Colombia’s FARC dissident who “died” but now wants Total Peace

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Iván Mordisco (right) during the convention in Llanos de Yarí. Screenshot from CaracolTV.

Nestor Gregorio Vera was not a name known to many Colombians until his alias, “Iván Mordisco,” began to make headlines as a FARC dissident commander fighting a violent turf war against another FARC dissident, alias “Gentil Duarte.”

Vera served as commander of the First Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) until 2016, when he broke away from the peace process with the Colombian Government, to resume his criminal activities in the departments of Guaviare, Vaupés, Meta and Vichada. Vera has orchestrated attacks against civilian populations, dating back to his entry within FARC, and his terrorist profile from the Attorney General – Fiscalía General de la Nación – includes an arrest warrant for homicide, extorsion, kidnapping and child recruitment.

In July 2011, almost five-years after FARC signed the Final Accord with government of President Juan Manuel Santos, news reports claimed that the Colombian Army had ambushed a camp near the Venezuelan border, killing at least 10 of “Iván Mordisco’s” combatants, including Mordisco himself. Even though the government of President Iván Duque had offered a cash reward then of COP$3,000 million (US$1 million) for information leading to the capture of the rouge dissident, according to former Minister of Defense Diego Molano, the reward was never released given doubts regarding the veracity of the intelligence information.

With news that “Iván Mordisco” had been killed just a month after “Gentil Duarte” had also been assassinated inside Venezuelan territory by a “rival illegal armed group,” Colombians began to believe that the nation’s security forces were winning the war against FARC dissidents. But more than a year after his alleged death, a video was released by Mordisco’s Estado Mayor Central in which the allegedly slain commander reaffirmed that his organization maintains the political objectives of FARC, and backs the “Total Peace” policy of the newly-elected leftist president Gustavo Petro.

On Sunday, however, Colombians got to see “Iván Mordisco” up close when he presided over a “convention” in the remote location of Llanos del Yarí, Caquetá, surrounded by some 7,000 supporters, including members of the indigenous guard who recently kidnapped 78 members of the National Police.

The images of the FARC dissident leader arriving at the convention in an SUV, and accompanied by combatants in FARC fatigues, recalls the images of the guerrilla during the start of peace talks with former President Andrés Pastrana; and show of similar military force when FARC, under command of their then maximum leader Manuel Marulanda Vélez, alias “Tiro Fijo”, occupied a large swath of territory known as the Zona de Distensión – Demilitarized Zone.

The footage of “Mordisco” during a convention in which he called on the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla to stop the attacks against his organization occurred on the same day President Petro left Colombia to the United States ahead of his first meeting as head of state with President Joe Biden. President Biden will host Petro at the Oval Office on Thursday, and meeting in which the Colombian leader will have a first-hand opportunity to explain to his U.S counterpart his “Total Peace” policy.

The peace talks with “Mordisco’s” drugs cartel are scheduled to start May 26 in an unknown location. The dissident leader has proposed Norway act as a guarantor nation.