- Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front
Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front #Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front website
Flag of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front
Active 1983–1997 Country Chile Allegiance Communist Role Urban guerrilla warfare Colors Red Equipment Small arms and dynamite Engagements Internal conflict in Chile Commanders Notable
Sergio Apablaza Insignia Identification
Hammer and sickle Identification
The Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (Spanish: Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez) (FPMR), also known as El Frente Patriótico, or simply El Frente, is a left-wing urban guerrilla movement in Chile, named for a figure in Chile's independence movement, Manuel Rodríguez. The group was founded on September 14, 1983 as an armed resistance against the Pinochet regime by the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh). At its height, the FPMR was estimated to have between 1,000 and 1,500 members. Most of the guerrillas were jailed and tortured or disappeared. It has since become independent from the PCCh, and has joined the parliamentary system during the transition to democracy, participating in the Juntos Podemos Más left-wing coalition.
Pinochet had banned the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) after overthrowing President Salvador Allende and seizing power in the Chilean coup of 1973. Following the coup, the PCCh entered a process of reevaluation of its policies, notably criticizing the lack of a military policy. This led to the creation of an armed wing in 1974, which would form the basis for the FPMR. In September 1980, Luis Corvalán, the general secretary of the PCCh, announced that the "popular rebellion against Pinochet's tyranny [was] legitimate," thus initiating the "policy of mass popular rebellion". In 1981 a rural guerrilla set up in Neltume by the rival left opposition MIR was suffocated by the military, this prompted the formation of the FPMR in 1983 as an urban guerrilla. The group's aim was to generate the conditions of a massive rebellion, through audacious acts which would jeopardize the dictatorship's stability.
The group should be seen as a sign of the PCCh's strong shift to the left following Pinochet's seizure of power. Initially raised arguments that the Popular Unity government should have widened its social base to draw in sections of the middle class and former supporters of Christian Democracy were rejected and instead it was argued the Allende government should have instead armed the workers and rejected accommodation with the armed forces.
The FPMR first appeared on the national scene by provoking a power shortage in the central zone of Chile on December 14, 1983. It mainly engaged at first in acts of terrorism, robberies of food then distributed to the population and others acts which hoped at increasing the social unrest rooted in the 1982 economic crisis. It then extended its operations to armed struggle per se. Thus, on 16 July 1985, they attacked the US consulate in Santiago with a car bomb, killing one and injuring two.
On September 7, 1986, the FPMR attacked Pinochet's car in an assassination attempt. Five of Pinochet's body guards were killed and eleven wounded. Pinochet, however, only suffered minor injuries. Also in 1986, Chilean security forces caught the FPMR smuggling an 80-ton shipment of weapons in Carrizal Bajo, including C-4 plastic explosives, RPG-7 and M72 LAW rocket launchers as well as more than three thousand M-16 rifles.
The failure of Pinochet's attempted assassination led to an internal crisis in the FPMR, leading to splits and to the complete autonomy of the group towards the PCCh. To the dismay of the Chilean Communist Party many ordinary Chileans openly displayed their disgust of the actions of the FPMR. Furthermore, the political repression against the group led to the arrest of many important members, heavily affecting the group's logistics. A split occurred in 1987 resulting in two FPMR: the political movement Movimiento Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez (MPMR), close to the PCCH; and an autonomous group which rejected the new directions of the PCCH (to abandon the armed struggle).
On 8 April 1986, FPMR guerrillas kidnapped and held captive for 48 hours carabineros corporal Germán Obando but freed him after 48 hours after nationwide coverage of the incident resulted in mass condemnation, including political groups normally sympathetic to the cause of the FPMR.
On 13 April 1987, the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) simultaneously assaulted the offices of Associated Press (AP) and eight radio stations in Santiago, killing an off-duty security guard.
On 29 April 1988, Sergeant Juan de Dios Hormazábal of the Chilean Carabineros is killed in an FPMR ambush whilst on patrol in Renca.
In the period 1988-1994, the FPMR conducted 15 attacks against Mormon churches and temples.
On 20 August 1989, FPMR guerrillas attacked the Chilean army helicopter base at Tobalaba and guerrilla commander Roberto Nordenflycht (commandant "Aurelio") is killed in the gunfight.
Marcelo Barrios Andres, a 21 years-old member of the FPMR, was assassinated on August 31, 1989 in Valparaíso, by a group which included military official Óscar Aspe, captain Sergio Schiffelle Kirby, sergeant Jorge Figueroa, and Silverio Fierrio and Luis Ceballos, along with 18 Marines. They were supposed to arrest him on orders of Valparaíso's public prosecutor. However, they simply executed him. Dozens of bullets were found in his body, and the trace of almost 500 shots found in his house. Marcelo Barrios is on the Rettig Report's list of executed activists, and Óscar Aspe is included as guilty of human rights violations in the 2001 Comisión Ética contra la Tortura.
