Photo story: No jeans or high heels for me

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Photo story: ‘No jeans or high heels for me’

The guerrilla group FARC has been in conflict with the Colombian government since 1964.

Here are interviews with people from FARC’s 18th Front, before the peace agreement was signed. They said they hope for a different life – not hiding in the jungle. But the public voted not to accept the peace agreement. So maybe they will need to hope for longer.

Photographs by Marielle van Uitert. Interviews by Sytske Susie Jellema.

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© Marielle van Uitert

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Niver (33), joined FARC at 17. 'What am I going to do when I return to society? The question should be what we can give back to society. I want to educate people about Che Guevara, our liberator Simón Bolivar and Marx. When I joined FARC, I was a poor farmer and had nothing to lose. After all these years I have learned so much that I want to give a lot to the people. A better Colombia is not a better car or a bigger house – it’s a Colombia where there is food and education for everyone.' Marielle van Uitert

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Marielle van Uitert

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Johana (25), joined FARC at 14. 'I couldn’t read or write well before I joined FARC. Here I learned all that. It took some time to get used to living in the mountain as a guerrilla soldier: washing in the river, peeing in a hole in the ground and wearing a uniform. I cannot imagine wearing high heels or jeans. I will feel so happy when there is peace.' Marielle van Uitert

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Marielle van Uitert

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Fredy (35), joined FARC at 21. 'The first thing I’m going to do is visit my father. He is old and still lives on the farm where I grew up. The most difficult part of returning to society will be living near many people. Life in the city is so different to life here in the jungle. But I look forward to peace. I am happy to go back to society and help to develop society more.' Marielle van Uitert

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Marielle van Uitert

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Maryluz (37), joined FARC at 17. 'I don’t want to return to society – I’m so used to living in the mountains. I gave birth to three children here. I could not keep them; they had to leave me after three months. The youngest is nine years old. His father was killed in the war, like the fathers of the other two. I have no picture of my kids here – too dangerous. The two eldest are studying in Medellín, they do not want to enter FARC. When the peace is signed, I’ll live with my youngest.' Marielle van Uitert

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Marielle van Uitert

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Diego (19), joined FARC at 17. 'I think a peace agreement will be an important sign. We must continue to fight for a good life for everyone. We continue to fight, not with weapons but with words. I’ll stay with FARC, but maybe I’ll be a farmer again…' Marielle van Uitert

Marielle van Uitert has been a war photographer for many years: paralleluniversum.nl Sytske Susie Jellema is a Dutch journalist, in Colombia.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: https://www.newint.org/features/2016/11/01/no-jeans-or-high-heels-for-me/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).