LA VENTA, Colombia – Seven years ago, Santiago Rojas made a radical decision to join Colombia’s FARC guerrillas, and now with peace in the offing, the Chilean is unrepentant but says that “violence isn’t worth the trouble.”
“What the (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) have done is defend with weapons a political effort that (the government) wanted to exterminate ... Violence isn’t worth the trouble, but defending that political effort was worth the trouble,” Rojas told EFE in the village of La Venta in Colombia’s southwestern Cauca province.
He prefers to be called Santiago, the name he chose as his nom de guerre, despite the fact that in 2015 the authorities made his real name public: Jose Carrasco Pizarro. They also said at the time that he is a doctor but in reality he is a communicator who got some of his training in Barcelona, Spain.
When asked how he ended up in the FARC, Rojas said that “I don’t make a distinction among countries, for me there are no Mexicans, Bolivians or Argentines; we’re all a single people with the same needs.”
“If the companies join together to create treaties to loot, why can’t we revolutionaries join together to defend those resources? We’re not looking for anything more than that, for there to be a fairer Colombia,” he said, his manner of expressing himself setting him apart from most other guerrillas, many of whom are of peasant origin and had little schooling or training.
“(Joining the FARC) is difficult, above all if you’re a foreigner. Today, it’s very easy to find a guerrilla but years ago no. I had to stay in a little town (for eight months) until I made contact and then I could join,” he said.
“The guerrilla movement is an experience ... I’ve done stints as a nurse, a sniper, a radioman, you do stints at everything. You learn to drive and carry in your pack what you need ... It’s tough at first,” he said.
And there is also living with the constant fear of death in combat, in a bombardment. But he said he did it “willingly.”
He said he doesn’t “recommend” war “to anyone,” adding that the future is complicated for the handful of foreigners in the FARC ranks since their legal situation is up in the air.