Created: 3/28/1968

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LBJ LIBRARY Mandatory Review


Potential for Revolution in Latin America

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N? i

The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate:

Control Intelligence Agency ondirttaUigence conizations ol theol Stato and Detenu, and th* NSA.


Vieo Adm. Rufus Taylor, Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Mr.ho Direetot of IntelDgance and fteuarch, Deoarrmant of Stota

Vict Adm. Vernon L, Lawrence, lor the Director. Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Marshall S. Corter, the Director. National Security Agency


Dr. Charles H. Reichordt, for the Assistant General Manager, Atomic Energyond Mr. William C. Sullivan, the Assistant Director, Foderal Bureau of Invesilgalion. the subject being outside ol their jurodietion.







Page 1








Share of Major Countries in Latin America's Total Population

WiWllo*- of I


"Of*i ise



Tiiis estimate treats the question of rcvolutiiwiary development in Lathi America more broadly andonger period of time than lias been customary in previous estimates.

There are many defensible definitions of the word revolution, and many traditional applications of that word to events in Latin America, where in theears there have been moreundredgolpes, iniunections. and other violent or irregular changes of government. Our subject here is not simply the sudden overthrow' of regimes but the pressures in Latin America for fundamental change. In an effort to assess the potential effects of those pressures, we define resolutioneries of developments uhich,elatively short time, produces profound and lasting changeations political, economic, and social institutions. Among other movements to bring about such change, wc survey the current status and future prospects of the several Communist insurgencies.

Some of the judgments we reach in this paper are quite specific and apply to the next sear or two. Some, considerably more general, pertain to the nest four or five years. Stall others describe emerging trends which will be felt in the area over moreecade.


A. The focus of attention in most discussions of this subject has been on insurgency movements supported by Castro. Suchare still active in three countries: Colombia. Guatemala, and Venezuela- In all three cases they are relatively small, have attracted little sympathy among the local populace, and are encountering strong responses by the security forces. In no case do insurgencies pose a

serious slmrtrun threat to takeovernment, though theyoubles* ime. difficult to deal with, and likely to remain an unsettling factor on the political scene.

uch longer period, we do not believe thatsimilar insurgencies which may become active, will be theof revolution in Latin America. The factors and forcesrevolutions will be more complicated and will vary widelyto country in form and character.

discontent has not yet become organized andbecause thereack of appealing radical leadership,unlikely in most Latin American countries within theonger period,within thesee conditions dev eloping throughout the area whichmuch more conducive to revolution. Whether and whenactually produce revolutionary changes will dependcombinations of factors within individual countries.

establishments which now control die seven largestcountries (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina. Colombia. Peru,and Chile) are much stronger than any proponents ofviolence. Though the government ofountrydisplaced during the next year or two, the change almostnot be revolutionary. In Chile, the government whichpower0 may follow revolutionary policies. In athe smaller countries, there is greater likelihooduddenof government and also more chance

on the political left will be in the forefront ofrevolutionary movements, but we do not believe that theorganizations in Latin America have, or will develop,to play the central role. We do not rule out thethey might attempt on their own to seize power in one orbut we think it far more likely that they would makewith other stronger revolutionary elements, settlingan influential voiceew government and hoping tothere.


F. While we do not conclude that Castro-style insurgency is of no importance, we do believe that the forces which undertake future revolutions will develop and operate primarily in the cities. They willwish tosupport, and such support will be more readily obtainable in the cities than in the countryside. The influx of people from countryside to city in Latin America is striking, and most of it swells the population of the were five Latin American metropolitan areas with more than one million residents;here were nine. Wc estimate that0 there will be IS, and

Varied as they may be in other respects, we believe thatmovements will have one important commonationalistic, independent attitude with strong overtones of anti-US sentiment.


atin Ami-lira' ho*been thoughtnd this i* true nttmgh -amply in tho sense of fnipicnt changes in governments. But few of theseave UJ to moiutioti in tht' hmadtT sense ofandclunge. moreover, tlie Latin AnsiTican Communists, outside Culfci, have not had much siicevs* in making revolutmn of any kind. Tht- Castro takeover In Cuba led to prediction*ash of revolutions elsewhere in the area But such attempts as have been made haw failed.


