Documentary

Photographing the end of Colombia’s Guerrilla Warfare

Female FARC rebels sit and watch while the men play a football match against civilians. 3 May 2016. All images © Federico Rios

Colombian government and leftists FARC rebels have reached a deal on a bilateral cease-fire. Daily life in a FARC guerrilla camp midst historic milestone towards an end to the conflict 

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, are the oldest guerrilla group in Latin America and could be living their last days in the jungle before possibly being re-incorporated as a political group.

President Juan Manuel Santos officially announced today that the Colombian government and the armed group FARC will sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement during peace talks in Havana, Cuba. A historic step towards an end to the 50-year-old conflict.

Residents of a small village gather to hear the FARC talk. They are welcomed to share their views on the on-going peace process in Havana. 2 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

Residents of a small village gather to hear the FARC talk. They are welcomed to share their views on the on-going peace process in Havana. 2 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

A group of FARC rebels dance and celebrate the front leader’s birthday. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

A group of FARC rebels dance and celebrate the front leader’s birthday. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

Colombia is now going through its most peaceful period since the beginning of the armed conflict with the FARC guerrillas.

The rebel group and the Colombian government began formal peace talks in 2012 and have been negotiating an end to decades of fighting since then.

A patient gets treated at the FARC dentist. More or less 400 patients have been treated here in the past three months. Service is free of charge for the population in the area and many travel several days to reach the place. 2 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios.

A patient gets treated at the FARC dentist. More or less 400 patients have been treated here in the past three months. Service is free of charge for the population in the area and many travel several days to reach the place. 2 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios.

FARC rebels rest during the football match. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

FARC rebels rest during the football match. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

According to CERAC (Center of Resources for Conflict Analysis), the unilateral ceasefire declared by the FARC in 2015 avoided more than 1500 violent deaths.

Today, it became known that, the backbone of the agenda on the “end of conflict” will be agreed upon and announced in Havana. Mainly, an official bilateral ceasefire, the distribution of land for the FARC, laying down arms, and the protection and warranties for the process.

A FARC rebel rides a horse through a river and towards a clandestine route hidden in the mountains. 2 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

A FARC rebel rides a horse through a river and towards a clandestine route hidden in the mountains. 2 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

Community residents help unload the boat which was just rescued by the FARC. The bricks are meant to be used for a school nearby. The state provides the bricks but the community has to build the school. 1 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

Community residents help unload the boat which was just rescued by the FARC. The bricks are meant to be used for a school nearby. The state provides the bricks but the community has to build the school. 1 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

This is the next step to reach a definite and final peace agreement. With this announcement, the end of one of the longest conflicts in modern history seems to be finally in sight.

Despite the agreed unilateral ceasefire by the FARC in 2015, attacks have always been a constant threat. Several FARC leaders have been killed by the Colombian government after July 2015.

FARC guerrillas greet local farmers as they pass by. In numerous places in Colombia, the civil population know of no law and order other than from the rebel group. 1 May 2016 Photo © Federico Rios

FARC guerrillas greet local farmers as they pass by. In numerous places in Colombia, the civil population know of no law and order other than from the rebel group. 1 May 2016 Photo © Federico Rios

Pedro Baracutado, commander of the front 34 of the FARC, gives instructions in the early morning. News and developments related to the peace talks are discussed here regularly. Also, decisions are made made here. 1 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

Pedro Baracutado, commander of the front 34 of the FARC, gives instructions in the early morning. News and developments related to the peace talks are discussed here regularly. Also, decisions are made made here. 1 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

The army and paramilitary are ubiquitously present in the area. As a result, the FARC live in an environment of hope and stress of war, knowing every minute could be their last.

The rebel group is present virtually everywhere in Colombia. They have extensive knowledge about the jungle and are mix of different ethnic and social backgrounds — farmers, academics, indigenous people, afros, and mestizos. Besides, 40% of the FARC are female. They are equals.

The rebel group feels the overflight of an aircraft during walks. Everything is put on hold and the atmosphere is tense for fear of heavy bombings. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

The rebel group feels the overflight of an aircraft during walks. Everything is put on hold and the atmosphere is tense for fear of heavy bombings. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios

Alejandra walks with her team for long hours in the sun. The guerrillas change their positions frequently for security reasons -- 40% of them are female. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios.

Alejandra walks with her team for long hours in the sun. The guerrillas change their positions frequently for security reasons — 40% of them are female. 3 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios.

Colombian peace negotiations are now entering their final and most critical stage, as President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the FARC announced this week the breakthrough on some of the most poignant aspects that keeps the conflict going.

Midst this process, photographer Federico Rios, portrayed the daily life of the FARC members in what could possibly be their last days in the jungle.

See more of Federico’s images here.