In Latin America violent conflict is the consequence of structural factors or preconditions, including economic isolation and political-social restrictions undermining citizen’s rights, with clashes between classes and racial conflicts inherited since the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the early 1500’s; that along with other immediate incidental factors like land invasions, political oppression, and repression lead directly to specific events and/or situations that triggered the outbreak of guerrillas in the 1960’s.
In Latin America, landlessness and class segregation marks the source of conflict and defiance against the Spanish crown and later on against the elites in power, interrupting the formation of the State and staging a never ending institutional inability to response to social demands, thus forming guerrillas movements to overthrown dictators, military regimes ultimately challenging the status quo in pursuit of social justice and inclusion.
Throughout three decades (1960’s-1980’s) Latin American countries were caught in the middle of the Cold War where ideology played a key role within the ruling class and the pursue of national power; the rise of revolutionary movements in countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Peru brought a new meaning to the concept of nationalism where oligarchy, underdevelopment and misery were seen as the result of a malevolent force led by capitalist ruling class and foreign powers. The rise of social movements in favor of social progress, abolishment of private property, protection of natural resources and a strong animadversion against the United States spread throughout the south cone setting the foundations for the left to achieve power during the 1990’s and 2000’s.
Starting with the Cuban guerrilla with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, the South Cone has witnessed the rise and fall of guerrilla movements: Frente Sandinista de Liberation Nacional (FSLN) in Nicaragua, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) in Colombia, Frente Farbaundo Marti de Liberation Nacional (FMLN) in El Salvador, Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) and Ejercito de los Pobres (EGP) in Guatemala, Sender Luminoso (PCP-SL) and Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA) in Peru, Los Montoneros in Argentina, Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) in Chile, Liga 23 de Septiembre (LaLiga), Ejercito Zaptista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN) and Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (EPR) in Mexico, and last but not least Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) in Venezuela.
To date, there are only three countries in Latin America with active guerrilla movements: Colombia, Peru and Mexico. Colombia’s FARC have remained in the eye of the media not only because of their link with drug trafficking but because of the peace process they are attempting to negotiate and the involvement of important figures in the international arena.
There’s a vast bibliography on guerrillas in Latin America, impossible to summarize on a single post; nevertheless there will be in the future a reference list for those who want to read more about social-freedom fighters, revolutionaries, and guerrilla movements; as well as updates on active guerrillas and their impact in their countries.
What you’ll find here in a few weeks:
- History of Guerrillas in Latin America
- Colombia, FARC and the Peace Process
- Peru and Sendero Luminoso
- Mexico and the red thin line: Guerrillas and Narcos.