RealNews

Colombian rebels abandon arms

Before fleeing Colombia’s biggest rebel group, Gregorio Ramos had a mission: to kill the governor of the state of Caquetá. Mr. Ramos went undercover as a civilian, pleading for a job with the governor. He said his grandmother had died and he needed money for her funeral. But after receiving work and getting to know the governor, Ramos couldn’t go through with his macabre assignment. “He was a good person,” says Ramos, who now lives in a halfway house run by the Defense ministry in a secret location in Bogotá. Ramos confessed the plan to the governor and turned himself in to the local priest. Now, the ex-guerrilla hopes to start fresh. Ramos is part of a growing wave of weary fighters leaving their combat days behind. A little-known program to reintegrate rebels into society has taken on new life here, with record numbers surrendering to authorities. Coupled with a hard-line military effort by President Alvaro Uribe, the two-pronged approach has many, including former fighters, saying it could weaken the rebel base and help forge a path toward peace in this war-torn country. Full Story

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