Radio Netherlands Worldwide, in cooperation with Dutch broadcaster IKON, will broadcast a previously unreleased TV interview with Dutch FARC guerrilla Tanja Nijmeijer this evening. The interview was recorded in August by Colombian journalist Jorge Enrique Botero.
The FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was founded in 1964 and is the oldest guerrilla movement in Latin America.
The FARC is often described as a Marxist organisation and its supporters profess revolutionary ideals, such as land reform and combating poverty. In practice, the FARC's current activities focus on cocaine dealing, kidnapping, extortion and violent attacks.
The FARC is on the blacklist of terrorist organisations compiled by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.
The rebels have abducted thousands of people in the hope of exchanging them for jailed FARC fighters. One of their most prominent hostages was the French-Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who was freed in 2008 after six years in captivity.
Dutch woman Tanja Nijmeijer joined the FARC voluntarily in 2002. Initially she worked as an interpreter and translator, but she later became a guerrilla fighter.
In recent years, the rebels' power has declined dramatically. The FARC has been dealt a number of blows by the Colombian Army, with the backing of the United States. Growing numbers of guerrillas are deserting: of the estimated 27,000 militants who belonged at one point, there are now only around 7,000 left.
Human rights organisations are asking the FARC to enter into a dialogue, but so far the rebels have shown no willingness to lay down their arms, halt the kidnappings or free their hostages.
In the TV interview, Tanja once again makes a number of surprising statements and the footage provides a detailed insight into her life with the FARC. The material formed part of a documentary by journalist Jorge Enrique Botero about FARC leader Mono Jojoy, which has already been broadcast on Colombian television. Mono Jojoy was killed in September in a major Colombian army offensive on his camp. It is still not known whether Tanja Nijmeijer survived this attack.
This evening’s edition of current affairs show Nieuwsuur (21:00 UTC, Nederland 2, NOS/NRT) will broadcast an interview with Jorge Enrique Botero, including footage of his trek through the jungle to reach the FARC.
Two weeks ago, Radio Netherlands Worldwide released the first footage of Tanja Nijmeijer shot by Jorge Enrique Botero. RNW’s editor-in-chief Rik Rensen takes up the story:
“Radio Netherlands Worldwide has now been able to take a Dutch perspective on the seven hours of rough material shot by Mr Botero and we have concluded that it contains more newsworthy material about Tanja”.
The Nijmeijer family has been given the opportunity to view the footage prior to the broadcast but do not wish to comment.
Journalist Jorge Enrique Botero trekked through the jungle for 11 days before reaching the FARC camp. He is one of only a handful of journalists who have been able to gain such close access to the rebels. Critics in Colombia claim that he only succeeded in doing so because he supports the FARC’s Marxist ideology. Rik Rensen refutes this:
“In Colombia they say that if you have contact with the FARC, you must automatically belong to the FARC. I have spoken to Mr Botero extensively. I can assure you that the man I talked to is a reliable journalist who applies the journalistic principle of presenting both sides of the argument. His unrivalled access to the FARC is the result of years of work. He had to gain their trust.”
Broadcasts (all times UTC)
- 16 November, from 21:00, RNW Tanja Nijmeijer dossier: interview with Tanja
- 16 November, 21:00, Nieuwsuur, Nederland 2: interview with Jorge Enrique Botero
- 16 November, 22:58, Nederland 2: IKON DOC: Tanja en haar verhaal
- 28 November, 22:15, BVN: IKON DOC: Tanja en haar verhaal