in this paper to con.ide: the revolutionary processes in Latin in the recent past, a* well as the kind of chaiitfrs which mav be con-


here are three active insurgencies in LatinColombia.and Venezuela. Other attempts to sustain insurgencies, in Bolivia,and Peru for example, have not succeeded. Despite Castro's aid,and exhortations, and despite the propaganda of his Latin American Soli-darilv Orgatiization, even the active insurgency movements have, generally lost rather than gamed around over the past vear.


lity ol mnst of the countries to cope with problems of insurgency and guerrilla warfare has markedly improved out the past feu years. And Castro's embrace of communism, his compulsive calls for revolution, and tin- knowledge that Cubacontinuing to train and aui insurgents, serves to keep other governments on their guard. At the same time. Castro's dependence on Soviet aid and the failure of his revolution in Cuba to show any dramatic economic progress haw detracted from hisbroad appeal in the area.

G. We tin not conclude that Castro-sty It insurgencv is of no importance, lt is troulilesome. difficult to deal with, and an unsettling factor on thesteiie. and in one or another country is likely to remain so. In the easeovernment badly weakened in some other way, an insurgencycould be the straw which brought it down. And It is possibleovernment and its security forces, by overreacting tu an insurgency threat, to contributereakdown of law and order and eventually to drive other

In sum, we think that Castro-supported insurgency may be part of the broader revolutionary patternew countries; hut we do not believe that it willeither the potency or the appeal toeading revolutionary role in the areahole.

T. Tin Soviet Union and Communist China have been the other principal outside forces promoting the development of revolutionary movements in Latin America. The Soviets, however, have sought to discourage tactics of insurgency and to shift the emphasis of the Communist parties to peaceful, political means. This is un emphasis which we expect Moscow to continue; it seems totrong Soviet belief that tlie displacement of US influence and the extension of Soviet influence in Latin America can onlyradual, long-termprocess in which diplomatic ties, expanding economic relationships, and local Communist Party actions are all toole. The USSRt some future point, turn back to tbe encouragement ot* violent action, but we believe this is uniikelv in the next few years. For their part, the Communist Chinese will do what they can to foster and assist insurgency most

Su: because the parties and splinter groups they can work with in Amenta are few and weak, and because their efforts will be in sharp conflict with those of theoften with those of thedo not believe that the activities of the Chinese will add much to the overall potential for insurgency even over many years.




art of the misapprehension about imminent revolutionary danger has stemmedendency to equate Latin American political turbulence with

suscCTitihiliry Ui rrvoluHoo. Of course,o inmUiisn tlut live region has had ill full Jure of tvbulenre in rrontulsearrj.-k>romuniiarnentov andovvsr grain have lxmi commonplace. Ovvr ihe lastears, only in Chili'. Costa Rica. Mexico, and Uruguay have presidents norni.illv wK-exvdwl one another hy constitutional mcnns. In Latin Americahole there lwveoreundred urepilar changes of government.

lit this paper, we use the term revolution tocries of develop' merits trrWi,datively short lime, produces profound and lasting cluingtation's political, economic, and roc Miur interest is not in construing the definition very narrowly, but in considering those cases ha Latin Amenea's recent past where revolutions eitherook piece or were so senously attempted as toasting political/ social imprint. Since- the beginning of the Mexican Revolutione Gnd only six other case* which qualify:

a Vargas*t" full control in Brazil tn thend the broad changes under his administration;

b. Peron's assumption of one-man rule and the impact of his policies on Argentina after thes;

Similarly, in her book. On BeiotWion, Hannah Arendt emphasize, that revolutions are more than successful insunccttons and that we are noi justified in calUfie even eOupevolu-turn or even in detecting one in each enU war. Aod Alfredbisic definition in the Enetfehpcda of Social ScMneer contains the following:ecashni* of the socialt least in modernar more important cJiaracleriitJc of revolutionshance of political constitution or the use of violence In the attainment of this end."

c. Action* ofak> ami Ariam? regorxs in Guatemalaecode in which trsnlulunMn change* tookHack in Urge pari after the- overthrow nftitignificant residual effect.

si. Revolt against dictatorial government In Venezuela5 and the emergence of Botancmirt as leader of the democratic forces which establishedrumcworkrcscniative government;

of the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement in Bolivia Inthe improvement of the position of tlie masses, particularly duringfirst tenn as president;

In Cuba by Fidel Catiro9 and the subsequentof his version of MarxiM-Leninist policies.

