Brazilian ranchers have reported extortion attempts made in the name of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), which could mean that the guerrilla group is developing new revenue streams.
On August 20, ABC reported that a man claiming to belong to the EPP attempted to extort money, arms and food from five Brazilian ranchers in the Paraguayan town of Ypehu. For two weeks, the ranchers have received calls from a man demanding that the goods be deposited at a location near the Paraguay-Brazil border.
The victims have hesitated to approach authorities because the head of the local police station has been suspected of collaborating with criminals along the border, reported ABC.
InSight Crime Analysis
The president of the Rural Association of Paraguay, German Ruiz Diaz, has cast doubt on the veracity of the threats, reported ABC. According to Ruiz, it is much more likely that common criminals were behind the threats, as the extortion demands did not fit with the EPP’s modus operandi.
However, there is precedent for EPP attempts to extort ranchers. ABC reported three attacks on ranches by the EPP in February and March 2012. In the most recent, three alleged members of the EPP attacked a ranch in northern Paraguay, holding a foreman and his family hostage before setting fire to the house. The rebels reportedly left a letter calling for the ranch owners to cease deforestation and to supply a doctor and $10,000 worth of food and medicine to the local community.
The demand for weapons would also fit with the EPP, considering that a training camp allegedly used by the group reportedly contained only wooden guns. If the threats were made by the rebel group, it would suggest that they were expanding their methods of raising revenue. However, it is also possible that local criminals are using the name of the EPP in order to make their threats more convincing.