Colombia, (Re) Birth catalina martin-chico

After 50 years of fighting, the FARC guerrillas agreed in 2016 to get rid of their weapons.

By relearning peace, the country also discovers a hard reality of the life of the fighters of this group of Marxist rebellion. For five decades of fighting and survival in the Colombian jungle, women have been banned from having children. Those who could not avoid pregnancy were obliged to get an abortion or abandon the baby.

Children born in transition camps stand as symbols of the end of the conflict. The fighters have rediscovered family ties and relations forgotten since their early teens when many of them joined up.

Since peace was signed, life has been the first choice and they expenrienced hundreds pregnancies.

Ricardo, seen outside his tent, is holding his newborn child. Today is the day that he and his wife Jessica will be leaving the camp to settle a long way away with his family in Concordia, near Medellín.

A real baby boom.

In the camp in La Elvira, in the Valle del Cauca, celebrating the 53rd and final anniversary of the existence of the FARC as an armed group. Since the peace agreement, they have set up a political party.

Former members of the FARC were free again, but they have only a few more months to learn how to pick up the thread of everyday life, how to get used to ordinary living, after years surviving in a totally self-sufficient environment. The new life was unknown, even frightening, but it had to be planned.

The wound runs deep, carved out through more than fifty years of violence, and it is only just healing. The political climate is still volatile, and there seems to be little faith in it, yet Colombia has started, cautiously, to believe in its rebirth.

Dayana (33) joined the guerrilla forces at the age of 15, leaving behind her four-month-old baby, and only saw him again when he was seventeen. She has also been reunited with her own relatives, not having been in contact with them for nearly twenty years. Since the peace deal, Dayana has had a second child with Jairo.
Jairo & Dayana chose to start a new life in the well-known jungle. The only way to reach them is by boat along the river. The nearest neighbors are a 90-minute walk away. Their house has no water or power supply. The water is pumped up from the river and the television is powered by a solar panel.
Andrée Nicole epitomizes all the aspirations of her parents who have now laid down their arms and are learning to lead a different life. Some people see these children as the best insurance against their parents taking up arms again.
Andrée Nicole is Jairo’s first child. He does not have much of an idea of family life. His own family fell apart when his mother & sisters drowned when he was only ten. That was why he joined the FARC one year later.
Jairo is starting a new life, on the Guayabero River, together with his partner Dayana who was also with the FARC. They left the transition camp so that they could live on the land, here in this isolated spot where Jairo spent his childhood before joining the FARC at the age of eleven.
Icononzo camp is three hours by road through the mountains south of Bogota. Each of the 26 transition camps has developed in its own way. This year the road was built through to the camp in Icononzo, and it has become a little village with houses rather than tents. Residents are allocated a small house and may become owners.
“I really deserve to have this baby!” Yorladis is pregnant for the sixth time. The other five pregnancies during her years with the FARC forces were all terminated, the last one when she was six months pregnant. " I had to give birth as if it was a full-term pregnancy; he was big and fully shaped. I dug a hole next to my tent and buried him.”
Former members of the FARC who have decided to stay in the camps are setting up greenhouses to grow food for themselves and perhaps to sell their produce.
Mayerli became pregnant soon after the peace agreement was signed. That also meant she could look after her seven-year-old son Esneider whom she had been forced to give up when he was two, leaving him with his paternal grandmother.
In the space of nine months, the camp of Colinas has completely changed: the former fighters have built houses and bathroom facilities next to the jungle where they once pitched their tents, at the entrance to the camp. This man is the bodyguard for the "comandantes", the camp managers who live a short distance away, on a hill overlooking the camp. Nearly half of the former members of the FARC have now left the camps.
Olga has spent most of her life without any contact with her family. Her parents split up when she was only one; her brother Naimer left with their father, and she remained with their mother who threw her out when she was seven, refusing to believe her accusations that her stepfather was abusing her.
She lived in the street until the age of 11 when she joined the FARC. This is the first time she has seen her brother Naimer for more than 30 years. He was in the army, fighting against the FARC.
Breiner (8), three of his siblings and his mother came to the camp in Icononzo, in the mountains south of Bogota. Relatives of former FARC members come into the camps and take up residency in rent-free houses; and at the same time, half of the former guerrillas have been leaving the camps to live as civilians in society.
Andrés was reunited with his mother as soon as the transition camps were opened in late 2016. Elizabeth had given birth in a tiny village on the edge of the jungle, and was able to get in touch with her mother who came to get the baby and raise him. Elizabeth was 19 when she joined the FARC after falling in love with a fighter. She was given contraceptive injections, but missed one.
Chechis and Leonardo had their baby in January 2018. They decided to leave the camp to start their own life, living anonymously in a city where they knew no one.
"It was very hard to lay down the arms. My gun was everything for me. Fortunately, i have my baby"
Life in the city is difficult for them as they are afraid of being rejected, and feel that people hate them.
The guayabero, the entrance door if the colombian Amazon. Jairo's father was a campesino who lived off the land by growing coca leaves. While the FARC have gone back to farming, they are not allowed to grow coca, even though it is much more profitable than other crops.