If the upcoming peace talks between FARC rebels and the Colombian government are successful, nearly 10,000 combatants could be incorporated into mainstream society, claimed the director of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration Friday.
Speaking with Caracol Radio, Alejandro Eder asserted that approximately 56,000 former combatants have already benefited from the program over the past decade.
“We already have 10 years of experience in reintegration processes. Our experience is much more positive than many Colombians imagine,” said Eder. According to figures from the organization, prominent guerrilla groups FARC and ELN have close to 9,000 and 2,000 active fighters respectively.
The rehabilitation program, aimed at reintegrating demobilized combatants into mainstream Colombian society, is currently in place under the Law of Justice and Peace framework. Eder claimed that nearly 14,400 demobilized Colombians found employment in the formal economy in 2011, 90% of which were supported by the government’s program.
The same set of data also revealed that of the demobilized fighters who entered the program, only 15% were reported to have re-offended.
Despite these promising signs, Colombia has a checkered record concerning demobilization in recent years.
What is more, on June 8, the International Crisis Group released a scathing report entitled “Dismantling Colombia’s New Illegal Armed Groups (NIAG): Lessons from a Surrender,” which detailed the significant shortcomings of the surrender of the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia in December 2011.
The formal peace negotiations are the first in over ten years and will be accompanied by representatives of the Norwegian and Cuban governments.