Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Colombia: FARC Guerrillas, Their Scars And Those Of Others

Jair, a 25-year-old guerrilla, lost his right leg during the armed conflict in Colombia. This reminds him of his commitment within the FARC, but also the wounds he was able to inflict on his enemies of yesterday.

Six years ago, this member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, Marxists), who had just signed a historic peace agreement after 52 years of war, was pursuing an opponent when he marched on an anti-personnel mine in The northwest of the country.

He tells stealing on "fifteen meters", because of the force of the explosion, and he found himself in underwear while wearing the uniform just before.

"It's very difficult because losing a foot that is something that we do not learn", he told AFP from the camp of the FARC, to Vegaez surrounded by jungle beside Of the Acquia River. According to the peace agreement, the rebels will have to concentrate in a nearby area and deposit their weapons under the supervision of the UN.

This young man with dark skin, a native of the Caribbean coast, said he had no hard feelings and not to nightmare, although it acknowledges having "lost his head" for a while. When civilians see her "ugly scar", he feels shame.

"We are at peace, but it is clear that all this happened in the time of war. It is a memory that is preserved ", assures Jair, one of the 11,500 victims of anti-personnel mines that dot the country, second in the world most affected by these discrete explosive devices.

Jair joined the FARC convinced of the need to transform Colombia. But today he says he suffers because of the injuries he was able to inflict during the conflict.

"It weighs on me because it's a war between farmers where one is killed us," he said.

The violence in Colombia, which involved guerillas, paramilitaries, and armed forces, left at least 260,000 dead and more than 60,000 missing.

Become friends with them
In the same camp where the guerrillas are preparing for the return to civilian life, Mileidy, a young woman of 19 years of African descent carries the stigmata of the bombs of the Colombian aviation.

A year ago, a military plane aimed at its camp. The explosion threw her to the floor and left several splinters on her legs and her right arm. Many of them are embedded in his bones.

"We feel an electric current that is increasing and it hurts", she testifies the stern look. Mileidy hopes that once he has gone out of hiding, the chips will be taken away.

This young woman, who swapped the traditional olive green rubber boots type plastic shoes "Crocs", do not regret attacking his opponents.

"They, they shot to kill us, then we, how could we feel bad by grabbing an (enemy) and by killing him?" , She argues.

With the same aplomb, it recognizes that the time has come for reconciliation: "Now that we are in a peace process, we must become friends with them, it's like that."

The government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC signed a bilateral ceasefire, which has been in force since 29 August. According to the Resource Centre for Conflict Analysis since then "there was an almost complete compliance and protocols."

"Nobody likes the war", says Sebastian, who still wears camouflage uniform and spent more than two decades in the ranks of the insurgents.

In January 1998, when he was 19 years old, he lost his right eye in a clash with the paramilitaries. Warned that right-wing militias were murdering peasants, the guerrillas had come out to oppose them, he remembers. "The battle is not good, but sometimes you have to go", he asserts.

He knows causing pain to the families, but the "war is like that," says the man who is eager to see the FARC become a political movement. "There will be no more fighting. Anyway, we must forgive ", he concluded.

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