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 (Ph.D., University of Chicago) lived in Latin America for many years, researching and writing 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.