First FARC Census Highlight Challenges Ahead in Colombia

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The first census of the ex-guerrilla group known as the FARC show the challenges the government must confront to guarantee the group’s access to education, health, housing and productive projects that contribute to a lasting peace.

A total of 10,015 people participated in the census, which was the first of its kind for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC). Fifty-five percent of the participants were guerrillas, 29 percent urban militias and 16 percent prisoners. In total, 77 percent of the participants were men and 23 percent were women. 

SEE ALSO: The FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization 

In the areas of education and access to housing, the figures are worrying. Even though 90 percent can read and write, leaving just 10 percent who are illiterate, 57 percent of those surveyed have only a primary education. Just three percent have obtained a university degree. Likewise, 77 percent stated that they do not have access to housing after the reintegration process ends. 

These figures, aside from helping to establish a plan for the FARC’s reintegration, are a reminder of the precarious situation that rural areas of the country find themselves in. 

“This National Plan of Reincorporation and Normalization (Plan Nacional de Reincorporación y Normalización) must take in the new community and the communities who live in these territories who have been marginalized and excluded for decades,” Pastor Alape, a FARC representative, said at the July 6 unveiling of the census. 

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The challenge facing Colombia is daunting. To cite just one example: 60 percent of those polled expressed interest in collective projects related to agricultural activities, which is not surprising considering that 66 percent of those surveyed come from rural areas in Colombia.

But for these projects to succeed, the government needs to spend more money on training, access routes, and technical assistance, three things InSight Crime has noted that are not in place yet.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the FARC Peace Process

“The commitment of peace is a long-term commitment, and won’t be completed in a month — that would be a lie. This is not like blowing bubbles,” Joshua Mitriotti, a representative for the Agency for Reinstatement and Standardization, said during the press conference for the census. 

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