A new guerrilla group has popped up in Paraguay in the past couple of years, and it’s now starting to make news in the worldwide media after ambushing and killing 4 people in the Concepcion Region of the Northeast on April 20, 2010. Reports are confused. First reports said that 1 cop and three workers were killed, but later reports say that 4 cops were killed in an ambush.
The group has deep roots in the landless peasants in the severely impoverished northeast, where there are frequent conflicts between landless peasants and large landowners, with the landowners regularly hiring death squads to kill peasants.
The same thing goes on in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia (most notoriously) and Honduras. Other death squads continue to operate in Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru. In Ecuador, they exist, but mostly just issue threats. As you can see, rightwing death squads that target the Left are a fixture of Latin American society.
In Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras and Bolivia, the Left is more or less unarmed. In Peru and Colombia, the Left is armed and fights back. There are also very small guerrilla movements in Mexico. There is an armed Left in Ecuador, but they don’t seem to do much. I assume that if they repression continues as it is in Honduras, the Left is going to take up arms again. As it is, there is about one killing a day occurring since the US-sponsored coup.
Usually the killing continues for a while until the Left has enough, gets tired of waiting around for the government to come out and kill you, and decides to take up arms so the next time the state comes out to kill you, you can at least fight back. This is generally how what the US calls “Leftist terrorist groups” get their start – in self-defense.
In late December 2008, the EPP raided a military post in Concepcion Province, stole some weapons and set the post on fire.
Around 10 people were arrested early this year in Concepcion on charges of kidnapping a wealthy rancher and holding him for 94 days until he was released on $550,000 ransom.
The area of Concepcion where the guerrillas are operating is mostly thick jungle on the border with Brazil. The group wears camouflage uniforms, carries modern weapons and includes female fighters. The group is said to have about 60 members, meaning they are very small. The Paraguayan government says that they were trained by the Colombian FARC, which I find plausible.
This appears to be the same group that broke off from the leftwing Free Motherland Party (PPL). They were involved in the kidnapping and death of Ceclia Cubas, the daughter of a the daughter of a former Paraguayan president (1998/1999).
The group actually seems to have emerged in the past couple of years, though it’s been around for about 18 years. The group emerged in 1992 when some trainee priests were thrown out of the seminary for their radical views. They formed a group called the Movimiento Monseñor Romero, probably named after the Salvadoran bishop murdered with the help of the US in El Salvador in 1980.
The group’s aim was to build a with the aim of plotting a socialist revolution. The group’s heroes are Che Guevara, Regis Debray (founder of the foco guerrilla model) and Paraguayan national hero Mariscal Francisco Solano Lopez.
I would assume, since it was founded by priests, that Camilo Torres of 1965 Colombia, the original “priest with a machine gun” would also be a model. Torres was founder of the Colombian rebel group the ELN (National Liberation Army). The ELN is still very much alive despite what the media tells you, though they’ve been hit hard by President Uribe’s offensive. Their base in the far east by the Venezuelan border. Idiotically, the FARC attacks them for unknown reasons.
The Leftist President or Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, himself a former radical bishop, has declared a state of emergency in Concepcion, San Pedro and three other northern provinces after the latest attack and has sworn to wipe them out. We will see what happens next.