Paraguay deployed troops into its northern provinces earlier this month in an attempt to contain an outbreak of guerrilla attacks. In an email interview, David Spencer, a professor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at National Defense University, discussed Paraguay’s guerrillas.
WPR: What is the background of the guerrilla movements in Paraguay?
David Spencer: There is currently one group of guerrillas active in Paraguay, the Paraguayan Popular Army (EPP). The movement began in the historically neglected area around Concepcion in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Alfredo Stroessner government. Leftist opposition groups supporting land reform on behalf of the area’s peasants appeared after 1989. Fernando Lugo, the current president of Paraguay, and other Catholic priests preaching liberation theology played a leadership role. Similarly, the founder of the guerrilla movement, Juan Arrom, was a seminary student who recruited from the landless movement, originally called Patrido Patria Libre (“Free Fatherland Party” or PPL).