Monday, July 23, 2007
Mexican Rebels and Their Assault on
By Barnard R. Thompson
Political Transition and the 21st Century
At the turn of the century the shadowy
Popular Revolutionary Army, a Mexican guerrilla group (to a degree an umbrella organization) most often identified by the
initials EPR — for its name in Spanish, was bankrolling activities and intermittent acts of violence with the kidnapping
of wealthy and influential Mexicans. And the large sums of ransom paid, that
in all probability also bettered the standards of living of the insurgents and freebooters, was money being gathered for more
dramatic and frightening future operations.
Activities and operations that were to
include the escalating use of not only modern military weapons but too explosive devices.
And this is the same EPR
that has now claimed responsibility for the early July 2007 bombings of natural gas pipelines in the states of Guanajuato
and Querétaro, in central Mexico.
The National Security and
Investigation Center (CISEN, Mexico’s intelligence, counter-intelligence and security agency) reports that currently
there are five armed guerrilla groups active in Mexico, movements that have the potential to harm national security. The list includes not only the EPR, but too splinter allies in the Popular Revolutionary Democratic Party (PDPR); Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI); Revolutionary Armed
Forces of the People (FARP); and Villista Revolutionary Army of the People (EVRP).
Some international organizations,
such as Spain’s Armed Movements Documentation Center (CEDEMA), show over 40 entities in Mexico, with just over 30 active
since 2000. However the majority of these rebels have done little more than issue
sporadic propaganda messages and manifestos, appropriately categorized as communiqués, period, by the CEDEMA.
The five groups identified as currently
active by CISEN came out of PROCUP, the Clandestine Revolutionary Workers Party – Union of the People, a guerrilla organization
that first formed in the 1960s. Yet there was no real unity until the EPR surfaced in the mid 1990s, and even
though some groups have since split from the EPR umbrella and cells, in many cases it has continued to be a godparent to its
The EPR first appeared on
June 28, 1996, when armed gunmen fired on police facilities in the Pacific coast tourism center of Huatulco, Oaxaca. An attack that left a toll of 13 people dead, including police, civilians and assailants,
according to official reports. And the attack was orchestrated for the first
anniversary of the 1995 massacre at Aguas Blancas, Guerrero, where 17 farmers were killed and 21 injured by state police who
attacked after setting up a roadblock to intercept the farmers who were en route to a peasant protest.
Thereafter a period of firefights took
place, with the EPR and/or its splinter group guerrillas versus police and the military, in several states.
(Getting back to the CISEN, it is currently
the subject of harsh criticism and debate in Mexico, especially following the latest and supposedly unforeseen bomb attacks
on pipelines. Many believe that the CISEN was — is — seriously weakened
by Vicente Fox and his 2000-2006 administration, broken to the extent that it is in need of immediate repair. With this said, it is interesting to note that the CISEN itself identifies its sources for the information
in the aforementioned ten-page report as Mexico’s print and broadcast media. That
is, open source news reports vis-à-vis human and/or other intelligence gathering and reporting.)
Since 2000, the fact is that guerrilla
attacks have been infrequent in Mexico, averaging about four per year. This even
though declarations, threats and even calls to arms were sent to officials and the nation on a fairly regular basis, usually
via the media.
As to the use of bombs, pipe bombs and
other terrorist-type explosive devices by the EPR, its offshoots and others, the most publicized acts have taken place in
places like Puebla, in 2000, when a pipe bomb exploded in a government office.
In 2001 there were three bombings at Mexico
City branches of the Banco Nacional de México (Banamex), as it was being acquired by the U.S.-owned Citigroup. Other U.S. affiliates, such as a McDonald’s franchise and a General Motors dealership, were also
targeted in Mexico City.
South of Mexico City, in the state of Morelos,
three after hour explosions occurred in foreign owned banks in 2004, there by a group calling itself the “Comando Jaramillista Morelense 23 de Mayo.” Four bombs were detonated at banks in the state of Mexico in 2005.
In 2006 five homemade bombs were detonated
in Mexico City at banks, the Federal Electoral Tribunal, and the party headquarters of the PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary
Second in a series.
See “Mexico’s So-called ‘Popular Revolutionary Army,’” by Barnard R. Thompson, MexiData.info, July 16, 2007.
Barnard Thompson, editor of MexiData.info, has spent nearly 50 years in Mexico and Latin America, providing multinational clients with actionable intelligence;
country and political risk reporting and analysis; and business, lobbying, and problem resolution services. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.