Carlos Motta, Artist

Brief History of Leftist Guerrillas in Latin America

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Movimiento 26 de Julio (M-26), Cuba
Castrist, Nationalist, Marxist. When Fulgencio Batista took control of the government on March 10, 1952, Fidel Castro stood up against him and filed a lawsuit demanding his arrest, but the court ruled against it. On July 26, 1953, Castro and 170 guerrillas attacked the Moncada barracks in Santiago. The attacks were a failure: Abel Santamaría was killed and Castro received a 15-year prison sentence. After amnesty was granted in May 1955, Castro was released and he headed for Mexico to create and train a new guerrilla force. There he met Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The new force set off for Cuba on November 26, 1956. Despite Batista’s attempts to crush the movement, the M-26 continued to gain popularity; for example, the Partido Socialista Popular (PSP) and the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) expressed their support. M-26’s best known action was when “Che” Guevara and his troops took over Santa Clara on December 24, 1958, forcing Batista to flee. After Batista’s departure, Manuel Urrutia was appointed president and Castro became prime minister. Eventually, Fidel Castro became the nation’s leader. M-26 was one of the few guerrilla groups that succeeded in overthrowing a government and taking over power. Fidel Castro was in power for over 50 years. Recently because of health concerns his brother Raúl assumed leadership of the island, although Fidel seems to still be active in the country’s political affairs. Leaders: Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Armando Hart, Frank País, René Ramos Latour, David Salvado and Abel Santamaría.

Uturuncos, Argentina
Peronist, Castrist. “Uturunco” means, “tiger-man” in Quechua. The Uturunco group was Argentina’s first guerrilla and it was heavily influenced by the Cuban Revolution. The majority of its leaders were former militants of the Alianza Libertadora Revolucionaria (ALR) and of the Partido Socialista de la Revolución Nacional (PSRN). The Uturuncos were based in the province of Tucumán and they demanded that President Arturo Frondizi, of the Unión Civica Radical (UCR), resign, in spite of Frondizi’s support of Peronism, the forfeit of oil contracts with foreign companies, and Perón’s return to Argentina. The Uturuncos’ goal was to create a workers force and to increase the number of rural Peronist guerrilla movements. Leader: Enrique Mena.

Movimiento 14 de Junio (M-14), Dominican Republic
Marxist, Castrist. The M-14 was originally a political organization founded in 1959. It became a guerrilla group in response to the instability of the nation. In 1962 the M-14 split between a radical faction, the Agrupación Política 14 de Junio (AP1J4) and a moderate faction called the Partido 14 de Junio (1J4). On September 25, 1963, when president Juan Bosch was ousted by a U.S.- supported intervention that replaced the government with a military junta, the radical faction of the group was named illegal. Although the M-14 formed six guerrilla fronts, government forces quickly defeated them all. In 1965, the M-14 re-emerged under Francisco Caamaño Deño, but after an unsuccessful attack in 1973, all members of the group were killed. Leaders: Pedro Bonilla, Roberto Duvergé, Leandro Guzmán, Juan Mejía, Polo Rodríguez, Juan Miguel Román and Manuel Tavárez Justo.

Early 1960s
Frente Unido de Liberación Nacional (FULNA), Paraguay
Ideology unknown. The FULNA was a revolutionary group in the regions of San Pedro, General Aquino, and Rosario that included several members of the Communist Party. Fidel Castro supported it. The FULNA infiltrated a group of seventeen rebels that crossed the border into Paraguay from Brazil and attacked the village of Capitán Bado. Police and army forces fought back and ultimately eliminated them. The FULNA made a second and a third armed attempt, but neither was successful. On December 20, 1960, the FULNA gave up armed resistance. Leaders: Unknown.

Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionaria/ Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (MIR-FALN), Venezuela
Castrist. Marcos Pérez Jiménez was overthrown during a popular revolution and Rómulo Betancourt, of the Acción Democrática (AD), rose to power. Although the AD represented a change from the Pérez Jiménez dictatorship, Venezuelan citizens were unsatisfied because the AD did not carry out progressive action. On April 9, 1960, Américo Martín, Moisés Moleiro and Domingo Alberto Rangel founded the Acción Democrática Izquierdista (ADI), which later became the Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). The MIR functioned as the radical wing of the AD and was one of the first armed groups in Venezuela. On May 10, 1962, the MIR and the Communist Party (PCV) were banned because of their violent actions. In response to the outlawing of their organizations, in 1963 the MIR and the PCV founded the FALN sector, which was composed of five hundred guerrillas. On July 4, 1964, the FALN founded the Frente de Liberación Nacional (FLN) as its political branch. Raúl Leoni, of the AD, was elected president in 1963 and began a peaceful reconciliation process between the guerrilla forces and the government. Former MIR leader Domingo Alberto Rangel agreed via a letter from prison that convinced the MIR-FALN to end the armed struggle. Leaders: Américo Martín, Moisés Moleiro and Domingo Alberto Rangel.

Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR), Guatemala
Nationalist, Anti-Imperialist, Marxist-Leninist. In 1960, the CIA began to train Cuban exiles in Guatemala for the “Bay of Pigs” invasion in Cuba. On November 13, 1960, young military officers with a nationalist agenda, formed the Movimiento Revolucionario Alejandro de León 13 de Noviembre (MR-13) and launched an attack in response to this U.S-led action. In 1962, there were several attacks in Guatemala City against the congressional elections due to the lack of transparency of the electoral process. After an army crackdown, the organization was forced to reorganize in rural areas. On March 30, 1963, all political parties were banned after a coup led by Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdía. During this period the group switched from a nationalist and anti-imperialist agenda to Marxism-Leninism and changed its name to Movimiento Revolucionario 13 de Noviembre (MR-13), while the Movimiento Revolucionario Alejandro de León 13 de Noviembre (MR-13) still functioned as a front organization. Both groups focused on social and military actions amongst the peasant class, by using “Che” Guevara’s Bolivia strategy as a model. In 1964, Turcios Lima and Yon Sosa began to have ideological differences, which led to Turcios Lima leaving the MR-13 and joining the Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo (PGT). In March 1965 the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR) group was founded as the guerrilla front of the PGT. On February 9, 1965, the MR-13 shot Colonel Harold Houser, head of the U.S. military missions in Guatemala. César Montes was chosen second in command of the PGT after Yon Sosa left the group. This led to a conflict between those who favored Turcios Lima’s leadership and those who preferred César Montes’. In the 1966 elections many members of the FAR expected a viable chance for progressive Guatemalan forces to win the election. The alternative candidate was Julio César Méndez Montenegro, from the Partido Revolucionario (PR), who was formally a law professor of César Montes and gained official endorsement from the PGT. The FAR did not think well of Méndez as a candidate and Turcios Lima denounced the elections as a hollow “electoral game.” The FAR issued a statement officially announcing that they supported Méndez as candidate. Ironically, Méndez was elected president and the FAR began a partial demobilization. The FAR lost its popularity due to a new civilian leadership under Méndez, but it claimed that the army still had a substantial amount of power. In response, Méndez authorized the military to exterminate guerilla forces and allowed U.S. troops to assist in anti-insurgency actions in order to pacify the Guatemalan military and to maintain their support for his government. Through U.S.- led attacks, the FAR lost a substantial amount of control. In 1968, the FAR separated from the PGT and that same year Colonel John Weber, head of the U.S. military mission, and U.S. Ambassador, John Gordon Mein, were killed. The FAR struggled to maintain its status after Turcios Lima’s death in 1966 and Yon Sosa’s in 1970. In 1982, the FAR joined the URGN. The 1996 peace accords marked the end of the group. Leaders: César Montes, Jorge Soto (“Pablo Monsanto”), Luis Alberto Turcios Lima, Marco Antonio Yon Sosa.

