Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pondering PSYOP and Papiamento

The Blog has been silent for a few weeks because my wife and I have been on a 2 week cruise through the Panama Canal. We made a pact and turned the iPhones off and locked them in the room safe from the time we got on the boat until we disembarked at San Juan on Monday, 11 October 2010. We were also off the grid so if I didn’t know something or wanted to learn more I had to go about it in the old fashioned way.

We left San Diego made 3 stops in Mexico and 1 stop in Cost Rica before transiting the Panama Canal. Our last two ports of call were Aruba and Curacao. Our visit coincided with Curacao’s last day as a part of the Netherlands Antilles; on 10/10/10 they would become an independent country within the kingdom of the Netherlands.
As we drove around I thought about this unique island as a PSYOP venue.

In some respects it would be an ideal PSYOP venue as it is not very big, but has a literate population that has access to mass media including Internet (free Wifi is a selling point for restaurants) and of course TV and radio. Curacao radio has some interesting aspects including the first use of solar power by Radio Hoyer.

From a cultural perspective there is an affinity for the Netherlands of course, and a sibling relationship with Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius and Saint Maarten sister islands from the former Netherlands Antilles.

While seemingly idyllic, the island also has its own language, Papiamento which is described as ”a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and it also has some Arawak Indian and African influence.” (see
It struck me that a Curacao like construct might be an innovative PSYOP practical exercise because it would involve a variety of key ingredients: unique language and culture, connection to a European nation, modern communications, variety of ethnicities and proximity to a significant Communist nation – Venezuela. In fact the floating market in Curacao consists of Venezuelan products sold by Venezuelan citizens.

While I recognize the need to focus on today’s conflicts, case studies and hypothetical situations such as might be symbolized by Curacao are worthy of consideration as teaching tools to help foster creative thinking and build skills without the constraints of today’s battlefields. Creative thinking is the way that PSYOPers have fought in the past and will do so in the future. Being able to apply a variety of tools and techniques in an unstructured environment is often the key to success.

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