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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 240 | Julio 2001



FUAC: Milestones on the Road

With only meager documentary data available on the activities the FUAC engaged in between 1995 and 1997 —the "social banditry" years before its demobilization— this not-so-mini-chronology provides a framework for reconstructing this armed group’s long history.

José Luis Rocha


After taking part in the struggle against Somoza, Edmundo Eugenio Olivas Córdoba, who was born in Quilalí, Nicaragua, became a column leader in El Salvador’s Popular Liberation Forces (FPL). A year later, he is captured by Salvadoran army.


Olivas is freed, and on returning to Nicaragua, rejoins the Sandinista Popular Army, where he fights at the front against the "contras’ and ultimately achieves the rank of captain.

1989, December

Olivas spends several weeks in Managua while waiting to be sent to Panama to fight the invading US army. While the Sandinista government cancels the mission, the time spent in Managua gives him the chance to witness the comfort in which the leaders of the Sandinista Front live, in contradiction of their self-proclaimed ideals.

1991, August

Olivas retires from the army under the terms of Discharge Plan Number Two. The media later reports that he received two trucks, a house in Villa Flor and US$10,000 in compensation. He gradually begins to recruit FUAC members from among the demobilized soldiers of the Sandinista Popular Army.


Throughout this year, rearmed veteran from both sides form groups all over the country, engage in military operations, then negotiate ambiguous and often dissimilar disarmament agreements, with government promises of compensation and assistance in re-entering civilian life. New organizations then form—and sometimes the same ones reform—and repeat the process.

1992, August 30

The Commander 3-80 Northern Front, recently formed by dozens of former Resistance members, carries out its first military action 25 kilometers southeast of Matagalpa. Shouting slogans in support of Arnoldo Alemán, among others, the ex-contras attack a peasant cooperative created under the land reform process. The group was named after the nom de guerre of former National Guard colonel Enrique Bermúdez, General Commander of the Resistance from its creation until February 1990, when the Council of Commanders dismissed him.


Pilar "Tyson" Lira, a sergeant in the Penal System, releases 45 prisoners serving sentences in Matagalpa and escapes with them to the highlands. Months later, they appear in the area where the FUAC is operating.

1995, February 21

General Humberto Ortega, head of the army, retires. The most strongly anti-Sandinista faction of the National Opposition Union (UNO) accuses him of complicity with the groups of rearmed veteran soldiers.

1995, March 10

The army formally ends the military operation begun in October 1994 that has broken up 101 armed bands and captured 3,022 of their members.

1995, April

CORNAP, the organization created to privatize the 351 state companies held by the state during the Sandinista regime, reports that 345 have been sold, including profitable gold mines and tourist complexes, for a total of 195 million córdobas (under US$30 million). Independent analysts estimate that the companies were sold for 14-20 times less than their real value, with some dubbing it "Chamorro’s Piñata." Meanwhile, veterans from both sides are still waiting for the legally titled land that they are supposed to receive as part of their negotiated demobilization agreement.

1995, May 26

Edmundo Olivas charges through the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) that he is being intimidated by police officers who detained and interrogated him. His captors have warned him that they could make him and his family disappear, that more than 40 vehicles are following him and that they have a photo album of his movements. They force him to sign a declaration admitting responsibility for what they have called the Andrés Castro United Front "terrorist movement." Olivas reports many other retired army members are being subjected to the same kinds of threats.

1995, October

CENIDH claims that the 1,538 murders in rural areas between the change of government in 1990 and December 1994 are not merely the result of criminal activity: their roots lay in the government’s failure to honor its promises to demobilized veterans on both sides.

Edmundo Olivas, now in the mountains of the mining triangle, adopts the alias "Camilo Turcios." The FUAC is demanding land registration; road improvement; creation of the Mining Triangle as a separate department; electricity in the towns of Siuna, Bonanza, Rosita and 13 communities of the Siuna municipality; the construction of hospitals in each of those municipal capitals; and the creation of Development Poles and provision of agricultural and cattle improvement credits in the Mining Triangle as a whole.

1996, June

14 political parties request that the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) suspend November’s presidential elections in Matagalpa and Jinotega as long as the rearmed groups continue their activity. 17% of the electorate live in these departments and several groups, believed to have split from the 3-80 Northern Front, are distributing propaganda and carrying out attacks there to benefit the Liberal Alliance.

