There are increasing signs that Paraguay’s security forces are in upheaval, enabling a small guerrilla group to carry out high-profile kidnappings and attacks on infrastructure.
On August 31, the then-spokesperson of Paraguay’s Joint Task Force (FTC), Alfredo Jonas Ramirez Acosta, told local media that elements within the FTC were passing security information to the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP).
“We can’t have the element of surprise if we’re also giving warning to [the EPP],” Ramirez said of the FTC, a joint police and military unit tasked with combating guerrillas.
Later that same day, Ramirez was removed from his post, reported Ultima Hora. In follow-up comments to the press, Ramirez reaffirmed his initial claims of corruption within the security forces but rejected reports that his statements alluded to Paraguay’s police.
The upheaval at the FTC comes shortly after an EPP bombing destroyed an electricity pylon, leaving roughly 750,000 Paraguayans without electricity.
“This won’t be the last tower to fall,” Ramirez said, while still serving as the active spokesperson of the FTC. Ramirez added that the FTC lacks the resources and personnel to anticipate guerrilla attacks, according to ABC Color.
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While Ramirez’s claims have yet to be verified, they speak to ongoing issues of corruption within Paraguay’s security forces.
In May, National Police Commander Francisco Alvarenga and other officers were charged in connection to a fuel embezzlement scandal. Police are also suspected of being responsible for the disappearance of 252 kilos of confiscated cocaine and of running a regional marijuana trafficking network. Earlier this year, a military captain was charged with heading a drug trafficking ring.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Paraguay
The EPP seem to be taking full advantage of this corruption and disarray. Despite their small size, the EPP continue to create havoc for Paraguayan security officials. The guerrilla group has carried out a number of high-profile kidnappings in recent years, and have held a Mennonite settler hostage for the past three weeks.
Although authorities have often characterized the EPP as being motivated purely by criminal profits, the recent electricity pylon bombing suggests otherwise. The attack bears resemblance to those carried out by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as part of their revolutionary war against the state in Colombia. InSight Crime has previously collected evidence that the FARC have sent representatives to Paraguay in order to train EPP guerrillas.
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