: Authoritarian and Democratic" Latin American Reserach Review, Vol 20, No. 2 (May, 1998), 29-52
  • Paul H. Lewis, Authoritarian Regimes in Latin America: Dictators, despots and Tyrants
  • Herando Muñoz, The Dictator's Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet
Alina: Beautiful. I'm going to add the books to my "extras" section on the top 100 totalitarian books page. Obviously, the internet provides a critical tool for you in your blogging about Cuba and totalitarian images. What websites do you find particularly useful and why?

El Companero The blog of Yoanis Sanchez who lives in Cuba where Internet is inaccessible for Cubans and writes a blog that chronicles daily life in the island. Her perspective as a young Cuban is essential to understand what happens in the island from the point of view of someone from the 1980s generation which has been called the Y Generation given that most of them have names that being with ‘Y’.
Latin American Studies In my view this is the best historical web site for documents and history of Cuba and Latin America.
Penultimos Dias This website is from Cuban exiles but its attraction is that it updates very fast on events happening in Cuba.
Cubanalisis Excellent site with books, political comments and resources on Cuba.
The Real Cuba Presents visual evidence and denunciation of human rights violations in Cuba.
CineCuba Unique place that has a collection of most Cuban films/documentaries of all times. One can actually view most of these films, some are subtitled in English.
Cuba Humor The latest caricatures on Cuban politics.

Alina: Okay, finish me off with a favorite quote-- one that reflects where you come from and where you want to go.

El Companero: “Freedom is the right of every man to be honest, and to think and speak without hypocrisy.” José Martí


Ludwik Kowalski said...

El Companero wrote:"My inspiration was nurtured on my personal experience living in a totalitarian society."

Me too. But it was in Eastern Europe. It is our obligation to share what we know.

Ludwik Kowalski, Professor Emeritus,

whose new book–”Tyranny to Freedom: Diary of a Former Stalinist,” and its reviews, are now available at

www [dot] amazon [dot] com


Comments will be appreciated, either at the above website or in private. Thank you in advance.


The first chapter is online at