The Women from FARC: ‘Violence Turned Me into a Guerrilla Fighter’ Yorleny Duque (S)
Yorleny Duque, fighter in FARC-EP 57th Front explains in Farianas why she joined the guerrilla organization that recently signed a agreement with the government of Colombia.
I was a peasant. I lived with my parents and 6 brothers in the field in Vereda El Narciso, some 3 hours by bus in the municipality of Urrao, Antioquia. Like many peasants, we barely survived with what we raised.
My parents always worried about giving an education but they had to work very hard. They said they did not want their children to be like them who never had a chance to attend a school because of a lack of resources. I longed to study; my siblings and I were lucky enough to finish elementary but there was no way to continue studying because in the village there was no school and in the city you had to pay tuition and my parents had a hard time because there were four of us and it cost a lot. I always dreamed of being an educator to teach the children of my region, but that dream was never fulfilled.
Rumors had it armed groups had arrived who were murdering and expelling peasants and this was creating terror and that many had left, leaving all their goods and dreams behind. In 2001 they arrived where I lived, threatening people they branded as guerrilla collaborators, they took my older brother by force, and so far I have never heard from him. I saw that things were not going well and could not find a solution for my future, I was only 14 years old and did not understand life. I did not know what to do. The neighbors said that there was another armed group called FARC fighting against these paramilitaries and women were in the group, but I had never seen them.
[…] Those groups that called him paramilitaries continued in the region, displacing people to take away their property and recruiting the young people of the region by force, just as they did with my brother.
I had reached the age of 17 and for 3 years we had been pushed from one place to another with my parents. I remembered those guerrillas I had seen, carrying rifles, they seemed dignified and beautiful. One day I went for a walk and by chance I found another group of guerrillas, this time it was not the ELN but FARC. I found them very formal and attractive, I started talking to some of them and asking them why they were fighting. They told me that they were peasants, that the state had harmed them and left them no choice but to take up arms to defend themselves. I told them that I wanted to be like them, dress in olive green, carry a gun and do the same. I was told that this life was not easy because it requires a lot of walking, sometimes at night, getting wet and long walks, having to endure hunger because there is no way to cook for safety reasons. They asked me if I was still willing to go in and I answered yes, because the paramilitaries were murdering many peasants in the region and I was very afraid that they would mistreat me.
When I joined FARC, I thought it was going to be hard for me, but I became stronger and was able to sort out all the tasks and difficulties. I get used to life in the jungle, to war and to the collectivity of the organization. The most important thing is that I learned many things and I never regretted it.
Today I am part of the group of peace pedagogy of the 57 front and I know that I am closer to achieving my dream of being a teacher. Farianas