In a time when Colombia appears close to the end of the decades-long conflict between its government and leftist guerrillas, Colombian director José Luis Rugeles has made Alias Maria, a drama that shows the role of child soldiers and their exploitation in that civil war. The film is the story of Maria (Karen Torres), a 13-year old child guerrilla soldier. Deep in the jungle Maria witnesses a fellow rebel fighter giving birth, a privilege reserved for just a few under given conditions. All women fighters however are expected to come forward and declare the pregnancy for an early termination, a clear order to be rigorously obeyed. Maria herself is hiding her pregnancy, concealing the fact the father to be is her commanding officer (played by Carlos Clavijo), but it’s just a matter of time before everyone notices her condition. Ironically, her next mission is to help transport the commander’s other newborn to a town safely away from the conflict, a difficult journey that will risk her own pregnancy being revealed.
The film underlines the unethical status of child-soldiers forced to fight and live in sometimes sub-human conditions, while particularly endeavoring to portray that life from a female point of view. In that respect, the film is an act of admiration for all women who are resilient in the face of extreme circumstances. Especially when those women are just girls thrown into the terrifying and almost incomprehensibly dangerous vortex of armed conflict and also dealing with extremely premature motherhood because.
The script does not reveal some aspects of the main characters in the story, choosing instead to emphasize the travails of the girl-soldier as she faces bringing her baby into the world against all odds.
Alias Maria is a cautionary film in the face of the reality in which the average age of rebel recruits in the Colombian war has been estimated at only 13 years, an alarming revelation and one of the most upsetting about a long war which everyone seems to be tired of and for which beyond the movie, the reality of a peace agreement is anxiously awaited in this country.