New Internationalist

The last days of war: FARC’s ‘final conference’ in pictures

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As Colombia prepares to hold a referendum on the historic peace deal, Kimberley Brown takes us inside the rebels’ preparations.

29.09.2016-IMG_4346-590.JPG [Related Image]
FARC Guerrilla David Preciado. David is 33 years old and has been in the FARC for 19 years, having joined at the age of 14. David lost his left arm after he was shot 6 times during a conflict with the Colombian army, and doctors were forced to amputate it. © Kimberley Brown

On 2 October, Colombia has a chance to put an end to a 52-year conflict, as it will hold a referendum on its historic agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

FARC are the largest guerrilla movement involved in the Colombian conflict, having started as a Marxist-Leninist peasant force in 1964. Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez (‘Timoshenko’) signed the peace deal on Monday, after rebels met at a jungle conference to plan their political future.

Kimberley Brown
A giant professional stage sits in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. The FARC set up the stage for the sake of the conference where there was a concert every night playing everything from traditional joropo music to reggae fusion. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
FARC leaders Timoleon Jimenez, otherwise known as 'Timoshenko', and Ivan Marquez at the closing ceremony, where they announced that all fronts agree to the Peace Deal. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
Over 500 national, international and alternative press were present at the conference throughout the week. Many of them were seeking interviews with top commanders, who were mostly unavailable to the press since they were in closed door meetings all day. One day, the media was let into the meeting room for a two hour window and swarmed the leaders who were there and available for brief questioning. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
FARC guerrilla Norbey Hernandez Aporo. Norbey entered the FARC in 1996 at 13-years-old, saying he grew up in a poor rural area in the department of Guaviare where there were no access to schools or jobs. He said he joined the FARC not only because they offered him a better opportunity, including education, but also because he believed in their message to fight for equality in Colombia. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
One of several FARC encampments that was set up for their 10th National Guerrilla Conference (17-23 Sept) in the area of El Diamante.  The area lies on the border between the departments of Meta and Caqueta, just outside the Amazon jungle, and was once a high conflict area between the guerrillas and the Colombian army. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
The guerrillas sleep in individualized bunks, which they call 'calettas'. When arriving at a new site, each person is responsible for building their own caletta, which can take from 40 minutes to up to 2 hours. The rest of the camp is built collectively. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
A female guerrilla sits smoking a cigarette in a caletta. Women apparently see little machismo within the FARC and share tasks 'as a team', they say. They also make up over 40 per cent of all FARC insurgents. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
Guerrillas cut up the meat from the cow that was killed that morning. They have to work quickly so the meat doesn’t go bad, and do this early in the morning before the jungle heat sets in. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
Guerrillas cook the meat that was killed earlier in the day. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
FARC Guerrilla David Preciado. David is 33-years-old and has been in the FARC for 19 years, having joined at the age of 14. David lost his left arm after he was shot six times during a conflict with the Colombian army, and doctors were forced to amputate it. Kimberley Brown
Kimberley Brown
A FARC guerrilla holds a cow that had escaped from the heard. Kimberley Brown

Look out for the November edition of New Internationalist magazine ‘Peace in Colombia: Hopes and Fears’, where we take an in-depth look at this South American country.

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