Representation of the period of armed struggle in Latin America, which extends from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, has been dominated by a paradigm of disillusion that equates the armed struggle as a political strategy with an excess of youthful idealism or voluntarism. Waning of neoliberal hegemony and the resurgence of the Latin America Left in recent years has brought a need to revise this paradigm. The eventual defeat of the armed struggle, and the problems experienced in countries where it triumphed, such as Cuba or Nicaragua, does not mean that it was an error from the start. There were good reasons in many Latin American countries to suppose that armed struggle might be a viable, or in some cases even a necessary, strategy. For awhile, the international conjuncture of forces in fact favored armed struggle. Much has been made of the limitations of the cultural politics of the revolutionary movements, particularly around questions of race, gender, and ethnicity, and sexual preference. But the very fact that these questions can be raised is due in part to the fact that the revolutionary movements put them centrally on the agenda of modern Latin American life. Rather than seeing, as is fashionable, the new social movements as clearly separate from the armed struggle's goal of capturing state power in the name of the people, it would be more appropriate to see them as outgrowths of the same force that fed the armed struggle.

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