The first attempt at negotiations between the FUAC and the government fail. The FUAC moves out of its designated security enclaves and refuses to talk with the Peace Commission—made up of army members and government officials. The Mining Triangle’s isolation and abandonment mean that the FUAC is not considered newsworthy and the government feels no urgency to demobilize it.

1997, April

With Arnoldo Alemán now in office, a new Peace Commission is created including Ministry of Government delegate and former National Resistance member Vicente Trujillo, Sisters Sandra Price and María Lourdes Camargo for the Catholic Church, Douglas González of CEPAD and María Isabel Salgado of CEDHECA, a human rights organization on the Atlantic Coast..

1997, April 20

The army ambushes FUAC members at the Labú junction, where they have gone to meet the Peace Commission, leaving 4 dead and another 4 wounded. The mayor and the army refuse to provide transport for the Peace Commission members after announcing in advance that they will take no responsibility for their safety.

1997, May 29

May is a tense month. The army threatens a "clean-up" operation while the government offers the 3-80 Northern Front, towards which it has a clearly more compliant attitude, money for its arms. The Peace Commission travels daily and fruitlessly to the communities seeking contact with the FUAC, using public transport. The agricultural cooperatives located close to the Bosawás Reserve, which constitute the FUAC’s social base, complain of increasing violence from army operations and harassment by the 3-80 Northern Front. The FUAC threatens to eliminate the Front, claiming it has no more than 250 men. The next day, the 3-80 Northern Front signs the protocol for its demobilization.

1997, June 11

The Peace Commission meets with "Ramiro," a member of the FUAC general staff, in Labú. The FUAC frequently carries out operations against criminal bands along the Siuna-Mulukukú highway, claiming that the failure of the army and the police to act effectively forces it to fulfill this role.

1997, June 23

The first contingent of the 3-80 Northern Front demobilizes, 20 days late: 27 of its members operating in the Chontales department turn in their weapons.

1997, June 27

The Peace Commission and FUAC General Staff, including Alejandro Navarro Guevara ("Tito Fuentes"), meet in Labú.

1997, August 3

The FUAC meets again with the Peace Commission, this time including a Defense Ministry representative, in Labú. No agreement is reached. The FUAC wants the government to listen to the population’s demands before discussing demobilization. It wants the talks to be conducted in a participatory manner while the government seeks to negotiate exclusively with the FUAC’s high command. Tensions increase with the arrival of army special forces.

1997, August 10

The army cedes control of the Siuna-Mulukukú highway to the FUAC. "Camilo Turcios" and "Tito Fuentes" meet with Lieutenant Colonel Leonardo Guatemala in Tadazna and arrange for talks with Defense Minister Jaime Cuadra on August 18.

1997, August 28

The FUAC abducts the mayor of Cuá-Bocay for 4 hours to demand that he repair the highway, a demand doubtless shared by all citizens of the municipality.

1997, October 8

The FUAC general staff meet with the defense minister and deputy minister in Managua. Peace zones or enclaves are to be established where the FUAC can move freely and the military is not to enter. The FUAC requests to be shown the demobilization protocol with the 3-80 Northern Front.

1997, October 27

The FUAC presents a list of its demands to the defense minister, who suspends the talks because of the FUAC’s refusal to present a timetable for disarmament. The FUAC requests that the demobilized fighters receive identity cards when turning in their arms, a normal requirement in all demobilization processes.

1997, November 7

Talks resume between the FUAC and the government. President Alemán announces with great fanfare that these negotiations will bring the cycle of violence in the north of Nicaragua to a definitive end. According to the army, the activities of the rearmed groups have caused 1,269 dead and wounded between 1991 and 1996.

1997, December 4

The government and the FUAC sign an agreement to demobilize 440 FUAC members, who would be granted amnesty, land and long-term development projects for the area. The accord includes a provision that a group of men will remain armed to guarantee fulfillment. In Jinotega, 120 men turn in their arms in the presence of the defense minister.

1997, December 12

The other FUAC members refuse to lay down their arms before receiving land.

1997, December 21

A contingent of 210 FUAC men demobilizes in Labú. Remaining FUAC members interpret an unexpected army troop movement as a sign of attack, open fire and take the Peace Commission members hostage for three days. The army had been using a contingent of special troops, inexplicably carrying arms equipped with silencers, to distribute the identity cards.

