A child of 13 was seen by the army’s 8th Mobile Brigade laying landmines in a rural area of the east central department of Tolima. In the same zone the 8th Brigade found documents from alias “Teofilo,” head of the explosives group “Alfonso Gonzalez” in which he displays his concern regarding intellectual inabilities of the FARC’s aging troops and gives instructions for the training of “the future leaders of the FARC.”
“The most worrying thing is that the majority of the old guerrilla fighters do not know how to read or write,” according to a document seen by El Espectador.
Many combatants are between the ages of 12 and 16 according to demobilized FARC fighters and complaints made by parents before authorities. According to the commander of the 8th Brigade, Coronel Jorge Ivan Monsalve the document proves that the rebel organization is weakened and needs young people who are easily influenced. Coronel Monsalve went to to say that 30% of FARC fighters are minors, trained in explosives or as snipers.
However children are not only involved in fighting, as girls are allegedly by FARC commanders as partners or sex slaves. “Stella” who escaped from a FARC encampment when the commander John Getas developed a venereal disease told police that there were 45 other young people where she was based.
Children, seen as cheap labor, are also being recruited by criminal bands such as “Los Paisas” in places where difficult economic conditions make a breeding ground for such groups.