With this bulletin the “Office of Documentary Information on Latin America” (INDAL) in Heverlee, Belgium, begins publication of monthly dossiers which promise to become indispensable for future research on political parties and movements in Latin America. The 200-300 page dossiers (offered to scholars at a yearly rate of U.S. $110) will make available numerous original-language documents which are rarely found today in even the best research collections. Each number will include an introduction, a bibliography, name and other indexes, and annexes containing materials intended to throw light on the documents.
Dossier No. 1 (November 1972) is devoted to the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR) and the Movimiento Revolucionario 13 de Noviembre (MR-13), in Guatemala; the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), and five other groups, in Colombia; the Frente de Liberación Nacional (FLN)—Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), in Venezuela; and as an annex, a counterinsurgency manual by the U.S. Army School on Special Warfare. (The Venezuelan Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionario (MIR) will be covered in a subsequent volume.)
INDAL is performing an invaluable service by collecting and publishing these materials. Predictably, however, there are a few bugs in this first effort. The documents often seem more random than selected. For example, the elaborate collecting program described in the methodological introduction surely turned up the “Primera Declaración de la Sierra de las Minas” of the MR-13, a more important document than all the MR-13 pieces in this dossier combined. Then several documents do not represent the positions of the organizations under which they are listed—among them the 20-page item by Diego Montaña Cuéllar, put under the Partido Comunista de Colombia (PCC), which in fact led to the expulsion of this one-time Executive Committee member from membership in the PCC. Some important movements which are not more difficult to document than the FAR are underrepresented (e.g. the MR-13 and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) or omitted altogether (e.g. the Colombian Ejército Popular de Liberación).
Clearly the page limitation was a factor in omitting groups or documents from the dossier. More rigorous selection standards could have saved many pages, however, by eliminating items which are out of place or which contribute too little for their length. Among the former is Alberto Bayo’s old “Ciento cincuenta preguntas a un guerrillero” (25 pages), which turns up here signed by Alejandro Gener, and listed under the Colombian Movimiento Obrero Estudiantil Campesino; among the latter is the counterinsurgency manual (43 pages).
Alejandro Del Corro attempts to present an overview of the history and views of many of these parties and movements in the “Introduction” but is unable to do so successfully in several cases with the few, often un-dated, documents given here. This volume is a very good beginning, however, and the compiler indicates that additional materials by these groups will be published in the future to fill in some of the present gaps.