Paraguayan security forces have killed several key leaders of guerrilla group the ACA, raising the question of why authorities have not been able to deliver a similar blow against their guerrilla brethen, the EPP.
Paraguayan Interior Minister Francisco de Vargas confirmed that Armed Peasant Association (ACA) leader and co-founder Alfredo Jara Larrea, alias "Jose Villaverde," was among four ACA members killed in a shootout with security forces on November 16, reported ABC Color.
Also killed were Mariano Lopez Velazquez, alias "Fredi Romero," and Antonio Ovelar Gonzalez, alias "Beto Gimenez," the ACA's second and third-in-command, respectively.
De Vargas said the raid, which he characterized as "the most successful" in Paraguay's campaign "against terrorist groups," has resulted in the ACA's "decapitation."
The confrontation occurred when Paraguay's anti-guerrilla Joint Task Force (FTC) raided an ACA camp along the border of Concepcion and Amambay departments. Amilcar Vera, FTC spokesperson, said the operation was the result of months of work.
The ACA is a faction of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) that broke off in 2014, although recent evidence suggests the two groups were again working together. According to Vera, the two entities form a single criminal structure: the ACA being the "group in charge of attacks," while the EPP "consists of the more intelligent members who give the orders."
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The raid may very well spell the ACA's final demise. Since their break with the EPP, the group -- previously estimated to have fewer than 15 fighters -- has been easy prey for the FTC, sustaining a series of setbacks. This includes the death of the ACA's original leader, Albino Jara Larrera, alias "Milciades Leon," in January, which led to his brother Alfredo taking over.
Nonetheless, the FTC's hammering of the ACA contrasts with the lack of decisive action against the EPP, who have managed to avoid similar assaults.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the EPP
As Vera implies, this is likely due to the EPP's more sophisticated leadership, as well as stronger support from local communities. Indeed, FTC sources have told InSight Crime initial disagreements between the EPP and ACA arose over the Jara Larrera brothers' indiscipline, particularly their penchant for womanizing and partying.
Moving forward, the ACA's recovery from the decimation of their leadership appears unlikely, and the full reintegration of any remaining ACA fighters into the stronger EPP may be their best option.