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Could Ecuador be seeing the rise of a new rebel insurgency?

The Armed Revolutionary Insurgent Forces of Ecuador, a previously unknown rebel group, claimed responsibility for a double bombing last week.

By Geoffrey RamseyGuest blogger / November 30, 2011

A clandestine leftist organization has claimed responsibility for two bombings in Ecuador’s largest city, sparking concerns about a nascent insurgency in the South American country.

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On Nov. 22, two separate bombs exploded nearly simultaneously in downtown Guayaquil, the first of which went off in front of the local Ministry of Health offices, while the second detonated several blocks away. While no one was seriously injured in either incident, the second explosion sent dozens of leaflets flying through the air, all of which bore a call to arms against the center-left government of President Rafael Correa.

The flyers were titled “The Right to Work is Guaranteed by the Constitution and We Will Defend it Through Blood and Fire,” and issued a scathing critique of President Correa’s recent decision to fire thousands of doctors and other public health professionals to rein in federal spending. Calling on the youths of Ecuador to “join the ranks of the militias and people’s army in order to rid ourselves once and for all of the rightist mafia known as Alianza Pais [Correa’s political party],” the statement was signed by a group calling itself the Armed Revolutionary Insurgent Forces of Ecuador (FAIRE).

The appearance of a leftist insurgency is unusual for Ecuador, which, unlike neighboring Peru and Colombia, has been free of large-scale insurgent groups for most of its history. The most notable left-wing rebel group in Ecuador’s past was a small urban guerrilla front known as the Eloy Alfaro Popular Armed Forces. Named after an early 20th century revolutionary, the guerrillas carried out a series of kidnappings and bank robberies in the mid to late 1980s, but were swiftly dismantled by security forces. By 1989, the group’s remaining members had agreed to lay down their arms.

Since then, several small-scale rebel groups have emerged in the country, such as the Red Sun Communist Party of Ecuador, the Group of Popular Combatants, the Alfarist Liberation Army, and the Guerrilla Coordinator of Ecuador. However, none of these have been able to mobilize mass support, and do not pose a significant threat to the Ecuadorian government. It is unclear if any links exist between these groups and the FAIRE, but police claim that the Nov. 22 bombings were first they had heard of the group, suggesting that it may be an entirely new force.


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