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Becoming the Tupamaros

Solidarity and Transnational Revolutionaries in Uruguay and the United States

Lindsey Churchill

Publication Year: 2014

In Becoming the Tupamaros, Lindsey Churchill explores an alternative narrative of US-Latin American relations by challenging long-held assumptions about the nature of revolutionary movements like the Uruguayan Tupamaros group. A violent and innovative organization, the Tupamaros demonstrated that Latin American guerrilla groups during the Cold War did more than take sides in a battle of Soviet and US ideologies. Rather, they digested information and techniques without discrimination, creating a homegrown and unique form of revolution.

Churchill examines the relationship between state repression and revolutionary resistance, the transnational connections between the Uruguayan Tupamaro revolutionaries and leftist groups in the US, and issues of gender and sexuality within these movements. Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver, for example, became symbols of resistance in both the United States and Uruguay. and while much of the Uruguayan left and many other revolutionary groups in Latin America focused on motherhood as inspiring women's politics, the Tupamaros disdained traditional constructions of femininity for female combatants. Ultimately, Becoming the Tupamaros revises our understanding of what makes a Movement truly revolutionary.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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pp. 1-28

On May 29, 1970, around two o’ clock in the morning, an assistant guard at a Uruguayan military training center in the capital city of Montevideo, Fernando Garin, inconspicuously removed his helmet and then quickly placed it back on his head. Though this small gesture seemed insignificant to Garin’s fellow guards, three men in a nearby car...

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1. “Digging the Tupes”: The Unique Revolutionary Contributions of the Tupamaros

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pp. 29-68

In a 1969 book describing the strategy and actions of the Tupamaros, Antonio Mercader and Jorge de Vera depicted MLN-T members as “total samurais, with muscles of steel, mentally alert, instant reflexes, an exact knowledge of weapons and resistance to pain.”1 This romanticized description is one of numerous examples of the admiration that the left had...

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2. Supporting the “Other” America: Leftist Uruguayan Solidarity with US Radicals

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pp. 69-98

By the late 1960s, an integral part of the political strategy of the Tupamaros and the majority of the Uruguayan left involved the concept of international revolution and an alliance with radicals throughout the world.1 The Tupamaros argued that direct violent action helped weaken US imperialism and also encouraged all of Latin America...

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3. Solidarity and Reciprocal Connections: Uruguayan and US Activists

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pp. 99-118

In a 1972 article about human rights violations in Uruguay, activist and missionary Eugene Stockwell lamented transnational organizations’ lack of concern for the “small” country. He pondered, “Does anybody care about the nation’s plight? Are human rights violations less precious in Uruguay than elsewhere? How far must repression go before...

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4. “A Pistol in Her Hand”: Sexual Liberation and Gender in the Tupamaros and the Greater Uruguayan Left

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pp. 119-154

On a sunny January morning in 1971, British ambassador Geoffrey Jackson rode to his embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, to meet with a visiting businessman. Just a few moments before he arrived at the British Embassy, a red van emerged from a side street and rammed into Jackson’s vehicle. To Jackson’s horror, when his driver, Hugo, got out of the ...

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pp. 155-164

In 2009, former Tupamaro and Frente Amplio member José “El Pepe” Mujica won the presidency of Uruguay. While it is difficult to imagine that any Tupamaro who suffered years of imprisonment and torture could ever obtain a high position of power in the Uruguayan government, within only a few years of their release from prison, numerous ...


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pp. 165-192


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pp. 193-204


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pp. 205-206

E-ISBN-13: 9780826519467
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826519443
Print-ISBN-10: 082651944X

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 869736100
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Becoming the Tupamaros

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Movimiento de Liberación Nacional (Uruguay) -- History.
  • Uruguay -- Politics and government -- 1904-1973.
  • Revolutionaries -- Uruguay -- History -- 20th century.
  • Guerrillas -- Uruguay -- History -- 20th century.
  • Uruguay -- Relations -- United States.
  • United States -- Relations -- Uruguay.
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