She Was Colombia’s Most-Feared Female Revolutionary. Can She Help It Find Peace?


#TIA – There are times when what was so awful the first time around just grows more awful in the sequel. So it is with this Colombian revolutionary

“Her nom de guerre was Karina, but her given name—the name she goes by now—is Elda Neyis Mosquera. She was the youngest of five children born in northwestern Colombia to Jose Leopoldino Mosquera, a black man, and Flor Ester García, a white woman. Neither ever learned how to read. From the time she was five or six, she says, she woke at four o’clock each morning to sell arepas—corn tortillas—on the streets before school started. She also worked during lunchtime and before dinner, and paid for every notebook and pencil herself. “I dreamed of becoming a nurse or a baby-clothes manufacturer,” she says, but she was not allowed to go beyond the fifth grade. “My father said that, for being a mother and a housewife, one did not need to study.”

The Communists were the only political party active in Currulao, the remote village where Elda’s family lived, and at age 12 she joined the Communist Youth. A few years later, during a brief cease-fire with the government, Karina recalls, “the guerrillas showed themselves and would invite us to festivals and balls.” She was amazed by the abundance of food. “We were able to eat whatever we wanted.””

Read more at Vanity Fair