Secret Anti-Communist Army (Guatemala)

Country: Guatemala
Details of Formation: The group was first mentioned in the New York Times on August 4, 1977. It became widely known during the September 1978 bus fare strikes in Guatemala City (Wikipedia). It emerged in the context of the leftist guerillla movement reconsolidating its forces.
Details of Termination: The group was in favour of and supported by the military governments of Guatemala from 1977 until 14 January 1986, when President Cerezo was inaugurated as President of a new civilian government. It is unclear whether the group was controlled by the state or was independent at the end of military rule. The group reemerged in 1988 and committed its last known attack on 28 December 1989 (Wikipedia). As there is no evidence for government connection with the new government, the group is coded terminated after Jan. 14 1986.
Purpose: The group was used for secret assassinations and evasion of accountability (Wikipedia) for acts against leftist sympathizers during the Guatemalan civil war.
Organisation: The PGM was coordinated and staffed by members of the military and security services. It was allegedly led by Colonel German Chipina Bahona, who was the Director General of the National Police from 1978-1982. Two assailants of the group were found to be linked to the military intelligence and the Special Service of the Treasury Police (Wikipedia). According to a news source, Amnesty International reported in 1981 that the group was under the direct supervision of the President and headquarters annexed to the Presidential Palace.
Weapons and Training: The group used submachine guns (Wikipedia) and was heavily armed during attacks.
Size: One hundred members were reported as participating in an attack in 1981. There are no estimates on the overall size of the group.
Reason for Membership: According to a news source, soldiers participating in the group were partially inspired by government claims of a Cuban-backed Communist conspiracy in Guatemala.
Treatment of Civilians: The group used violence against civilians such as academics (Wikipedia) as well as moderate and leftist politicians, trade unionists, students, teachers, lawyers, journalists and priests. It killed many and made others disappear. Police did not intervene and the Minister of the Interior Donaldo Alvarez Ruiz provided lists of targets (Wikipedia).
Other Information: The Secret Anti-Communist Army is also known by its Spanish name Ejército Secreto Anticomunista (ESA) (Wikipedia). It was a state-sponsered group operating as death squad.
References: Wikipedia. “Secret Anti-Communist Army”.