W< sec in thisumber of guidelines for thmkkng aboutot thesubject to factor* and forces peculiar to cash country.are well aware of the problems of getveralizingeC.oii .is futsdanvCTlUUV diverse as Latin Arnenca; indeednote inis small countries,he Caribbean area, whichn one way ore exceptions to our best generjhulions.

Here then are the key points which we derive from tbe experience of the recent past:

Impetus has not been very strong in Latin Americato the prevailing inertia. The old ways andbh

lave shownot of staying power.

revolutions which have occurred have dlflered sharply inhas been true of the situations they faced, the goals they wereattain, and the way they were carried out. Each was keyed closelyin its own country; no two had the same ideology.

of these revolutions was Internal to the country where itno case did the revolutionary elements have signiScant outsidetbe Cuban case, the local Communist Party "hid under thesput it.)

d- Tbe revolutionary movements tended to benoru!nf.c. headedingle leader with ureal

these revolutionseavy content of isatioruasra.

in various fashions, aimed to improve the lot ot" one or anotheramong the lower or middle classes at the expense of one or anotherthe upper class.

evelopment of revolutionary conditions

aving these points in mind, let its consider the Latin Americanclimate at the present time. In most Latin AmericanIn all the major ones except possiblyjudge that the factor* impeding revolutions arc appreciably stronger than the factors conducive to them. This we think is especially true of the immediate power factorsovernments and

ircurily forces actingut will also be true for some time ot" Ihe brooder underlying conditionsopular dissatisfactions stillolerableor is it likely that any of the three insurgencies now active in Latin American countries will, within the nest year or two. seriously threaten toa government.

he fact is that die establishments which now control the larger Latin American countries are much stronger than anv proponents of revolutionary violence.

do not mean to imply that there will be no future revolutions incountries, only that the factors and forces likely to bring thembe some time io developing. What we foreseeeriod of little orin the basic economic condibons of many Latin Amenradual worsening in socialome unrest Is alreadyand this lack oi progtets will add to it Disappointmentari, but we third* the unrest will center morerowingthe easting governments, systems, and institutions offer no hope of rapid

forward movement, of achievements beneficial to movl of the people. Economic advances in the nctt several years will, at best be slow and painful In mostof the area. The need to increase investment and tlie restraints imposed to curb inflation will severely limit any gains made by labor or the peasantry. The economic gap between Latin Americans and the advanced nations of the world

will continue to widen, and more and more Latin Americans will recognize and resent this fact.

high rates of population growth and the massive nvjvernentfrom countrv to city will exacerbate the problems of uriemplovrnentslums. At least in tome fyunmes, aslmos'lcs which item from social and

eCCMOmic differences

on increasingly strong; racial overtones. The lower



iLum-v the lugillliully nxfv

pohht.ilK than Ilrvy haw lnvn. and then rnucv sm-al jim!m.

ould caution, at this jiuiiii. tluii the development ot conditions ton. duiivs lo revolutionnot mean tlial revolution will aulomatk-ally lollow. Some more or In* anklnUai cviabinulton ol broad divsjCutvpccifii rally* nigkhJ leadership and organmtl revolutionaryikely to determine tin* precise wlieii and how ol any particular revolution.


IV VYc cannot now kJcntily tlie spcxilic group) ,or combtiii lions ot groups; and leaders wlio ate likely to make revolutions in Latin American countries tour years or seven years or ten years hence. Indeed one of the tilings that convinces us ol the1 of revolutions soonthat lores and leaders capable ol undertaking them are not yet in evtoVrxc. What vve ian do now tt to put torward some proposition* about the probable nature and shape ot such forces.

ur first proposition is that the Communist panics, the Castroht patties, and tlu tpllntir movement* of unular genie will not ffcy the central role int oluHona ry process. The fact is that the total capabilities of the Communis: movement in Latin America are small, at the present time, and the movement itself Is seriously fragmented. Moreover, wc believe that many of the practical factors which have so far limited Communist accomplishments will continue lo be operative for some years. There hast range dichotomy in Latin American atritudes toward the Communists: Marxist Ideas, historical andare widely taught in the universities and largely accepted by many non-Communists as well as party members, at the same time, the pnnies ashave generally been reyirded withoften with hostility. To some degree this has had to doeeling that tbe Communist movemerit isby orders from abroad. To some degree, It has resulted from the unattractive leadership and cadres tlie parties have had in manyO. The Communist movement might have compensated for some ot these snotlcorningt had it been able toeasonable unit*. But the reverse has beet) thi' case. Old men. including original founders, have held on to tbe leadershipumber of [mrUes, and this has caused younger elements to split off into their own groups. Personal quarrels among leaders have led to further splintering. And finally, the influence of Castro, and his exhortations for unmedi-ate revolutionary action in thr form of guerrilla uarfarc. have caused additional factions to break away,

