With the publication of these two books, another chapter is added to the ongoing debate among revolutionaries: is Marxism an ideology to be memorized and quoted, or is it a method for scientifically analyzing and predicting historical processes, an analysis that demands action? Mao confounded the old ideologues when China skipped the capitalist stage and moved into socialism on the back of a peasant-based movement. Castro and Guevara repeated the performance in Cuba, winning first the countryside while only utilizing tactical urban aid. The temptation occurred to some, including “Che” Guevara himself, but more especially to Regis Debray, to raise the new strategy to the level of a new ideology, again attempting to put Marxist sociology into a theoretical straight jacket.
By means of these two books, Brazil’s Marighela and the Tupamaros of Uruguay come close to bringing us full-circle, not only by exposing the leaders of the Communist Party of their respective countries as inept ideologues incapable of contributing to the transformation of Latin America, but also by exposing the weakness of their more modem counterparts, those who would slavishly project Cuba’s experience across the face of the whole Latin American continent.
Richard Gott’s simple compilation of Marighela’s declarations, essays, and principles of tactics and strategy is a welcome contribution to the English-speaking world’s knowledge of contemporary Latin American political thought and developments. It is also a well-deserved tribute to a man whose name should rank with Guevara, Torres, Turcios Lima and others, not only for the content of his revolutionary thought, but even more so, for the example of his revolutionary dedication.
Tupamaros, a documentary anthology in Spanish excellently edited by Ernesto Mayans, represents the most valuable collection of Tupamaro materials to date. For those who like to debate the question of violence, non-violence and morality, here is a step-by-step account of how a most heterogenous group of individuals—workers, clergy, students, administrators, bureaucrats—felt obliged to take up arms and subsequently jelled into the “Guerilla without chiefs.” The ideology and the chronology of the Movimiento de Liberación Nacional (Tupamaros) constitute the contents of this volume.
Uruguay, called “the Switzerland of America,” had lost its democratic ascendancy in the late fifties with the collapse of its economy. The strain was felt throughout the country, but mostly by the poor. So it was in 1962 that Raúl Sendic began work in the unionization of the sugar cane cutters. Tupac Amaru became again the symbol of resistance to oppression. And so the Tupamaros began their struggle. After ten years of operation, they continue to fight for a government in Uruguay which will concern itself with social justice. Their survival and growth despite torture and war and no evident change in governmental attitude, merit the analysis of concerned observers.