RealNews

Soldiers Deploy to Home Front

For 19-year-old Dumar Alexander, joining the army was a matter of personal honor. A resident of this isolated town perched in the green mountains of violent southwest Colombia, Alexander knows what war means. Three years ago, the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials as FARC, arrived and snatched his 14-year-old brother into its ranks. Nobody in the family has heard from him since. His brother’s fate is why Alexander became a soldado campesino, or peasant soldier, President Alvaro Uribe’s latest weapon in Colombia’s aggressive war against terrorism. “The guerrillas controlled this town,” Alexander explained. Now, “I am able to protect my family.” Announced last fall, the program recruits men aged 18 to 24, trains them in tactics, and returns them to their hometowns as newly minted soldiers. With their roots in the population, the new troops will more easily be able to collect information on rebel movements, officials hope. Full Story

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