The Cuban Revolution
CPO 4057 Political Violence and Revolution
Research Paper Guidelines and Rubric
As you already know, you will be writing a research paper by the end of the term. I am confident
that you are more than capable of doing the necessary research and turning in a paper that
reflects weeks of careful planning and editing.
The exact topic of your paper is completely up to you. I do, however, ask that you follow some
basic parameters in choosing a focus for your project:
1. Your topic must be situated in the timeline covered in our class lectures, e.g. roughly
1860-present. (i.e. no papers on the American Revolution, etc.)
2. A successful paper requires that you make a substantive and original argument about the
topic you are covering while considering scholarly debates around that topic.
a. For reference, “original” does not mean “brand new,” but rather a thesis and
argument rendered in your own words based on your own insights and analysis,
supported by sources that you compile through research.
3. No more than half of your sources should be drawn from course readings. Sources should
be drawn from published work from credible scholars, through book-length works or
academic journals (i.e. Entertainment Weekly is not a credible source, nor is an
encyclopedia or related reference work). I can evaluate other types of sources (video,
etc.) on a case-by-case basis.
a. As you know, FIU has institutional access to multiple databases. Some more
popular options for social scientists include JSTOR for academic articles and
Worldcat for bibliographic references
b. For remote access, make sure you have downloaded the university’s VPN in order
to use the library and associated databases
1 Research Paper (8 pp. minimum) – Due July 31th (11:59 PM)
The core of any good research paper is a compelling topic. Once that is developed, come up with
a central research question (ex. “What were the causes of the Reign of Terror during the
French Revolution?) Given the nature of the course, I expect your topics to reflect questions
and debates around actual historical revolutions, comparative studies of different revolutions, or
questions of political theory relating to revolution supported by historical examples. As stated in
the syllabus, you can select case studies not included in the course readings, provided that these
case studies are relevant to the course (i.e. related to the intersection between revolution
and political violence).
I encourage you to seek feedback outside of class such as during office hours or via e-mail. This
applies both to possible topic choices and drafts of your papers, which I am willing to read with
As the author, you should assume your reader has little prior knowledge of your topic. Provide
adequate background for the topic. In addition, make sure that the reader can clearly understand
An Historical Critique of the Emergence and Evolution of Ernesto Che Guevara’s Foco
Author(s): Matt D. Childs
Source: Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Oct., 1995), pp. 593-624
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/158485
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An Historical Critique of the
Emergence and Evolution of Ernesto
Che Guevara’s Foco Theory*
MATT D. CHILDS
Abstract. This article provides an analysis of Ernesto Che Guevara’s theory of
guerrilla warfare, the foco. The numerous changes to the originalfoco thesis, as
presented in Guerrilla Warfare (1960), are examined in detail covering two dozen
articles, speeches, essays, interviews and books authored by Guevara, Castro and
Debray while stressing their relation to national and international politics. The
author argues that there was an apparent discourse between Cuban politics and
the numerous changes in Guevara’s writings. Juxtaposing changes to the foco
theory from I960 to 1967, to Cuban historical events, reflects the political
expedience of the i96os and the primary interests of the fidelistas, specifically
Scholarly analysis of the Cuban Revolution, both inside and outside Cuba,
describes the role the sierra (guerrillas) and llano (urban underground)
played in the overthrow of Batista. Maurice Halperin, in his recently
published memoirs, points out the uneven focus in Cuban historiography
on the sierra’s role in the Revolution: ‘Although the underground played
a crucial role in the triumph of Castro’s guerrilla forces, the full story has
never been told to this day.’1 According to Halperin, ‘Castro
discouraged… publicity concerning the underground exploits [because] it
could diminish the exclusive role he wished to attribute to his guerrilla
troops…in the overthrow of Batista’s government.’2 As a result, the
* The author would like to thank Ernest Boyd, Edward Gonzalez, Juan Moreno, and
Roberto Oregel, in addition to the anonymous JLAS referees, for their helpful
comments and suggestions; however, the author is solely responsible for the content
of the article and any errors or oversights.
1Halperin taught at the University of Havana and served
A History of the Cuban Revolution
Viewpoints/Puntos de Vista:
Themes and Interpretations in Latin American History
Series editor: Jürgen Buchenau
The books in this series will introduce students to the most significant
themes and topics in Latin American history. They represent a novel
approach to designing supplementary texts for this growing market.
Intended as supplementary textbooks, the books will also discuss the
ways in which historians have interpreted these themes and topics, thus
demonstrating to students that our understanding of our past is con-
stantly changing, through the emergence of new sources, methodologies,
and historical theories. Unlike monographs, the books in this series will
be broad in scope and written in a style accessible to undergraduates.
A History of the Cuban Revolution, Second Edition
Bartolomé de las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas
Lawrence A. Clayton
Beyond Borders: A History of Mexican Migration to the United States
Timothy J. Henderson
The Last Caudillo: Alvaro Obregón and the Mexican Revolution
A Concise History of the Haitian Revolution
Spaniards in the Colonial Empire: Creoles vs. Peninsulars?
