The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla army has been waging war on the Colombian state for 52 years. After the signing of a controversial treaty, the rebels will give up their arms and demobilize.
Will these soldiers be able to integrate into civilian life? The peace process has polarized Colombia: many rebels have committed heinous acts of violence, and a large segment of society believes because of the deal, the rebels will never get “just punishment” for their crimes.
Once the guerillas are out of the transitional camps, where they will give up their weapons, they must pick their path towards a new fate. Many will move to cities, where attitudes of average Colombians are hateful towards them. Others long for land and the chance to start agricultural cooperatives with their units. Most feel a duty to involve themselves politically, and are determined to continue as a FARC political party -- a potentially deadly proposition, as right wing death squads have vowed to exterminate them.
As we follow guerrilla soldiers from their jungle encampments to the demobilization camps, we gain insight into an opaque group undergoing an unprecedented transition. After decades of warfare, hunting and being hunted by the Colombian army, many rebels suffer from PTSD and other mental and emotional conditions. Moreover, they worry that if they lose FARC, they lose their identity.
Whether relocating to a city or the countryside, the guerrillas, and the Colombian nation must reconcile their deadly past. As one soldier said, “we must recognize errors on both sides and try to mend the wounds inflicted, spiritually.” Many men and women found salvation in the ranks of the FARC, its ideals and its community. Born again into the chaos of modern society they will have to learn to fight a new way. Will they survive?