“This experience has completely changed my view of the FARC-EP since I had the image that mass media and politicians portray of them, but once here I got to know who the guerrillas really were and I realized that they are not the ‘monsters’ that political discourse has made them look like” said Fernanda, a psychology student from the Externado University.
For decades, most Colombians who live in the main cities have only heard of the FARC-EP from what news outlets and politicians have said about them, for which there has been an image built around the insurgents that portrays them as soulless guerrillas who’s objective is of making war for personal benefit and not a political organization made up of mostly peasants of rural Colombia that have not had any other life opportunities or that have suffered violence on behalf of military and paramilitary forces.
This initiative is important in the sense that people, and most of all young people, get to know firsthand members of the FARC-EP, get to hear what they have to say, why they joined the FARC-EP, why they took arms as an option of defending themselves and fighting for a political ideal and most of all that they are not the “monsters” that many think they are but rather Colombians, just like them, that are committed to doing everything possible in order to change the state of things for better.
“I came here because I wanted to know who they were, what they had to say, and I did not expect to find people of the FARC-EP with which I could empathize and relate with” said Armando, a civil engineering student from El Rosario University.
“I learned that despite our differences, we can all come together to share our ideas and build peace […] hopefully the implementation of Peace is carried out in a good manner so that Colombia move on and allow for political opposition to have security and legal guarantees to be able to do politics within the framework of a broadened democracy” said Luisa a Law student from the National University of Colombia.
It is expected for this Peace Volunteering program to continue and in the upcoming months to bring more people to FARC-EP camps, as well as to broaden the reach of the program and be able to build a network of citizens that can pressure the Government to fully implement the agreements reached and signed by the FARC-EP and the Colombian Government.