Created: 10/13/1969

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible



Intelligence Memorandum

Assessment of tbe Internal Security Threat in Latin America

9 No.

1, 1




Assessment of the Internal Security Threat in Latin America

1. Much of Latin America is experiencingsocial unrest generated by strong pressures for change, and the internal security problem must be seen in this context. Student, labor, church, and other groups are becoming increasingly activeof early and profound change, but governments remain limited in their ability to find solutions to the complex problems. In many countries, such as Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, and Brazil, extremists of various shades including Communist parties and splinter groups are seeking to exploit this unrest by carrying out campaigns of propaganda, agitation, and, in some instances, open violence. In someuatemala, Uruguay, Bolivia, Venezuela) the extreme leftists have resorted to rural guerrilla operations or urban terrorism or both to achieve their objectives. Although the strength of the various elements that make up the far left is not in itself sufficient to allow them to seize power by force, their efforts, combined with other factors such as large-scale protest demonstrations and strikes, could exacerbate the instabilityin some countries.

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has become much more selective in the allocation of resources for insurgency in Latin America. Cuban training of guerrillas and propaganda support, for example, have thus been reduced during the past year or so. Castro has reportedly urged local insurgents to become more self-sustaining and he is prepared to provide substantial assistance to revolutionaries only if thoy show strong potential for achieving success.

has, therefore, not renouncedof armed revolution. Cuban aid doesflow in moderate amounts to insurgents inColombia. Venezuela, and Bolivia. on the export of the revolution mayto his preoccupation with domestic mattersas to his at least temporaryguerrilla methods.

Tho Soviet Union and Communist China

reason for Castro's modifyingprobably is pressure from the Soviethas cautioned Havana to exercise morein promoting revolution in the Moscow is anxious to avoid beingwith misguided revolutionary undertakingsfailure and exposure that would interferepresent, so far successful, campaign tocommercial, and culturalLatin America. Soviet officials are notblame for such adventures on thethey do occur. The Soviet Union hasto have Cuban-supported groups cooperatemore orthodox Communist parties in theCastro's earlier stress on armed revolutionefforts difficult. The Soviets arerelations with Latin America, but this is

not to say that the Soviet Union is necessarilyto violont revolution there. Moscow's view is that nonviolent methods of subversion should be pursued, with violence to be used only whenwarrant. Soviet diplomatic missionsto provide useful bases for Soviet espionage and subversion and channels of communication to local Communist parties. (There are


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Soviet advisers in Cuba; virtually all are engaged in technical assistance and advisory roles andandful are involved even indirectly in insurgency programs.)

5. Peking had provided minor support,training, to small groups several years ago, but even this aid has dwindled sharply during the past year or two and is now insignificant. Thesupport that still persists consists largely of propaganda and is confined almost completelyew splinter groups in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Cuba has shown little interest in collaborating with pro-Chinese extremists in the Hemisphere, butwrought-up revolutionaries trained in China have gravitated toward the more active and serious pro-Cuban groups rather than the ineffective pro-Peking local ones.

Where extremists have important impact is in the realm of ideas falling on fallow ground. Che'shinese extremism, and Ho Chi Minn's prestige, all offer an appeal attractive to the radical youth of the Hemisphere's ghettos. And in many cases this is without organic ties to Peking or Havana, without outside funds or arms, andthe terrorists ever having dealt with external Communist subversive forces of any description.



7. Guerrilla movemonts have been formed from time to timeumber of countries and still exist in Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, and Guatemala. The main threat that they present today is that of further unsettling already somewhat unstableand draining away scarce national resources into resulting counterinsurgency efforts, plus the occasional increase in terrorism that may resultGuatemala last year and Venezuela). Over the past few years local security forces haveincreased capability for responding to insurgency as evidenced by the successful antiguer-rilla campaigns of recent years, for example, in Bolivia and Peru. There seems, therefore, to be little likelihooduccessful rural-basedfor the foreseeable future. ew

politically fragile countries, notably the Dominican Republic andmall but well organizedmovement mighterious threat indeed, but none exists now.

Urban Terrorism

Urban terrorism in Latin America has been on the rise in the past year or so. Itymptom as wellause of the political difficulties facing many countries. Events such as the kidnaping of Ambassador Elbrick in Brazil last month probably will inspire others to consider similar dramatic Terrorists want to polarize further the struggle between government and opposition forces. Others may hope to gain publicity, lift the moraleagging revolutionary movement/ andropaganda impact on the establishment. Still others have different motives such as to release political prisoners, to embarrass an already unpopular regime like those in Brazil or Argentina. Nationalism with the obvious anti-US cast is also rising steadily throughout Latin America and is another factor that could well give impetus to further terrorist attacks against US or other foreign representatives.

Although security forces in most countries appear able to prevent terrorism from becomingconditions could change if public discontentiven country should reach major proportions. In all cases, the total number of people involved

in the terrorism is relatively small. It iseftist tactic to exaggerate their numbers andthe propaganda return by frequent changes of group names and manifestos.

and other extreme leftistbeen unsuccessful in overcoming their deepand expanding their generally small. The far left is badlyhave two or three rival Communistfactions have at best only sevoral hundredmembers and some as fewhereasmembership



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the long run politically motivatedin tho cities seems likely to increasefind solutions to some of thoand political problems contributing tounrest. Violence, however, has long beenin most of the Hemisphere. Whenother opposition forces, leftist groupsa key political role by using this tool ofaction.

most countries the extreme left,it is of disparate groups, will remain aproblem, but moreource of agitationthan an immediate threat to anyin Chile does there seem to be aextreme leftist groups might come toelections in the near future. Thison whether various groups includingCommunists coulduccessful0 presidential election. ewon the far left, however, stand toin those countries in which verygovernments have been installed, such as By parading their irresponsiblesome extreme leftists, including Communists,in personal influence and publicity withoutthe situation profoundly. The degree toand other leftists succeed ininfluence in Latin America will depend more

on their ability to exploit local issues andsentiment than on Cuban or Soviet actions.


here are strong forces of change in Latin America that will probably become even more intense. In the long run pressures by the rapidly growing populations, particularly in the cities, will lead to serious disruptions by extremist groups of varying persuasion. In reaction to the unrest and disorders military leaders will continue to exert control over governmentsumber of countries and be prepared to impose their authority in others if conditions

becomo too unsottled. Authoritarian regimes may

turn lead to further rebellious actions by



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of the population. Nationalism will contribute to this general unrest, with US interests sufferinq the brunt of much of the ultranationalistic outbreak. Elements of the extreme left will seek to ride the wave of nationalism but, except possibly in Chile, they are unlikely to develop sufficient strength to -play the dominant role in the immediate future.


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