BlackEagle/BlackEagle Logistics & Procurement Branch, Data Support Section
Results of Criminal Organizations Database Search: Movimiento 19 de April
Movimiento 19 de April #CR0002738
(Also... Some alternate names are aliases, other are names for specific subgroups or
19th of April Movement
Source: CIA, Interpol
Type: Political terrorist organization
An active terrorist organization operating throughout Colombia and South America.
The M-19 reportedly has ties with many active and dormant Latin American terrorist
organizations, including the Uruguayan Tupamaros [#CR0000894] and the
Ecuadorean AVC [#CR0003754], as well as groups in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Peru,
Guatemala, and Venezuela. M-19 guerrillas also are loosely allied with other Colombian
groups such as the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) [#CR0002710], the National
Liberation Army (ELN) [#CR0003112], the Patria Libre, and the Workers' Revolutionary
Party (PRT) under the National Guerrilla Coordinator (CNG), which excludes the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) [#CR0000591]. The M-19 also
joined in the Simon Bolivar Guerrilla Coordinator, a FARC-led loose alliance formed in
1987. In April 1984, the M-19 announced an alliance with Spain's Basque Fatherland
and Liberty [#CR0000998] separatists for training and mutual assistance. [CIA]
April 19 1970 generated by 1970 electoral defeat of the National Popular Alliance party.
A well organized military-style hierarchy, composed of a eleven tactical platoons and one
headquarters platoon. Each unit numbering near fifty soldiers.
Carlos Pizarro Leon-Gomez [#LL6001648], current leader. Antonio Navarro
[#LL6658163], sub- commander. Otty Patino [#LL6579163], sub-commander.
Receive main sources of funding through criminal activities. Also some funding and
supplies obtained from Cuba, Nicaragua, and, to a lesser degree, Libya.
Smallarms, explosives and military equipment. Many guerrillas probably receive basic
training at camps in Colombia and reportedly from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Libya as well.
[Interpol] Documents captured in May 1981 indicated that 300 M-19 guerrillas were
trained in Cuba in 1980. [CIA]
Suspected Criminal Activity:
M-19 activities include occupations of and attacks on towns as well as attacks on army
garrisons and high-level military and police officials. The group also engages in fund-
raising kidnapings of wealthy businessmen or employees of foreign companies. It has
hijacked two commercial jetliners, a cargo plane, and a civilian helicopter. The M-19 has
also conducted anti-US terrorist actions, including killing US citizen Chester Bitterman,
kidnapping a US mining engineer, and making threats against the US Ambassador.
In 1979 to show solidarity with the Sandinista cause M-l9 kidnapped the Nicaraguan
Ambassador, Barquero Montiel. In February 1980 M-19 captured 15 diplomats and 16
other hostages at the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, including the U.S.
Ambassador, Diego Asencio, and held them 61 days in exchange for ransom and safe
passage to Cuba. In January 1981, in an unsuccessful bid to force the U.S. Summer
Linguistic Institute out of Colombia they kidnapped U.S. citizen and Institute employee
Chester Bitterman whom they murdered on 7 March 1981. In 1985, they attempted to
ambush the automobile of General Rafael Samudio Molina but failed and botched an
ambush set for the National Police Subdirector, General Guillermo Medino Sanchez, and
again in June 1986 failed in an attempt to kill Minister of Government Jaime Castro as he
was driving to his office.
In May 1988, M-19 kidnapped former Conservative Party presidential candidate lvaro
Gomez Hurtado, who was released two months later after a meeting between
government officials and M-19 leaders at the papal nuncio's office in Bogota. Also on 23
March 1988, M-19 struck the U.S. Embassy in Bogota with a rocket, causing minimal
damages and no injuries.
The most serious terrorist action of M-19 was the 6 November 1985 seizure of the Justice
Ministry building in Bogota in which they seized nearly 500 hostages, including members
of the Supreme Court and of the Council of State. Colombian security forces attacked,
killing at least 19 terrorists. In the course of this operation 11 Supreme Court Justices
were killed along with 50 hostages and all of the terrorists.
The most questionable undertaking of M-19 has been its relations with Colombian drug
traffickers. By 1982, evidence emerged linking Colombia drug trafficker Jaime Guillot
Lara with M-19 as well as four close aides of Fidel Castro. In 1982, a Miami, Fl., U.S.
Federal grand jury handed down indictments against Cuban officials for assisting Lara's
smuggling operations in exchange for his providing funds and Cuban arms to M-19.
Whether this was a case of M-19 extortion practiced on the drug traffickers or else a
temporary tactical alliance between criminals and terrorists, in either case the
relationship went sour.
The "April 19th Movement" (Spanish: Movimiento 19 de Abril, M-19) is a Colombian
insurgent group, enjoying occasional sponsorship from other non-Colombian terrorist
groups and states, that has been pursuing both entrepreneurial and revolutionary
agendas. Its revolutionary goal is to lead the Colombian people in a populist revolution
against the "bourgeois" establishment in Colombia and to resist U.S. "imperialism,"
particularly in the form of U.S. economic penetration of Colombia. The group's ideology
represents an eclectic blend of Marxist-Leninist ideas mixed with heady doses of
populism and nationalism.
The M-19 announced its existence on 17 January 1974 by stealing the sword of Simon
Bolivar from a Bogota museum, though the group surfaced as early as 1973, when a
group of revolutionaries began raiding banks to finance their attacks on Colombian
society. The group took its name from the date of the election defeat in 1970 of former
President General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla and adopted 19 April 1970 as its founding date.
The M-19 rapidly expanded in 1977 and 1978 and increased in size, capability, and
scope of activities as a result of training received from Argentine Montoneros and
Uruguayan Tupamaros as well as in Cuba and possibly Libya. Although the group
primarily recruited middle-class intellectuals and students in its early years, by 1985 the
M-19 also was recruiting some peasants. Also that year the M-19 announced that it was
transforming itself from a guerrilla group into an army, together with the Popular
Liberation Army (EPL) and the Workers' Self-Defense Movement (ADO). After suffering
serious losses in clashes with Government forces, the terrorists seized Bogota's Palace
of Justice on 6 November 1985.
The M-l9 has suffered a series of setbacks since the November 1985 Palace of Justice
attack, including the loss of several top leaders. However, the M-l9's urban unit in
Bogota became active again in late 1987 to early 1988. M-19 has two main rural fronts in
Colombia: a Southern Front in Putumayo Department (Province) and a Western Front in
Caldas, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Quindio, and Tolima Departments. M-19 also operates
in Antioquia. An urban infrastructure exists in the capital, Bogota.
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