The government of Colombia is running an interesting information campaign:
Abandoned in a rebel camp deep in Colombia's jungle, the diary details a remarkable journey from European privilege to guerrilla hardship, and the thin line between idealism and despair.
"I'm tired, tired of FARC, tired of the people, tired of communal life. Tired of never having anything for myself. It would be worth it if we knew why we were fighting. But the truth is I don't believe in this any more." So wrote Tanja Nijmeijer, a 29-year-old, middle-class Dutch woman who is among a handful of Europeans who have joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), South America's biggest, bloodiest and possibly last Marxist insurgent group.
Discovered by Colombian troops in a raid on a hastily abandoned camp in July, excerpts have been leaked to the media to try to discredit the rebels as sexist, brutal, hypocritical and far removed from a Che Guevara-type mystique.
Nijmeijer, whose nom-de-guerre is "Eillen", escaped with her comrades into the jungle and is still with FARC but has possibly been punished for gifting a propaganda boon to a state the group has been fighting for decades.
With US funding, President Álvaro Uribe's forces have pushed the rebels out of cities and into remote redoubts.
From the entries, written in Dutch, English and Spanish, Nijmeijer emerges as a passionate left-winger who is occasionally home-sick and has had second thoughts since joining the guerrillas in 2002.
"I don't know where this project is going. How will it be when we come to power? The girlfriends of the commanders in Ferrari Testa Rossas, with breast implants, eating caviar? It seems like it," said one entry last April.
Other entries, however, show a woman still committed to violent means and impatient for action. "Bored and hungry. We can't find the enemy, and so I have to study FARC documents for the millionth time," she grumbled in June. Another entry said: "Damn! I've been waiting three days for a helicopter to shoot it down, but it hasn't flown over the area."
The government has gleefully highlighted Nijmeijer's complaints about commanders holding private parties and lording it over the rank and file. She also wrote of romances between guerrillas which left some with sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.
"I want to leave here, at least this unit," she wrote last November. "But for the time being, you know that you're more or less a prisoner. What can you do?"
She was permitted occasional emails and a visit by her mother in 2005. "Tanja's mind was not to be changed," the family said in a brief statement. In a recent interview with Dutch television a rebel spokesman, Raul Reyes, rejected claims that Nijmeijer was a prisoner and said she was free to go on holiday with her family.