thoughts on the essence of guerilla struggle
These extracts are from the first part of Chapter 1 of Guevara's book "La guerra de guerrillas (Guerilla warfare)".
We believe that the Cuban revolution made three fundamental contributions to the conduct of revolutionary movements in Latin America. They are:
1. Popular forces can win a war against the army.
2. It is not always necessary to wait until all the conditions for revolution exist; the insurrectional centre can create them.
3. In an underdeveloped Latin America the arena for armed struggle must be basically countryside...
...The third contribution is fundamentally of a strategic nature, and is a rebuke to those who dogmatically assert that the struggle of the masses is centered in urban movements, totally forgetting the immense participation of the people from the countryside in the life of all the underdeveloped countries of Latin America. It is not a matter of slighting the struggles of the masses of organized workers. It is simply a matter of realistically analyzing the possibilities, under the difficult conditions of armed struggle, where the guarantees that usually adorn our constitutions are suspended or ignored. Under these conditions the workers? movements must go underground, without arms, illegal, and facing enormous dangers. The situation is not as difficult in the open countryside, where the inhabitants can be supported by the armed guerrillas in places beyond the reach of the repressive forces?
? who are combatants in guerrilla warfare? On one side there is the group of oppressors and their agent, the professional army (well armed and disciplined), who in many cases can count on support from abroad and from small groups of bureaucrats, servants of that group of oppressors. On the other side is the population of the nation or region involved. It is important to emphasize that the guerilla struggle is a mass struggle; it is the struggle of a people. The guerillas, as an armed nucleus, are the fighting vanguard of the people, and their great strength is rooted in the mass of the population. The guerillas should not be considered numerically inferior to the army against which it fights, although its fire power may be inferior. That is precisely why guerilla warfare is turned to when you have majority support but possess an infinitely smaller number of arms with which to defend yourselves against oppression.
The guerilla fighter therefore relies on the complete support of the people of the area. This is absolutely indispensable. And this can be seen very clearly by taking as an example gangs of bandits that operate in a region. They have all the characteristics of a guerilla army: homogeneity, respect for the leader, bravery, knowledge of the terrain, and often even a complete understanding of the tactics to be employed. The only thing they lack is the support of the people and inevitably these gangs are captured or exterminated by government forces.
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