government now believes the Popular Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Popular
Revolucionario, or EPR) has decided to
target the oil industry. Determining "why" they have targeted it is
another problem. On one hand, there is
the so-called "Chavez conspiracy theory". There are many people,
particularly drug cartelistas and various leftist organizations who would love
to "sidetrack" Felipe Calderon's government. Some local media are calling the
EPR the "new" EPR. Why? The EPR now has a website, and calls itself the Partido
Democrático Popular Revolucionario-Ejército Popular Revolucionario (Popular
Revolutionary Democratic Party-Popular Revolutionary Army). Not surprisingly
(given its Marxist roots), the PDRP-EPR portrays itself as a "socialist" and
"proletarian movement." Despite the new letters, the EPR is by no means "new".
In 1996 the EPR fought both the Mexican Army and various police detachments in
six different states. In 1996 the government estimated that the EPR had 200
active fighters. It may have half as many today - one figure making the rounds
is 100 guerrillas. In 2006 the EPR may have been responsible for an attack on
the PRI's party headquarters in Mexico City, but there seems to be some debate
about that attack. It got headlines but not a lot of reaction. There is no
doubt about the EPR's responsibility for attacks in June, July, and September
2007. A hundred fighters attacking various police and military targets get
headlines and rattle the Mexican people. Blowing up gas pipelines, however,
damages the Mexican economy. Pipelines are simply a bigger bang than a bomb
which blows up a police station. The September attacks forced authorities to
evacuate around 20,000 people in the Veracruz region. The chaos puts political
pressure on president Calderon-pressure that diverts his attention from the war
on the cartelistas.
October 6, 2007: Soldiers in
Tampico arrested eight drug smugglers after a shootout near Tampico's airport.
The men were unloading cocaine from a tractor-trailer. The soldiers discovered
ten tons of cocaine in an airport warehouse. The amount of cocaine recovered
suggests several things. The first is that Tampico's local police aren't doing
their job, which means rampant corruption. The second is that the military now
has intelligence sources reliable enough to catch the Gulf Cartel "in the act"
(Tampico is Gulf drug cartel turf).
September 29, 2007: The
Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) may be trying to forge a "united front" of
guerrilla groups - or at least give the media the impression that it is. A
"communiqué" has appeared attributed to the EPR that also includes at least
four other "guerrilla organizations. The government believes these
organizations are very small splinter groups, but they do have ties to the
EPR's leaders. The four groups were identified as the Democratic Revolutionary
Tendency-Army of the People (TDR-EP), the Revolutionary Movement of Lucio
Cabañas Barrientos (MR-LCB), the May 1 Insurgent Organization (OI-1M) and the
Execution Brigade of December 2nd (BA-2D). There are four other left-wing
"splinter groups" that Mexican intelligence and various Mexican media believe
are associated with the EPR: 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).
These four groups and the EPR have leadership cadres that either trained with
or were influenced by the Clandestine Revolutionary Workers Party (PROCUP), a
1960s-era "Marxist" organization.