Colombia’s FARC rebels have gone from being the news to running the news. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia demobilized in 2016 after signing a peace agreement, and thousands of rebels are trying to re-enter civilian life.
Many are looking for new projects, and for some, that’s journalism. CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.
Manuel Bolivar is the news director of FARC’s new media organization called Nueva Colombia Noticias, or NC News. He was a member of the Colombian guerilla insurgent group FARC, reporting on the rebel’s clandestine radio program “Voices of the Resistance” and creating propaganda videos for the rebels.
“Many of those who sit with me here, we were together in the mountains doing a beautiful job on the radio program. And to see it now grow into something like NC News, it brings a lot of satisfaction,” he explained.
The former rebels now get to step inside congress to interview Colombia’s politicians, and ask everyday Colombians on the streets for their opinions on current events. NC News is only transmitted online through their YouTube channel and Facebook page.
The channel has 25 team members in Bogota and several reporters across the country, reporting from 26 demobilization zones. Their media training comes by inviting outside professionals in to collaborate, and taking courses in subsidized government institutions.
Bolivar said he knows that they have a long way to go before audiences trust in their journalistic credibility, but his team is up to the challenge.
“As we try to move towards becoming a professional journalistic media outlet, we say we need to do our job supremely rigorously and with a lot of discipline and dedication so that our journalistic work can be seen that way,” he said.
NC News officials said they hope to build their audience by offering alternative viewpoints, and by covering the lives of rural Colombians who are often ignored and forgotten by the traditional media.