More than 60 videos filmed by Paraguay’s EPP guerrillas have been leaked to the media, offering an unprecedented insight into the clandestine operations of one of Latin America’s newest insurgent groups.
The videos were recovered from a camera belonging to Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) leader Bernardo Bernal Maiz, who was killed in a firefight with the military in April, ABC Color reported. They were reportedly leaked to the media from those investigating the kidnapping of 16-year-old Arlan Fick Bremm, who has now been held captive for 70 days.
According to Ultima Hora, the videos show the EPP conducting surveillance operations of ranches in the lead up to kidnapping operations, including that of Fick Bremm’s family.
The footage also shows the EPP’s training excercises and the group’s main encampment, depicting a total of 18 soldiers — including seven women and various underage members — according to Ultima Hora.
Authorities have used the footage to identify a number of previously unknown EPP leaders and members, Ultima Hora reported.
Along with the group’s operations, the videos also revealed footage from the 2009 kidnapping of farmer Fidel Zavala and his eventual $550,000 ransom payment — airdropped into the jungle by a light plane (see below and bottom).
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The videos offer an unusual opportunity to see the activities of a guerrilla group that was only formally constituted in 2008 and about which little is known.
As the footage demonstrates, the EPP have followed the route taken by other insurgent organizations elsewhere in their early years — most notably the Revoultionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — by funding themselves through kidnapping.
There have been indications the EPP could continue to evolve along similar lines as their Colombian counterparts, by branching out into the drug trade. In 2013, Paraguayan authorities claimed to have uncovered ties between the EPP and the region’s drug traffickers, who they said supplied the rebels with arms in exchange for protection.
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Although thought to have only between 20 and 100 members, the EPP have become the security priority of President Horacio Cartes. However, security forces have so far had mixed results and the guerrilla group appears to be maintaining business as usual.