Posted on June 30, 2017 7:45 am
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Categories: Reintegration

A Farewell to Arms: FARC Disarmament in Colombia Signals New Era; Concern Over the Insurgents’s Future (E)

“The Colombian government must now tackle a host of challenges under the complicated peace agreement with the FARC, which took years to negotiate. Special tribunals are to be established to settle war-crimes cases, and farmers are to be given incentives to stop growing coca leaf. (The rebels largely controlled the cocaine trade in Colombia.) […]  Naida López, 32, spent nearly two decades with the rebels, after the military killed her parents and she ran away. She said it was hard for her, as an orphan, to give up the protection of her weapon and her comrades.

“’For every guerrilla fighter, their weapon has always been their most loyal friend, which has always accompanied them,” she said. “Some people have names for their rifle.”

Like many of the rebels, Ms. López is afraid of what might happen now that the former guerrillas must depend on the state for protection. She mentioned the last time the FARC experimented with political participation, running candidates for office under the Patriotic Union party banner, only to face massacres by right-wing paramilitary groups that the government failed to stop. Those groups still exist.

“They could kill us one by one,” Ms. López said.

The rebels have found consolation and warmth in visits to the camp by loved ones they have not seen in years. Omaira Solarte, 32, saw her parents at the end of May, 18 years after she joined the FARC.

“Before, it was difficult to talk to your family,” she said. “You would give away your position to the enemy.”

Ms. Solarte intends to join the FARC’s planned political party in a few months and work as an activist in the countryside, perhaps promoting rural health care. But in the meantime, she is worried about conditions at the camp, where she says the government has not provided adequate medical treatment. The New York Times