The new president of Paraguay has charged the armed forces with destroying EPP guerrillas once and for all, but it remains to be seen whether he will have more success in taking on the rebels than his predecessor.
On October 24, Paraguayan President Federico Franco met with the military high command in order to discuss counterinsurgency strategy against the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). Paraguay's ABC Digital reported that Franco referred to the small guerrilla group as a "scourge," and called on the armed forces to orchestrate a "D Day" operation to crack down on the rebels.
After the meeting, however, Army General Miguel Christ played down the president's message, saying that Franco gave no specific orders aside from a request that the armed forces "be ready and able" to fight the guerrillas.
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Franco took office in June after the controversial ouster of former President Fernando Lugo, whose repeated security campaigns against the EPP in the northern provinces of Concepcion and San Pedro saw little progress.
The guerrillas, meanwhile, seem to have stepped up their activities, with 40 percent of all of their attacks and kidnappings since 2005 occurring last year alone. There is also evidence to suggest that the EPP has begun to broaden its tactics, carrying out more targeted assassinations and attacks on infrastructure.
If Franco is truly interested in prioritizing the EPP, simply mentioning the issue with military officials is not enough. The group's ability to lie low during concerted military action in their area of influence suggests that they have at least a modest support network. In order to defeat the rebels once and for all, the Paraguayan government may need to improve its ability to gather intelligence and ensure the cooperation of local communities. Whether Paraguay's new president is up to the task, however, remains to be seen.