Guevarism is a theory of
communist revolutionand a military strategyof guerrilla warfareassociated with Marxistrevolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, one of the leading figures of the Cuban Revolution. During the Cold War, the United Statesand Soviet Unionclashed in a series of proxy wars, especially in the developing nationsof the Third World, including many decolonizationstruggles. After the 1959 triumph of the Cuban insurrectionled by a militant " foco" under Fidel Castro, his Argentina-born, cosmopolitan and Marxist-Leninistcolleague Guevara parlayed his ideologyand experiences into a model for emulation (and at times, direct military intervention) around the globe. While exporting one such "focalist" revolution to Bolivia, leading an armed vanguard partythere in October 1967, Guevara was captured and executed, becoming a martyr to both the World Communist Movementand the New Left. His ideology promotes exporting revolution to any country whose leader is supported by the United States and has fallen out of favor with its citizens. Guevara talks about how constant guerrilla warfare taking place in non-urban areas can overcome leaders. He introduces three points that are representative of his ideology as a whole: that the people can win with proper organization against a nation's army; that the conditions that make a revolution possible can be put in place by the popular forces; and that the popular forces always have an advantage in a non urban setting. [cite book
last = Guevara
first = Ernesto
authorlink = Che Guevara
title = Guerrilla Warfare
publisher = New York: Monthly Review Press, 1961
date = 1998
pages = 8
id = 0-8032-7075-5 ]
Guevara had a particularly keen interest in guerrilla warfare, with a dedication to "foco" techniques, also known as "focalism" (or "foquismo" in Spanish):
vanguardismby small armed units, frequently in place of established communist parties, initially launching attacks from rural areas to mobilize unrest into a popular frontagainst a sitting regime. Despite differences in approach--emphasizing guerrilla leadership and audacious raids that engender general uprising, rather than consolidating political power in military strongholds before expanding to new ones--Che Guevara took great inspiration from the Maoistnotion of " protracted people's war" and sympathized with Mao's People's Republic of Chinain the Sino-Soviet split. This controversy may partly explain his departure from Castro's pro-Soviet Cuba in the mid-1960s. Guevara also drew direct parallels with his contemporary communistcomrades in the Viet Cong, exhorting a multi-front guerrilla strategy to create "two, three, many Vietnams."
In Guevara's final years, after leaving Cuba, he advised communist
paramilitarymovements in Africaand Latin America, including a young Laurent Kabila, future ruler of Zaire/ DR Congo. Finally, while leading a small "foco" band of guerrilla cadresin Bolivia, Che Guevara was captured and killed. His death, and the short-term failure of his Guevarist tactics, may have interrupted the component guerrilla wars within the larger Cold War for a time, and even temporarily discouraged Soviet and Cuban sponsorship for "foquismo". The emerging communist movements and other fellow travelerradicalism of the time, however, either switched to urban guerrilla warfarebefore the end of the 1960s, and/or soon revived the rural-based strategies of both Maoism and Guevarism, tendencies that escalated worldwide throughout the 1970s, by and large with the support from the communist statesand the Soviet empirein general and Cuba's Castro regime in particular.
Another proponent of Guevarism was the French intellectual
Régis Debray, who could be seen as attempting to establish a coherent, unitary theoretical framework on these grounds. Debray has since broken with this.
It was criticized from a revolutionary anarchist perspective by Abraham Guillen, one of the leader tacticians of
urban guerrilla warfarein Uruguayand Brazil. Guillen claimed that cities are a better ground for the guerrilla than the countryside (Guillen was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War). He criticized Guevarist movements of national liberation (like the Uruguayan Tupamaros, one of the many groups that he helped as a military advisor) for trying to impose a dictatorshipinstead of self-management.
Protracted people's war
Urban guerrilla warfare
Wars of national liberation
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