BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — In a tiny rest room, Marilu Ramirez prepares for her phase in a manufacturing studio by brushing her lengthy black hair and overlaying her lashes in one other coat of mascara, small luxuries in a life not being spent behind bars.
Sentenced to 27 years in jail for her position in a automotive bombing at a navy faculty, Ramirez was launched as a part of Colombia’s peace settlement with leftist rebels and is now the host of a web based debate present.
The dwell program is produced by Nueva Colombia Noticias, a new network began by former guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that goals to supply an alternative choice to what some see as a media panorama crowded with biased, conventional retailers.
One 12 months after the signing of the accord, the ex-combatants live in a resort paid for by the Colombian authorities, instructing themselves learn how to function cameras and gearing as much as launch a each day newscast.
Their viewers remains to be minuscule, however they hope to draw a big, loyal following by specializing in tales from the locations they know greatest: distant elements of Colombia lengthy uncared for by state and institution media networks alike.
“We need to give a voice to those that have been residing for many years in silence, however experiencing firsthand the state’s neglect,” Ramirez mentioned after a latest taping of her debate present, “La Mesa Caliente” (The Hot Table).
The story of Nueva Colombia Noticias is in some ways a microcosm of each the successes and challenges of reintegrating former guerrillas into Colombian society. Reporting on the streets, the ex-combatants are coming face-to-face with a Colombian populace reluctant to embrace them after 5 many years of bloody battle. Many Colombians are additionally cautious of the network’s continued ties and unabashed help for the previous guerrillas’ new political occasion.
“They nonetheless have a protracted technique to go in changing into unbiased and never showing like propaganda,” mentioned Fabiola Leon, the Colombia consultant for worldwide advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.
In the city jungle of Bogota, the budding journalists are placing into observe most of the identical methods they discovered whereas dodging bombs and bullets within the countryside: attempting to maintain calm even when interview topics start lambasting former rebels as monsters and terrorists.
“You really feel the rejection,” mentioned Gersson Pedraza, 25, who joined the FARC when he was 12. “And you simply have to face up to it.”
The channel at the moment has 25 reporters in Colombia’s capital, almost all of whom are former rebels residing off month-to-month funds that the Colombian authorities agreed to pay as a part of the peace accord. Those funds are equal to 90 % of the nation’s present minimal wage, or about $225. The network additionally depends on journalists stationed at among the 26 zones the place former guerrillas are transitioning to civilian life.
A latest United Nations report recognized the reincorporation of the eight,000 rebels initially gathered at these transition zones because the peace accord’s most crucial problem. Today, simply 45 % stay on the demobilization camps. But whereas some have settled in cities or left to dwell with household, there’s mounting concern that others are becoming a member of dissident teams or partaking in different unlawful actions.
“This is not nearly fulfilling guarantees,” mentioned Jean Arnault, the U.N. consultant for the Colombian peace course of. “This is a matter of nationwide curiosity.”
One shiny spot has been the FARC’s personal creation of almost two dozen so-called productive tasks on the camps. Many concentrate on agricultural actions like rising bananas and pineapples. Others assist former guerrillas develop artisan crafts and promote ecotourism.
The leaders of Nueva Colombia Noticias think about their very own endeavor to be one such productive venture.
It started coaching former rebels to work as journalists whereas many had been nonetheless in demobilization camps. They employed exterior professionals, some who had labored for main worldwide information organizations, to conduct months-long programs on fundamental abilities like studying, writing and reporting.
Quite a few the rebels already had some expertise working with cameras as de-facto conflict correspondents, after they recorded bombings and different confrontations with the navy utilizing camcorders supplied by their commanders.
Manuel Bolivar, the director of Nueva Colombia Noticias, mentioned the network is focusing its protection on points like social actions, inequality and human rights — most of the identical subjects that the FARC’s political occasion has recognized as priorities. He mentioned information organizations like Venezuela’s Telesur and the Russia’s RT network, each of that are state-sponsored, had been examples of the kind of outlet his endeavor aspires to be, although with its personal distinct voice.
“We usually are not going to say we’re neutral as a result of we’re not,” he mentioned. “But I’ve insisted on us being goal. And objectivity would not translate into neutrality.”
Ramirez, for her half, spent 10 years in jail for against the law she says she did not commit. Much of that point she stored linked to the world by listening to the information on a battery-powered, hand-held radio that she nonetheless retains at her bedside.
Now, on her present, Ramirez discusses subjects such because the particular peace court docket stipulated within the peace accord, which she herself will in the future have to look earlier than. She additionally says she want to have navy generals and even former President Alvaro Uribe, one of many peace settlement’s chief critics, on her present.
But like different former rebels, her life remains to be in flux: Her belongings are all stored in two pink suitcases, and he or she is unsure the place her house will probably be as soon as the federal government’s resort allowance dries up.
“Everything is packed,” she mentioned. “Ready to go.”