Partido Comunista de Venezuela/ Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (PCV-FALN), Venezuela
After several riots in various Venezuelan cities from October until December 1961, President Rómulo Betancourt initiated a hunt for Communist leaders. The Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV) fought back the government. The PCV attempted to form a guerrilla force in the eastern and western mountains, but they were quickly eliminated. However, through the creation of the Unidades Tácticas de Combate, organized jointly with the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), the PCV was successful in urban areas. The government officially banned the PCV in May 1962, after it supported the occupation of a naval base in Carúpano. On June 12, 1962, the PCV tried to assassinate Betancourt but failed, which stimulated further crackdowns against it. In 1963, the PCV officially joined forces with the MIR and founded the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN). Before the presidential elections of December 1, 1963, the PCV-FALN carried out terrorist attacks to destabilize the Betancourt government as a means to gain support from politically disaffected groups and take control of the government. AD candidate Raúl Leoni, who was also supported by Betancourt, won the elections. The PCV-FALN lost a substantial amount of control from 1964 to 1965, as the army counterattacked it. In 1966 President Leoni offered the PCV-FALN the possibility to become legal in exchange for their calling off armed resistance. The PCV-FALN accepted.  PCV-FALN’s leader Douglas Bravo did not    support the new direction of the PCV-FALN and continued to fight. The group dispersed in 1969, when Fidel Castro cut off his aid in order to resume relations with the Venezuelan government. Leader: Douglas Bravo.

Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), Nicaragua
Nationalist, Marxist. Rigoberto López Pérez assassinated Dictator Anastasio Somoza García in 1956. After his death, Anastasio Somoza Debayle came to power, but López Pérez’s action had encouraged the formation of a revolutionary student movement. By 1961, Tomás Borge, Carlos Fonseca Amador and Silvio Mayorga had founded the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN). The FSLN sought support for the Sandinista ideology from the peasant population. Its aim was to remove Somoza from power and to create a new society based on Marxist ideas. In 1962, a Sandinista-supported student organization, the Frente Estudiantil Revolucionario (FER), was founded in order to gain support from the student population. In the mid-1960s, the FSLN developed the strategy of “guerra popular” through the distribution of propaganda. In 1966, the FSLN resumed its military strategy by recruiting peasants to form a guerrilla force, but the National Guard detected the guerrillas and attacked the FSLN between 1967 and 1969, forcing it to go underground. On December 27, 1974, the FSLN attacked a party held by José Maria “Chema” Castillo, a Somoza confident, taking government officials as hostages and demanding the release of twelve FSLN prisoners, as well as a million dollar  ransom and the national broadcast of the Sandinista manifesto.After the FLSN’s attack, Somoza launched a counterinsurgency campaign with help from U.S forces. The FLSN split into three factions: Tendencia Proletaria (TP), Guerra Popular Prolongada (GPP), and Tendencia Insurreccional (Terceristas). In June 1978, all three agreed to immediate insurrection and founded the Movimiento del Pueblo Unido (MPU). In August 1978 the FLSN attacked the National Palace, holding 1,000 hostages. Major FLSN leaders were released after the attack and the FSLN gained popular support. The FSLN founded the Frente Patriótico Nacional (FPN) as an alternative political structure whose goals were to  disband the National Guard, to nationalize Somozista businesses and property and to establish a democratic popular government. The FSLN launched its final attacks in three different phases in 1979. Between May 29 and June 8, the FSLN initiated popular revolts and strikes to attack the Somoza government. In its second phase, from June 9 to 25, the FSLN fought the battle of Managua, which commanded critical international attention. Finally, in its third phase, from June 26 until July 12, the FSLN took over the city of Carazo and consolidated the northern cities. Somoza fled from Managua on July 17, 1979, when he realized that there was no chance for him to remain in power. The FSLN had taken over the government. Leaders: Tomás Borge, Carlos Fonseca Amador, Silvio Mayorga, Daniel Ortega, Humberto Ortega, Henry Ruiz, Jaime Wheelock

Frente Izquierdista Revolucionario (FIR), Peru
Trotskyist. Hugo Blanco became a member of the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR) in 1956 and expressed the need to create a worker-peasant alliance that would be active in armed struggle. Between 1958 and 1961, Blanco created 148 worker-peasant unions. The Frente Izquierdista Revolucionario (FIR) was founded in 1961 to function as the revolutionary front of the POR. In 1963 Blanco was captured, and he was released in 1970 under the amnesty granted by President Juan Velazco Alvarado. In the late 1970s, the FIR joined an alliance with ultra-leftist groups in Peru. The FIR was expelled from the front in 1979, when they expressed their support of Blanco’s presidential ambitions. Leader: Hugo Blanco.

Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), Peru
Castrist. The Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) was founded as a faction of the Partido Comunista Peruano (PCP) in 1962. The ELN believed that revolutionary struggle was the only means to create a communist society. Movimiento 15 de Mayo (M-15) was founded in coalition with the FIR as a guerrilla front in 1963. In 1965, the ELN failed in the seizure of private property and was defeated by the army. ELN leaders Ricardo Léon and Juan Zapata Bodero were killed in the attack, and the ELN disintegrated. Leaders: Héctor Béjar Rivera, Ricardo León and Juan Zapata Bodero.

Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionario (MIR), Peru
Castrist-Guevarist. The Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionario (MIR) was founded as a faction of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA) by Luis de la Puente Uceda in 1962. Puente Uceda believed in the achievement of an agrarian reform through rural guerilla warfare and the mobilization of the peasantry and progressive elements of the bourgeoisie. The MIR called for armed struggle at the University of San Marcos in Lima. Luis de la Puente Uceda was killed during a counterinsurgency campaign in 1965. The MIR was officially reformed in 1977 and withdrew from armed resistance. In October 1980 the MIR joined the Izquierda Unida (IU), a bloc of Peruvian leftist political parties. Leaders: Ricardo Gadea, Guillermo Lobatón and Luis de la Puente Uceda.

Movimiento de Liberación Nacional Tupamaros, Uruguay
Marxist. The Movimiento de Liberación Nacional Tupamaros (Tupamaros) was founded in 1961 as a result of protests led by Raúl Sendic. The protesters demanded higher pay and fair working conditions for sugar farmers. The Tupamaros’s ideology evolved into a call for land expropriation, redistribution of income and the establishment of a new system that would represent all Uruguayans equally. Their goal was to create an independent nationalist identity and to have a socialist-based socio-economic system in Uruguay by means of armed struggle. In 1970 the Tupamaros kidnapped U.S official Dan Mitrione, who was known to have trained the police in the interrogation of political prisoners. Tuparamos created ties with leftist political organizations in Uruguay and with other   revolutionary movements in Bolivia and Brazil from 1970 on. The Tuparamos called for a temporary truce in observance of the 1971 elections and supported the political party Frente Amplio (FA). In 1971 they abducted the British Ambassador, G. Jackson. In 1972 they lost a substantial amount of their influence after an anti-guerrilla operation led by the military. (Artist and writer Luis Camnitzer has named the Tupamaros’ revolutionary strategy “conceptual,” considering them predecessors of Latin Ameircan conceptual art).
Leaders: Pedro Almirati, Abraham Guillén and Raúl Sendic.

Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), Colombia
Marxist, Castrist. The Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) was founded by Fabio Vásquez Castaño in 1964. The ELN was pro-Cuban and its ideology was similar to that of the Movimiento de Obreros, Estudiantes y Campesinos (MOEC). It believed in the distribution of power to the popular class through guerrilla warfare. On January 7, 1965, the ELN attacked the town of Simacota, where they killed five police officers and publicized their manifesto,  claiming that armed struggle was the only way to change Colombia. In 1973 the army launched an anti-guerrilla campaign called “Operación Anorí,” and several ELN leaders were killed. The ELN re-emerged in 1983, when two of its fronts, led by Manuel Pérez and Nicolás Rodríguez, merged. In 1984 the ELN agreed to negotiate with the government, but it remained active and attacked a multinational oil company in 1986. In 1988 the Coordinadora Guerrillera Simón Bolivar (CGSB) was founded as an umbrella group of the ELN to negotiate with the government. In 1991 the ELN and the FARC launched military actions as a protest for being neglected by the political process. In 1992 the ELN began a series of kidnappings, including that of Argelino Durán, a former minister, with the aim of pressuring the government into peace negotiations. These actions caused the talks between the ELN and the Colombian government to collapse. In the early 2000s, during the early days of the Álvaro Uribe Vélez government there was an attempt at holding talks but eventually were severed, neither party being fully trusting of the other. Only in mid-2004 the ELN and the government began to make a series of moves that, with the announced mediation of the Vicente Fox government of Mexico, lead to another round of exploratory talks. In December 2005, the ELN and the Colombian government began a new round of exploratory talks in La Habana, Cuba, with the presence of the ELN’s military commander “Antonio García,” as well as “Francisco Galán” and “Ramiro Vargas.” By 2007, after several rounds of talks, the ELN said that the dialogues in Havana ended without agreement because of “two different conceptions of peace and methods get to it.” In May 2009 the ELN stated that there were no “reserved issues” in possible peace talks with the government and called for a political solution to the more than 50-year-old “armed conflict” in the Andean nation. Leaders: Nicolás Bautista, Francisco Galán, Domingo Laín, Ricardo Lara Parada, Manuel Pérez, Nicolás Rodríguez and Fabio Vásquez Castaño.

Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), Chile
Castrist, Guevarist. The Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) was founded in 1965. The MIR believed in anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism and in the use of guerrilla warfare to establish a socialist state in Chile. It was supported by the Mapuche Indians and by students from autonomous universities. The MIR gained further support from peasants and from the impoverished through the distribution of propaganda. In 1970 the MIR suspended all armed actions in observance of the election of Salvador Allende. Ironically, the MIR became unsatisfied with Allende’s presidency because of his “lack of radical actions”, and continued its armed actions. Allende dismissed the MIR in order to gain support from other organizations. The Communist Party (PCC) accused the MIR of being involved with the CIA and Allende permitted a counter-insurgency campaign in 1972. Augusto Pinochet overthrew Allende in 1973 and the MIR denounced his dictatorship. From 1974 until 1984 the MIR launched numerous attacks against the Pinochet regime, and by 1984 it had established the Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Popular (FARP). The MIR split between the Secretariado Nacional (National Secretariat), which believed in guerrilla warfare, and the Comité Central (Central Committee), which sought relations with other political parties and joined the United Left coalition. The MIR’s Secretariado Nacional continued its armed resistance until the end of the Pinochet regime in 1990. The MIR sought the establishment of a socialist state. After Chile’s return to democracy, the party was     resurrected. It currently participates in the Juntos Podemos Más coalition.  Leaders: Hernán Aquilo, Miguel Enríquez, Andrés Pascal Allende, Victor Toro and Arturo Villavella.

Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), Bolivia
Castrist, Foquista. “Che” Guevara founded the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) to spread the success of the Cuban Revolution. He believed in the education of the peasant class in Bolivia, where sixty percent of the population was illiterate. After forming a training camp in the region of Camiri, Guevara and 27 guerrillas launched a 6-week campaign to claim territory and to increase their forces. By April 1967, Washington D.C. became involved in an anti-guerrilla mission. The ELN received media attention when they imprisoned French philosopher/journalist Régis Debray and two other journalists in May 1967. Between May and October 1967, the ELN was defeated in numerous attacks, including the attack on October 8 that led to “Che” Guevara’s execution by the CIA. Five ELN members succeeded in fleeing from the attack, including Guido “Inti” Peredo. Peredo founded a new movement amongst the surviving ELN members, but he was assassinated in September 1969. Peredo’s brother, “Chato”, succeeded him in the movement by using funds provided by the Uruguayan Tupamaros. Amnesty was granted by General Juan José Torres’s regime, and former ELN members were permitted to exile from Bolivia. Eight ELN members were invited to Chile by President Salvador Allende. The ELN re-emerged in 1989, but the Bolivian government succeeded in terminating all guerrilla actions. Leaders: Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Guido “Inti” Peredo and Roberto “Coco” Peredo.

Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), Colombia
Marxist. The Partido Comunista Colombiano (PCC) called for an agrarian and anti-imperialist revolution and established the Bloque Sur (Southern Bloc) in 1964. The Bloque Sur consisted of guerrillas that later evolved into the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), which originally functioned as the armed forces of the PCC. The FARC was officially established as an organization at the 10th Congress of the Communist Party in 1966. The FARC demanded a fifty percent tax reduction for land and property, forty percent reduction in public utility rates and the nationalization of  foreign businesses. The FARC shifted its operations to rural guerrilla tactics for the next twenty years. In 1982, President Belisario Betancourt passed Law 35, which granted amnesty to guerrilla forces. Internal conflicts emerged as a result of the negotiation process, and the extremist faction Frente Ricardo Franco (FRF) was founded. In 1984 the FARC leader, Marulanda Vélez, accepted the terms of the amnesty and announced his intention of going into politics. Former FARC members founded the Unión Patriótica (UP) as a legal party in 1985, but the FARC continued to increase in membership and violent actions. The FARC claimed to have executed hundreds between 1985 and 1991. President César Gavíria ordered an attack on a FARC stronghold to represent the outcome for guerrilla forces that refused to withdraw from armed actions. The FARC and the ELN killed approximately fifty officers in response to the government’s attack. On May 6, 1991, the Coordinadora Guerrilla Simón Bolivar (CGSB), which was in association with FARC/ELN, sent a communiqué to the Colombian Constitutional Assembly stating their willingness to meet government officials at Cravo Norte for peace negotiations. Since the 90s until today, the FARC have continued its violent actions and have carried out thousands of kidnappings. It is said that they also finance their activities through drug trafficking. Dialogues between FARC and the government were frequently disrupted and eventually dispersed. In 2008 Manuel Marulanda died and Raúl Reyes was killed during an attack by the Colombian government in Ecuador, challenging the leadership of the organization. Currently there has been no significant dialogue although it has been  indicated that talks may be resumed in the future.
Leaders: Jacobo Arenas, Alfonso Cano, Jaime Guaraca, Pedro Antonio Marín, Manuel Marulanda Vélez and Raúl Reyes.

Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR), Argentina
Marxist, Leninist, Peronist. The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR) was founded in 1967 by dissidents of the Partido Socialista de Vanguardia (PSAV) and the Partido Socialista Argentino (PSA). The FAR also associated with the ELN with the intention of joining the forces of “Che” Guevara. The FAR launched its first attack on July 26, 1969, when it bombed thirteen Minimax supermarkets that were owned by Nelson Rockefeller. The FAR plotted a coup against General Juan Carlos Onganía, who deposed constitutionally-     elected president Arturo Illía by occupying the town of Garín on July 30, 1970. In 1971 the FAR initiated a program to unite all Argentinean revolutionary movements by using nationalism as a central ideology. The FAR, the ERP, and the Montoneros jointly planned the assassination of naval intelligence officer, Admiral Emilio R. Berisso, in 1972. President Héctor Cámpora, a Peronist, demanded all underground organizations to surrender, but the FAR rejected his demands. In 1973 the FAR joined the Montoneros, and this marked its end as an independent organization. Leaders: Marcelo Kurlat, Juan Pablo Maestre, Mirta Misetich, Carlos Enrique Olmedo, Marco Osatinsky, Sara Palacios and Roberto Quieto.

Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas (FAP), Argentina
The Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas (FAP) group was founded by Peronist militants and by members of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario Tacuara (MNRT) to begin urban guerrilla warfare. The FAP supported the Cuban and Algerian revolutionary movements, the idea of a prolonged popular war, and the organization of the masses. In 1970, the FAP attacked a housing area designated for Campo de Mayo officers and the Maritime National Headquarters, and stole 600 boxes of dynamite that was to be used for the El Chocón dam. After the death and imprisonment of their leaders, the FAP merged with the ERP, the Montoneros, and various other organizations. The FAP was the first Peronist movement that switched to Guevarism. Leaders: Carlos Caride, Envar El Kadri, Gerardo Ferrari, Arturo Gadea and Miguel Zabala Rodríguez.

Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL), Colombia
Maoist.  The Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL) was founded by the Partido Comunista Colombiano-Marxista Leninista (PCC-ML). The EPL was composed of peasants, workers and students. It was the first Latin American guerrilla group that applied a Maoist approach to revolutionary tactics. The EPL based its actions on guerrilla warfare, education of the peasant class and the creation of an army for the masses. The Movimiento Autodefensa Obrero (MAO) functioned as the urban faction of the EPL and was  founded in 1978. A former    government minister, Rafael Prado, was assassinated by the EPL in September 1978. President Belisario Betancourt passed Law 35 and granted amnesty to revolutionary organizations, but the EPL rejected the proposal. Writer Gabriel García Márquez became the middleman between the EPL and the government and the EPL ceased fire in 1984. Leaders: Francisco Caraballo, Jaime Fajardo, Bernardo Ferreira Grandet, Amanda Ramírez and Rafael Vergara Navarro.

Frente Morazanista de Liberación Nacional Hondureña (FMLNH), Honduras
Trotskyist. The Frente Morazanista de Liberación Nacional Hondureña (FMLNH) was founded as a faction of the Partido Comunista de Honduras (PCH) and became an independent organization in 1967. FMLNH’s goal was to gain power through the use of arms. The FMLNH was re-established after Somoza’s overthrow in 1979. Several activists of the Frente Unido Universitario Democrático (FUUD) were assassinated by the FMLNH due to their connections with military intelligence in 1989 and in 1990. The FMLNH joined the Directorio Nacional Unido- Movimientos Revolucionarios Hondureños (DNU-MRH). The FMLNH put and end to its armed actions in 1990 but claimed the assassination of San Pedro Sula in 1991. Leader: “Octavio Pérez.”

Açao Libertadora Nacional (ALN), Brazil
Marxist. João Goulart was elected president in 1954 and promised unrealistic reforms in Brazil, which prompted a coup that replaced him with the military regime of General Humberto Castelo Branco in 1964. Marshal Arturo da Costa e Silva succeeded Castelo Branco as president and sanctioned Act 5, a law that gave all of the executive power to the president.  Carlos Marighella, a former member of the Partido Comunista Brasileiro (PCB), founded the Açao Libertadora Nacional (ALN) in 1968. The group was founded to bring together peasants who would eventually destroy the ruling regime through revolutionary armed actions. In 1969, Marighella wrote the “Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla”, which became an influential text amongst terrorists. The “Minimanual” encouraged committing violent attacks but also emphasized the importance of maintaining popular support. U.S Ambassador Charles Burke Elbrik was kidnapped in a joint action by the ALN and the Movimiento Revolucionario Octubre 8 (MR-8) on September 4, 1969. He was released after three days in exchange for fifteen political prisoners and the publication of a manifesto. Brazil permitted the application of the death penalty in response to this offensive. In November 1969, Marighella was killed during a police attack. Câmara Ferreira succeeded Marighella and planned the kidnappings of the West German and Swiss ambassadors in 1970. Ferreira was arrested, tortured and killed on October 23, 1970, marking the end of the ALN. Leaders: Joaquim Câmara Ferreira and Carlos Marighella.

Vanguardia Popular Revolucionaria (VPR), Brazil
Left-wing nationalist, Castrist. The Vanguardia Popular Revolucionaria (VPR) was founded in 1968 based on the ideology that popular methods of protest would not bring change to the military regime and armed action was the only solution. The VPR based their economic structure on the Cuban Revolution and believed in agrarian reform, the expropriation of large companies and the nationalization of foreign businesses through a socialist revolution. The VPR secured funds through bank robberies, kidnapping, and the theft of arms and vehicles. The VPR leader, Onofre Pinto, was killed during a police crackdown in March 1969, and Carlos Lamarca succeeded him. The Japanese consul Nobuo Okuchi was kidnapped and released in exchange for five political prisoners in 1970. After this action the VPR faced several internal conflicts, and Lamarca was killed in 1971. A faction of the VPR, Vanguardia Armada Revolucionaria-Palmares (VAR- Palmares) remained active until the late 1970s, but lost its organizational influence when several militants were arrested in 1978. Leaders: Ladislas Dowbor, Carlos Lamarca.

1968- 1996
Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo/ Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (PGT-FAR), Guatemala
Marxist-Leninist.  The Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo (PGT) was founded in 1949 and has remained illegal since the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954. The PGT began its armed struggle in 1961, during the regime of General Miguel Ydígoras. The PGT joined forces with the Movimiento Revolucionario 13 de Noviembre (MR-13) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR). In 1968 the PGT created its own FAR faction, where the acronym “R” stood for “Revolucionarias” in place of “Rebeldes,” after a dispute between the two parties. The PGT-FAR abandoned armed warfare in the mid-1970s, when the majority of the PGT-FAR leadership was captured or murdered by the Armed Forces. The Núcleo de Dirección Nacional (NDN) was founded as an armed faction in 1981 and later became a part of the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG). The PGT-FAR was involved, as a part of the URNG, in the ongoing peace negotiations with President Ramiro de León Carpio. Direct negotiations between the government and guerrillas began again in 1991. The talks bogged down over the issue of human rights and the 1993 constitutional coup. The talks were renewed in 1994 under United Nations’ auspices. A peace agreement was signed in February 1996. Leaders: Ricardo Rosales (“Carlos González”).

Movimiento Peronista Montonero (Montoneros), Argentina
Leftist-Peronist.  The Movimiento Peronista Montonero (Montoneros) launched its first offensive in 1970 by kidnapping and executing ex-president Pedro Aramburu. The Montoneros believed in “revolution” as part of a national liberation. Their ideology was based on radical Catholic notions of social justice instead of on political theories such as Marxism-Leninism, or Guevarism. The Montoneros justified revolutionary war and violence as a means of resistance, which was supported by Perón during his exile. Prior to Perón’s return to Argentina, the Montoneros encouraged the people to resist the regime of General Juan Carlos Onganía. Héctor Cámpora became temporarily president as a result of the violent uprisings caused by the Montoneros. Upon Perón’s return, a large split emerged between the leftist Montoneros and the right-wing Peronists. During a confrontation, 200 people were killed in what became known as the “Ezeiza massacre” of 1973. Following this event, the Montoneros agreed to disarm and collaborate in the political realm. But Perón’s ally, José Rucci, was assassinated by the Montoneros and in 1973, Perón committed himself to eliminating all continued from front page… left-wing forces. Between 1975-1976, the Montoneros launched a series of what would be their largest guerrilla offensives, such as the blow up of an Argentine Navy frigate missile launcher and  several attacks against military installations. These actions led to the destabilization of the government under Isabel Péron. In 1976 a coup overthrew the Peronist government, replacing it with a military junta headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla. Between 1976 and 1983, during a military suppression campaign known as the “Guerra Sucia” (the Dirty War), approximately 9,000 (official count) left-wing activists “disappeared.” By 1979, most of the armed resistance was put to a halt, and by 1980 only 350 Montoneros remained. The surviving Montoneros switched to non-violent actions by 1980. Leaders: Fernando Abal Medina, Mario Firmenich and Carlos Gustavo Ramus.