espite all their present weaknesses, we do not intend to rule out the possibility that Communist organisations might, partksilarls-enod of some vears. attempt on their own to seire power in one or more Latin American countries. But we believe it far more likely that they would make common

would ncept from ihh eenrraUranoA ther.numii parlies fi Chilerunit Ia both Dane (onusev tbe CoMMawseen rraM>nabl> wrO led iml tiir beenrrmj strengthrcipecUbtfrty.

with other Wronger revolutionary elements, aiming to gainentitJ. if not tho major, voiceew government.trategy would embody their hopeepeat performance of the ilevelopmenU; in Cuba; it would also entail the risk for them that they might he squeezed outhappened in Venezuela In the

his brings us to our second proposition: that Ihe forces which undertake Mllhl revolutions will develop and operate primarily in the cities. In general, we believe that the revolutionary forces willin any event will wish tosupport, and such support will ulritost certainly be more readily obtainable In the cities than in the counliyslde. This Is true partly because of Ihe staggering Influx of population from countryside to city.0 there werein American metropolitan areas with moreesidents;here were nine. Wc estimate that0 there willnd. (See table lielow.)

Growth of Large Cities in Latin America



nr. Janeiro


Mexico rxrritS




sa Mi

MM of SNMll Mm. S1-B- ft* Cue

Mnwl* <nw. JOSriM fUr NaoaiM.orIUS1 OSm>en.c*dtan andor Vawrurts- cam



UKLico any







Pfcta Alr^o




Oxbd JuAlt










it no!atter ol population grnwlh ami mmeiiiciil; ita maltcr of what is happening to tin- swelling populations of tile cityof tlie new slumn* made up of people who broughtfnini the countrywide their own community ways of administeringThey do not participate much in the broader political affairs ofanil the nation except through tlie nnangements their leaders makenfhei.iU ofthese relate chiefly to basic needs likeWe cannot, however, expect that these people will holdiheir old ways: the very decision to leave all they knew in thehe new life of the cityrevolutionarv" act for ofinevitably, they will be drawn gradually into wider communitybelieve thai of even greater potential significance will be thethe actions of theirpeople who were born andin these urban slums and who lack other roots. Unlike their parentsthe hovels and hunger of peasant life, the new generation willunhappy surroundings withf the more prosperous people in the cities.

task of ameliorating the conditions of the slum dwellersviliUc to Latin American sever

Aslower capita income, this situation is almost certain to become worse before it becomes better. Housing needs are running farther ahead of housing availabilities with every day that passes- Rates of economic growth are inadequate to alleviate the severe unemployment. Thus we expect revolutionary rawto develop in these slums.

It is possible that the slums will also provide the future revolutionary leaders, but we are inclined to think otherwise. Our third proposition is that the source of leadership Kill vary fiom country to country: the personality,courage, and machismo of individuals uill be of much more importance than the class or profession they represent. As in the recent past, we would expect to see the caudillo principleis, one strong man clearly-predominantevolutionary movement.

In some cases, the revolutionary leader will probablyilitaryperhaps someone who Isounger officer, oroncommissioned officer.

In itill other cases, revolutionary leaders will probablv come from one or another intellectual grouping. The upper strata have in the pastemarkable ability to absorb .md neutralize many ol the brightest middle-class young people. We believe, however, that this is becoming much more difficult, and that there probably now are among university students some who will play important revolutionary roles in the future. Certainly thereumber of professors and artists who are willing to lend their names and prestige to revolutionary movements. Communist ideology continues to have considerable appeal for Laiin American intellectuals; this appeal may constitute thebest opportunity to exercise influenceevolution.

t is likely, in some instances, that revolutionary leaders will come from existing political parties or from some new version of existing parties. One possibility here wouldigure from an extremist factionoderate leftist



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