TORO, Colombia – On a farm in the southwestern Colombian town of Toro, 20 adults who spent their best years as FARC guerrillas have found a way to change their lives and reincorporate themselves into civil society.
The former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels demobilized and handed over their weapons to the Colombian government before Bogota and the FARC signed their peace accord that converted the rebel group into a political party, and they say that this is the best opportunity they have ever had to get ahead in life.
More than three years ago, Lubidia Muñoz decided to join the government program for demobilized rebels that offers education, healthcare and academic and technical training to enable them to begin working with a sustainable production project that will allow them to earn a living.
She told EFE that one of the most difficult things about her 27 years in the field with the rebels was not having her family close to her, in particular her three sons, now 24, 28 and 29.
On the farm in Toro, located 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Cali, Muñoz and others are receiving training to reenter society but she says that during her time with the rebels “special dates” such as birthdays and the Christmas holidays simply “didn’t exist.”
She also said that her life outside the law forced her to witness “disagreeable things” that she preferred not to describe, but she said that after she was captured by the Colombian army, she was able to enter the program for demobilized guerrillas and it had made a “big change” in her life and her family.
She said that due to the training she had received, she has gained knowledge that will allow her to raise fruits and vegetables, adding that the peace process had shown her that “you can come to an agreement and ... live without weapons, without war, without struggle, without death and without bloodshed.”