The dynamics of Latin American insurgencies: 1956-1986
Ryan, Jeffrey John
Dix, Robert H.
Doctor of Philosophy
The level of popular support accorded to either a regime or an insurgent movement has long been considered a principal determinant of revolutionary outcomes. Rather than assume a priori that these support levels are somehow inextricably linked with the conditions which spawn revolutionary movements, we have tried to focus on the sequence of events by which the behavior of the two primary actors in insurgent conflicts (regime and guerrillas) is translated into support and how in turn this support produces an outcome. We have suggested that support decisions among the public at large are based on a number of different criteria, and have attempted to distill what we feel are the most important from the literature. In an attempt to balance completeness with parsimony, we have identified three dimensions which capture the "minimum requirements" that must be satisfied by an actor in the eyes of an individual in order for that person to accord support. These are inclusiveness (incorporation), contributions to material welfare (performance), and the provision of defense (protection/coercion). In evaluating our model, we examined six cases of insurgency in post-war Latin America, two cases each of insurgent failure (Venezuela & Peru), insurgent success (Cuba & Nicaragua), and two cases of ongoing insurgency (FMLN in El Salvador & Sendero Luminoso in Peru). Our analysis suggests that outcomes unfold from the interaction of the two actors across several dimensions. This implies that "success" for a single actor is predicated not only on that actor's "strengths", but also on the opponent's "weaknesses." This, in turn, suggests that outcomes will only occur at the point in time at which some "interlocking" of strengths and weaknesses of the two actors takes place. Additionally, our analysis of the two ongoing cases provides some preliminary indications that our model may also be applicable to situations in which "alternative outcomes" emerge, such as negotiated settlements, truces and chronic stalemate.