In Paraguay, the elusive and violent EPP guerrillas defy the authorities

On September 13, in Asuncion, demonstration to demand the release of the former Paraguayan vice-president, Oscar Denis, kidnapped by the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP).

It has now been three weeks since we know anything about Oscar Denis. The former Paraguayan vice-president (in office between 2012 and 2013) was kidnapped on September 9 near his ranch in the department of Concepción, in the north of the country. Its captors: the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a Marxist-Leninist-inspired guerrilla opposing the government. Officially born in 2008, its members have been operating in the country since the 1990s.

In a statement, the armed group demanded that Oscar Denis’ family distribute the equivalent of $ 2 million (1.7 billion euros) in food to indigenous communities in Concepción, one of the poorest departments. from the country. If this first request was accepted by the relatives of Mr. Denis, the authorities rejected the second, which concerned the release of two founding members of the EPP, Alcides Oviedo and Carmen Villalba, sentenced several times in recent years to long prison sentences for attempted murder and kidnapping. After spending five days in captivity, blindfolded, Oscar employee Denis, who was kidnapped along with his boss, was released by the guerrillas.

After spending five days in captivity, blindfolded, Oscar employee Denis, kidnapped along with his boss, was released by guerrillas

“We hope that they give us a signal, that they allow us to dialogue, to negotiate, (…) that they give us proof of life “, implored Beatriz Denis, one of Oscar Denis’s daughters, during the last press conference given by the family of the former senior official on September 21. “It is not the practice of the EPP to give proof of life to their hostages”, however, explains Horacio Galeano Perrone, political analyst, former minister of education and culture and former defense adviser, who warns: “EPP is always on the move, it is not a suitable situation for an elderly person. Oscar Denis is 74 years old, he suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. “

More than ten kidnappings

The Paraguayan guerrillas, who would have been trained in particular by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and by the Patriotic Front Manuel Rodriguez of Chile (which is no longer active today), reject their country’s economic development model, which relies in part on large farms owned by powerful landowners, who mostly cultivate GM soybeans. The authorities estimate that the EPP has only a few dozen members, “But they are actually much more numerous, because they have logistical support on the ground”, says Mr. Galeano Perrone. “The guerrilla, he adds, enjoys popularity in these poor, state-abandoned areas, and EPP members are often seen as Robin Hoods, redistributing wealth. “

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