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Che Guevara's Silly 'Foco' Theory
By Breaker McCoy
After their successes in the Sierra Maestra Mountains of Cuba, Castro and his Cuban revolutionaries encouraged emulation of their achievements in other Latin American countries. Che Guevara was pimped as the grand guru of that effort and communist Hollywood loves him. However, Che was not a military man. He had received only a week or so training in sketchy methods of light infantry combat. He got the rest of his “expertise” from reading literature written by his patron saint, Lenin of the USSR. Che had a lot of reworked, time-worn communist struggle theories, but his only experience was the slap-dash antics of his and Castro’s communist
revolutionaries in rural Cuba. Yet Che offered a sort of blueprint for success based upon the three 'lessons' he had drawn from the Cuban revolutionary war. The first of these so-called lessons was that the forces of the people could defeat the armed forces of the government, despite the fact that this had rarely happened in previous decades. The second lesson was that the natural arena in which to conduct the armed struggle in an underdeveloped area like Latin America was the countryside. The third lesson was that the insurgents did not have to wait until all the conditions for revolution existed, because the insurgents themselves could create revolutionary conditions. Denying the need for a mass movement or vanguard party (and thus contradicting both Lenin and Mao Tse-tung), Guevara argued that a small, mobile and hard-hitting band of insurgents could act as the focus for the revolution, the 'foco insurrectional,' or 'foco', and go on to seize power. He proclaimed that if a rag tag band of armed communist desperados appeared in a targeted third world nation, the rural peasantry would soon flock to their standard, since communism was “the wave of the future.” In 1958, after taking the city of Sancti Spiritus, Guevara unsuccessfully tried to impose a kind of sharia, regulating relations between men and women, the
use of alcohol, and informal gambling. Che enforced a Puritanism that did not exactly characterize his own way of life. (They say that every communist fanatic is really a Jesuit with a bandoleero.) He also ordered his men to rob banks; a decision that he justified in a letter to Enrique Oltuski, a subordinate, in November of that year: "The struggling masses agree to robbing banks because none of them has a penny in them." This idea of revolution as a license to re-allocate property, as he saw fit, led the Marxist Puritan to take over the mansion of an emigrant after the triumph of the revolution. The urge to dispossess others of their property and to claim ownership of others' territory was central to Guevara's politics of raw power. In his memoirs, the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser records that Guevara asked him how many people had left his country because of land reform. When Nasser replied that no one had left, Che countered in anger that the way to measure the depth of change is by the number of people "who feel there is no place for them in the new society." This predatory instinct reached a pinnacle in 1965, when he started talking, Godlike, about the "New Man" that he and his revolution would create. The communist nomenklatura, like the Marxist-corporate-capitalists are just feudal bandit. The difference are, however, marked. In communism , terror and murder is used to control the people. In corporate-capitalist states “legal” intimidation and relentless
psychological warfare is used to control the masses. Only a leftist fool would therefore promote communism or socialism as superior.
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That Guevara should have drawn his guerrilla war conclusions from the Cuban experience is perhaps not surprising, given that the Cuban communist insurgents: had defeated a government army, had conducted their campaign in the countryside - from the Sierra Maestra mountains the cities appeared to be the graveyard of the insurgent - and had achieved their victory without the help of mass movements or political parties. Even the Communist Party did not publicly admit an alliance with Castro until the closing stages of the conflict.
