Latin American Guerrilla Movements: Origins, Evolution, Outcomes, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Latin American Guerrilla Movements

Origins, Evolution, Outcomes, 1st Edition

Edited by Dirk Kruijt, Eduardo Rey Tristán, Alberto Martin Álvarez


288 pages

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Organized around single country studies embedded in key historical moments, this book introduces students to the shifting, and varied guerrilla history of Latin America from the late 1950s to the present. It brings together academics and those directly involved in aspects of the guerrilla movement, to understand each country’s experience with guerrilla warfare and revolutionary activism.

The book is divided in four thematic parts after two opening chapters that analyze the tradition of military involvement in Latin American politics and the parallel tradition of insurgency and coup effort against dictatorship. The first two parts examine active guerrilla movements in the 1960s and 1970s with case studies including Bolivia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Part Three is dedicated to the Central American Civil Wars of the 1980s and 1990s in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Part Four examines specific guerrilla movements which require special attention. Chapters include Colombia’s complicated guerrilla scenery; the rivalling Shining Path and Tupac Amaru guerrillas in Peru; small guerrilla movements in Mexico which were never completely documented; and transnational guerrilla operations in the Southern Cone. The concluding chapter, presents a balance of the entire Latin American guerrilla at present.

Superbly accessible, while retaining the complexity of Latin American politics, Latin American Guerrilla Movements represents the best historical account of revolutionary movements in the region, which students will find of great use owing to its coverage and insights.


"This volume comes from the hand of three of the best researchers on revolutionary movements in Latin America. The time elapsed and the partial end of the last guerrilla violence in Colombia with the accumulated knowledge allow the rigorous research that is reflected in this book."Manuel Alcántara, Full Professor, University of Salamanca, Spain and Director of FLACSO Spain

"A pioneering, comprehensive, analytical book on guerrillas / insurgency in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Cold War and the guerrillas set the way for political systems in the region and beyond. Counterinsurgency and guerrilla wars left narrow margins for democratic developments in Latin America between 1959 and 1990. A profound observation on twelve national cases. A new excellent contribution from Dirk Kruijt."Francisco Rojas Aravena, Rector of the United Nations University for Peace, Costa Rica

"The editors have compiled a well written and much needed comprehensive scholarly analysis of the Latin American revolutionary guerrilla movements that played a crucial role in the political history of the region in the 20th Century. It is particularly important that they have acknowledged the seminal role played by Cuba in this process."Gary Prevost, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, USA

"This impressive collection of essays improves our understanding of the origins, evolution, and outcomes of Latin America’s guerrilla movements. The volume brings together a top-notch group of political scientists, historians, and sociologists from Latin America, the United States, and Europe, who have dedicated their professional lives to the study of the region’s New Left. It should be on everyone’s reading list."Michael E. Allison, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, The University of Scranton, USA

"Nothing exemplifies the tensions and contradictions of Latin America’s quest for peaceful coexistence better than the history of the guerrilla movements that dominated its political life in the second part of the XXth. century. Kruijt, Rey Tristán and Martin Álvarez have brought together a volume offering the most comprehensive overview so far of a phenomenon that in its origins, development, demise and aftermath expresses the troubled dynamic between democratization and violence that in different ways continue to plague Latin America society as it enters a new millennium."Bernardo Arévalo de León, Latin American Director of Interpeace

"We have long been overdue for a volume that updates our understandings of guerrilla movements in Latin America. This work more than fills that gap. Drawing on the unrivaled expertise of leading scholars with intimate knowledge of the field, Latin American Guerrilla Movements excels in providing us with deep and probing insights and analyses into the successes and shortcomings of guerrilla movements. This is a required work to understand the Latin American revolutionary left and how it developed in this way."Marc Becker, Professor of Latin American History, Truman State University, author of Twentieth-Century Latin American Revolutions

"The book "Latin American Guerrilla Movements. Origins, Evolution, Outcomes" edited by Dirk Kruijt, Eduardo Rey Tristán and Alberto Martín Álvarez will become a must - have for researchers, students and those interested in guerrilla action and revolutionary political violence in Latin America. Through 18 chapters written by experts, the work analyzes the different guerrilla waves experienced by Latin America both nationally and from a regional perspective. It is an essential collective work to get an understanding of the "spirit of the political age" that infected Latin America since the Cuban Revolution, and which involved more than four decades of guerrilla activity." Salvador Martí i Puig, Coordinador del Grau de Ciència Política i de l'Administració, University of Girona, Spain

