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Active from 1974 to 1990, the M-19 guerrilla group was an offshoot of the National Popular Alliance (ANAPO) of former dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla; its name comes from the date in 1970 when electoral fraud allegedly deprived him of the presidency. Unlike Rojas himself, M-19 was decidedly leftist (though not Marxist) in its populism and "anti-imperialism." Its early actions, under Jaime Bateman Cayón (d. 1983), were highly theatrical, such as the theft of Simón Bolívar's sword in January 1974; the 1979 arms theft from the main army depot; and the 1980 seizure of the Dominican Republic Embassy were high points of the group's visibility and prestige. A truce with the government in 1984 collapsed after several attacks on M-19 leaders and continued extortion by the guerrillas. In late 1985, M-19 suffered critical defeats at the Palace of Justice in Bogotá and in Cali's Siloé neighborhood; many of the group's remaining leaders were killed. After renewed negotiations, M-19 demobilized in early 1990. This portion of the Alianza Democrática M-19 has garnered significant electoral support under the leadership of Antonio Navarro Wolff, one of the few surviving leaders of the armed movement. The group operated successfully as a political party for ten years, participating in notable events such as the writing of the 1991 Colombian constitution. At the same time, other former leaders, including Ever Bustamante, Rosemberg Pabón (b. 1950) and Luis Alberto Gil have joined the mainstream government of President Alvaro Uribe. By 2003 the AD-M-19 had been absorbed into the Independent Democratic Pole coalition, and it ceased to exist in its former incarnation.

See alsoRojas Pinilla, Gustavo .


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                                     Richard J. Stoller

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