Such a victory could have happened only in postwar Cuba; a land of great ignorance where the masses of the public responded only to armed terror. Castro’s insurgency was not the spontaneous uprising of an oppressed peasant mass. All that happened was about 70 armed men landed in Cuba and from the mountains began attacking small government military patrols. At the same time they enlisted every psychopath, adventurer, brute and lazy person they could find. They promised them participation in ruling and controlling a communist Cuba that would be built on the corpse of Batista’s regime. It was a brutal thug’s dream. Each small victory of Castro’s gang was parroted loudly, and new peasants, always respecting success, power and the gun, began to join up. The promised rewards were better than groveling in a dusty, starving disease-ridden barrio forever. Lucky for Castro, he was facing a weak-minded and weak-willed petty dictator whose army was just a uniformed bureaucratic police force. It was both ill disciplined and ideologically bereft. It was very similar to the way the American Army will be in a few years. Understandable or not, the conclusions arrived at by Che as “principles of guerilla warfare” were based upon a dangerously selective view of the Cuban experience, and careful plagarization of a number of authors. Foolish journalists,
leftists, and vacuous military officers never bothered to do a content and origin analysis of Che’s plagiarized guerilla warfare advocacy. Guevara's contention that insurgents could easily defeat government forces made no allowance for the fact that the Cuban insurgents had triumphed against an exceptionally weak government; one that had an incompetent army and had lost the support of its main foreign backer at a crucial moment. The assumption that circumstances would be the same anywhere else was highly questionable. Since the 1950s, the US and other military services all over the world have trained secret police forces, intelligence agencies and combat battalions in every small country almost everywhere. Thus the large nations have stupidly prepared all those backward or third world countries, that can’t even build roads or houses, with the weapons and methods to wage merciless and savage wars. Sooner or later such stupidity always runs backward into the face of the very fools who “nation built” some savage backward people into a well armed and fanatic killing machine. Back in the day, about sixty years ago, the emphasis Guevara placed upon rural operations grossly underestimated the extent to which Castro's victory had actually depended upon the contribution made by urban groups. The latter not only supplied the Rebel Army with recruits and arms, but also prevented Batista from devoting his full resources to the campaign against the Sierra-Meastra based
insurgents. The urban support structure was eager to get rid of Batista and thus provided a little succorance to Castro. Finally, Guevara overlooked the fact that conditions for insurgency or terrorist uprisings already existed in Cuba before the campaign started. The insurgents were not so much creating conditions for change, as exploiting them. In many ways, therefore, the 'lessons' projected by Guevara and Castro were a dangerously misleading and wrong-headed blueprint for insurgency or terrorist uprisings in the rest of Latin America. Che’s so-called persona or looks, seemed to be more important to would-be revolutionaries than his brain or heart. Guevara, a handsome Irish lad pretending to be a Latino, turned on a lot of Hispanic women who wanted more of such a macho hombre. The emotional and romantic strength of Guevara's doctrine, and in particular of the 'foco' concept, were soon highlighted by domestic leftists on the Latin American mainland, as insurgent movements influenced by events in Cuba took up arms in the late 1960s against the incumbent regimes. The Castro experience was so easy. Just think. If a person could round up 50-100 adventurers and arm them, they could take over and run any of several pothole “nations.” Welcome to the “revolution potty.”
Soon, several countries experienced insurgency or terrorist uprisings, notably in Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia and Bolivia. They were ripe to fall too, and they would have if the USA had not helped them. (all it took was 50-100 desperados.) The weakness of the 'foco' theory soon showed through in all of the rundown countries where it was tried out. The Guevara-style revolutions never really got beyond the early stages. Yet, psychotic leftists and Marxists are such liars that they continued screaming out “Che- Che- Che” as a guerilla warfare genius. America’s current African-racist, Marxist candidate for President, Barrack Obama, who is not even a US citizen, loves Che Guevara. There is a picture of Che in all his campaign headquarters. The picture is proof that even fools and incompetents can take over countries if they are willing to use tactics from the dark side. Che Guevara himself was killed in Bolivia during October 1967, after a carefully orchestrated confrontation with the Bolivian Security Forces. He misread the local situation. There had been an agrarian reform years before; the government had respected many of the peasant communities' institutions; and the army was close to the United States despite its nationalism. "The peasant masses don't help us at all" was Guevara's melancholy conclusion in his Bolivian diary. Even
worse, Mario Monje, the local communist leader, who had no stomach for guerrilla warfare after having been humiliated at the elections, led Guevara to a vulnerable location in the southeast of the country. The circumstances of Che's capture at Yuro Ravine, soon after meeting the French Marxist intellectual Régis Debray and the Argentine painter Ciro Bustos, both of whom were arrested as they left the camp, was, like most of the Bolivian expedition, an amateur's affair.
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