Paraguayans call for release of kidnapped ex-VP Óscar Denis

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Relatives of former Paraguayan Vice President Oscar Denis and Liliana Urbieta (2-R), daughter of Felix Urbieta, participate in a demonstration in Concepcion, Paraguay, 13 September 2020.

image copyrightEPA

image captionRelatives of Mr Denis and those of other kidnap victims have demanded their immediate release

Hundreds of cars joined a protest caravan in Paraguay on Sunday to demand the release of former Vice-President Óscar Denis.

Mr Denis, 74, was kidnapped along with one of his employees on Wednesday by members of the Marxist Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) rebel group.

The EPP wants the government to free two of their jailed leaders in return for Mr Denis’s release.

A deadline set by the rebels for the government to free the two has expired.

In a pamphlet, the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) said it would give the government until 22:00 local time on Sunday (02:00GMT) to release Carmen Villalba and Alcides Oviedo.

Villalba and Oviedo were sentenced earlier this year for the attempted murder of three police officers during a foiled jailbreak in 2004. They were both already serving long sentences for kidnapping.

What is the EPP?

  • It is a small Marxist rebel group founded in the 1990s
  • It has carried out a string of kidnappings and killings in Paraguay
  • One of the group’s main sources of income is the smuggling of marijuana and ransoms paid for those it has kidnapped
  • The rebels have displaced scores of Mennonite settlers from an area they seek to control

Paraguayan Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo earlier said that the state would not enter into negotiations about “matters of public security”.

As well as the release of Villalba and Oviedo, the EPP has demanded that Mr Denis’s family hand out food worth $2m (£1.6m) to 40 communities in the region where the rebels are active, and that they distribute the group’s propaganda material.

image copyrightEPA
image captionRelatives of Mr Denis distributed food to communities to meet the kidnappers’ demands

The EPP has so far ignored the demand by Mr Denis’s family for a proof of life of the former vice-president.

  • Family speaks out after Paraguay ex-VP goes missing

Mr Denis and his employee, 21-year-old Adelio Mendoza, disappeared on Wednesday from a cattle ranch the former vice-president owns near the city of Yby Yaú.

image copyrightEPA
image captionThose taking part in the demonstration demanded freedom for Óscar Denis and Adelio Mendoza

Two of Mr Denis’s three daughters attended the protest caravan in the central city of Concepción on Sunday. They said they were worried about the health of Mr Denis’s 94-year-old mother, who had not stopped asking about her son’s whereabouts.

Those who took part in the protest called for an end to all kidnappings in Paraguay and the release not just of Mr Denis and Mr Mendoza but also of 70-year-old rancher Félix Urbieta and police officer Edelio Morínigo, who were kidnapped in October 2016 and July 2014.

Related Topics

  • Paraguay


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