Dutch FARC rebel Tanja resurfaces
The impending peace act between Colombia and Cuba means that the Tanja Nijmeijer, Dutch officer of the Colombian rebel movement FARC can be a figurehead again. She has returned to the public eye, with an interview in Der Spiegel.
Nijmeijer, 36, is a marriage of two worlds, fighting guerilla warfare, but also being a modern woman. She spoke for the first time in many months in an interview with the German weekly paper, Der Spiegel. In her interview she speaks of her travels to Colombia as a young girl, about her envelopment by the rebel group FARC, about the guerilla war which has already claimed 200,000 lives in its 50 years.
Der Spiegel asked Nijmeijer, or FARC-fighter 608372, tough questions, but she had answers for them all. Asked why women at FARC can abort their children, she replied: "Because they are soldiers. You can't fight with children. Every woman in FARC knows that she is not allowed to become pregnant." Nijmeijer is currently in a relationship with another FARC-member.
The rebel fighter is committed to her cause. She says she feels badly that children sometimes become the victim of the land mines that the group disperses over the ground, but justifies it by saying simply "we are at war. We must defend ourselves."
She claims that the group hasn't kidnapped people since 2013. "Before that we kidnapped people for financial reasons. Now we have ,at most, prisoners of war."
A substitute for ransom money could easily have been drugs money, but Nijmeijer claims that FARC does not produce cocaine. They do, however, impose taxes on drug dealers.
Comrade 608372 is not only a figurehead for FARC, a portrait of the West that has to sell Latin-American legacies of thought in five languages. Sometimes, she is also a vulnerable Dutch woman who misses her family. "I have had enough of it. Sometimes I want to leave", she wrote in a journal she left behind.
In the end, she does manage to escape. The international search warrant that was out for her will be 'frozen', she will get a place in the FARC delegation that will join the Colombian government in negotiating a peace act on Cuba. This act is reportedly very close to being finished.
Tanja Nijmeijer does not want to utter a word about the course of the negotiations, nor their outcome. It is expected that she will get a role in the conciliation process in post-war Colombia. She also has the option of turning back to the Netherlands and to her family, once the search warrant on her is ceased.