Colombia Fights FARC’s Recruitment of Minors

Colombia Fights FARC’s Recruitment of Minors

By Dialogo
December 05, 2014




Colombian military authorities are working cooperatively with civilian agencies to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from recruiting children and adolescents.

Through various programs, more than a half-dozen military and civilian organizations are participating in the effort, including the Colombian National Army, the Ministry of Defense, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Police Group to Protect Children and Adolescents, the Family Welfare Institute, and others. Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón launched the initiative in November 2011, when he announced the “Enough, here I am free” program. This is a national campaign to raise awareness about the FARC’s efforts to recruit youngsters.

Since Pinzón announced the program, the Ministry of Defense has organized hundreds of workshops to educate children, adolescents and parents about the false promises of FARC recruiters. FARC operatives often try to lure children and adolescents with the prospect of money, but those inducements are hollow; many end up working in remote camps for little or no money, with little food, and with no opportunities to contact their families.

Since the defense minister launched the program, the campaign has reached more than 33,500 people in dozens of high-risk municipalities throughout the country.

In addition to conferences and a broad media campaign that includes t-shirts, pamphlets and radio and television commercials, “Enough, here I am free” also sponsors “Play for Life,” a series of seminars conducted in 14 municipalities to promote sports such as soccer as positive alternatives to drugs and violence.

Helping children who once worked for the FARC


The campaign reaches beyond seminars, pamphlets, and radio and TV commercials. As part of the initiative, the Colombian federal government has trained thousands of members of the Armed Forces in prevention efforts and protocols to be followed when dealing with minors who escaped or were rescued from the FARC.

Soldiers put those protocols to use on October 21 in the Department of Antioquia, where the Colombian National Army engaged in a series of gun battles with FARC operatives. After the fighting, they found a 14 year-old-girl crying next to the lifeless body of a man known by the alias “Chamaría,” who was the leader of FARC’s Fifth Front. The 36-year-old terrorist illegally recruited the girl in 2012, when he removed her from her family.

The soldiers took care of her and quickly placed her in the custody of Colombia’s Family Welfare Institute.

Throughout the country, military and police authorities have made similar rescues of teenagers and children who had been recruited by the FARC. In mid-October, police in the Department of Tolima rescued a girl, 13, and a boy, 15, who reported that they had been physically and psychologically abused during the several months they were with the guerrilla group. And in September, the Army freed five minors from the FARC in the Department of Cauca. The terrorist group had forced one of the minors, who was only 10, to participate in grueling physical training.

The FARC is the largest terrorist group involved in the recruitment of children and teenagers, but other illegal organizations also target the young.

“Illegal recruitment happens every day,” said Col. Carlos Lasprilla, chief of the Illegal Recruitment Prevention Unit for the Ministry of Defense. “It is a systematic practice for the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and criminal gangs (BACRIM)”.

Since 2002, more than 4,000 minors have been linked to illegal armed groups, according to the Group for the Humanitarian Assistance to the Demobilized (GAHD), which is a Ministry of Defense entity. Between 5,000 and 18,000 minors are currently in the ranks of Colombian terrorist groups and criminal gangs, according to estimates by the United Nations (UN).

In fact, some FARC fronts rely heavily on minors. For example, about 60 percent of the FARC’s Seventh and First fronts consist of children and adolescents, according to federal government estimates. The FARC, ELN, and BACRIMS are particularly active recruiting minors in Antioquia – the most severely affected department – as well as Guaviare, Tolima, Meta, Norte de Santander, Cauca and Nariño, according to the Ministry of Defense.

“These groups have been committing this crime for 50 years now, and unfortunately, these crimes have been invisible,” Col. Lasprilla said.

Recruitment of minors on the rise since 2002


The FARC, the ELN, and organized crime groups began stepping up their recruitment of minors since about 2002. Some of the FARC’s leaders have established specific goals for the number of children and teenagers they want to recruit, and to meet those quotas they’ll target children as young as 8 years old.

Illegal armed groups take advantage of the poverty that thousands of minors and their families endure in rural areas, according to the GAHD. Additionally to promising them money, terrorist recruiters lure children and teenagers with promises of power and material goods that they would otherwise be unable to purchase on their own, such as cellphones and computer tablets.

“Minors do not think about risks. The recruiters are taking advantage of that,” said Col. Lasprilla. “In 50 years, the guerrillas have not made one, single gesture towards freeing these children. We must rescue them.”



Colombian military authorities are working cooperatively with civilian agencies to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from recruiting children and adolescents.

Through various programs, more than a half-dozen military and civilian organizations are participating in the effort, including the Colombian National Army, the Ministry of Defense, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Police Group to Protect Children and Adolescents, the Family Welfare Institute, and others. Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón launched the initiative in November 2011, when he announced the “Enough, here I am free” program. This is a national campaign to raise awareness about the FARC’s efforts to recruit youngsters.

Since Pinzón announced the program, the Ministry of Defense has organized hundreds of workshops to educate children, adolescents and parents about the false promises of FARC recruiters. FARC operatives often try to lure children and adolescents with the prospect of money, but those inducements are hollow; many end up working in remote camps for little or no money, with little food, and with no opportunities to contact their families.

