Two years after the signing of the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC, France will train former combatants of that armed organization as forestry guides, within the international efforts to guarantee stability in the country.
"It is not an innocence," warned the local newspaper "Sud Ouest" when the Council of the region of New Aquitaine (southwest of France) approved the proposal, on October 8.
The plan was an initiative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help the reintegration of ex-guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), something that Paris considers a priority for the Latin American country.
"A successful demobilization goes hand in hand with the application of a training system so that they can enter the labor market," says the New Aquitaine Council project.
In a first stage, in 2019, five agents of the Natural Park of the Landes de Gascogne will travel to the Colombian department of Nariño to instruct former members of the FARC.
Subsequently, a still indeterminate number of these people will complete their instruction as trainers in France, with a special emphasis on the preservation of the environment and biodiversity.
"Regardless of what may have happened before, which at least is more than criticizable, the reality is that if we want there to be a peace process in Colombia, the international community has to help," the president of the park, Renaud, told EFE. Lagrave.
Lagrave will travel to Colombia in December to validate a plan estimated at 60,000 euros, of which Nueva Aquitania will contribute 30,000, the department of Nariño 15,000 and the remaining 15,000 the Ministry of the Environment, the park involved and various regional cooperation agencies.
The profile of the candidates, as well as their number and the time of formation will be outlined in that displacement.
What is clear is that these courses, according to the project, will contribute to "provide solutions to the problems of deforestation and deterioration of diversity" of Nariño, the main coca producing territory of the country.
The president of the now FARC political party, Rodrigo Londoño – nicknamed "Timochenko" in his time as a guerrilla – denounced "state abandonment" in August and described as worrying that the more than 7,000 demobilized people do not see their security guarantees respected or face a reincorporation to tortuous civil life.
But the idea of having ex-guerrillas in France has not convinced everyone.
The project approved by the Regional Council, chaired by the Socialists, was rejected by the opposition groups Republicans (center-right) and National Association (far right).
"Bringing in former terrorists can be particularly dangerous, will there be a psychological or psychiatric follow-up? What guarantees us that they will not relapse?" The right-wing councilor Edwige Diaz asked EFE.
The member of Agrupación Nacional was positioned against a plan that, in her opinion, "imports terrorists" and is expensive.
"The region does not have to spend so much money in a fight that is not theirs, unemployment goes off in France, insecurity too, and we have more and more poor people. (…) Those 30,000 euros could be used from another way, "he explains.
The head of the park considers that it is not an economic issue.
"They would have voted against it even if only one euro had been approved, it is a pretext not to help, everyone knows that (the extreme rightists) are the party of exclusion, they are systematically against all cooperation," says Lagrave.
And, despite the opposition received, he celebrates being able to contribute "modestly" in favor of peace with a proposal that will also reach French schoolchildren, when the French park guides explain their experience to them in their schools once it has finished.