Confirmed rebel Tanja Nijmeijer gets her own back

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

[media:factfile]Analysis from Radio Netherlands Worldwide's Latin America expert Edwin Koopman.

Three years ago, Tanja Nijmeijer – a Dutch girl turned FARC guerrilla fighter – lost her journal in the jungle. The Colombian army found and publicised it – and it didn’t look good; she was unhappy and criticised the rebel group, especially the privileges enjoyed by FARC commanders.

But now she – and the FARC – have got their own back with a widely-publicised video interview. This time Tanja was the picture of a committed rebel – the best advertisement the FARC could wish for. It signals her complete rehabilitation within the movement.
The footage published by RNW was shot by Colombian filmmaker Jorge Enrique Botero in August. In the video, Ms Nijmeijer looks like a committed rebel fighter, defending the revolution in perfect Colombian Spanish. She maintains she wasn’t abducted but was won over by the rebel cause. She warns that those trying to rescue her will be met with “AK47s, bombs and mortars” – words typical of the FARC’s tough talk.
The interview was obviously heavily produced, with Ms Nijmeijer posing in an immaculate uniform, a heavy assault rifle slung over her shoulder. Even the back and forth of the comrades in arms behind her seems carefully directed. Her words, nevertheless, sound convincing. Her grim warning is in sharp contrast to the almost moving admissions about her homesickness for the Netherlands, her dad and the Dutch countryside. However, the natural way she lets her sensitivity be seen just makes her protestations of fierce loyalty to the FARC more convincing. Nothing suggests she has been forced to make her statement.
The FARC, and maybe also Ms Nijmeijer herself, have used the interview to take their revenge for the unflattering image of the rebel organisation which surfaced three years ago. Then the Colombian army came across her diary and allowed the media to publish extracts which showed the FARC as a rotten outfit. The FARC severely punished Ms Nijmeijer for what she had committed to paper.
Severe punishment
The rebels couldn’t wish for a better advert than the latest image portrayed in the interview. It’s so perfect as to beg the question: why wasn’t it staged sooner? Over the last few years, the FARC have suffered major defeats at the hands of the Colombian army and could have done with the good publicity.
Still alive?
Three weeks after this footage was shot, the FARC camp where Ms Nijmeijer was based was destroyed in a Colombian army raid. Her commander Mono Jojoy and dozens of rebel fighters were killed in the bombardment, but both FARC and Colombian army sources say she was not among the dead. However, more recent footage of the Dutch rebel fighter is needed to be absolutely sure this is true.

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Tanja Nijmeijer: why I joined the FARC

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Tanja Nijmeier sings for her parents

Jorge Enrique Botero searched for - and found - Tanja Nijmeijer