BOGOTA – The former leaders of the disarmed guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Pablo Catatumbo, and the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), Freddy Rendon, stressed on Monday the need to work on the reintegration of former militants to prevent them from falling into criminal gangs.
“In the reintegration of ex-militants of the AUC, the society was not very aware of (...) what led many boys today to join armed structures (...) and surely the same is happening in the FARC,” Rendon said at the Truth and Justice, Keys to Reconciliation forum, organized by the local newspaper El Espectador.
Rendon referred to the so-called El Clan del Golfo (the gulf’s clan), the largest criminal gang in Colombia that was born after the demobilization of the AUC in 2006 and which many ex-paramilitaries joined.
That happened because “the governments of the day” did not give them the possibility of “projects on the ground” so that they could “change the rifle to the mattock,” Rendon said.
The ex-leader warned that despite a large number of ex-militants, there was no “psychological work” in the reintegration process.
Similarly, “Catatumbo,” enemy of the paramilitaries for decades, said the state shoulders a great responsibility for what is happening now with the FARC’s ex-guerrillas who have already demobilized.
“The state, if it wants to make peace, has to think very seriously about the reintegration. Sometimes you think that the Colombian state prepared for the war very well, but not for peace,” said the former leader of FARC, a guerrilla group that has already transformed into a political party and maintained the same acronyms.
“Catatumbo” consequently pointed out that “money is needed” for the ex-guerrillas “to reincorporate themselves into productive activity.”
He emphasized that in the town of Tumaco, where coca leaf is planted the most, several criminal gangs are offering money to the ex-guerillas to join their ranks.