HomeNewsBrief'Paraguay's Rebel Army Burn Ranch, Launch Facebook Campaign'
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'Paraguay's Rebel Army Burn Ranch, Launch Facebook Campaign'

EPP / 1 OCT 2012 BY HANNAH STONE EN

A series of actions by rebels of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) suggest that the group are stepping up their political propaganda, as well as their armed attacks.

On the night of September 30, alleged members of the EPP attacked a ranch in Hugua Nandu, in the northerly province of Concepcion. Some 15 people dressed in camouflage clothes arrived at the property at 9 p.m. on Sunday. They forced a group of workers to leave, stole several items, including two shotguns, and then burned the place down at about 3 a.m. Before they left they told the workers that they would kill or kidnap the boss of the ranch if he continued working in the area, ABC reported.

Just days before a pair of videos were posted online, showing members of the EPP talking about their views on the armed struggle. One shows guerrilla Osvaldo Villalba and his sister Liliana Villalba, who are described by a narrator not seen on camera as "EPP commander Javier Gonzalez," and “EPP guerrilla Anahi” (see video, below). The other shows Manuel Cristaldo Mieres, described as "commander Santiago Vazquez," according to Ultima Hora.

The fighters are pictured in a forest setting, wearing camouflage clothing, holding heavy weapons, and seated in front of an EPP flag. In the Vazquez video, the narrator says that they are in the northern mountains, and that the date is August 2012.

The videos were posted by a blogger called Luis Aguero Wagner, who said that a contact had passed them to him via Facebook.

Meanwhile, Paraguayan media reported on October 1 that Facebook accounts had appeared in the names of Anahi Rodriguez and Santiago Mazacote, both members of the EPP. "Those who believe the story of the phantom EPP have received a strong proof against the biased anti-EPP propaganda," read a message on on the Anahi account, according to ABC.

InSight Crime Analysis

The guerrillas’ speeches are heavy on political rhetoric. Osvaldo Villalba describes the group as a “Marxist-Leninist organization,” while Liliana says that they will use their weapons against "the rich, oligarchs, ranchers, dishonest politicians, government informants, and corrupt officials."

“Let’s burn tractors, let’s burn the plantations, the corn fields, and in their place build settlements, give them to the poor, land for them to work and give food to their families,” says Mieres.

The release of the videos comes just weeks after the group was accused of killing an alleged informant, decapitating her body with explosives.

If nothing else, the group's actions over the last few days and weeks will make it harder for those who claim that the EPP do not exist, or that they are common criminals without political aims. Bishop Mario Melanio Medina said in 2010 that the EPP was not a rebel group but a cover used by criminals linked to narco-traffickers and “narco-ranchers.”

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