Hello friends, A FARC Phone Call
“Hello, this is Commander Morales of the FARC. We are taking over your farm.” The FARC is the largest guerrilla group in Colombia.
At this Jose and Maria with their son Jorge left quickly with just the clothes on their backs. “Jose was crying as he gave up his dream of the farm to provide a future for his son,” Maria chimed in as they told me their story.
Jose added the following: “Maria was pregnant with our next child. The farm consisted of acres of coffee, and many cattle. We had 20 hired employees. The FARC said they wanted to recruit our 8 year old son Jorge because they noticed he was such a good worker and therefore would make a good soldier.
“The FARC found us in the town where we tried to escape. The FARC then sent four guys to his school and told the school they were sent by us to pick him up. Neighbors told us this was happening, so we called the police, the police went there, and then the four guys left. Thanks be to God. We since have moved even further away. Numerous other farmers including my Dad have lost their farms in similar ways.
“Many times the armed groups have told me and other farmers to go to town to a certain shop and ask for a package. We had no choice but to cooperate or else. The FARC of course were extorting money from the businesses.
“Another time when I was 16 I was herding cattle while the FARC and Paramilitaries were shooting it out between mountains overhead. At one point both groups were cutting up farmers they thought were helping the other side with chain saws then throwing them in the river. The Paramilitaries tried to recruit me but I would have no part of using a gun. They would have paid me a good salary.
“When I was young life was good and peaceful where we lived. Then when drugs came into their lives farmers got rich, then the armed groups came and the farmers were caught in between them. War causes so much suffering.”
I responded, “I am so glad they are talking in Havana.” “I am too” said Jose. He also pointed out, “My hands and feet were sweating just from telling you these stories.”
We then prayed together for several minutes. I cannot say where, when, or who this was for their protection, lest the FARC or Paramilitaries might find them.
Thanks for listening. Pray for a Colombian good peace agreement and a cease fire.
Ps. This is the first of several letters I hope to write from my recent time in Colombia.