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Thu Dec 29, 2016, 10:31 PM

Colombian rebels fear for safety after they rejoin society

Colombian rebels fear for safety after they rejoin society

Alba Tobella, Associated Press
Updated 2:03 pm, Thursday, December 29, 2016

Photo: Ivan Valencia, AP

In this Dec. 10, 2016 photo, Wilson Lopez, a former rebel of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, poses for a photo at a distance learning institution after receiving his elementary school diploma, in Bogota, Colombia. The ex-guerrilla says he’s been hit with death threats since getting out of jail and trying to start life as a civilian, a snapshot of what awaits thousands of FARC rebels in rejoining society under Colombia’s peace pact.

MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) — When Wilson Lopez lived in the jungle, he thought civilian life in the city meant meeting people, walking the streets, having a job. But the former Colombian guerrilla wasn't able to do any of these things.

Lopez went from a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia jungle camp to prison and then to the streets of Medellin after receiving a pardon in January. Since then, he hasn't been able to find a steady job or home, and couldn't go for stroll with his family in Medellin after he received death threats from a criminal group that said it didn't want rebels in its territory.

. . .

The guerrillas recall how during 1980s peace talks that ultimately failed, the FARC established a party known as the Patriotic Union as its political arm. In just a few years, more than 3,000 leftist activists, rebel sympathizers and two presidential candidates were gunned down by paramilitaries, often working with state security forces.

"There is a need for more action by the government and the creation of mechanisms to protect" rebels who lay down their arms as part of the peace deal, said Todd Howland, the representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia. "There is much to do in the field."


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