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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

Paraguay Won’t Free Guerrillas in Exchange for Hostage

ASUNCION – Paraguay’s interior minister said Tuesday that the government will not bow in the face of a threat from the small EPP rebel group to kill a captive police officer if authorities don’t release six jailed guerrillas by this weekend.

“It is impossible for reasons of law and doctrine to comply with such demands,” Francisco de Vargas said in a statement.

The EPP’s Nov. 1 deadline “does not impose any obligation on the government but it does require us to be attentive to what might happen,” he added.

A joint police-military task force continues searching in northern Paraguay for two EPP hostages, identified as 17-year-old Arlan Fick and police Cpl. Edelio Morinigo, 24.

In a video found last Wednesday, an EPP member who identified himself as Lt. Joel said the rebels “have given a last opportunity to exchange six EPP political prisoners (held) by the government of the wealthy.”

The video shows Morinigo, who was captured by the EPP on July 5, and Fick, in rebel hands since April 2.

Fick’s family has said that even though they paid $500,000 in ransom and distributed food worth $50,000 and an EPP propaganda video, the guerrillas continue to hold the teen.

De Vargas said the “purpose of the audiovisual material was to blame the government for crimes committed and to be committed by them (the rebels).”

The EPP was founded in March 2008 as a Marxist-Leninist “politico-military organization” committed to overthrowing the Paraguayan government.

Authorities say the group has killed 38 people, including civilians, soldiers and police officers.

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