Mark A. Burkholder
Dictatorship in South America
Mothers Making Latin America
Erin E. O’Connor
A History of the
This edition first published 2015
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Edition history: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (1e, 2011)
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Che Guevara Internet Archive
Message to the Tricontinental
“Now is the time of the furnaces, and only light should be seen.”
Twenty-one years have already elapsed since the end of the last world conflagration; numerous publications, in every possible language, celebrate this event, symbolized by the defeat of Japan. There is a climate of apparent optimism in many areas of the different camps into which the world is divided.
Twenty-one years without a world war, in these times of maximum confrontations, of violent clashes and sudden changes, appears to be a very high figure. However, without analyzing the practical results of this peace (poverty, degradation, increasingly larger exploitation of enormous sectors of humanity) for which all of us have stated that we are willing to fight, we would do well to inquire if this peace is real.
It is not the purpose of these notes to detail the different conflicts of a local character that have been occurring since the surrender of Japan, neither do we intend to recount the numerous and increasing instances of civilian strife which have taken place during these years of apparent peace. It will be enough just to name, as an example against undue optimism, the wars of Korea and Vietnam.
In the first one, after years of savage warfare, the Northern part of the country was submerged in the most terrible devastation known in the annals of modern warfare: riddled with bombs; without factories, schools or hospitals; with absolutely no shelter for housing ten million inhabitants.
Under the discredited flag of the United Nations, dozens of countries under the military leadership of the United States participated in this war with the massive intervention of U.S. soldiers and the use, as cannon fodder, of the South Korean population that was enrolled. On the other side, the army and the people of Korea and the volunteers from the Peoples’ Republic of China were furnished with supplies and advise by the Soviet military apparatus. The U.S. tested all sort of weapons of destruction, excluding the thermo-nuclear type, but including, on a limited scale bacteriological and chemical warfare.
In Vietnam, the patriotic forces of that country have carried on an almost uninterrupted war against three imperialist powers: Japan, whose might suffered an almost vertical collapse after the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; France, who recovered from that defeated country its Indo-China colonies and ignored the promises it had made in harder times; and the United States, in this last phase of the struggle.
There were limited confrontations in every continent although in our America, for a long time, there were only incipient liberation struggles and military coups d’etat until the Cuban revolution resounded the alert, signaling the importance of this region. This action attracted the wrath of the imperialists and Cuba was finally obliged to defend its coasts, first in Playa Giron, and again during the Missile Crisi
Martin Glaberman 1968
Regis Debray: Revolution Without a Revolution
Source: Speak Out, (April 1968).
Transcribed: by Christian Hogsbjerg, with thanks to Ian Birchall.
The importance of Regis Debray in relation to the Latin American revolution stems from several things. He has broken from the rigid confines of European Communism, even to the extent of rejecting the Communist Parties of Latin America as the automatic vanguard of the coming revolutions. He has taken from Che and Fidel and incorporated into his own thinking the fundamental conception of the Latin American revolution as an international revolution, that is, as a continental revolution. He has proven his own courage and devotion in the great risks he has taken to make personal contact with the guerrilla movements, risks which ultimately subjected him to the criminal vengeance of the Bolivian military and the CIA. He has seemed to be the theoretical embodiment of the Cuban Revolution and his writings are an attempt to develop a theory of the Latin American Revolution based on the Cuban Experience.
It is with this last that we have to concern ourselves primarily because it is an essential need of the movement to draw the theoretical conclusions of the Cuban experience and to apply them to Latin America generally.
In 1965 there appeared Debray’s article, “Latin America: the Long March,” which began his break with official Stalinism. (In 1967, there appeared an article, “Marxist Strategy in Latin America,” which was written in 1965 and rarely supplements the earlier article. Both appeared in New Left Review, Nos. 33 and 45.) Essentially he interprets the Cuban revolution to mean that the revolutionary “foco,” that is, guerrilla center, must be substituted for the vanguard party. He lists the many revolutionary experiences that were made in many South American countries, he describes the defeats and the victories, and he draws certain conclusions. In two years tha realities of the struggle destroyed his analysis and he proceeded to rewrite the analysis. This is what has appeared as Revolution In the Revolution? A comparison of the two works provides a valuable critique of Debray and an introduction to a theory of revolution for South America.
In “The Long March,” Debray puts forward for the first time the revolutionary foco as the alternative, in Latin America, to the traditional (that is, Communist) vanguard party. However, it is within a broad framework involving a relation between classes, between political and military struggles, between vanguard party and revolutionary foco. After two years, all of this is abandoned, social analysis is rejected, even strategy is rejected, and the foco becomes the beginning and end of revolutionary wisdom, completely self-contained, responsible to nothing and to no one. Compare:
From “The Long March”: “…it is already clear that armed struggle is act in itself a panacea.” (NLR, No. 33, p. 33.) “… the foco cannot constitute a strategy in itsel
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