Mexico’s EPR rebels admit errors, reveal history

In a new two-part communique published in the newsweekly Proceso, southern Mexico’s mysterious Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), both admits to errors and reproaches the rival Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). The communique, “A little more about the history of the EPR,” charges that the group repeatedly sought to participate in the Zapatistas’ national strategy meetings, but were always rejected and branded as “ultras” (extremists).

But the communique also engages in “self-criticism,” revealing the EPR’s initial claim to have come into being in 1996 as a fusion of 14 armed peasant organizations as a lie—”when in reality it was the same structures of the Revolutionary Worker Clandestine Party/Union of the People-Party of the Poor (PROCUP-PDLP)” which provided the leadership. PROCUP-PDLP is a clandestine hard-left organization dating to the late 1960s. The statement says the subterfuge was adopted for “strategic reasons.” The document provides details on the merger of the PROCUP and the PDLP, and their relations with the (now-disbanded) Mexican Communist Party and 1960s guerilla groups such as the September 23 Communist League. It claims that the organization has “had relations” with the revolutionary movements in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

The document appears to still be trying to claim credit for the origins of the Zapatista movement. It asserts that PROCUP-PDLP had “some compañeros” in the National Independent Campesino Alliance-Emiliano Zapata (ANCIEZ), the Chiapas-based group from which the EZLN is said to have emerged. It asserts that the Oct. 12, 1992 action attributed to ANCIEZ, in which the statue of Chiapas conquistador Diego de Mazariegos was torn down in the highland city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, was actually carried out by PROCUP militants.

As for its own origins, the document says the decision to abandon the acronym PROCUP-PDLP and form a broad-based guerilla army came after the 1995 massacre of 17 members of the Campesino Organization of the Sierra del Sur (OCSS) at Aguas Blancas in the state of Guerrero.

Finally, the document admits to personal corruption on the part of some EPR comandantes, which had led to desertions—most prominently of Jacobo Silva Nogales in 1998, who went on to found a rival group, the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI), and is currently in La Palma federal prison in Mexico state.

It ends with an apparent plea for unity, lamenting that “ourselves as the left, continue repeating our original sin: sectarianism among ourselves.” (Agenica Proceso-APRO, Sept. 13, via Chiapas95)

See also WW4 REPORT #88

See our last post on the EPR, and on the struggle in Chiapas.