"This book is an essential guide to an extraordinary period of recent history, one in which two generations of young Latin Americans took up arms as guerrillas in the hopes of seizing power and building Utopian futures in their countries. For historians, scholars, diplomats, and anyone else seeking an authoritative analysis of the revolutionary wave that convulsed Latin America from the 1950s to the 1990s, "Latin American Guerrilla Movements" is certain to become indispensable reading." Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

Table of Contents

1. Origins and Evolution of the Latin American Guerrilla Movements

Dirk Kruijt, Eduardo Rey Tristán and Alberto Martin Álvarez

2. Cuba and the Latin American Left

Dirk Kruijt

Part 1: First Revolutionary Ripple: the imitation of the successful example

The Sixties and the Foco Guerrilla

Eduardo Rey Tristán

3.Guerrilla Movements in the Dominican Republic

Cyrus Veeser and Lilian Bobea

4.Notes on the guerrilla experience in Venezuela (1958-1994)

Eudald Cortina Orero

5. The First Cycle of the Guatemalan Insurgency (1954-1972)

Carlos Figueroa Ibarra

6. The Peruvian Guerrilla Movements of the 1960s.

Jan Lust

7. The Bolivian Guerrilla Movements in Four Phases

Gustavo Rodríguez Ostria

Part 2: Second Revolutionary Ripple: the adaptation of a non-viable model

The Urban Experience: Rethinking the Guevarist Foco

Eduardo Rey Tristán

8. Guerrillasin Brazil, 1960’s and 70’s

Celso Castro

9. The Uruguayan Guerrilla Experience (1963-1972)

Eduardo Rey Tristán

10. Guerrillas in Argentina. A History of Four Decades (1950-1980)

Hernán Confino and Marina Franco

11. Formation and Development of the Armed Left in Chile (1965-1990)

Igor Goicovic

Part 3: Third Revolutionary Ripple: Learning from Experiences and New Influences

The Central American Civil Wars

Alberto Martin Álvarez

12. The Sandinista Guerrilla, Revolution and Legacy

Dirk Kruijt and Alberto Martin Álvarez

13. The Revolutionary Movement in El Salvador

Alberto Martin Álvarez

14. The Second Cycle of the Guatemalan insurgency (1970-1996)

Mario Vázquez Olivera and Fabián Campos Hernández

Part 4: Special Cases

Singularities and Transversalities in the Insurgent Cycle

Dirk Kruijt

15. Colombia: 70 years of Guerrilla Warfare

Darío Villamizar

16. Sendero Luminoso, the MRTA, and the Peruvian Paradoxes

Martin Tanaka

17. Mexico’s Armed Socialist Movement During the 1960s and 1970s

Adela Cedillo

18. The Emergence of The Junta Coordinadora Revolucionaria: Historical Context and Political Process in The Southern Cone

Aldo Marchesi

19. A Balance of the Latin America Guerrilla

Dirk Kruijt, Alberto Martin Álvarez and Eduardo Rey Tristán

About the Editors

Dirk Kruijt is Professor Emeritus of Development Studies at Utrecht University, and currently is a research fellow at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa an at the Centre for Military Studies at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He has published widely about military governments and revolutions; insurgency and counterinsurgency; and urban violence and non-state actors. He has been a visiting scholar at universities and research institutes in Latin America and Europe. In addition, he has been a policy advisor to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, assigned to Latin America on multiple occasions. His most recent monograph is Cuba and Revolutionary Latin America (2017); Ethnography as Risky Business: Field Research in Violent and Sensitive Contexts (2019) was published in co-edition with Kees Koonings and Dennis Rodgers.

Eduardo Rey Tristán is Associate Professor of Latin American History at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. After his PhD about the guerrilla movements in Uruguay, he has specialized in political violence and contemporary Latin American revolutionary movements. He has carried out long-time field research in the Rio de la Plata region and Central America. He has published monographs, articles and book chapters in several European and American countries, among them: La Izquierda Revolucionaria Uruguaya, 1955-1973 (2006), and Revolutionary Violence and The New Left. Transnational Perspectives (co-edited with Alberto Martín, New York: Routledge, 2016). He is currently working on a political biography of the Italian left-wing editor and activist Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (expected in 2020).

Alberto Martin Álvarez holds a PhD on Latin American Studies from the Universidad Complutense (Madrid) where he is currently Associate Professor of Political Science. He has been senior researcher at the Instituto Mora (Mexico City) and visiting professor at several universities and research centers in Europe and Latin America. He is co-founder and coordinator of the Revolutionary New Left International Research Network on Political Violence. He has also undertaken extensive research on the origins and development of the Salvadoran revolutionary left. Among his main publications are: Revolutionary Violence and the New Left: Transnational Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2016, with Eduardo Rey, eds.) and the monograph From Revolutionary War to Democratic Revolution: The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador (2010).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Caribbean & Latin American