FARC former guerrillas produce protective masks

Former FARC guerrillas at the Icononzo ECTR have produced 180 masks for the protection of ex-combatants and the community of Icononzo (Tolima). 

Former FARC guerrillas at the Icononzo ECTR (Territorial Space for Reincorporation and Training) are looking for resources to produce masks en masse and donate them to various organisations and communities.

Tejiendo Paz cooperative and the clothing brand Manifiesta are two of the cooperatives set up by former FARC guerrillas as part of the Final Peace Agreement which included the setting up of projects for the reincorporation of former guerrillas. 

Three meters of surgical fabric that had been left in the old health centre of the "Antonio Nariño" reincorporation space in Icononzo (Tolima), were used to make 180 masks for former guerrillas and people of the surrounding villages.

This was the way to solve the shortage of this medical supply already hitting the country. The idea was launched by the former FARC guerrillas of Tejiendo Paz Cooperative and the clothing brand Manifiesta. In September 2019 they had promoted a fashion show at the Universidad de los Andes in which they unveiled kimonos and dresses produced by themselves as a way of giving former guerrillas the opportunity to reincorporate themselves into civilian life. 

Juan Perea, legal representative of Tejiendo Paz, said that in this reincorporation space they are taking seriously the national quarantine decreed by the Iván Duque government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

While in the municipality of Icononzo, masks are sold for $ 3,500, the former guerrillas sell them for $ 1,000 each. Their purpose is not to make profit with a product that is now a primary necessity, but to have some resources that allow them to continue with production.

The biggest problem, in fact, is to get more fabric. The three meters of fabric they started with were clearly not enough for the nearly 3,000 citizens of the villages surrounding the reincorporation space, nor for the 270 former guerrillas who reside there.

"We have a high demand for masks. - said Juan Perea - On two occasions we have been called to make 2,000 masks, but there is no material."

When they asked the National Council for Reincorporation for support, according to Juan Perea, they were told that there was no way to get the fabric.

However, the former guerrillas are not ready to abandon the idea and are studying ways to keep production going. They are now trying with other material, for example nautical fabric. In the reincorporation space, said the former guerrillas, they have some 15 meters that will be used to make 7,500 masks.

The Community Initiatives Network (Rico) has shown interest in supporting the former guerrillas through a donation platform.