Since the defense minister launched the program, the campaign has reached more than 33,500 people in dozens of high-risk municipalities throughout the country.

In addition to conferences and a broad media campaign that includes t-shirts, pamphlets and radio and television commercials, “Enough, here I am free” also sponsors “Play for Life,” a series of seminars conducted in 14 municipalities to promote sports such as soccer as positive alternatives to drugs and violence.

Helping children who once worked for the FARC


The campaign reaches beyond seminars, pamphlets, and radio and TV commercials. As part of the initiative, the Colombian federal government has trained thousands of members of the Armed Forces in prevention efforts and protocols to be followed when dealing with minors who escaped or were rescued from the FARC.

Soldiers put those protocols to use on October 21 in the Department of Antioquia, where the Colombian National Army engaged in a series of gun battles with FARC operatives. After the fighting, they found a 14 year-old-girl crying next to the lifeless body of a man known by the alias “Chamaría,” who was the leader of FARC’s Fifth Front. The 36-year-old terrorist illegally recruited the girl in 2012, when he removed her from her family.

The soldiers took care of her and quickly placed her in the custody of Colombia’s Family Welfare Institute.

Throughout the country, military and police authorities have made similar rescues of teenagers and children who had been recruited by the FARC. In mid-October, police in the Department of Tolima rescued a girl, 13, and a boy, 15, who reported that they had been physically and psychologically abused during the several months they were with the guerrilla group. And in September, the Army freed five minors from the FARC in the Department of Cauca. The terrorist group had forced one of the minors, who was only 10, to participate in grueling physical training.

The FARC is the largest terrorist group involved in the recruitment of children and teenagers, but other illegal organizations also target the young.

“Illegal recruitment happens every day,” said Col. Carlos Lasprilla, chief of the Illegal Recruitment Prevention Unit for the Ministry of Defense. “It is a systematic practice for the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and criminal gangs (BACRIM)”.

Since 2002, more than 4,000 minors have been linked to illegal armed groups, according to the Group for the Humanitarian Assistance to the Demobilized (GAHD), which is a Ministry of Defense entity. Between 5,000 and 18,000 minors are currently in the ranks of Colombian terrorist groups and criminal gangs, according to estimates by the United Nations (UN).

In fact, some FARC fronts rely heavily on minors. For example, about 60 percent of the FARC’s Seventh and First fronts consist of children and adolescents, according to federal government estimates. The FARC, ELN, and BACRIMS are particularly active recruiting minors in Antioquia – the most severely affected department – as well as Guaviare, Tolima, Meta, Norte de Santander, Cauca and Nariño, according to the Ministry of Defense.

“These groups have been committing this crime for 50 years now, and unfortunately, these crimes have been invisible,” Col. Lasprilla said.

Recruitment of minors on the rise since 2002


The FARC, the ELN, and organized crime groups began stepping up their recruitment of minors since about 2002. Some of the FARC’s leaders have established specific goals for the number of children and teenagers they want to recruit, and to meet those quotas they’ll target children as young as 8 years old.

Illegal armed groups take advantage of the poverty that thousands of minors and their families endure in rural areas, according to the GAHD. Additionally to promising them money, terrorist recruiters lure children and teenagers with promises of power and material goods that they would otherwise be unable to purchase on their own, such as cellphones and computer tablets.

“Minors do not think about risks. The recruiters are taking advantage of that,” said Col. Lasprilla. “In 50 years, the guerrillas have not made one, single gesture towards freeing these children. We must rescue them.”
Every action taken to benefit youth is welcomed, but as long as there is poverty and marginalization of education, health and employment, there will always be other illegitimate forms of survival. The government must enforce the rights of every Colombian using the public forces in all of Colombia. Please, the channel has been damaged since Sunday and we have not been able to see the news or any programs. All you can see are lines Sadly, the Santos administration and the military forces have knelt before the FARC and outlaw groups. Great for the good job they do in saving human beings Santos subjugated the military forces in order to keep the FARC criminals happy It means to be with family and all together share something very special Congratulations Colombia President Dr. Juan Manuel Santos God the most Holy enlighten the paths of our Colombian army to move forward with the peace process so that the insurgents return to the path of freedom they are human beings to be reintegrated into their families, in their homes in spite of being kept away from the light of hope and its strengthening hope shines to bring back their rights the holy Virgin and the Lord will enlighten them. We are nothing, we are all the same, no to discrimination long live decency and human development of a person's being. Mr. Alvira talking about the pothole filling machine on the news, I don't know how supervision works on how it effectively carries out its assigned function, but in April-March 2014 they came to Hwy 8 and 69 and filled the craters and today we again see the deterioration of this highway, more precisely in front of Hwy 8, Num. 69-70 THE COLOMBIAN PEOPLE SHOULD SUPPORT, EXPRESSLY AND TACITLY, THE COLOMBIAN ARMY IN THIS EFFORT AGAINST TERRORISM As long as the media continues to teach youth how those who commit crime do it, youth will continue to learn how to commit crimes...HUMBERTO GUARIN GOMEZ
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