A young Dutch woman has joined the Farc Marxist rebels in the jungles of Colombia, fighting with them, having romantic entanglements with their commanders and sharing their lives of adventure and ever-present danger.
That, at least, is the story being told by the Colombian army, which claims to have stumbled upon the young woman's diary during a raid on a Farc unit last month. The diary talks about the romance of the jungle guerrilla lifestyle but also rails against the sexism and stupidity of the Farc leadership, complains about the punishments handed out to footsoldiers like her, and fantasises about buying coffee and a bag of chips at a Dutch railway station. The diary, extracts of which were published in the leading Colombian newspaper El Tiempo over the weekend, has been the talk of Bogota, the Colombian capital, and the Dutch press – not least because an accompanying photo released by the army shows a beautiful dark-haired woman with perfect teeth looking fresh and attractive in her olive drab fatigues.
Some speculate that the woman, identified in the diary by the nom de guerre Eillen but believed to be a 23-year-old Spanish language student from Groeningen called Tanja Nijmeijer, is being held against her will and may face punishment, possibly death, now her inner thoughts have been made public.
Others have questioned whether the diary is completely genuine, suggesting it might be propaganda for the army. Others still argue it is, in fact, broadly supportive of Farc and its jungle guerrilla movement.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry, for its part, has yet to confirm Eillen's identity.
The Colombian army says it surprised a Farc unit along the Guayabero river, deep in the jungle, on 18 July. Several women were bathing in the river and fled naked, or nearly naked, as the troops approached. The army said it killed three rebels in an ensuing shoot-out and seized several valuable objects the Farc unit left behind, including a computer belonging to the commander, Carlos Antonio Lozada, and Eillen's diary, handwritten on lined paper.
The text of the diary, as reported by El Tiempo, demonstrates considerable mood swings, from days when the young woman says she is like "a fish in water" living in the jungle and Farc is her "life, my family", to others when she says she is sick of all of it.
The greatest passion appears to be given over to her frustrations. "I'm tired, tired of Farc, tired of these people, tired of communal living," an entry for November 2006 reads. "What kind of organisation is this where some people get cigarettes and sweets and the rest of us just get shouted at?"
She describes sexual relations between the male and female guerrillas as being casual, vaguely demeaning to the women and completely without protection. She writes at one point that at least two of her comrades have Aids, perhaps more.
Another entry, addressed to a girlfriend, reads: "I don't know... where this project is going. How will things be once they attain power? All the commanders; wives driving Ferraris, with breast implants, eating caviar? That's the way it seems...
"People here are terribly stupid sometimes. They're incapable of being objective, keeping secrets and engaging in self-criticism...
"I'd like to live in Holland again for a bit. So I'm not patronised by know-it-alls and sexists for once." The Dutch press has reported that Eillen travelled to Colombia as a student and then worked as a translator for the group.