Colombian Rebels Start Their Transition to Peace

Wall Street Journal WSJ-01CALDONO, Colombia—It was supposed to be a happy ending, with 6,300 Marxist rebels marching on jungle paths for days to lay down their guns in secure zones and finally put one of the world’s longest-running civil conflicts to rest.

But as bedraggled fighters carrying Galil assault rifles and rucksacks filed into this remote hilltop village, they took stock with looks of dejection. The government had promised them accommodations with beds, running water, electricity, and fully stocked kitchens. What they found were sacks of cement in an empty field.

The scene here has been repeated at two dozen hamlets across this country, where rebels from the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, were congregating over the weekend as they begin a six-month process of surrendering weapons of war to United Nations monitors and becoming civilians again. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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