An alleged group of re-armed contras calling themselves the “Democratic Forces Comandante 3-80” released a communiqué last week announcing it has restructured its leadership and is now under the command of a rebel named “Comandante Zapoyol.”
“I have decided to accept the role as head commander of the Democratic Forces Comandante 3-80 to fight for democracy, liberty, justice and respect for our constitution and the laws of our country,” said the mysterious self-proclaimed rebel leader in a communiqué released “from the mountains of Nicaragua” on Oct. 8.
The communiqué, sent to The Nicaragua Dispatch by Enrique Castillo, the contras’ political leader in Miami, accuses President Daniel Ortega of violating the constitution and “mocking the laws and the people of Nicaragua.” The communiqué also accuses the Sandinista Councils of Citizen Power (CPCs) of “persecuting our families.”
Zapoyol is the fourth leader to assume control of the FDC 3-80 since the group allegedly returned to the mountains in 2010. Zapoyol, however, was not part of the original FDC 3-80 leadership structure announced last November. In fact, he was not even mentioned in the group’s list of 21 commanders and troop leaders, making his sudden rise to top rank all the more confusing.
The first rearmed contra leader, “Comandante Yahob,” a CIA-trained covert operations commando who was killed by an unidentified sniper last year. Earlier this year, Yahob’s self-proclaimed successor, a former guerrilla known as “Pablo Negro,” was found murdered in a ditch in Honduras.
The Nicaraguan Army denied responsibility in both cases and says the victims were “common delinquents” who were killed by other criminals.
The third leader was a commander named “Sheriff” (also spelled “Cherik”), whose fate is unclear. Zapoyol does not mention Sheriff or any other contra leaders in his communiqué.
The existence of the alleged re-armed contras has never been proven. Although various former contra leaders insist the group is real, several of the FDC-3-80’s announced actions—the launch of a urban rebel unit and the takeover of an embassy—have not happened.
Several sources have concluded that the rumors of contra activity are based more on fantasy or desperation than reality. Nicaraguan authorities have repeatedly denied the existence of rearmed rebel groups operating in Nicaragua.