Life After The FARC
Rehabilitating the FARC's guerrilla fighters
Eighteen months ago, a historic peace deal was signed in Colombia, ending over half a century of civil war. Now, former FARC guerrillas are returning to society – but the transition isn’t easy.
Tierra Grata is a government-funded transitional camp for ex-FARC members. Not only a place to learn how to reintegrate into society, it has also been the stage for emotional family reunions. Elsa RodrÍguez joined the FARC as a young woman and had no contact with her family for 25 years – including her son, only 18 months old when she entrusted him to a friend. Now, they have found one another again. “I didn’t recognise him”, she recalls. “I looked for a spot on his body and said, ‘It’s my son'. I broke into tears.” Now, the challenge is to make an honest living. One innovative group has restyled a FARC jungle camp as an immersive tourist destination. “We want people to see it from a different perspective”, says former fighter Lucas Lopez. In the capital Bogotá, Paula Sáenz is putting skills learned as a FARC propagandist to good use, reporting on social injustice for New Colombia TV. “I stopped shooting with a rifle to start shooting with a camera”, she says. Ideological differences continue to cause strife, exacerbated as the country’s new President questions the peace deal. But peace, shaky as it is, persists for the moment.