For Hire: 7,000 Former FARC Guerrillas

BloombergThere are no guns in sight at a rebel camp in Guaviare, a state in south-central Colombia. Instead, some 500 former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, wear civilian clothes and pass the time playing soccer and volleyball, while they wait to be reintegrated into society. Several women among them—who while fighting were forced to use birth control and have abortions—­are pregnant or nursing newborns. Another first: The ex-­guerrillas are having to think about how they’ll earn a living now that they’ve laid down their weapons. Raul Andrés Ballesteros, 33, who dropped out of junior high to join the FARC, says he plans to study technology and become a systems engineer. Faisuri Mendoza, 29, a 10-year veteran and a member of the Cubeo Indian tribe, dreams of becoming an anthropologist.

When Colombia’s government signed a peace treaty with the FARC last fall, it meant more than an end to a 52-year conflict that left an estimated 220,000 people dead and forced more than 5 million civilians from their homes. It also meant 7,000 guerrillas would have a chance to disarm and enter the ­workforce. Whether Ballesteros, Mendoza, and the rest of their comrades find their bearings will go a long way toward determining the fate of Colombia’s peace process. …

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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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