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A Manifesto and its Implications for the Church


The Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez, or FPMR) was one of the leading groups responsible for terrorist attacks targeting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As the paramilitary arm of the Communist Part of Chile, the group conducted over 800 attacks, mainly against business, utilities, and government targets in the 1980s and 1990s.[i] Group members also attacked Latter-day Saint (LDS) chapels, mainly bombing empty meetinghouses in Santiago during evening hours.

To better understand why this group targeted LDS chapels, it is important to recognize that some leftist groups in Latin America considered the Church to be a North American church. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, many associated LDS missionaries and chapels with the United States. Such leftist groups despised Americans for perceived U.S. encroachment on their way of life, especially in Chile, where allegations of CIA involvement in the 1973 coup that deposed President Salvador Allende and installed General Augusto Pinochet led many to harbor suspicions of Americans in their country.

The FPMR published a manifesto in 1984.[ii] The manifesto’s words reflect the group’s sentiments and shed light on why the group targeted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The following figure displays a network diagram for text within this manifesto with 150 individual nodes representing the 150 most frequent words, along with connections showing how they are linked in the manifesto. While most nodes and links are grayed out, those linked to imperialism are visible, revealing details about the term’s usage within the manifesto.

Figure 1: Imperialism within the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front’s Manifesto of 1984[iii]

Several topical communities are directly related to Pinochet, dictatorship, repression, or tyranny (these are grayed out, but account for 58 percent of the most frequent 150 words), while another large community involves imperialism, policies, and the military (partially visible). The underlying message regarding imperialism is that the people must unite to oust imperialists from the country and free political, military, and banking institutions of such foreign meddling. Such concerns with perceived imperialism are closely linked to suspicions stemming from alleged U.S. involvement in the 1973 coup. These criticisms and later political issues contributed to the FPMR targeting U.S. interests in Chile. While the FPMR and other leftist groups encountered challenges in targeting U.S. embassies or consulates—clear symbols of the United States—these groups rarely faced any threat when attacking a vulnerable, accessible LDS chapel. In their eyes, such attacks against U.S. interests in their countries were justified, as they sought to counter perceived imperialism and influence change through the application of violence.

Learn more about the FPMR’s attacks against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the group’s ideologies, motives, and tactics in War with the Remnant: The Hidden Narrative of Terrorism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, available for purchase at https://www.cedarfort.com/products/war-with-the-remnant.

[i]National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). (2017). Global Terrorism Database [Data file]. Retrieved from https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd.

[ii]A transcript of the original text can be found at https://www.fpmr.cl/web/index.php/2016-11-11-18-07-51/2016-11-11-18-10-50 (accessed 7 September 2020).

[iii]Generated through Infranodus (licenses available through https://infranodus.com/) using all text from the FPMR’s Manifesto of 1984 at link in endnote ii. The network diagram displays the 150 most frequent words (nodes) by word frequency (size of node), word connections, and main thematic elements, or communities (reflected by node and connection colors).

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©2020 by Matthew Allen Hughes