Partido Revolucionario de Obreros y Campesinos/ Partido de los Pobres (PROCUP/PdlP), Mexico
Marxist-Leninist. The Partido Revolucionario de Obreros y Campesinos (PROCUP) was active for a short period in the Guerrero Mountains, but it became inactive in 1975, when leader Lucio Cabañas was killed. In 1975 Lucio Cabañas’ brother, David Cabañas, founded the Partido de los Pobres (PdlP) and joined forces with the PROCUP. PROCUP/PdlP was mainly active between the late 1970s and 1984, with the majority of their actions being bombings. In 1984, PROCUP/PdlP kidnapped Arnaldo Martínez Verdugo, leader of the Mexican Communist Party. In 1990, PROCUP/PdlP attacked the offices of “La Jornada,” a journal that was critical about the group. This attack led to the arrest of leaders David Cabañas and Felipe Martínez Soriano, although Soriano was released in exchange for a kidnapped German diplomat. In 1991, PROCUP/PdlP claimed responsibility for several bombings. In the early 1990s, Martínez Soriano was arrested for the second time due to his involvement with the PROCUP/PdlP, whose members functioned as hit squads for the Frente Nacional Democrático del Pueblo that Martínez Soriano led.  Leaders: David Cabañas, Lucio Cabañas and Felipe Martínez Soriano.

1969 – mid-1970s
Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación (FAL), Argentina
Marxist-Leninist, Maoist. The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación (FAL) movement was founded in 1969 by militants who supported the Cuban Revolution and believed that forming an armed group would be the first step toward a revolution. On April 5, 1969, the FAL attacked the Campo de Mayo and army barracks, an action that gained them public recognition. In 1970, the Consul of Paraguay was kidnapped in exchange for the release of two imprisoned guerrillas. Oswaldo Sandoval, head of Political Affairs of the Federal Police was assassinated by the FAL in November 1970. The FAL split into various leftist organizations such as the Comandos Populares de Liberación (CPL), while others joined the Montoneros. Leader: Eduardo Jozami.

Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), Argentina

Trotskyist, Guevarist. The Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) was founded at the Fifth Congress of the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (PRT) to function as a guerrilla vanguard that would speed up the establishment of a socialist society. The ERP was to bring an end to capitalism and unite workers for the creation of a socialist economy. The ERP was strongly against the Peronists and against organizations associated with Perón, such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR). In 1971, the ERP and the FAR executed Juan Carlos Sánchez, known to have suppressed protests during the second “Cordobazo.” On March 21, 1972, the ERP kidnapped Oberdán Sallustro, head of Fiat-Concord, in order to retrieve jobs for fired workers; they also demanded the release of fifty imprisoned guerrillas and a ransom of school supplies for  destitute children. The government rejected the negotiations and Sallustro was killed on April 10. On December 6, 1973, the ERP committed another major kidnapping. Robert Samuelson, general manager of Exxon Oil Company was held and would only be released in exchange for fourteen million dollars. The kidnapping became the crucial element that destroyed the relationship with Perón’s government. The ERP was banned in September 1973. Perón had no tolerance with the ongoing violent methods of guerrilla groups and took the initiative to destroy all guerrilla cells. The ERP decided to make citizens aware of the contradictions of the government’s system and reveal its repressive nature. In 1974, the ERP formed a regional bloc with the Tupamaros, the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN). The region of Tucumán was taken over by the ERP, in an attempt to create a socialist community. Isabel Perón signed “Operación Independencia,” which permitted armed forces to    eliminate the ERP in response. In 1976, leaders Santucho and Urteaga were found in hiding and Santucho died during the attack. Santucho’s death led to the end of the ERP. Leaders: Mario Roberto Santucho, Enrique Harold Gorriarán Merlo, José Benito Urteaga, Juan Eliseo Ledesma, and Luis Mattini. 

Fuerzas Populares de Liberación – Farabundo Martí (FPL), El Salvador
Maoist-Castrist. The Fuerzas Populares de Liberación- Farabundo Martí (FPL) was El Salvador’s oldest and largest guerrilla group until 1983. Salvador Cayateno Carpio and “Ana María” Montes left the Partido Comunista de El Salvador (PCES) because it refused to endorse rural guerrilla warfare, and formed the FPL on April 1, 1970. The FPL believed in the establishment of a communist-based economy and of a “guerra popular prolongada” involving the    peasant population. The FPL’s first operation was an attack on the Embassy of Argentina to express their solidarity with the Montoneros and the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP). Later, the FPL kidnapped Foreign Minister Mauricio Borgonovo and the South African Ambassador, Archibald Gardner Dunn, in 1977 and 1979, respectively. Both men were killed because the FPL’s ransom was not met. The FPL joined the Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN) in 1982. The FPL’s leader Salvador Carpio committed suicide for unknown reasons in 1983. After Carpio’s death, the FPL lost its influence amongst the FMLN, and the ERP gained power. Leaders: Mélida Anaya Montes (“Ana María”), Salvador Cayetano Cario and Sánchez Cerén (“Leonel González”).

Organización Revolucionaria del Pueblo en Armas (ORPA), Guatemala
Marxist, Leninist, Maoist. The Organización Revolucionaria del Pueblo en Armas (ORPA) was founded in 1971 by Rodrigo Asturias Amado. Amado conceived this branch of the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR) in 1971 because he believed that the FAR was racist and excluded the indigenous population of Guatemala. The ORPA was active in the Indian Highlands, where the peasant and indigenous population resided. The OPRA focused on military actions with the idea that there was a need for a national revolution amongst the Indians. The OPRA ceased its actions from 1973 until 1979 and then reemerged on September 18, 1979, with the occupation of a coffee farm in Quetzaltenango. General Efraín Ríos Montt  launched a counterinsurgency campaign, but the ORPA survived and joined the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) in 1982. The signing of a final peace accord in 1996 signaled the end of the organization. Leaders: Rodrigo Asturias Amado (“Gaspar Ilom”) and Julia Solórzano Foppa.

Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), El Salvador
Maoist. The Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) was founded by dissident members of the Juventud Comunista (JC) radicalized members of the Christian Democratic Youth and the Acción Cristiana intially known as El Grupo. El Grupo evolved into the ERP in 1972. The ERP was composed of ultra-radical members of the middle class and was also known to include a large number of women. Violent action was the central element the ERP resorted to in order to overcome the established system. In 1977, the ERP kidnapped Roberto Poma, president of the National Tourism Institute, who died during his captivity. ERP’s demands, however, were met: two guerrillas were released and a ransom was paid. The ERP was one of the most powerful organizations in El Salvador and it joined the FMNLH in 1982. Leaders: Arquímedes Canadas, Roque Dalton García, Mercedes del Carmen Letona, Ana María Guadalupe Martínez, Carlos Humberto Portillo, Sebastián Urquilla and Joaquín Villalobos Hueso.

