Demobilized FARC Fighters Prepare to Enter Peacetime Economy; Some 7,000 with Limited Schooling & Skills
[…] Recruited as teenagers, many of the rebels are illiterate peasants who possess few skills beyond firing Kalashnikovs and patching up the wounded. Should they fail in their efforts to go back to school, find work, and organize a FARC-led political party—goals the Colombian government has pledged to support—they could once again return to the bush. Since the peace treaty was signed in September, more than 300 FARC guerrillas have broken ranks to form a dissident rebel group that’s attacking army troops and shaking down business owners.
The dismantling of the FARC’s war machine began in January, when its fighters moved to about two dozen camps on government-leased land, where they’re gradually disarming under the supervision of United Nations monitors. Once that process finishes later this summer, rebels who have cleared police background checks will be free to start their new lives.
But like longtime inmates who view their prison walls as protection from an unsparing outside world, some of the rebels express trepidation about breaking free. For them the FARC has been a surrogate family, providing food, clothing, shelter, protection, companionship, and a sense of purpose. Individual enterprise and ambition—keys to success in the capitalist world—were frowned upon in the FARC. Asked about their postwar plans, several teenage rebels in Guaviare say they will do whatever their comandantes order. Bloomberg