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The ERP was founded as the armed wing of the PRT, a communist party emerging from the Trotskyist tradition, but soon turned to the Maoist theory, especially the Cultural Revolution. During the 1960s, the PRT adopted the foquista strategy of insurgency associated with Che Guevara, who had fought alongside Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution.

The ERP launched its guerrilla campaign against the Argentine military dictatorship headed by Juan Carlos Onganía in 1969, using targeted urban guerrilla warfare methods such as assassinations and kidnappings of government officials and foreign company executives. For example, in 1974 Enrique Gorriarán Merlo and Benito Urteaga led the ERP kidnapping of Esso executive Víctor Samuelsson and obtaining a ransom of $12 million[citation needed]. However most kidnappings ended in the death of the hostage, especially when not a person of particular importance. They also assaulted several companies' offices using heavily armed commandos of the ERP's elite "Special Squad". Although claim and counter-claim are invariably difficult to reconcile, figures released for an official publication, Crónica de la subversión en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Depalma) at least give an indication of the kind of guerrilla activity undertaken, with claims the rural guerrillas occupied 52 towns, robbed 166 banks and took US $76 million in ransoms for the kidnappings of 185 people.

The group continued the violent campaign even after democratic elections and the return to civilian rule in 1973, with Juan Peron's return. On June 20, 1973 the Peronist movement split after the Ezeiza massacre, perpetrated by far-right Peronists the day of Peron's return from exile[citation needed]. Victor E. Samuelson, an Exxon executive, was abducted on 6 December, 1973 by the ERP. He was released after 49 days in captivity, after the Exxon Corporation paid a record ransom of $14.2 million. The avowed aim of the ERP was a communist revolution against the Argentine government in pursuit of "proletarian rule."

The ERP publicly remained in the forefront. ERP guerrilla activity took the form of attacks on military outposts, police stations and convoys. In 1971, 57 policemen were killed, and in 1972 another 38 policemen were gunned down.

In January 1974 the ERP Compañía Héroes de Trelew, named in commemoration of the 1972 Massacre of Trelew, during which 16 political prisoners who had attempted to escape had been mowed down, attacked the barracks at Azul, which resulted in the death of the Commanding Officer and his wife and the capture of a lieutenant-colonel. The trick did not work twice: in August an assault on the Argentine Army's Villa Maria explosives factory in Cordoba and 17th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Catamarca by 70 ERP guerrillas dressed in army fatigues, met mixed fortune after killing and wounding eight policemen and soldiers and they lost 16 men who were shot after they surrendered to 300 paratroopers of the 17th Airborne Infantry Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Eduardo Humberto Cubas. In December 1975 a force of some 300 ERP guerrillas and supporting militants attacked the Monte Chingolo barracks outside Buenos Aires but lost 63 dead, many of whom were wounded in the attack and subsequently killed. In addition, seven army troops and three policemen were killed. In all, 293 Argentine servicemen and police were killed fighting guerrillas between 1975 and 1976.

In 1976 there had been plans to send great part of the Uruguayan Tupamaros (MLN-T), the Chilean Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) and the Bolivian National Liberation Army (ELN) to fight alongside the ERP and Montoneros in Argentina, but the plans failed to materialize largely due to the military coup.

After the destruction of the left in Argentina, some revolutionary cadres made their way to Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas had taken power in 1979. An ERP commando team comprising veterans of Argentina's "Dirty War" under Gorriarán, for example, demonstrated their active involvement in the revolutionary struggle by killing ex-dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1980.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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