1997, December 25

"Camilo Turcios," "Tito Fuentes" and José Francisco "Damián" Moncada Calderón, the FUAC’s three top leaders, demobilize and establish the Andrés Castro Foundation. José Luis Marenco remains with an armed group, estimated at 94 members, to guarantee fulfillment of the agreements.

1999, September 30

Marenco’s group abducts Nicaraguan soldier Orlando Rocha Sánchez and Canadian civilian Manley Guarducci, an engineer with the Hunt Exploration and Mining Company (HEMCO), operating in Bonanza under a concession obtained during the Chamorro government. The group claims it only intended to steal explosives from the mine but when surprised by the army it took the two hostages to avoid attack.

1999, November 3

The hostages are freed following negotiations mediated by "Camilo Turcios" and CENIDH. According to by HEMCO, no money was exchanged for their release.

2000, January 2

"Tito Fuentes," involved full time in implementing development projects funded by the UN Development Program, is killed by 12 armed men in an ambush in front of the Siuna cemetery. CENIDH accuses two former Resistance members (Justiniano "Veloz" Treminio and Adolfo "Chaparro" Sánchez) and two former FUAC members (Guadalupe Montenegro and Cristóbal Martínez) of directly carrying out the murder, and accuses the army of participating in it. Although CENIDH’s charge against the army appears in its annual report, the army has never responded in any way.

2000, January 21

An attempt is made to kill Guadalupe Montenegro, who is hospitalized then given protection and lodging in the Siuna police station for two months. Montenegro accuses "Camilo Turcios" and Osmán Ulises "Sargento" López of involvement in the attack. Montenegro had appropriated a 126-hectare property in Waspado granted to the FUAC to create a 60-member cooperative. Humberto Ruíz Perez, a FUAC member who demobilized in 1997, claims the property in representation of a cooperative group from El Hormiguero.

2000, March 13

"Damián" Moncada and "Sargento" López visit the OAS offices in Managua to declare that they fear for their lives. CENIDH fruitlessly requests police protection for "Damián."

2000, March 15

"Camilo Turcios" is ambushed and murdered at the Boaco highway junction. A death threat against "Sargento" López signed by "Veloz" Treminio is found in one of Turcios’ pockets. Turcios’ wife, Doribel Cáceres, who survived the ambush, identifies the attacker as Franklin Teodoro Hernández Granados, known as "Pufe" for having belonged to the Sandinista army’s Special Forces Small Units (PUFEs) in the eighties. Hernández Granados, also a demobilized FUAC member, had received commando training in Cuba before joining the PUFE.

2000, March 30

CENIDH turns in a report on the deaths of "Tito Fuentes" and "Camilo Turcios" to Army Brigade General Roberto Calderón and General Commissioner Eva Sacasa. The report should have led to investigations of the possible participation of two army majors and one lieutenant, a police captain, and Vicente Trujillo, the RAAN’s Ministry of Government delegate, but Judge Cristino Aguilar obstructs the process in the Siuna courts. General Javier Carrión, head of the Nicaraguan Army, claims he has been receiving death threats following Turcios’ murder. The Norwegian government freezes aid payments to pressure the government to make progress in improving governance.

2000, May 5

"Sargento" López is held in Puerto Cabezas jail.

2000, May 15

"Damián" Moncada is elected the new president of the Andrés Castro Foundation to replace "Camilo Turcios."

2000, May 16

The group led by Pilar "Tyson" Lira murders and decapitates a suspected police informant, José Alfredo Lumbí, who has claimed as his own the land assigned to the cooperative of demobilized FUAC members headed by 60-year-old Humberto Ruíz Peréz.

2000, May 18

"Sargento" López is released from jail. At 2 p.m., an armed group massacres Guadalupe Montenegro’s family and sets fire to his house in the community of Waspado. Seven people die, including Montenegro’s wife, mother-in-law, one of his sons and a brother-in-law. The attackers include 10 men who allegedly identified themselves as part of the "Carlos Ulloa Regional Command," led in this operation by Pilar "Tyson" Lira’s deputy, Lucas "Jamaica" Martínez. The police insinuate that "Sargento" was involved in the massacre.

