Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos is studying the possibility to employ former FARC rebels as park rangers among a wide range of provisions to reintegrate demobilized guerrillas after a half century long conflict.
Juan Manuel Santos announced that FARC rebels could be placed as rangers in jungle areas in particular, in the aftermath of a peace deal being signed, reported El Tiempo newspaper on Tuesday.
“There are huge opportunities to integrate them from being rangers, to being workers in an industry. I think most will want to stay in the countryside with productive projects in areas that today are producing absolutely nothing,” Santos was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
As the government and the FARC remain in the final stages of negotiations in Cuba on a peace deal, the government are already putting plans in place for the reintegration of the rebels into civilian society.
Santos said that the state are drawing on their experiences of demobilization in the past to provide suitable protocols for the reintegration of post conflict FARC guerrillas
The President said that the State has returned about 58,000 demobilized combatants and “have a specialist that has been improving its procedures agency.”
“We have established effective protocols to accommodate people who have been guerrillas all their lives into civilian life,” said Santos, who said that along with these employment opportunities, demobilized rebels will undergo a complete process of education, training and psychological support.
The success and long-term sustainability of a peace deal should it be signed, will depend upon the ability of the government’s ability to provide for the reintegration of the rebels in to various sectors of civilian society.
While the decision to place former guerrillas as park rangers in jungles where coca factories are still prominent may be controversial, Santos believes that with suitable post-conflict provision, former combatants can be valuable contributors.
“Experience has shown that people who are remade sometimes are more productive than the average worker,” concluded the President.
Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas announced on Wednesday that Colombia’s FARC rebel leaders will likely be protected by their own demobilized security units in coordination with the armed forces once peace is signed and the Marxist group enters politics.
Paramount to the negotiations is how the former guerrillas would avoid the fate of other demobilized rebel groups.
The FARC-inspired Patriotic Union was decimated in the 1980s when right-wing paramilitary death squads killed 5,000 of its members and supporters, including two presidential candidates.