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The ex-guerilla fighters building a ‘House of Peace’ in Colombia

CARLOS CRUZ MOSQUERA introduces the craft beer start-up in Bogota run by demobilised Farc insurgents that needs international solidarity

A GROUP of 10 ex-combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) have been slowly growing a craft beer start-up since they signed the peace deal with the government in 2016. They are now leading a fundraising campaign to acquire a headquarters in Colombia’s capital Bogota. It will be known as the House of Peace, and the ex-combatants wish for it to be a place where you can have a beer whilst talking politics, organising, educating, and planning the construction of the yearned-for Nueva Colombia.

Despite four years of government backpedalling and the assassination of close to 300 of their comrades who also signed the peace deal, La Trocha beer was growing in popularity in Colombia’s capital Bogota and throughout the country before the pandemic hit.

Alexander Monroy, one of the crew members, explains that their “dark porter style beer was inspired by an English recipe and fuses these with the flavours found in the Colombian jungles. It has a strong body, a toasty aroma, and it is made with love and the longing for peace.”

A lack of financial support from Ivan Duque’s far-right government means they currently cannot yet sustain their project based on their product sales alone. The premises they were renting for the project are now refusing to renew their contract and they are sure it is due to the widespread stigma that they face as former communist insurgents.

They chose the term “trocha” as this is what the guerilla calls narrow stretches of countryside lane, which they now reimagine as a path that leads to a fairer society for all Colombians. Their branding gives a nod to their former lives and acknowledges that the path of peace they have taken is not straightforward to navigate.

The team, made up of rank and file ex-combatants who were imprisoned for their involvement in the war against Colombia’s ruling class, developed their popular beer with experts at Colombia’s National University. They have also received local support from another small beer company who has helped them access production facilities.

They are now looking for international solidarity from socialists, communists, unions and the left in general, who might be interested in investing in a project for peace in a country that has been ravaged by a terrifying, violent capitalist war for decades.

You can donate directly to the campaign by going to www.vaki.co/es/vaki/TrochaFest.

Carlos Cruz Mosquera is a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University and co-editor of @anticonquista.

 

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