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Latin American Research Review 40.3 (2005) 377-389

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Revolutions and Revolutionaries in Latin America under the Cold War

Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, México, DF
Revolution And Revolutionaries: Guerrilla Movements in Latin America. Edited by Daniel Castro. (Wilmington, DE: A Scholarly Resources, 1999. Pp. xii+236. $55.00 cloth, $18.95 paper.)
Capturing The Revolution: The United States, Central America, And Nicaragua, 1961–1972. By Michael D. Gambone. (Westport, CT and London: Praeger, 2001. Pp. iv+274. $95.00 cloth, $23.95 paper.)
Sad & Luminous Days: Cuba's Struggle With The Superpowers After The Missile Crisis. By James G. Blight and Philip Brenner. (Lanham, ME: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. Pp. xxvii+324. $29.95 paper.)
Cuba On The Brink: Castro, The Missile Crisis, And The Soviet Collapse. Expanded ed. By James G. Blight, Bruce J. Allyn, and David A. Welch. Foreword by Jorge I. Domínguez. (Lanham, ME: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. Pp. xix+537. $30.00 cloth, $27.95 paper.)
The Soviet Attitude To Political And Social Change In Central America, 1979–1990: Case Studies On Nicaragua, El Salvador And Guatemala. By Danuta Paszyn. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. Pp. ix+161. $19.95 cloth.)

Scholarship on Latin American revolutions and radical movements during the cold war has long challenged the notion that such movements were the result of external influences and a derivation of the U.S.-Soviet confrontation. Such studies have made it amply clear that the roots of social movements in Latin America were national in origin and in causes, generated by class, gender, and ethnic subordination and exploitation.1 [End Page 377] International phenomena had made, of course, a fundamental economic, political, and cultural impact on Latin American revolutions, but social scientists still discuss the nature of the external and the internal, their interaction and the weight of each in determining the processes and outcomes of such radical movements. One current in the scholarship on revolutions during the cold war posits the global South at the center of inquiry and seeks to explain them as a result of the way the domestic social processes affected the dynamics of the cold war.2 Another perspective sees the impact on world events by "minor actors," who could moderate, block, or influence the process and outcome of the cold war on the periphery of the superpowers contest and drag them into situations not of their choosing.3 Recent scholarship has shown, however, that "minor" actors loomed large on the stage of world history, and influenced the process of the cold war in a major way.

The books under review explore different revolutionary experiences: one steeped in the internal social dynamic, two within the purview of one or the other superpower, while two works examine the role of Cuba on the world historical stage.

The Revolutionary Tradition

Castro's Revolution and Revolutionaries is a reminder of the main protagonists engaged in Latin American guerrilla and revolutionary warfare and of their ideas and actions. The chapters included in the book are both scholarly works and excerpts from memoirs, diaries or documents, all of which have already been published elsewhere. The anthology purports [End Page 378] to be reminiscent of the fact that guerrilla warfare was not a recent phenomenon when the Cubans descended from the Sierra Maestra and took state power in the early hours of 1959. Rather, guerrilla warfare dates back to the colonial era, has evolved over time and, according to Castro, is not over yet. This assertion leads the compiler to believe that the death knell for guerrilla warfare as an alternative to resolving the contradictions afflicting Latin America has not yet sounded.

Daniel Castro selected the material for his book "to provide a perspective on various aspects of the character and historical evolution of Latin American guerrilla movements "over the last two hundred years (xii). The editor acknowledges that the material included is but a fraction of innumerable instances of guerrilla outbreaks over the centuries. Starting with the rebellion of Tupac Amaru in 1780 the...


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