On March 21, 1990, members of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front entered Gustavo Leigh's office and shot him. Five bullets hit his body. Other than the loss of an eye, he was able to make a complete recovery. On 5 November 1990, FPMR guerrillas detonated a bomb inside a restaurant in this seaside resort of Viña del Mar, wounding three sailors from the United States aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. Three British tourists and two waitresses were also injured in the attack.
In 1993, FPMR guerrillas bombed two McDonald's restaurants and attempted to bomb a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
Transition to democracy
After the restoration of democratic rule in Chile in 1991, the FPMR reduced its actions. It split into two parts: one which returned to seeking change through the political system, and another which continued to advocate armed struggle. The latter faction continued to commit kidnappings and robberies, including the murder of the Independent Democrat Union senator Jaime Guzmán on April 1, 1991. Other main targets included LDS churches, the kidnapping of Cristian Edwards, son of the owner of the nation's most prominent newspaper, El Mercurio, and US businesses in Chile such as McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant franchises. After these operations, the FPMR ceased armed activities until 1996.
On December 30, 1996, the group organized the escape of various FMPR members imprisoned in the high security prison of Santiago de Chile, including Patricio Ortiz.
In 2002, a spin-out led to the creation of Identidad Rodriguista (IR).
In 2005 FPMR member Patricio Ortiz received political asylum in Switzerland. He was sentenced in Chile to ten years of prison for the assassination of a police officer in 1991, during the beginning of the transition to democracy. Ortiz escaped from a Chilean prison in 1996, and reached Switzerland the following year. Following an extradition request by Chile, he was detained by Swiss authorities, who later refused to extradite him as his physical integrity could not be assured (i.e. possibility of torture: extraditing him would have violated article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights ). Swiss authorities then freed him and granted him asylum. In 2007 the Socialist President Michelle Bachelet, who had been herself tortured by the army, criticized the political asylum given to Ortiz, which lifted indignation of human rights NGOs.
On 13 September 2011, judge Mario Carroza of the Appeals Court of Santiago, requested the Chilean Supreme Court the extradition from Belgium of former FPMR guerrilla Miguel Ángel Peña, accused of killing of Independent Democratic Union (UDI) Senator Jaime Guzmán. The current Chilean government is also seeking the extradition of Galvarino Apablaza Guerra for the kidnapping of businessman Christian Edwards del Rio, son of the owner of El Mercurio newspaper, both incidents occurring in 1991 when democracy had already returned to Chile.
- ^ "CHILE’S MOST WANTED GUERRILLA SEEKS POLITICAL ASYLUM" (PDF). The Santiago Times. 2 December 2004. http://www.santiagotimes.cl/santiagotimes/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=5795. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- ^ Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992
- ^ Aquellos que todo lo dieron. El Rodriguista, 11 Años de Lucha y Dignidad, 1994
- ^ Chile Pinochet's New State of Siege, By Michael S. Serrill.;Ricardo Chavira/Washington and Gavin Scott/Santiago Monday, Sept. 22, 1986,TIME Magazine
- ^ Pinochet S.A.: la base de la fortuna, By Ozren Agnic Krstulovic, Page 147, RIL Editores, 2006
- ^ [Supporters Cheer Pinochet at Rally, By William D. Montalbano, The Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1986
- ^ LA SOLEDAD DEL PODER. Mientras arrecian las manitestaciones callejeras contra Pinochet, la oposición empieza al fin a unirse. Semana.com
- ^ Significant Incidents of Political Violence Against Americans 1987, By Andrew Corsun, Page 10, DIANE Publishing, 1988
- ^ Historical dictionary of terrorism, By Sean Anderson & Stephen Sloan, Page 416, Scarecrow Press, 2009
- ^ a b Capítulos desconocidos de los mercenarios chilenos en Honduras camino de Iraq, La Nación, September 25, 2005 - URL accessed on February 14, 2007 (Spanish)
- ^ 3 U.S. Sailors Injured in a Bombing in Chile, The New York Times, November 05, 1990
- ^ Encyclopedia of terrorism, By Harvey W. Kushner, Page 220, Sage Publications, 2003
- ^ Intelligence Resource Program
- ^ Patricio Ortiz sera admis à titre provisoire, Confédération helvétique, 3 September 1998 (French)
- ^ Patricio Ortiz reiteró que Suiza le otorgó el estatus de refugiado político, Radio Cooperativa, 27 July 2005 (Spanish)
- ^ Bachelet afirmó que el refugio en Suiza a Patricio Ortiz "es difícil de explicar", Radio Cooperativa, June 1, 2007 (Spanish)
- ^ Bachelet y el asilo político (por Patricio Negrón), June 12, 2007 (Spanish)
- ^ Juez chileno pide la extradición desde Bélgica de un procesado por la muerte de un senador, ABC.es
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