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BlackEagle/BlackEagle Logistics & Procurement Branch, Data Support Section
Results of Criminal Organizations Database Search: Movimiento 19 de April
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Movimiento 19 de April #CR0002738 (Also... Some alternate names are aliases, other are names for specific subgroups or cells). 19th of April Movement M-19 Source: CIA, Interpol Type: Political terrorist organization Scope: An active terrorist organization operating throughout Colombia and South America. Affiliations: 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] Personnel: 600 Operating Since: April 19 1970 generated by 1970 electoral defeat of the National Popular Alliance party. Structure: A well organized military-style hierarchy, composed of a eleven tactical platoons and one headquarters platoon. Each unit numbering near fifty soldiers. Leaders: Carlos Pizarro Leon-Gomez [#LL6001648], current leader. Antonio Navarro [#LL6658163], sub- commander. Otty Patino [#LL6579163], sub-commander. Legitimate Connections: Receive main sources of funding through criminal activities. Also some funding and supplies obtained from Cuba, Nicaragua, and, to a lesser degree, Libya. Resources: 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. Additional Commentary: 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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