Army of Popular Liberation (EPL)

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Army of Popular Liberation (EPL)

A guerrilla group active from 1967 to 1991, the Army of Popular Liberation (Ejército Popular de Liberación—EPL) had its origins in the Partido Comunista Colombiano Marxista-Leninista (PCC-ML), a pro-Chinese party founded in 1964. It was most active in the northwestern department of Córdoba, a zone of conflict between peasant settlers and expanding cattle interests. The EPL, which numbered perhaps 600 fighters at its peak, made little progress in the face of army pressure. Attempts to organize an urban front in Cali in the mid-1970s also failed. In 1984 it signed a cease-fire accord with the Belisario Betancur regime; but after the assassination of Oscar William Calvo Ocampo, EPL negotiator and one of the group's founders, the group returned to armed struggle in November 1985. The EPL's Córdoba base was seriously threatened by the army's new aggressiveness in 1990. A new round of negotiations led to the group's demobilization in March 1991 and a political alliance with the Alianza Democrática M-19. It then changed its official name to Esperanza, Paz y Libertad (Hope, Peace, and Liberty). A hardline faction of the EPL has rejected the demobilization and now operates in league with the Army of National Liberation (ELN). Its main leader, Francisco Caraballo, was arrested in 1993, but the faction continues to operate. Today its activities are mainly in Caldas, Antioquia, northern Santander, and La Guajira. It is overseen by commandant Juan Montes.

See alsoColombia, Revolutionary Movements: M-19 .


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                                      Richard J. Stoller

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Army of Popular Liberation (EPL)

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