Wars of Latin America, 1948–1982

The Rise of the Guerrillas


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About the Book

This book continues the narrative begun by the author in Wars of Latin America, 1899–1941. It provides a clear and readable description of military combat occurring in Latin America from 1948 to the start of 1982. (In an unusual peaceful lull, Latin America experienced no wars from 1942 to 1947.) Although the text concentrates on combat narrative, matters of politics, business, and international relations appear as necessary to explain the wars.
The author draws on many previously unknown sources to provide information never before published. The book traces the many insurgencies in Latin America as well as conventional wars. Among the highlights are the chapters on the Cuban and Nicaraguan insurrections and on the Bay of Pigs invasion. One goal of the text is to explain why, of the many insurgencies appearing in Latin America, only those in Cuba and Nicaragua were successful in overthrowing governments. The book also helps explain why even unsuccessful insurgencies have survived for decades, as has happened in Colombia and Peru.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

René De La Pedraja, PhD, University of Chicago, has researched and written numerous publications. He is a professor of history at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.

Bibliographic Details

René De La Pedraja
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 374
Bibliographic Info: 25 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7015-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0293-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Tables     x
Preface     1

Part I: Wars Return to Latin America
1. Colombia, 1948–1953: The Start of La Violencia     5
Uprising in Bogotá, 9 April 1948 5
La Violencia and the First Guerrillas, 1948–1953 11
2. Attack in Cuba and the CIA in Guatemala 20
Cuba: Fidel Castro and the Attack on the Moncada Barracks 20
Guatemala: The CIA’s First Attempt to Overthrow Jacobo Arbenz 25
3. The First Pacification of Colombia, 1953–1954 29
General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla and La Violencia 29
Reflections on Colombia 31
4. The First U.S. Invasion: Guatemala and the CIA in 1954 34
5. The Revival of La Violencia in Colombia, 1954–1957 46
La Violencia and the Villarrica Campaign 46
Part II: The Golden Age of Guerrillas
6. The Cuban Insurrection, 1956–1958 51
The Granma Expedition to Cuba 51
The Creation of a Guerrilla Force 55
The Fin de Fidel (End of Fidel) Offensive 62
The Drive for Victory 70
Considerations on the Cuban Insurrection 76
7. The Impact of Cuba 78
Dominican Republic 78
The First Guerrillas in Nicaragua 79
Venezuela 81
Guatemala 83
8. The U.S. Response: The Bay of Pigs Invasion 86
9. The Spread of Guerrilla Movements 109
Colombia 109
Venezuela 112
Guatemala 118
10. Colombia: The End of La Violencia, 1957–1966 122
The National Front and La Violencia 122
The Army Campaign Against Bandit Gangs 124
The Marquetalia Campaign 128
11. The U.S. Response: Panama and the Dominican Republic 135
Panama 135
Uprising in Santo Domingo 141
The U.S. Invasion of the Dominican Republic 149
12. Guerrilla Disasters 156
Nicaragua: The Sandinistas Against the Somoza Dictatorship 156
The First Guerrillas in Peru 158
The Climax: Che Guevara in Bolivia 164
13. Guerrillas in Retreat 171
Guatemala: The Collapse of Guerrillas 171
Brazil: Guerrillas in Araguaia 174
Venezuela: The Agony of Guerrillas 182
14. The First Leftist Guerrillas in Colombia 186
The National Liberation Army (ELN) 187
The Foundation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 192
15. Maoism in Peru and Colombia 198
Peru: From the University of Huamanga to Shining Path 198
Colombia: The Foundation of the People’s Liberation Army (EPL) 204
Part III: The Revival of Guerrillas
16. Guerrillas in Colombia: Defeat and Renewal 211
ELN’s Expansion and the Campaign of Anorí 211
FARC: Army Campaigns and Recovery 217
General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla and the Creation of M-19 223
17. A Decade of Turmoil in Central America, 1969–1979 229
The Hundred Hours War Between El Salvador and Honduras 229
El Salvador: The Descent into Violence, 1969–1979 235
Guatemala: The Return of Guerrillas 238
Nicaragua and the Somoza Dynasty 241
18. Nicaragua: The Insurrection 248
The Start 248
The September 1978 Offensive 252
The Final Offensive of 1979 255
The End of the Guardia Nacional 266
19. The Impact of Nicaragua in Central America 271
El Salvador: The Final Offensive, January 1981 271
Guatemala: Guerrillas on the Offensive, 1979–1981 278
20. Colombia: The Resurgence of Guerrillas 281
M-19’s Invasion of Colombia, 1981 281
The Revival of EPL, 1980–1984 287
21. Peru: Start of Insurgency and War with Ecuador 291
Shining Path’s Road to Revolt, 1976–1980 291
The Start of Hostilities: Ayacucho, 1980–1982 292
War with Ecuador Over the Condor Mountains 297
Final Observations 305
Chapter Notes 309
Annotated Bibliography 349
Index 355

Book Reviews & Awards

“Highly recommended”—Choice; “a useful work for anyone interested in the history of Latin America”—The NYMAS Review; “a useful work for anyone interested in the history of Latin America”—Strategy Page; “a comprehensive account of armed conflicts that ravaged Latin America…high educational value…remarkable…extremely useful…well researched”—Iberoamericana.