Paraguay intensifies counter-terrorism fight

Vicente López Rojas was among five suspected EPP terrorists arrested during raids in the department of Concepción and the city of Lambaré this past May. (Marta Escurra for Infosurhoy.com)

Vicente López Rojas was among five suspected EPP terrorists arrested during raids in the department of Concepción and the city of Lambaré this past May. (Marta Escurra for Infosurhoy.com)

By Marta Escurra for Infosurhoy.com—19/07/2011

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – The recent arrests of five suspected members of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) show law enforcement agencies are having success in their fight against the nation’s largest terrorist organization.

“[The results we have achieved are] the consequence of sustained efforts by the National Police and Public Ministry,” said Rafael Filizzola this past May, while he was the minister of the Interior before being replaced by Federico Acuña. “We have stressed that these efforts are fundamental to achieving our goal: to get rid of [the EPP].”

Police Inspector Elisa Ledesma Salas, chief of the National Police’s Public Relations Department, said the five arrests occurred this past May in the department of Concepción, 258 miles north of Asunción, and in the city of Lambaré, nine miles east of the capital.

In Concepción, Prudencio Idilio Alfonso, Arístides Barreto Borja, Andreza Medina de Marín and Vicente López Rojas were taken into custody, while Rocío Cardozo was apprehended in Lambaré. The suspects are accused of helping coordinate logistics for the terrorist organization.

“It was a calm [procedure] for the most part,” Ledesma Salas said of the early morning operations. “None of those apprehended in the area of Concepción resisted arrest. There were no shots fired or any violence.”

The operation was carried out by a tactical operations group called León Pirú (Skinny Lion, in Guaraní), with support from officials of the Counter-kidnapping Department, both entities of the National Police.

But law enforcement agents still are searching for other alleged EPP terrorists. The Paraguayan Parliament approved a US$250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrests of alleged EPP leaders Manuel Cristaldo Mieres and Magna Mezas. A US$125,000 reward also has been issued for information that leads to the apprehension of Alejandro Ramos, another alleged EPP leader.

The EPP is accused of committing 27 kidnappings between 2005 and 2009, including the abduction of the daughter of former President Raúl Cubas, Cecilia Cubas, whom the EPP killed in February 2005. The EPP also kidnapped rancher Fidel Zavala in October 2009 before releasing him in January 2010.

In addition to patrolling the department of Concepción to find EPP operatives, law enforcement agents also are focusing their efforts on two areas known for EPP activity: Yasy Kañy in the department of Canindeyú and in Sidepar 3000 in the department of Caaguazú.

“Sidepar 3000 is known to be a bastion of the EPP, and it constitutes a threat to its residents, some of whom support the armed group out of fear of retaliation,” said Pablo Medina, a former professor who works for Paraguayan daily ABC Color under police protection because he receives threats from the EPP. “No one wants to talk there.”

But Edgar Martínez, chief of the Special Operations Forces (FOPE) Unit in Sidepar 3000, said law enforcement officials have made progress in making the community safer.

“[In Sidepar 3000] there are antagonistic groups [for and against the EPP], and currently these tensions have been receding thanks to the police forces,” Martínez said.

Ledesma Salas said the Paraguayan government has made fighting the EPP one of its top priorities.

“National authorities will continue to fight,” she said. “Investigations continue throughout the country, not just in the north. All intelligence efforts are continuing in accordance with the security plan that’s been in place for several months now.”

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  • fer | 2011-09-22


  • Jones Pierre Zimmermann | 2011-09-21

    All problems we face in today’s society are always linked to capitalism. Poverty and violence are the result of a poor distribution of public funds and lack of stimulus for serious social inclusion programs. Unfortunately, human culture only changes when people join together in order to change the course of their lives.

  • Lalo Martí | 2011-09-20

    As citizens, we, too, have to help......

  • javier lopez | 2011-09-19

    I like this a lot.

  • jessica andrea hentges | 2011-09-18

    hmmm... very good.

  • norma | 2011-09-18

    Let's hope that everything changes in our Paraguay and that there's no longer so much violence and poverty.

  • guillermo | 2011-09-18

    Hello, good day to the people of Paraguay. I'm Paraguayan and I live in the city of Buenos Aires. Anyway, I haven't been back to Paraguay in 7 years, so I don't know anything about politics, but from what they tell me, life is better in Paraguay than what it was before.

  • maximo sanabria | 2011-09-16

    I think this group has been around for a while. Could it be that it only exists virtually? I wonder.....

  • elva beatriz | 2011-09-15

    I like Paraguay a lot and I miss it more and more. From now on I'm with the PLA, exiled for ever and ever in this Argentine Homeland.

  • Andrei | 2011-09-12

    Yesterday when the Iruhna tractors started up a tractor rolled over and split in half

  • Abog. Evelio Salinas | 2011-09-03

    The judicial corruption in Paraguay is unsustainable. We need citizen awareness, to defend our rights. My family and I were victims of the abuse and outrage perpetrated by the journalists at Channel 9, who abused our human rights and left us completely defenseless, under the pretext of "freedom of the press..." The rights of the family, of privacy, of honor and of minors, are also laws within the Constitution. We beg the international community, the honest news media, that has no intention of acting corporately, to look at our case, which will likely go to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, that Paraguay.... according to some authorities, any journalist, can say what they want and have no limitations. Attny Evelio Salinas Tel. 595-981-127-056 email. [email protected]

  • monica escobar | 2011-09-02

    Regards to my country I have lived in Buenos Aires for 23 years I miss my place of origin because I haven't gone for 8 years I have a little girl who is 4 years old

  • cristina sosa | 2011-09-02

    I like it