After ending negotiations in Havana, Cuba, with the signature of the peace process' first agreement between the Colombian government and FARC-EP, Rodrigo Londoño Jiménez "Timochenko", chief commander of the revolucionary movement, summoned his men to what would be the last conference of the armed group.
As a graphic reporter, I had the opportunity to travel and attend this meeting, in which I mingled with these men and women already deprived of their war masks and without their weapons ready to respond to any attack. The only latent fear was the roar of planes and helicopters, which reminded them of the need to escape in order to avoid being bombed. There, in that temporary camp, their only weapons were open kindness and generosity in every sense, also hope in a new life, as well as fear of the future.
The meeting took place in El Diamante in the Yari plains, Meta, nine hours away from Florencia, capital city of the department of Caqueta . We arrived at this zone through a long road recently constructed by themselves, in an old jeep, but always accompanied by an expert who knew the zone well.
Under the light of a huge silver moon, we travelled into the plains through an almost endless road, and finally at dawn we caught sight of the guerillas on their way to lining up for their last appointment as an armed group. Telling what it feels like to see and be so close to them without succumbing to fear, is beyond description.
Hundreds of guerillas from several parts of Colombia travelled for their las assembly. They all displayed an overwhelming laboriosity proper of engineers. With skillful hands and with whatever nature had to offer, they started building beds, kitchens and baths with mud and wood. Their dwellings were soon ready, including drains, and then they started to distribute tasks and take turns to listen to the endless conferences about the accomplishments made in Havana by the top leaders.
One, two, three days went by between lectures, soccer games, cheerful baths in the river (including washing clothes) , sacrificing cattle for meals prepared in enormous pots and distributed exactly among peers and us, their foreign guests. At night they wore their best clothes for the party, it was the time for dancing and concerts, then their fears disolved with the music, the sip of a couple of beers and the joy with their couples.