With the slogan “Arauca is Colombia; Colombia for All,” Colombian Minister of National Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón chaired an event to promote the demobilization of FARC members in Tame, Arauca department, on September 19.
The event aims not only at inviting low-level guerrillas, medium-level leadership and militias to surrender their weapons voluntarily, but also to prevent the recruitment of minors and raise awareness among the civilian population of the benefits of this program.
Among the actions included at the event was an array of life-size images and information about members of the FARC’s 10th Front – which conducts criminal activities in the Arauca area -, installed in the park’s main square, inviting guerrillas to demobilize and reintegrate into civil society.
Citizens were able to write messages to guerrillas on these life-size figures, to invite them to return home.
In addition, four demobilized guerrillas gave a conference to explain the advantages of accepting the state policy of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. At the same time, they talked about the inhumane treatment received from the guerrillas.
Representatives of the civil society and renowned figures, such as former goalkeeper Óscar Córdoba and climber Fernando González Rubio – the first Colombian national to reach the summit of the Everest – participated at the event organized by the National Defense Ministry’s Program of Humanitarian Assistance to Demobilized Persons, and told the audience about their experiences and actions to overcome difficulties that led to success.
So far this year, 955 people (24 percent minors) have embraced the National Government’s demobilization program, while that number was 1,140 in 2012, implying that this year’s numbers are projected to surpass those by December 31.
Out of all individuals demobilized this year, 774 were FARC members, and 179 were from the ELN; 713 were male.
The departments where most people have demobilized are Antioquia (134), Caqueta (122), Cauca (95), Meta (86) and Nariño (63).