The Christian Science Monitor

After decades of violence, can Colombia's FARC rebels gain voter trust?

FARC congressional candidate Valentina Beltrán spoke to construction workers hands out campaign flyers in downtown Bogotá, Colombia, Feb. 1. Source: Manuel Rueda

Valentina Beltrán spent the past 24 years working with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a guerrilla fighter, an educator, and a communications specialist.

Today, she’s running for office, one of dozens of FARC candidates for Colombia’s Congress. It's a controversial part of the peace process that has some hopeful for reconciliation with the rebel group, and others feeling betrayed by the government for granting them this opportunity. 

On a recent Thursday Ms. Beltrán walked down a leafy pedestrian street downtown in Bogotá, the capital, handing out flyers emblazoned with the FARC’s logo.

“If you don’t vote, the same politicians will always win,” she tells a group of construction workers. Many pedestrians reject her flyers, frowning at her, or walking away as she approaches.

“It’s a tough job sometimes, but I think it’s also important to do,” says Beltrán. “We need to break with misconceptions,

A 'tough brand to sell'A toned-down message

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