On July 27, 1983, Comandante Reyes Mata gave Lieutenant “Justo Martinez” a large sum of Honduran lempiras “to purchase mules, supplies, and, especially, food”. Lt. Martinez and several other guerrillas left the base camp at Congolon for the closest town, Nueva Palestina, a three to four-day hike through the jungle on foot. It was a two-fold mission. Martinez was to establish the FAP’s presence in the town, linking it with Congolon. A similar link would then be made with Tegucigalpa, the country’s capitol city. Once accomplished the FAP’s “Internal Front” would become a reality. “We have vested in it our hope for survival,” wrote Reyes Mata in his war diary.
Lieutenant Martinez was given three days to reach Nueva Palestina, two days to accomplish their tasks, and three days to return to base camp. On July 30th, Combatant “Marvin” deserted the base camp. Leaving his weapons and equipment the guerrilla took only his watch and blanket with him as he headed back toward the Patuca River. A three-man team sent to take him into custody could not catch the fleeing Honduran. “Marvin” was the first of what would become a relentless tide of desertions over the next six weeks.
On the morning of August 2nd, “Miguel”, “Mairena”, and “Renecito” had slipped away taking their weapons and equipment. This to discourage any pursuit by the FAP. Unknown to Reyes Mata was that two deserters had reached the town of Catacamas and turned themselves in to the FUSEP, or National Police. They shared all they knew with the police, who in turn notified the Honduran Army. General Gustavo Alvarez, head of the Armed Forces, was furious and with good reason.
On July 19th, in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega had proposed a six-point peace plan with Honduras tied to the Contra war. Now, General Alvarez was learning that on this very same date with the support and blessings of the Cubans and Sandinistas, a heavily armed and well-trained Marxist column had crossed the Coco River. Further, it was led by Dr. Jose Reyes Mata and with two Nicaraguan combat advisers with him. It was a betrayal the general would not abide.