THE FARC AND THE FSLN: A STUDY IN DIVERGENCE IN OUTCOMES OF LATIN AMERICAN MARXIST-LENINIST INSURGENCIES
Darnton, Christopher N.
Kapur, S. Paul
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The factors that fuel the success or failure of insurgencies are an important and debated topic in national security circles. This work examines the cases of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) in Colombia, an insurgency failure, and the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) in Nicaragua, an insurgency success, to determine why certain Latin American insurgencies succeed while others fail. Common theories, particularly in Latin America, attribute successful insurgencies to U.S. intervention on behalf of the host nation government, or focus on structural and material factors or regime type. Though these factors play a role, insurgent success in Latin America relies more heavily on the insurgency’s ability to cultivate a broad-based coalition of support both externally and domestically, coupled with shrewd political strategy that focuses on pragmatism and compromise. By examining state strategies for dealing with insurgents and best practices for counterinsurgency, the author concludes that efforts focused on alleviating the population’s concerns through legitimate societal and political reform, coupled with attempts to undermine the insurgent’s critical base of support, are the most efficient strategies for successful counterinsurgency operations.
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