2000, June 2

Guadalupe Montenegro accuses "Tyson" of participating in the massacre, and specifically of having decapitated his wife. He also accuses Humberto Ruíz Perez, president of one of the cooperatives in El Hormiguero. Ruíz visits CENIDH to charge that these accusations are being made to prepare the way for attempts on his life. According to the police, Ruíz takes refuge in the mountains with a group of 15 men. A contingent of 350 soldiers is sent to the Mining Triangle to reinforce military operations indiscriminately against both criminal gangs and FUAC remnants.

2000, June 3

Lucas "Jamaica" Martínez is killed in a skirmish with the army.

2000, June 4

General Javier Carrión rejects a National Assembly Human Rights Commission proposal that the rearmed groups in the Mining Triangle be granted an amnesty. The military operation continues.

2000, June 5

Minister of Government René Herrera accuses CENIDH director Vilma Núñez de Escorcia of maintaining relations with José Luis Marenco, who was responsible for the 1999 hostage incident, and of having obstructed the release of the Canadian engineer Manley Guarducci. At the same time, Guadalupe Montenegro, now under police protection, accuses Núñez of having received payment for Guarducci’s release. Both the Canadian Consulate and HEMCO defend the CENIDH director, emphasizing her important role as an intermediary in Guarducci’s release, and state that no ransom payment whatever was made.

2000, July 1

One of the detainees implicated in the massacre of the Montenegro family accuses two of Humberto Ruíz Perez’s children of having also participated. The police order that "Damián" be detained as well.


In the Casa Vieja community, 20 kilometers from Siuna, José Franciso "Damián" is killed when the radio that this last original top demobilized FUAC leader is using to try to communicate with José Luis Marenco explodes. Three others with him at the time do not die.


The FUAC accuses the Defense Information Department (DID), a dependency of the National Army, of having assassinated "Damián." The communiqué is signed by José Luis Marenco Pérez, among others.


After a search of several days, police find "Damián’s" body.


Following accusations by CENIDH to the Supreme Court of Justice, Cristino Aguilar, Siuna’s only judge, is dismissed. His nickname is "Five thousand pesos" for the amount he always demanded to settle court cases in a client’s favor. Aguilar had obstructed the investigation into the death of "Tito Fuentes."

2001, January

CENIDH releases its new annual report, in which it documents the circumstances, procedures used and people implicated in what it calls "three foretold deaths"—those of "Tito Fuentes," "Camilo Turcios" and "Damián," the three leaders of the FUAC General Staff. The report argues that their deaths were foretold because all three had gone to CENIDH on numerous occasions in the months before they were killed to denounce, with evidence, the persecution, detention and death threats they had repeatedly received from members of the army’s DID and Military Intelligence Department. They had made their first charge on November 23, 1998, a year after their demobilization and a little over a month before "Tito Fuentes" was killed. A former army major, requesting anonymity, had confirmed at the time that the plan to liquidate the FUAC’s top leaders was already in place. All sources CENIDH contacted in its investigation agreed that army and police members were involved in the plan and made use of Resistance veterans "Veloz" Treminio and "Chaparro" Hernández Sánchez, former FUAC member Guadalupe Montenegro, and Cristóbal Martínez, the head of a paramilitary group. They also fingered former Ministry of Government delegate Vicente Trujillo, now head of the Regional Council in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region. CENIDH’s annual report details multiple indices of police negligence in investigating the three crimes and the army’s involvement—among other evidence, noting the obviously sophisticated methods and the fact that those who executed the crimes had both the professional military preparation and the technical resources to carry out their mission. Despite all this, neither the army nor the police respond or make any further move in their respective investigations to clear their own name.

2001, April

With the massacre of five members of a Liberal family in Siuna, President Arnoldo Alemán escalates his electoral rhetoric against the FSLN by linking not only that crime but all other armed actions in Siuna as well to the FSLN’s electoral strategy. Like the army, the FSLN at first does not respond. The government orders a new military operation in the Mining Triangle. These military measures and the rhetoric aggravate the insecurity in Siuna.

2001, May and June

President Alemán persists with his campaign to whip up fear against the FSLN by linking it to the actions of armed groups in Siuna. The FSLN denies it.

2001, July 2

President Alemán declares that he has received telephone calls from FUAC members throughout the morning "threatening to assassinate me and bring chaos to the country." In less than 24 hours the police discover that a mentally disturbed young man has made the calls.

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The Brief, Necessary and Stormy History of the FUAC

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FUAC: Milestones on the Road

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