Reportage : Out of the Jungle Tame, Arauca, Colombia - 2017

7,132. That is the number of weapons registered and collected by the United Nations by the 27th of June 2017. On that date, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (engl. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People‘s Army) evolve from an Army to a political and social movement. The soldiers and civil supporters of the FARC-EP have fought a bloody and intense civil war against the Colombian State and its paramilitary forces for 53 years.

They originated as a communist self-defense army of the farmers and habitants of the independent republic of Marquetalia. The independent republic was proclaimed in the early sixties in the south of Colombia as a result of the ongoing war between the two mayor political parties Liberals and Conservatives. Beginning in 1948, the civil war lasted for ten years and claimed 200.000 lives. The farmers of Marquetalia, influenced by the communist party, started to defend themselves against the violence which spread over the country. The State of Colombia attacked the free republic with 16.000 soldiers, military helicopters and airplanes. The farmers, of whom 48 were armed with rifles, fled over the mountains and founded the FARC predecessor Bloque Sur on the 20th of July, 1964. The main goal of the FARC-EP was and still remains to abolish the landowners who co-opted most of the fertile ground after the country became independent – structures which are still reality now. The society of Colombia can be considered as one of the most unequal in Latin America.

As of 27th of June, 2017, more than 53 years of civil war between the FARC and the Colombian state have past, and the smaller Guerrilla ELN is still continuing the fight. Waiting for peace and preparing to continue their lives as a part of the civil society, the fighters gather in the transition camps all over the Andean Country, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve in a peaceful way never experienced before. During wartime, these holidays were an occasion for the state military to start major offensives.

Around 400 soldiers of the FARC-EP are gathered in the transition camp in the flatland department of Arauca, living in improvised huts. The soldiers are intended to leave the camps on the 1st of August as civilians in order to realize their political dreams, with legal politics and their own political party. Each individual faces the arduous task of preparing their future.

A FARC fighter is on shift as a guard at the entrance to the Transit camp in the lowlands of Colombia during Christmas celebrations. On this special day, the Commander is treating on ice cream for everyone. The FARC have negotiated a definite cease-fire with the government, but they still have guards located around the camp. In this region, it can be as hot as 39 C ° during the day, so the cold treats are very well received.
The fighters of the FARC have set up a transition camp. The small river next door serves for washing and bathing. In the camp about 400 guerrillas have been accommodated waiting to move to the disarmament zones, which are established by the state.
Jefferson posing with a big machine gun in his hut (left). Nowadays the members of the FARC are allowed to have pets, so they have dogs, cats, rabbits and sometimes even little birds as companions.
Franco dresses his nephew Franco‘s hair. Uncle Franco says that he was proud when his nephew joined the FARC.
At 7 o ‘clock the soldiers of the FARC gather in formation on the football field. Weapons are no longer necessary, but the commanders want to continue the military structure and discipline. The soldiers do not appear very motivated.
At Christmas, Guerrillas prepare Tamales, a Colombian specialty where meat is cooked in banana leaves together with corn and vegetables.
Within the FARC there are soldiers who learned to be nurses and dentists in the rainforest. During wartime, both injured soldiers and the civilian population were provided with health care. Here a fighter is removing an intrauterine birth control device. The women within the FARC were forced to use contraceptives.
In her relationship with Jandas Guevara Johanna Alvarez got pregnant unintentionally 13 months ago. At first, she was afraid of the future with her child as soldiers are not allowed to have children. The commander allowed the pregnancy and the final peace agreement approached. Jaider was born four months ago and partly lives in the camp.
When there is no work to be done, the Guerrillas are exerting themselves on the volleyball field. Although he lost his right leg in a battle Adelmo Arias is always in the center of the action.
A Guerrilla fighter on the football field with a headscarf, which belonged to the state military.
A group of Guerrillas cheer for their female colleagues during the internal championship in football. According to Guerrilla data, there are roughly 40% women in the ranks of the Guerrilla experiencing equality in many ways.
A Guerrilla poses after morning formation with her carbine and t-shirt “I love the Life”.
Lechona, a stuffed suckling pig, is a traditional Christmas meal. Though the Guerrilla says that every Christmas has been celebrated extensively, they have never before had a Christmas feast together in safety.
A Guerrillero distributes the food, which is still served in field dishes in military tradition.
For the special occasion of Christmas the soldiers drink a lot. Before the beginning of celebrations, they collect and guard all weapons in order to prevent accidents in connection with alcohol.
Although basic washing facilities have been constructed, most of the soldiers prefer the river. They bathe and cool off in the river once a day, where they also wash their clothes and shoes.
Karl Marx or Karl Lagerfeld? Three women are preparing for the Christmas party. They are obviously 
enjoying the variety of cosmetic products they recently acquired.
The commander was deeply afraid of what the Colombian media and rightwing politicians would write when pictures of Guerrillas with alcohol were published. Already, the photos of dancing UN staff workers with FARC soldiers have led to a national outcry. Therefore, I did not photograph any members of the FARC with beer.
At Christmas, the Guerrillas celebrate a big Christmas party with Colombian folk, beer and dancing. Since the Guerrilla are accustomed to sleep early, the parties begin in the morning.
Before the armistice, the FARC soldiers often stayed in one place for only a few days and then moved on, always on guard against the state military. Since they have settled here, they set up the improvised huts with decoration.
In the evening, the soldiers sit together and chat online as long as there is Internet. It almost seems as if they have to catch up on years of abstinence.

This is the end, my friend ...

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