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Out of the Jungle: Rebels Look Forward to Civilian Life
After five decades of war, rebels deep in the jungle of Colombia are preparing for peace.
Colombian photographer Fernando Vergara says he was raised to despise the FARC rebels as "killers." But as he photographed in their secret jungle camp, he began to see them as regular people. He decided to photograph them both in their uniforms and then in their civilian attire "to show their more human side."
Yuri Renteria poses with her weapon while in her FARC uniform and in civilian clothing at a guerrilla camp in the southern jungle of Putumayo, Colombia on Aug. 16, 2016. Renteria, 18, said she's been with the FARC for four years and would like to study engineering after demobilizing.
Under an accord reached in August by the government and FARC leaders, a cease-fire has taken effect and a national referendum will be held Oct. 2 to give voters the chance to approve a peace deal.
Rubiela, 32, said she has spent 10 years in the FARC and would like to study dentistry after demobilizing.
A half century of political violence in Colombia has killed more than 220,000 people and driven more than 5 million from their homes.
Johana, 19, said she's spent six years in the FARC and would like to study nursing after demobilizing.
Fernando Vergara photographed both genders in the rebel camp, but after putting on street clothes, "the men looked virtually the same... the women were transformed."
Yeimi, 23, said she has spent 10 years with the FARC.
Many of the FARC rebels were recruited as minors, a human rights violation that is sadly among many that the long conflict has produced.
Yiceth, 18, said she's spent four years with the FARC and wants to finish high school and then study nursing after demobilizing.
Diana Marcela, 28, said she's spent 13 years in the FARC and would like to finish high school and study photography after demobilizing.
Derly, 24, said she's been with the FARC for nine years and would like to study medicine after demobilizing.
Carolina, 18, said she has spent three years in the FARC and would like to study engineering after demobilizing.
Mayerli, 18, said she has spent four years with the FARC and would like to study nursing after demobilizing.
Sofia, 19, said she's spent six years with the FARC and would like to study law after demobilizing.
"When I left after a week, I told the rebels I'd see them soon. It was a throwaway phrase, the sort of thing you say when you're at a loss for words.
The next time, one said, you may not recognize us because we'll be dressed just like you."
More photos: As Peace Looms, Rebels In Colombia Ponder the Future