Turning swords into tobacco

| June 21, 2017

Coltabaco S.A.S., Colombia’s biggest tobacco company, is one of hundreds of Colombian businesses that are employing former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in an effort to integrate them into the society against which they previously fought, according to a story by John Otis for Bloomberg News.

When Colombia’s government signed a peace treaty with FARC last fall, it meant more than an end to a 52-year conflict that had left an estimated 220,000 people dead and forced more than five million civilians from their homes. It also meant 7,000 guerrillas would have a chance to disarm and enter the workforce.

Miguel Suárez, a top official at the Reincorporation and Normalization Agency, the government body that receives newly demobilized fighters, was quoted as saying that it was the responsibility of all Colombians to generate opportunities and make the integration policy work.

Coltabaco has spent $15 million on minimarkets and tobacco plantations that employ former guerrillas as well as members of the paramilitary death squads that were the rebels’ archenemies.

“We have to co-operate so that these people don’t return to a life of crime,” says Humberto Mora, Coltabaco’s vice president.

“We are not doing this simply out of altruism. This is also a form of self-protection.

Otis’ story is at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-06-20/what-do-you-do-when-guerrilla-is-the-only-thing-on-your-r-sum.

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Category: Breaking News, Corporate, Leaf, People

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