New evidence has emerged suggesting ACA guerrilla rebels in Paraguay have reunited with their cousins in the EPP, likely marking the end of a tiny guerrilla organization that has suffered several casualties and arrests of top leaders since breaking away last year.
On September 7, members of Paraguay’s anti-guerrilla unit, known by its Spanish acronym as the FTC, located an abandoned truck with uniforms belonging to operatives of both the Armed Peasant Association (ACA) and the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), reported ABC Color. Based on this evidence, authorities came to the conclusion that the ACA and EPP were once again working together.
Reports of the ACA’s emergence as a splinter faction of the EPP first came to light in September 2014. The ACA was initially led by two brothers, Albino and Alfredo Jara Larrea, and were believed to number roughly 13 operatives.
However, the ACA has lost several fighters since breaking away, including Albino, who was killed by security forces in January. In the most recent blow, on September 9, authorities captured Daniel Rivarola Areco, the ACA’s alleged logistics chief, reported Ultima Hora.
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Given the ACA’s recent losses and how small they were to begin with, it would not be surprising if they have rejoined the EPP. Likewise, with as few as 20 fighters, the EPP is probably open to reconciling their differences with what is left of the ACA.
What’s more, it is possible the two group’s business strategies for funding their respective guerrilla campaigns have aligned since their split. At the time, Luis Rojas, the head of Paraguay’s anti-drug agency the SENAD, said the ACA modeled itself after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by taxing different links in the drug trade. In the past year, Rojas and other Paraguayan officials have also warned of the EPP’s growing involvement in the drug trade, including claims they serve as the “armed wing” for drug traffickers.
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Unlike in the case of the ACA, however, authorities have struggled to contain the EPP’s influence in security matters. The EPP has allegedly taken advantage of corruption and inadequacy in Paraguay’s security forces to carry out several high-profile kidnappings and attacks on infrastructure. Although the EPP remains a small organization, the return of ACA dissidents would bolster their ranks and may spell further trouble ahead for Paraguayan security officials.