An alleged commander of a Mexico’s clandestine Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and two other suspected guerillas were arrested in the state of Veracruz, officials announced Jan. 12. Gustavo Robles Lopez, 29, and two others were arrested when authorities approached their car which had suffered a breakdown along a rural highway, said federal police Capt. Camilo Castané. Two more suspects fled the scene, he said.
The EPR emerged June 28, 1996, on the first anniversary of the massacre of 17 campesinos by police at Aguas Blancas in Guerrero state. The EPR has since carried out sporadic attacks, mostly against police stations in Guerrero and Oaxaca.
Castané said the three suspects were being questioned about the July 2005 killing of former Guerrero state official José Rubén Robles Catalán, who was shot nine times in a hotel lobby in Acapulco. Catalán had served as cabinet secretary under Gov. Rubén Figueroa in 1995, when the Aguas Blancas massacre occurred. An investigation by Mexico’s Supreme Court found that Figueroa and Robles Catalán were among those responsible for the killings, but they were never prosecuted. (El Universal, Jan. 14)
In a communique two days after the arrests, the EPR denied that the suspects had any link to their organization. The statement also denied that the EPR had any “Comandante Rafael,” as news reports had apparently named Gustavo Robles Lopez. It charged the government with preparing a “counterinsurgency plan” for the Córdoba-Orizaba region of Veracruz, in the Sierra Madre Oriental. (EPR communique, Jan. 14)
As we noted at the time, a previously unknown group, the “Fatherland is First” Popular Revolutionary Command, claimed responsibility for the assassination of Robles.