Along with rewards, the president approved an antikidnapping law that allows the government to safeguard the bank funds and belongings of a person who has been kidnapped. It also penalizes banks that do not notify of withdrawals made during the kidnapping. In 2010, an antiterrorism law was also approved that punishes those involved in acts of terrorism, terrorist associations or financing of terrorism with prison terms of five to 30 years. In a recent development, the EPP’s possible drug traffic activity across international borders is beginning to draw attention from Paraguayan authorities. “We — the military as an institution, at least — are already taking a look at their possible association with drug traffickers,” Brig. Gen. Carlos Alberto Bordón, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Paraguayan Armed Forces, said in an interview with Diálogo in August 2010. “And we don’t have any actions prepared along these lines yet, but we are intensifying our work on intelligence issues, connecting the dots, because we don’t want to end up in the situation of other countries.” Paraguay Fights Back Since the beginning of 2010, the government has conducted numerous operations to counter the EPP threat. In January, police partnered with the Paraguayan Army, using helicopters and patrol boats to follow members of the EPP at the country’s northern border in what was known as Operation Yaguarete (which means “jaguar” in the native Guaraní language). Three months later, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo called for a “state of siege” after a police officer and three civilians were killed in an EPP attack in Arroyito, where authorities discovered a rebel camp. In April, the authorities launched Operation Py’a Guapy (which means “tranquility” in Guaraní) and sent 3,000 police and military to track down EPP members. But these operations did not result in the arrests of any EPP leaders. In July, Paraguayan police had more success in their fight against the EPP. Authorities tracked down and killed suspected EPP leader Severiano Martínez after he opened fire on officers during a confrontation in Alto Paraguay. Martínez, alias Marcos, was accused of involvement in the kidnappings of Bordón and Cubas. He allegedly abandoned the EPP due to disagreements over ransom payments within the group, reported Paraguayan newspaper La Nación. In September, EPP member Gabriel Zárate was captured and killed by the police after firing an M-16 and trying to escape. Zárate was thought to be third in command in the group. In his bag, police found a homemade explosive. A third EPP member was killed the same month. During another incursion in the jungle to track EPP members, police killed Nimio Cardozo. The operation took place in Huguá Ñandú, 100 kilometers northeast of Concepción. The newspaper La Nación reported that police will continue searching in the area until all members are found. The government is now offering 800 million guaranís (about $163,606) for information leading to the capture of leaders Magna Meza, Manuel Cristaldo Mieres and Osvaldo Villalba. The reward is for 500 million guaraníes (about $102,254) for others involved in the kidnappings. Lack of Support The authorities were able to capture EPP leaders with the help of community informants whose identities have been protected to prevent retaliation. In August 2010, Florencio Núñez, a rural worker who denounced the presence of the EPP in his community in Concepcion and who claimed to have received death threats from the group, was found dead at his home, reported Paraguayan newspaper ABC. In the meantime, the EPP has tried to gain the support of the public. For example, the manual says EPP members should provide food and medicine to the poor, making sure the media captures them doing so. “Then we will earn points in the eyes of the population,” the manual states. For those whose family members have been harmed by the EPP, only justice will suffice. Police “should kill them if they cannot capture them alive,” Mirtha Gusinky, mother of Cecilia Cubas, told La Nación, referring to the captors who killed her daughter more than six years ago. She asked authorities to comply with the promise of bringing security to the country. “I also request you, the press, to not give up in the demand of maximum effort from authorities so we can have a Paraguay without kidnappings,” she said. By Dialogo October 01, 2010 EPP: A Self-Proclaimed Guerrilla Group The EPP began as the armed front of the political group Partido Patria Libre (Free Motherland Party). The group, based on Marxist ideology, has stated its plan to carry out a revolution in the country. Since 2001, about $6 million in ransom has been paid in Paraguay, said former attorney Latorre to www.infosurhoy.com. That year, the EPP received financing from the FARC to “train” for its first kidnapping, Latorre said. Resisting the kidnappers’ demands has often led to dire consequences such as occurred with Cecilia Cubas, the daughter of former Paraguayan President Raúl Cubas Grau. In 2004, kidnappers from EPP abducted Cubas and demanded $5 million. Months after making a partial payment of $800,000, the body of Cecilia, 32, was found buried under a house near Asuncion. The documents seized in 2008 from Reyes’ computer showed that the terrorist organization provided consulting in the kidnapping and subsequent killing of Cubas. At least three more kidnapping cases have been documented in which the FARC participated. “The links between the FARC and EPP are confirmed. We have proof that the FARC have sent consultants [to Paraguay] and it has been confirmed that they received 30 percent of what was paid for the kidnapping of María Edith Bordón,” Paraguayan anti-kidnapping prosecutor Sandra Quiñónez said in an interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. Bordón was kidnapped in 2001 and her family paid $1 million for her release, the newspaper reported. Fidel Zavala was working on his ranch in northern Paraguay in late 2009 when guerrilla members suddenly appeared and forced him into his own vehicle. As his employees looked on, Zavala was driven away and his truck was abandoned in a remote area. When police later approached it, the vehicle exploded and gravely injured police officers Víctor Hugo Romero and Víctor Manuel Martínez. Kidnappers demanded a $5 million ransom and as days passed, Zavala’s family was not sure whether he was still alive. The abductors were following instructions in the manual of the Paraguayan People’s Army, or EPP, which was behind the kidnapping. The manual stated that EPP’s kidnappers cannot “give any proof of life until the deal is closed.” According to the Paraguayan newspaper La Nación, the abductors settled for a payment of $500,000 and freed Zavala about 15 kilometers north of his ranch, just as the manual stated: “Free [the kidnapping victim] in a remote area, if possible.” EPP members have been accused of carrying out about 20 kidnappings since 2001. The group’s manual, which was found during a police raid in August 2010 in the department of Concepción, was crafted with the help of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, according to www.infolatam.com. “The EPP is linked directly to the FARC,” former Paraguayan Attorney General Óscar Germán Latorre told www.infosurhoy.com. The FARC allegedly has provided training and logistical support to the Paraguayan guerrilla movement according to e-mails retrieved from a computer seized by Colombian authorities in 2008 and thought to be owned by Raúl Reyes, FARC second in command until his death in 2008. As recent news reports show, EPP members have attacked ranches, burned military barracks and killed police officers. Police have tracked down some of the EPP leaders, but others have yet to be found. Aside from the kidnappings, authorities fear the EPP’s involvement with drug and arms trafficking. “This is a group linked to organized crime,” said José Ledesma, governor of San Pedro, one of the areas stricken by the EPP, in an interview with Paraguayan radio station Ñandutí AM in May 2010. Following Kidnappers’ Footsteps paraguayan people’s army linked to drug trafficking and farc Soldiers stand on the scorched remains of a military outpost in Tacuatí, Paraguay. Officials think the arson was the work of the Paraguayan People’s Army.