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Lifestory of Norbey, a guerrilla fighter of the FARC-EP

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In the year 2000, in the town of El Castillo, Meta department, there was a raid of paramilitaries under command of Martin Llanos, accompanied and supported directly by the 21st Battalion "Vargas" located in Granada (Meta).

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The community discovered that the military changed their official uniforms for those employed by the paramilitaries to commit criminal massacres against the civilian population accused of being a combatant or a supporter of the guerrilla. They used to change their official weapons and employed AK-47 rifles to murder the victims.

As they crossed the territory, they produced death and desolation. Norbey was 13 years old by then and he worked on a farm owned by Don Gabriel Quiguan?s, located in the village La Floresta. They heard news about the paramilitaries being in the village of La Esperanza, close to them. With the imminent arrival of the paramilitaries, Norbey left the farm where he worked and went to his mother's house in the morning. That same day the men, under the leadership of the cruel Martin Llanos, arrived at Quiguanas' farm. The whole family was beaten up and locked up, with the exception of two of the brothers. One of them was tortured by introducing the barrel of a gun in his rectum. The other, called Edier Quiguan?s, was beaten up and then shot and killed.

Norbey left his mother's house, the last building in the village of La Floresta before the jungle started. He went to his aunt's house, which was where he usually lived. When he arrived there, he learned that the paramilitaries had arrived to his mother's house, with the accusation that she was a guerrilla collaborator and giving her 10 minutes to leave, taking only what she could grab together in that short time. Naturally, the woman took everything she could with her, including her 7 young children, before fleeing to her sister's house (Norbey's aunt).

?They found only 3 people there; the other villagers had fled because of the paramilitary raid?

Three days later, Norbey went to his mother's house, which he found totally burned down. He also saw some animals that had been saved, including a small duck, whose tail was half charred. Amid the grief he thought: What are we guilty of? They were humble peasants, who lived from their coffee crops. He immediately decided to join the guerrillas, but they didn't want to receive him because of his young age. So he made ??the decision to accompany his mother and seven brothers and sisters in their forced displacement to the capital. They did so with just enough money to pay the journey and a few clothes that were able to save from the burning and destruction of their home.

When they left for Bogota, they crossed Puerto Esperanza, a small town where they used to buy groceries. They found only 3 people there; the other villagers had fled because of the paramilitary raid. These people told them that they had caught Norbey's cousin Luis, who worked as a cowboy in the region. They burned his face and body with acid and later killed him opening his throat. Norbey's family was terrified, the only thing they could do was to continue their journey.

Upon arrival in Bogot?, everything was difficult for them because they started to live in the house of a distant relative, without anything. In the following days they asked for help to a state institution, where victims of forced displacement could receive help; they received a few matrasses, some cleaning supplies and some groceries to still their hunger for at least 15 days.

?Meanwhile, his mother started to wash other people's clothes for a few pesos?

Finding nothing else to do, Norbey started to sell fruits and vegetables on a cart, which he pushed through the streets of the capital. Meanwhile, his mother started to wash other people's clothes for a few pesos. 3 months later, because of the discomfort they caused to their relatives with so many young children, they had to rent a shack in which to settle.

Shortly after, Norbey contacted an uncle who worked in Uribe (Meta), who recommended him to go to work in the region recollecting coca leaves. He worked there for about a year, but the murder of two of his collegues (in Julia and Mesetas (Meta)) and their subsequent presentation as guerrilla fighters killed in combat (crime perpetrated by the Army) made him flee to Bogot? again.

On December 8, 2001 he arrived to Bogot? again, where he began working with his mother's partner in a horse-drawn vehicle, recycling the garbage of people from the capital. He did that until March 2002, the month in which his mother lent him enough money to go to the department of Vichada to work with a nephew. In September, he sent his mother the money he had borrowed from her and subsequently he joined the ranks of the FARC-EP, at the age of 15; decision, in the words of Norbey, driven by the difficult economic and social situation suffered his family and all his relatives, who like the rest of the people were also victims of the violence of the state and its paramilitary forces ... For him, it was the only form of defending himself.

?Norbey wants to dedicate this story to the memory of his family and all the peasants who were tortured, killed and displaced in Alto Ariari, by the troops of the 21st Battalion "Vargas", located in Granada (Meta), who worked together with paramilitary groups?

Norbey says that his entire family has been a victim of the Colombian State because they support revolutionary struggle. He says that 17 family members have been killed in combat, being part of the guerrilla army. He only remembers the names of some of them: Arnulfo, Ricardo, Wilington, Armando who were his uncles; Danilo, Wilder, Esteban, Alberto, Omerli, John Jairo, who were his cousins??; and Edilson, his brother.

Norbey wants to dedicate this story to the memory of his family and all the peasants who were tortured, killed and displaced in Alto Ariari, by the troops of the 21st Battalion "Vargas", located in Granada (Meta), who worked together with paramilitary groups.

Colombian jungle, August 22, 2014

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