Friday, December 30, 2005
by Arturo Alape
They are guerrilla commanders. Rubiela's face reveals deep traces of the indigenous. She is dynamic, very strong. Sonia looks fragile, and her face is hard and stern. She immediately expressed distance, distrust. Later on she became less complicated and loosed her words; at the end she smiled. We talked of the critical moments of life's decisions - the ones that define everything and turn accumulated life experience around. I asked them why they joined the guerrilla.
Rubiela had never seen the guerrilla. She explained: "One day I saw a group of guerrilleros; they told us not to be afraid, that they were just regular people, very simple people. What attracted me the most about them was that they knew really good revolutionary songs. So I said: 'I'm going to join the guerrilla.' That was about 14 years ago. I'm from Caquetá. My parents are from Palmira, Valle.
Sonia had heard of or seen the guerrilla on TV; they awoke a certain interest in her. She lost herself in her memories: "I went to meetings they had, and then I studied why there was a need to join the guerrilla, because of how women are exploited in Colombia, the need for rights we women have coming to us..."
Rubiela joined the guerrilla when she was 17 years old. She confessed that at that age she had never been out of her house. She was quiet, "without much freedom... in the guerrilla you start to change your behavior, so it's not hard to adapt... at the beginning you miss your family, you think about it constantly. Then you start to create the idea that no one has made you come and you made your own decision and so you have to adapt. It's not a trick, no one tricked you in to coming; it was you, so you come and keep up the struggle..."
For Sonia, joining the guerrilla was an abrupt change. "It's very different as a civilian when you are free: you go wherever you want, you come back when you want, you ask your parents for permission. Here everything is different, even going to the bathroom or any other place - you have to ask permission for everything. There is an internal order that must be followed and it's for everyone, you start to butt heads, you know? Because you can't go wherever you want when you want and come back when you want, no, you have limited time and you have to follow the rules. From the time you join they explain these norms to you and if you promise to follow the norms and statutes that guide it, then you have to do it..." Sonia explains that through studying and the knowledge she is acquiring in the guerrilla, her "... consciousness is increased and you start to have your own confidence in the fact that you can follow the rules. But it always takes time. Another thing: you also have to leave your family, everything you have, so it's hard to get used to that. After that you acquire certain knowledge, so family is secondary in the guerrilla, you know what I mean? Family becomes secondary and the movement is primary..."