Military Dictatorships and the Dirty Wars
The Enemy (Guerilla Movements - A Brief Sketch)

  1. Long history of "irregular warfare" in Latin America

    1. In many places, geography lends itself to this - mountains, jungles, etc.

    2. As does a  history of mismatches in power and high levels of class and race based exploitation

    3. Frequent history of civil war, private armies, and divided militaries creates culture of violence and provides potential (armed) recruits

    4. A  history of banditry in some less well-governed regions can easily transition into guerilla activity (and vice-versa)

  2. Some organized guerilla activity before WWII

    1. Augusto Sandino in Nicaragua battled U.S. occupation 1926-1933

    2. Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, both made use of guerilla tactics in Mexican Revolution

  3. Things pick up after WWII, but real turning point is Cuban Revolution (1959)

    1. Castro provides inspiration

    2. Also provides a model

      1. Small group engages rural peasants, gaining their support

      2. Lives off land, moves frequently, strikes at established military for supplies

      3. As control over countryside increases, coordinate with resistance in cities

      4. Use control of countryside to choke off and capture cities

      5. Base political power on a union of urban leftist intellectuals with rural peasants

      6. Most, though not all, post-1960 guerilla movements will try to pursue some version of this model

    3. Cuba also provides assistance

      1. Will provide money, material, training, and a safe haven

      2. Cuba seeks to create revolutionary states in order to break US-imposed isolation

      3. Much of the money and supplies comes from the Soviet Union, but Havana and Moscow do not always agree

      4. Havana generally more radical than Moscow, which fears confrontation with United States

      5. Che Guevara killed trying to develop guerilla movement in Bolivia (1967)

      6. This puts a damper on Cuban support for guerillas, but doesn't end completely until 1990-91, when Soviet aid ends

  4. A wide spread movement in 1960s, 70s, and 80s

    1. Most Latin American countries see some kind of guerilla activity during in this period

    2. Some of the more important groups

      1. Colombia - FARC, others, still ongoing, and powerful, significant involvement in drug trade,

      2. Peru 

        1. Shining Path - notable for its ferocity and cultish devotion to leader, once controlled large part of Peruvian rural zones

        2. Tupac Amaru - more traditional uniformed rebel group

      3. Nicaragua - Sandanistas overthrow Somoza 1979, lose election and leave power 1990, remains an important party

      4. Guatemala and El Salvador - both civil wars end in early 90s, but after tremendous carnage

      5. Argentina and Chile - small movements, but spark ferocious responses from military

      6. Groups like the Zapatistas in Mexico (who don't appear till 1995) and the Tupamaros in Uruguay emphasized political theater

    3. Who are they?

      1. Rural peasants, frequently Amerindian

      2. Urban intellectuals, mostly leftists

      3. In some cases, disaffected military

    4. A variety of goals

      1. Much variety - generally Marxist, nationalist, and anti-imperialist

      2. Some follow Cuban line

      3. Others seek a more democratic, mixed-economy model, like Sandinistas

      4. Shining Path sought a totalitarian restructuring of an extreme form, along lines of Khmer Rouge

      5. Peasantry has consistently wanted one thing - land

    5. What happened?

      1. In some countries, ferociousness of military wiped them out (Chile, Argentina)

      2. Others laid down arms and became political parties (El Salvador, Guatemala, some in Colombia, Peru)

      3. Sandinistas won, but lost presidential election in 1990. Remain largest party in Nicaragua, recapturing presidency in 2006

      4. Shining Path weakened by arrests, military defeats, but retain control of some rural regions of country and siphons money from drug trade, while Tupac Amaru has not recovered from arrests of leadershp.

      5. FARC in Colombia oldest and most important - controls large sections of territory and has great wealth siphoned from drug trade