Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front
The Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) is a left-wing guerrilla movement in Chile, named for a figure in Chile's independence movement, Manuel Rodriguez. 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 to the Juntos Podemos Mas 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 Corvalan, 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. 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 crisis 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. Pinochet, however, only suffered minor injuries. Also in 1986, Chilean security forces caught the FPMR smuggling an 80-ton shipment of weapons, 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. 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 Patriotico Manuel Rodriguez (MPMR), close the the PCCH and an autonomous group rejected the new directions of the PCCH (to abandon the armed struggle).
Marcelo Barrios Andres, a 21 years-old member of the FPMR, was assassinated on August 31, 1989 in Valparaiso, by a group which included military official Marina Oscar Aspe, captain Sergio Schiffelle Kirby, sergent Jorge Figueroa, and Silverio Fierrio and Luis Ceballos, along with 18 Marines. They were supposed to arrest him on orders of Valparaiso's public prosecutor. However, they simply executed him. Tens of ammunition 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 Marina Oscar Aspe is included as guilty of human rights violations in the 2001 Comision Etica contra la Tortura . Capitulos desconocidos de los mercenarios chilenos en Honduras camino de Iraq, La Nacion, September 25, 2005 - URL accessed on February 14, 2007
On March 21, 1990, members of Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, entered Gustavo Leigh office and shot at him. Five bullets hit his body. Other than the loss of an eye, he was able to make a complete recovery.
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 Guzman on April 1, 1991. Other main targets included Mormon churches, the kidnapping of Cristian Edwards, son of the owner of the principal countries 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 evasion of various FMPR members imprisoned in the high security prison of Santiago de Chile, including Patricio Ortiz. The FPMR abandoned armed struggle in December 1997, and has now joined the parliamentary system, participating to the Juntos Podemos Mas left-wing coalition.
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 . Swiss authorities then freed him and granted him asylum Patricio Ortiz reitero que Suiza le otorgo el estatus de refugiado politico, Radio Cooperativa, 27 July 2005 . In 2007 the Socialist President Michelle Bachelet criticized the political asylum given to Ortiz, which lifted indignation of human rights NGOs Bachelet afirmo que el refugio en Suiza a Patricio Ortiz "es dificil de explicar", Radio Cooperativa, June 1, 2007 .
Chile under Pinochet
Chilean transition to democracy
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