A Concise History of Latin America

The first major tenet of Foco theory is how Che Guevara used the rural class to form his organization of guerilla fights. Che and other guerilla fighters used this tenet while in the mountains of Sierra Maestra where they would attack garrisons.  The rural peasant farmers were faced with the problems of land reforms that the dictatorial regimes had failed to address. Hence, there already existed a subjective condition for these people to take up arms (Chasteen, 269). As a people depending on farming, issues of land reforms had come to define their view of the government. Che Guevara theorized that these people were capable of instigating a revolutionary against the conventional armies. He later through talks and persuasions managed to recruit peasants through socialization and land reforms that were popular with the rural class. Land was a major issue of concern to the peasants and therefore they believed that a war that was promising to bring reforms in the land sector was closer to their hearts. To this end, he used slogans like “Patria Muerte! Venceremos!” that attracted the peasants to join the armed struggle against the dictatorship. Guevara argued that revolution in Cuba and Latin America must come through rebellious forces developed in rural areas with peasant support.

The second major tenet of Foco theory was an immediate call to arms. Che Guevara envisaged that the war between the locals and the armies of the repressive regime was to death.  The development of revolution would come with high and low tides in terms of counterrevolutions.  The enemy that the guerillas were fighting against was powerful and well organized sometimes-getting support from sympathetic countries. A call for immediate take up of arms was to shield the local guerillas from the least damage (Chasteen, 272). The virtual weakness of the local bourgeoisie could not be analyzed with a view to making decisions from mountains and forests. Nevertheless, it was likely that dictatorial regimes could unite against the revolutions and crush the guerillas. Che Guevara had envisaged a situation where the enemy would overcome the guerilla fighters while polarization of forces became complete.  In the middle of the war, there was unlikelihood of neutrality and people were going to fight according to their interests in the war. Thus, it was important that as locals who joined the revolution they needed to be armed.

The third tenet of Foco theory was the use of military rule as opposed to the civilians elected by the people. He theorized that the Latin American countries were popular with mass revolutions and therefore the military was in the position to effectively deal with the mass movements. Che Guevara argued that the military was capable of maintaining mobility and vigilante in the country as opposed to the civilian dictators whose interests were to entertain foreign masters.  The three practices common in the organized military would prevent people against attacks from the enemy. Similarly, military leadership as opposed to civilian dictatorship means of fighting depended on the scope of the planned goals and the sacrifices that the popular movements were going to make in advancing towards those plans. Che Guevara noted that the sacrifices made by the military would provide better methods of dealing with the issues affecting the people. Within the structure of the immense political-military action as part of the military war, Che thought that the military was at a position of harmonizing different movements in the country.  Because of the subjective and objective conditions that were prevailing in most of the Latin American countries, Che Guevara thought that military should run the country in a better way than the civilian dictatorship elected by people.

It however remains debatable whether the theory is applicable to the Cuban revolution. This is because; the theory was a response to the traditional Communist parties and did not entirely reflect the events in Cuba. Additionally, as opposed to its tenets, the Cuban revolution was not entirely rural. It also remains to be proved whether it is the revolution which took place before democracy of vice versa.  Finally, the Cuban revolution also involved the civilian population playing a role contrary to the foco tenets.

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