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Find here the latest news reports from the peace process, straight from Havana, Cuba. Permanently updated. 
Monday, 09 October 2017 12:11

Something is going very wrong with reincorporation

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In 1969, at his seven years of age, Ezequiel Martínez marched with his father and brothers from Santafé de Antioquia, on the hard trail that led to Urabá.

While crossing it they encountered countless blacks, indigenous, zambos, mulattoes and mestizos, many of whom fled from justice or political persecution. They were looking for a place in the world where they could live better.

After spending a year as tenants in the Abibe mountain range, they opted to cross the Gulf of Urabá and the Atrato river swamps to Unguía, in the Urabá of the Choco, very close to the border with Panama.

There they would be part of the paisia colony that founded villages like Urquía arriba, Arquía and Quebrada Arena, that soon would be taken from them.

In 1977, 750 families were deprived of their funds on the banks of the Pelle, Tilupo, Tendal and Cacarica rivers, to form what is today the Los Katíos Natural Park and the great project of the Route of the Americas, the port of Sautatá. Two years later, Ezequiel would be one of the young exiles who ended up joining the Fifth Front of the FARC.

Decades passed, always with the memory of the songs of Alí Primera so fashionable at the time, while Ezequiel and his comrades of struggle traveled from Urabá to the low Cauca of Antioquia, the middle west and southeast of Antioquia, Chocó and old Caldas to the limits with the Valle del Cauca, opening way to what would be, in the future, the Efraín Guzmán Block of the FARC.

Guerrilla life took him to spend some time in the Duda River, in the Meta, where he knew with pride the camps of La Caucha, Casa Verde and El Pueblito. To get there, he crossed the moor of Sumapaz, where he vibrated with the stories that the peasants told about Juan de la Cruz Varela. Years later he would know the Caguán and the great characters living there.

From Urabá he would finally get out thanks to the peace process in Havana: from there he would be assigned the present mission of being part of the tripartite mechanism of monitoring and verification in the department of Chocó. He had to fulfill that task mostly in Quibdó, reason why he did not stay in any of the so-called Transitional Zones or Transitional Points of Normalization.

Following the abandonment of arms and the expiration of the United Nations Mission term in Colombia, after a militancy of 38 years in the FARC (which he joined at the age of 17) Ezequiel participated in the solemn act of the past 22 of September, with which the Government, the FARC and the UN sealed the end of their task like tripartite mechanism.

While he listened to the national anthem in firm position, he was thinking about his future. Fondo Paz had already communicated to all those who fulfilled that task, that accommodation contracts in different hotels ended on September 26, which is why each of them had to see how they would managed to get a roof in the days to come.

The fact of having stayed outside of any Zone, now called Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation, meant for Ezekiel, as for many in a situation similar to his, that for some bureaucratic trap his name did not appear in the lists of members of the FARC, which excluded him from some elementary formalities.

Thus there was no way he could be “banked”, as the inclusion in the Savings accounts of the Agrarian Bank is called, where each former guerrilla is assigned the unique allowance of two million pesos, and the small amount of ninety percent of the monthly minimum wage as an aid to their survival.

Without a peso in his pocket, accompanied by his faithful companion Patricia, Ezequiel thought that the solution to his problem could be move to one of the ETCR. The closest was Vidri. The reincorporated who still remain there explained that they would have to pay a monthly quota of 60,000 pesos for the two quotas. This was to pay, between all, the Zone’s expenses.

The thing is that Fondo Paz also cut services, water, electricity and so on.

Now the former guerrillas have to pay themselves to get them back. Just like food and so on. Without any support for productive projects.

Ezekiel thought of traveling to Medellin, where some acquaintance might be able to help him. Maybe they'll take him in a UNIPEP vehicle.

That was not possible. Accompaniment for the monitoring mechanism was over. As it is: everybody has to find a way to survive. Almost begging here and there, he finally managed to travel and take shelter in the shadow of a family member as needy as he. His 87-year-old mother is seriously ill and now it is up to him to support her.

Something is definitely going very wrong with reincorporation.