In remote Colombia, a guerrilla festival to signal war’s end

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By Nick Miroff September 17 at 5:48 PM
EL DIAMANTE, Colombia — Dilson Cuellares, a guerrilla platoon commander, stood stiffly at attention Saturday with his FARC rebel comrades while their battle anthem blasted from a soundstage big enough for a rock concert. It was the first day in 18 years that Cuellares was not carrying a gun.

“Feels a little lonely,” he said, fidgeting with his hands. “Like I don’t have my wife.”

Having spent virtually his entire adult life carrying an AK-47 in the steamy jungles of southern Colombia, Cuellares, 41, does not have a wife nor a family, but that is something he would very much like some day. “And to study,” he said. “Maybe I could be a veterinarian.”

He and hundreds of other guerrilla fighters have gathered here on the remote, isolated savannas of eastern Colombia for a six-day guerrilla “conference” meant to mark the rebels’ transformation from armed insurgency to legal political party.

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