1972- 1996
Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP), Guatemala
Marxist. The Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP) was founded by Rolando Morán and Mario Payeras as a branch of the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR). The EGP emphasized the need for Guatemalan politicians and society to establish relations with the peasantry. The EGP developed the strategy of forming ties with peasants through education as well as by creating a political   organization amongst peasant communities in place of a small guerrilla force. The EGP killed Guatemalan landlord, Luis Arenas Barrera, in 1975. The military launched a counterinsurgency campaign in response to the EGP attacks, and by 1977 more than 100 community leaders had been killed. The EGP kidnapped a former minister on December 31, 1977, and released him after the government had met the group’s demands regarding publication of their manifesto, payment of ransom, and guaranteeing the security of an EGP member who had sought refuge at the Embassy of Costa Rica. Violent attacks by official armed forces against peasant villages motivated popular support for the EGP. The EGP suffered heavily from government counterinsurgency attacks and joined the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) in order to maintain their presence. The URNG believed in popular revolutionary war and the freeing of people from governmental oppression. The Guatemalan Constitution rejected the participation of guerrilla groups in the 1985 elections, and peace talks emerged in 1990. The EGP ended with the peace accords of 1996. Leaders: Rolando Morán (“Ricardo Ramírez”), Mario Payeras (“Benedicto”).

Liga Comunista 23 de Septiembre (L-23), Mexico
Marxist-Leninist. The Liga Comunista 23 de Septiembre (L-23) was founded in 1973 by members of disbanded organizations such as the Movimiento de Acción Revolucionaria (MAR) and the Frente Estudiantil Revolucionario (FER). Its leader, Ignacio Salas Obregón, was not a communist; he came from a Hegelian Christian background. Even though the L-23 did not have ties with the U.S.S.R or Cuba, its main objective was to overthrow the established system through extremist actions and to replace it with a communist rule. Eugenio Garza Sada and the British consul were kidnapped – an action that hindered peace dialogues with the government. In 1976, L-23 leaders David Jiménez Sarmiento and Salas Obregón were killed by government forces, which led to the group’s dissolution. Its other members joined organizations such as the Communist and Trotskyist parties. Leaders: Manuel Gámez, Rosalbina Garabito, José Ángel García, Gustavo Hiroles Morán, David Jiménez Sarmiento and Ignacio Salas Obregón.

New Jewel Movement (NJM), Grenada
Marxist-Leninist. The New Jewel Movement (NJM) was the result of the merging, in 1973, of the Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP) and the Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation (JEWEL). The NJM was predominantly socialist, anti-imperialist and nationalist, and called for an agricultural revolution, the nationalization of hotels, and the control of wages/prices. Grenada was under the rule of Eric Gairy, an ex-oilfield worker and trade union activist, but Grenada’s government did not have an electorate. NJM began to communicate with Cuba through the urban trade unions. The People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) was founded as the military wing of NJM in 1976. By 1977 the NJM was influenced entirely by a Marxist-Leninist ideology, On March 13, 1979, the PRA attacked army barracks, police headquarters, and police stations. These successful attacks led to Bishop and the NJM gaining control of the nation. Eric Gairy was able to avoid arrest, since he had left for New York a day before for a United Nations meeting. Leaders: Maurice Bishop, Kendrick Radix and Unison Whiteman.   

Movimiento 19 de Abril (M-19), Colombia
Nationalist, Socialist, Guevarist. Former members of the Alianza Nacional Popular (ANAPO), the FARC and of the Communist Party founded the Movimiento 19 de Abril (M-19) on March 8, 1974. M-19’s goal was to achieve political reform through the establishment of a socialist state. The M-19 was the first guerrilla movement to establish a political platform in addition to its military actions. Between 1974 and 1979, M-19 used Robin Hood-like tactics such as distributing food to the poor. José Raquel Mercado, president of the Colombian Federation of Workers, was considered responsible for crimes against the working class and was killed by the M-19 in 1976. The Embassy of the Dominican Republic was occupied by the  M-19 from February 27 to April 27, 1980. Among the hostages were the ambassadors of the United States, Israel and Mexico. In 1981, President Turbay Ayala signed a treaty granting amnesty to all   guerrillas who withdrew from armed operations. He called a truce in 1982. The truce ended in 1983, when the military launched an attack against the M-19. On March 14, 1984, the M-19 attacked a prison and released 158 prisoners. The government responded to this attack by assassinating a former M-19 leader, Dr. Carlos Toledo Plata. The M-19 gained political support by signing a cease-fire agreement with the Colombian government in 1984, but this agreement was put to an end when military forces attempted to assassinate several other M-19 leaders. On November 6, 1985, the M-19 took over the Palace of Justice and the military responded by attacking the building. This resulted in 106 deaths. Under President Virgilio Barco’s administration, the M-19 entered peace negotiations from 1986 until 1990. The M-19 ended their armed actions and became a political party.  Leaders: Gustavo Arias, Jaime Bateman Cayón, Álvaro Fayad, León Gómez, Iván Marino Ospina, Rosemberg Pabón, Carlos Pizarro and Antonio Navarro Wolff.  

Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional (FARN), El Salvador
Marxist. The Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional (FARN) movement was founded in 1975 as the armed branch of the Resistencia Nacional (RN), which was composed of dissident members of the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP). FARN used military revolutionary strategies based on urban terrorism and supported political and mass movements as complements to armed struggle. The FARN used kidnappings to gain funds and create political impact. The FARN became one of the richest guerrilla groups through the kidnapping of foreign industrialists such as Japanese businessman, Fujio Matsumoto. The FARN joined the Directorio Revolucionario Unificado (DRU), which called for  unification with Salvadoran guerrilla groups. The DRU merged with the Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN) in 1982.  Leaders: Fermán Cienfuegos, Augusto Coto, Ernesto Jovel Funes and Anabel Ramos.

Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores de Centroamérica/ Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Liberación Popular (PRTC/FALP), El Salvador
Trotskyist, Marxist-Leninist. The Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores de Centroamérica (PRTC) was founded in Costa Rica on January 26, 1976. The PRTC was active in Honduras and Guatemala, and emerged in El Salvador in 1979. The PRTC was engaged in terrorist tactics until it joined the FMLN in 1982 and began to focus on peace negotiations.  In 1982 the PRTC was involved in terrorist activities modeled after the Tupamaros and the Montoneros. The group dissolved in 1992 as a result of the peace negotiations. Leaders: Fabio Castillo Figueroa, Luis Adalberto Díaz, Ismael Dimas Aguilar, Mario González, Humberto Mendoza, Roberto Roca and María Concepción Valladares.

Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación (FAL), El Salvador
Marxist-Leninist. The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación (FAL) group was founded as the armed branch of the Partido Comunista de El Salvador (PCES) in 1977. The FAL used armed actions as a method to establish a socialist state and its members received training overseas in the USSR, East Germany, Bulgaria, Cuba and Nicaragua. In 1980, the FAL, the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias Nacionales (FARN) and the Fuerzas Populares de Liberación (FPL) formed the Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN).  In 1986, the government launched “Operation Phoenix” to dislodge the guerrilla forces and push them to the Honduran border. Leaders: Abel Cuenca, Max Cuenca, Shafik Jorge Handal and Rigoberto López.

1977- 1995
Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores Centroamericanos-Honduras (PRTCH), Honduras
Trotskyist. The Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores Centroamericanos-Honduras was a joint revolutionary movement founded by El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras. The PRTCH launched its armed struggle in 1983, claiming the need for a regional vanguard movement. The Olanco Operation was carried out in July 1983, infiltrating one hundred Nicaraguan guerrillas into Honduras. In 1984, the PRTCH conceived the Directorio Nacional Unido-Movimientos Revolucionarios Hondureños, which was composed by Morazanistas, Cinchoneros and by members of the Fuerzas Populares Revolucionarias Lorenzo Zelaya (FPR-LZ), but there was never a joint action. After the Chapultepec Peace accords in 1992, the PRTCH demobilized. In 1995 it turned into a political party.  Leaders: Wilfredo Gallardo Museli, Father James Hanley Carney (“Padre Guadalupe”) and José María Reyes Matta.

Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN), El Salvador
Marxist-Leninist. The Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberación Nacional (FMLN) was founded when the Fuerzas Populares de Liberación (FPL), the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación (FAL), the Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional (FARN) and the Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores de Centroamérica (PRTC) created a joint organization in 1980. The FMLN believed that violent action was the only means to bring change and liberation to the people. The FMLN gained international recognition after a successful offensive in January 1981. Following the failure of several armed struggles, the FMLN focused its strategy on cooperative policies. In 1983 the FMLN re-organized its structure, gained approximately 12,000 new members and returned to armed struggle. President Duarte proposed peace talks with the FMLN, but failed due to his lack of control of the military. The public support for the FMLN began to decrease in 1986, when people became tired of the violence between the FMLN and the military. The FMLN began to focus on political efforts by having its leaders, Villalbos and Sánchez Cerén, travel to Latin America to find diplomatic support. The FMLN supported candidate Guillermo Manuel Ungo Revelo in the 1989 presidential elections. Ungo was defeated and the FMLN launched another attack on November 11, 1989. President Cristiani requested that the United Nations organize negotiations with the FMLN after several FMLN supporters were murdered. In 1990, the FMLN agreed to have peace talks if they were mediated by the U.N. In 1991, a peace treaty between the FMLN and the government was signed. The FMLN officially entered Salvadoran politics in 1992. In 2009 Mauricio Funes  of the FMLN was elected president of the country.   Leaders: Mélida Anaya Montes (“Ana María”), Salvador Cayetano Carpío, Francisco Jovel, Shafik Jorge Handal, Ana María Guadalupe Martínez, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Eduardo Sancho and Joaquín Villalobos Hueso.

1980- 1997
Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez/ Partido Comunista de Chile (FPMR/PCC), Chile
Marxist-Leninist. The Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez/Partido Comunista de Chile (FPMR/PCC) was originally called the Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores (PST), but it changed its name to the Partido Comunista de Chile (PCC) in 1922. The PCC believed in the control of the government by the workers unions instead of by political parties and in the establishment of a socialist government through peaceful actions. The PCC was banned during the military dictatorship of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, established in 1927. The ban was lifted in 1931. The PCC was banned three times between 1927 and 1948. The PCC’s leader, Luis Corvalán, was elected to the Senate in 1961 and the PCC gained popularity among the masses. The PCC joined the Unidad Popular (UP) coalition, which was supported by Salvador Allende, in 1970. Allende was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973, causing the PCC to change its ideology of peaceful struggle. The Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez (FPMR) was founded as the armed militia of the PCC in 1980. The FPMR’s leaders believed that their struggle would not      succeed unless they could undermine the government’s armed forces. The FPMR gained recognition when it denounced Pinochet’s repressive leadership through a radio station jack on March 7, 1984. On March 23, 1984, Pinochet claimed a state of emergency leading to the arrest of 600 leftists and to the stronger enforcement of anti-terrorism laws. On March 7, 1984, the FPMR launched “Operation Twentieth Century,” aimed at assassinating Pinochet. “Operation Twentieth Century” did not succeed; Pinochet suffered only minor injuries from the attack. Pinochet initiated a heavy crackdown on the FPMR and forty percent of its members were captured. In 1987 it separated from the PCC. The PCC called for the FPMR to reduce its violent actions, but the FPMR continued its violent attacks until the election of President Patricio Aylwin in 1990. From six years the group ceased their actions but on December 30, 1996, in a an espectacular operation the FPMR helped Ricardo Palma Salamanca, Pablo Muñoz Hoffmann, Mauricio Hernández Norambuena y Patricio Ortiz Montenegro escape from a high security prison. On the night of April 30, 1997 FPMR held a clandestine press conference in Santiago to announce it was leaving the armed struggle and seeking to become a legal political organization.  Leaders: Luis Corvalán Manuel Huerta and Luis Emilio Recabarren (PCC).

Movimiento Popular de Liberación “Cinchoneros” (MPL-Cinchoneros), Honduras
Marxist-Leninist. TThe Movimiento Popular de Liberación “Cinchoneros” (MPL-Cinchoneros) was a branch off of the Partido Comunista de Honduras (PCH) and was composed of former PCH members who found PCH’s reformist approaches pointless. The Cinchoneros called for a “guerra popular prolongada.”  The Cinchoneros hijacked a plane to free political prisoners in 1982. In the same year the Cinchoneros held eighty-three members of the San Pedro Sula Chamber of Commerce hostage and demanded for the expulsion of foreign military advisers. Their demand was rejected and the guerrillas fled to Cuba. The Cinchoneros joined the Directorio Nacional Unido-Movimientos Revolucionarios Hondureños. The Cinchoneros claimed their involvement in the     murder of General Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, former chief of the Armed Forces, in 1989. Exiled Cinchoneros members returned to Honduras in 1990, when President Leonardo Callejas launched an amnesty program. Like other Honduran leftist groups, the Cinchoneros began to fade away after the denouement of the Nicaraguan civil war in the spring of 1990. The leadership of the Cinchoneros officially renounced violence in a meeting with top government officials in March 1991. Leader: Fidel Martínez.

Partido Comunista del Perú por el Sendero Luminoso del Pensamiento de José Carlos Mariategui (Sendero Luminoso), Peru
Maoist-Mariateguista. The Partido Comunista del Perú por el Sendero Luminoso del Pensamiento de José Carlos Mariategui (Sendero Luminoso) was associated with the Partido Comunista del Perú-Bandera Roja (PCP-BR). Sendero Luminoso was founded in 1970 as a break off from the PCP-BR due to ideological differences. Sendero Luminoso believed that imperialism in Peru led to a dependency on capitalist economy, which neglected the local population. Sendero Luminoso focused on the participation of the peasantry in the fields of local literacy, farming and nutrition assistance programs. The Ayacucho region was neglected under the government of Velazco Alvarado, and Sendero Luminoso gained popularity by providing social services that the government did not offer. Sendero Luminoso believed in the need for a socialist dictatorship and in the rejection of all previous forms of government through guerrilla warfare. Sendero Luminoso initiated their attacks by burning ballot boxes the day before the general elections to denounce the lack of representation in the Ayacucho region. In March 1982, Sendero Luminoso raided an Ayacucho prison and released its prisoners. Government forces responded to the attack by sending armed forces into Ayacucho. President Belaúnde Terry declared a state of emergency in 1983. After its first National Congress in 1988, Sendero Luminoso shifted their tactics from guerrilla warfare to open combat. In 1990, Alberto Fujimori became president, and a third of Peru was controlled by the military. On September 12, 1992, “Comrade Gonzalo” and other leaders of the organization were captured. Sendero Luminoso lost a significant amount of influence after these arrests. Since then factions of the group have continued active although it is now significantly weakened. Leaders: Catalina Adrianzen, Julio Casanova, Antonio Díaz Martínez, Abimael Guzmán (“Comrade Gonzalo”), Luis Kawata Mackabe, Osmán Morote.

La Familia, Costa Rica
Marxist-Leninist. La Familia’s goal was to destroy the bourgeois state through the use of “guerra popular prolongada.” On May 17, 1981, La Familia assaulted the Embassy of Honduras, and they also attacked marines that were stationed at the U.S Embassy. On June 17, 1981, the police found La Familia’s hideout in Mozotal de Goicoechea. The group ceased to exist after the arrest of its leaders in 1983. Leaders: Alejandra Bonilla, Mario Guillén García, Miguel Regueira and Freddy Rivera Lizano.

¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo! (AVC), Ecuador
Marxist-Leninist, Bolivarian Panamericanists. ¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo! was named after Eloy Alfaro, who was a central figure in the  independence of Ecuador. The ¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo! (AVC) was composed by pro-Cuban, pro-Sandinista, middle and upper class intellectuals who believed in anti-imperialism and anti-oligarchy. The AVC became active in 1983 and conducted bank robberies and kidnappings in order to publish or broadcast their statements. Banker Naín Isaías Barquet was kidnapped by AVC and the           government denied negotiation. Government forces attacked the building where Barquet was held hostage. Several AVC members and Barquet were killed. Leaders Jarrín, Merino and Vazconez died in 1984, presaging the downfall of the AVC. The AVC maintained ties with the Movimiento 19 de Abril (M-19), but did not command popular support. The AVC surrendered its arms in a negotiation with President Rodrigo Borja in 1991 and terminated its actions by 1992. Leaders: Juan Carlos Acosta Coloma, Fausto Basantes, Ricardo Arturo Jarrín, Edgar Frías, Santiago Kigman, Ricardo Merino and Hamed Vazconez.  

Fuerzas Populares Revolucionarias Lorenzo Zelaya (FPR-LZ), Honduras
Sandinista-Marxist. The Fuerzas Populares Revolucionarias Lorenzo Zelaya (FPR-LZ) group was founded as the armed wing of the Fuerzas Populares Revolucionarias (FPR). Its members were students from the Universidad Nacional, who believed in a popular                revolutionary war. The FPR-LZ shot two U.S. military advisers and bombed the Chilean and U.S embassies on October 31, 1981. In 1982, the FPR-LZ attacked the offices of foreign businesses such as TACA Airlines, Air Florida and IBM. Its leader, Duarte Salgado, was captured in Guatemala in 1982. The FPR-LZ joined the Directorio Nacional Unido- Movimientos Revolucionarios Hondureños in 1983. The FPR-LZ merged with other tendencies to form Partido Renovación Patriótica. In 1991, President Rafael Leonardo Callejas proposed an amnesty and the release of all political prisoners in exchange for the group’s withdrawal from armed revolution. The FPR-LZ stated that it would only withdraw if the National Intelligence Forces were dismantled.  Leaders: Efraín Duarte Salgado.

Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA), Peru
Castrist, Guevarist.  The Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA) was founded in 1975 by elements of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). The MRTA focused on urban guerrilla actions and zonal and regional order to develop a socialist-based foundation. In 1982, the MRTA initiated its first attack by robbing the Banco de Crédito. In 1983, the MRTA attacked the offices of United Press International and other news and broadcast organizations to proclaim their propaganda, and attacked U.S-based businesses, claiming that they were part of an imperialist agenda. Raúl Hiraoka, son of the founder of a major Peruvian     appliances chain, was kidnapped by the MRTA. Its leader, Víctor Polay, was captured and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in 1992. The MRTA ceased its actions by 1993. Leaders: Félix Calderón Olazábal, Néstor Canchari Villena, José del Águila Valles, Peter Cárdenas, Andrés Mendoza, Pedro Mires Samaniego, Ernesto Montes Aliaga, Víctor Polay Campos, Marco Antonio Turkowsky and Luis Varese Scotto.

Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG), Guatemala
Marxist-Leninist. The Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) was founded in 1982 by the Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP), the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR), the Organización Revolucionaria del Pueblo en Armas (ORPA), and the Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo/Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (PGT/FAR). The URNG believed in the end of repression, the granting of human rights to all Guatemalan citizens, fair representation, the resolution of economic and political differences, equality between the population of indigenous and European descent, a policy of nonalignment, and international cooperation. The URNG proposed negotiation with the government of President Vinicio Cerezo in 1986. The URNG refused the condition of having to disarm prior to negotiations, and in 1987 it proposed another negotiation, which was refused. That same year, the URNG substituted PGT-NDN for the Guatemalan Party of Labour (PGT) in its leadership. The Central American Peace Accord was signed in 1987. Although negotiations began between the two parties, military action increased on both sides. On December 29, 1996, a peace agreement was signed by the government and the URNG. Leaders: Rolando Morán (“Ricardo Ramírez”).

Organización Patriótica Santamaría/ Ejército de la Democracia y la Soberanía (OPS), Costa Rica
Marxist-Leninist. The Organización Patriótica Santamaría/ Ejército de la Democracia y la Soberanía (OPS) was founded in 1985 by twenty-one Costa Ricans who claimed to have ties with Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy. The OPS were involved in the bombing the U.S. consulate and the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano in 1986 and 1987, respectively. The OPS ceased its actions in 1988.  Leaders: Ricardo Araya Almanza, Livia Cordero Gené, Bolívar Díaz Rojas, Germán Guendal Angulo, Francisco Guier Almanza and Domingo Solís.

Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), Mexico
Guevarist.  The Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) has a strong focus on the indigenous population. The majority of its members are Mayan, Tzeltzal, and Tzotzil. The EZLN seized four towns and several villages in Chiapas on the inauguration of NAFTA, January 1, 1994. President Carlos Salinas called for a ceasefire on January 13, and both sides agreed on a thirty- two-point agreement. The EZLN withdrew from negotiations due to its skepticism towards the government. Ernesto Zedillo was elected president in 1995 and launched an offensive against the EZLN. The Chiapas region was taken back through force and the guerrillas went into hiding. The EZLN has made communication with the rest of Mexico and the world a high priority. The EZLN has used technology, including cellular phones and the Internet, to generate  international solidarity with sympathetic people and organizations. In 2002, Subcomandante Marcos assumed a more aggressive tone, and his attacks on former allies angered some of the EZLN’s supporters. Except for letters and occasional critical “communicados” concerning the political climate, the EZLN was largely silent until August 2004. On June 28, 2005 the EZLN released an installment of what it called the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. According to the communique, the EZLN has reflected on its history and decided that it must make changes in order to continue its struggle. Accordingly, the EZLN has decided to unite with the “workers, farmers, students, teachers, and employees… the workers of the city and the countryside.” They propose to do so through a non-electoral front to talk and collectively write a new constitution to establish a new political culture. In late 2006 and early 2007, the Zapatistas, along with other indigenous peoples of the Americas, announced the Intercontinental Indigenous Encounter. They invited indigenous people from all over the Americas and the rest of the world to gather on October 11-14, 2007 near Guaymas, Sonora. In the declaration for the Indigenous Intercontinental Conference, it designated this date because of “515 years since the invasion of ancient Indigenous territories and the onslaught of the war of conquest, spoils and capitalist exploitation”. Comandante David said in an interview; “The object of this meeting is to meet one another and to come to know one another’s pains and sufferings. It is to share our experiences, because each tribe is different.” Leader: “Subcomandante” Marcos.


Editor’s Note: • The focus of this newsprint is on armed groups that were/are explicitly leftist in their ideology and that aimed at overthrowing the government and to replace it with a Marxist state. This idea was borrowed from Liza Gross’s Handbook of Leftist Guerrilla Groups in Latin America and the Caribbean. • The dates are based on these groups’ first and most significant public actions. • Each group is identified by its ideological background, namely Marxist, Castrist, etc. • The emphasis of this publication is on the years of the Cold War.




This paper was edited by artist Carlos Motta with the research assistance of Kay Saida and it was produced on the occasion of the exhibitions Brief History at PS1/MoMA Contemporary Art Center, New York in June 2009 and The Matrix: An Unstable Reality at the 28 Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubijana, Slovenia from September until October 2009.