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Column 10052015 Brewer

Paraguayan Criminals and Guerrillas are Multinational Threats
By Jerry Brewer
In South America, the Republic of Paraguay – that has a constitutional republic
form of government – is slightly smaller than California in the U.S., and it borders
the Southern Cone nations of Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil.
Yet today, the small nation of less than 7 million people is being critically
challenged by a growing criminal insurrection that has possibly been nurtured and
led by rogue leftist revolutionaries for a decade or more.
In November 2013, after a number of attacks and ambushes on isolated police and
military posts by the so-called Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a communist
guerrilla movement, Interior Minister Francisco de Vargas announced, “This is
already a declared war against the republic.”
Ironically, Minister Francisco de Vargas would speak again on July 17 of this year
at a news conference, following the death of three police officers. The police
officers were shot while traveling in a vehicle in San Pedro department, “in an
attack which has been attributed to the Paraguayan EPP.”
The EPP remains a capable enemy of the state, with ruthless intentions by placing
bombs under police vehicles, kidnapping, and murder with impunity, among other
violent crimes against the homeland.
The weaponry of the EPP has been showcased as far back as July 2003, when
police investigating a farm in San Pedro, where they were met by gunfire, found an
arsenal that included “rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, machine guns,
automatic rifles, grenades, explosives, and ammunition.”

Analysis of the crime scene revealed that the farm had been used as a guerrilla
training camp. Other than the military-grade weapons and munitions, police found
uniforms, radios, bulletproof vests, satellite telephones, and mobile phones.
The criminal insurgency within Paraguay, however, has much more than a
guerrilla and revolutionary-style agenda.
Paraguay is a major producer of illicit cannabis, most or all of which is consumed
in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. As well, it is a key transshipment country for
Andean cocaine headed for Brazil, other Southern Cone markets, and Europe, this
thanks to weak border controls and extensive corruption. All of which is
exacerbated by money-laundering activities, especially in the Tri-Border area, due
to weak anti-money-laundering laws and poor enforcement.
These unique challenges to police and the military, who are faced with guerrilla
and terrorist-like insurgents, as well as traditional and transnational organized
criminals and gangs, quickly define any inability or weakness by the state to
interdict and protect life and property.
The border area city of Pedro Juan Caballero is 600 kilometers north of Asuncion,
near Ponta Pora, one of the major urban centers in the Brazilian state of Mato
Grosso do Sul. The border there stretches some 600 kilometers, from east to west,
without any significant policing, customs or military controls. Luis Rojas, director
of the state National Anti-Drug Secretariat, reported that there are more than 100
drug gangs, made up of Paraguayans and Brazilians, “dedicated to the illegal
trafficking of marijuana produced in Paraguay and the cocaine that reaches from
Bolivia, Peru and Colombia.”
There have been tensions between police and the Paraguayan military as to their
separate and coordinated roles in interdiction, as well as concerns as to the
available resources and specialized training that is lacking – and much needed.
Counter-insurgency training, criminal/death investigations, crime scene
processing, intelligence analysis and informant recruitment, as well as counterintelligence to fight corruption, are urgently needed, among other tactical and
covert strategies. The military must be the primary enforcers against the EPP.
Paraguay’s problems have been exacerbated in the past by Venezuela’s late
president Hugo Chavez interfering in national politics. On August 3, 2012 the
president of the Paraguayan Congress, Jorge Oviedo, accused a brother of Chavez

of offering a congressman a US$100,000 bribe in order to overcome Paraguayan
opposition to Venezuela’s entry into Mercosur.
The new government of Paraguay subsequently ordered home its ambassador to
Venezuela, citing “the grave evidence of intervention by Venezuelan officials in
the internal affairs of Paraguay.” Venezuela’s ambassador had left Paraguay a
week earlier, when he was called home for consultations by Chavez amid
accusations that Venezuela was “preparing a coup.”
Making matters worse, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
have known links to Paraguayans and the EPP. In February 2014, Paraguay asked,
via Interpol, for the capture of two FARC members and four of the EPP for a
kidnapping and murder. At least one key FARC leader, Orley Jurado Palomino, is
known to have gone to Paraguay to “provide training, advice and operational
leadership to the EPP.”
The FARC was also linked to “financial jobs” and training through Colombian
officials who found evidence in files seized from the camp of senior FARC
commander Raul Reyes, who was killed in an airstrike in Ecuador in March 2008.
Hugo Chavez was also linked to FARC as a result of that raid.
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---------Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice
International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website
is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.
All Brewer columns archived at:
www.scribd.com/jbrewer31
TWITTER: cjiausa