skip to main content

Paraguayan military and police forces struggle with EPP insurgents

On 29 July three people were killed when the Paraguayan People's Army (Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo: EPP) rebel movement launched an attack on a military convoy travelling in Paraguay's San Pedro department. While this insurgent group has a small number of fighters, possibly between 50 and 100, Asunción's military and police forces have not been able to devise and execute a strategy to defeat the group, even after eight years working together as part of a joint task force (Fuerza de Tarea Conjunta: FTC).

The current EPP movement dates back to 1990s but was officially formed in 2008. Members claim to have a Marxist-Leninist ideology combined with a nationalistic sentiment that praises Paraguayan historical figures. Nevertheless, it is difficult to estimate how much do EPP guerrillas truly believe the group's political ideology. In 2013 then-President Horacio Cartes labeled the EPP as criminals, not an ideologically motivated movement.

The EPP predominantly operates in northeastern Paraguay and because of its limited number of fighters often relies on ambush tactics and uses improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as its primary means of attack. For example, the military troops ambushed in July were traveling aboard a Mercedes Benz military truck as part of a convoy when an IED exploded and guerrillas hiding nearby fired upon the soldiers.

Despite attempting to combat the movement and such attacks, the FTC has not made significant headway. One of the primary problems revolves around a lack of credible human intelligence to locate the EPP camps, Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American affairs at the US Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, told Janes during a 4 August interview. Additionally, Ellis noted that there needs to be “better intelligence integration” between the intelligence agencies.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...