Guerrillas, Terrorists, or Criminals?

The new face of antistate violence in Latin America

Authored by: Román D. Ortiz

Routledge Handbook of Latin American Security

Print publication date:  July  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415718691
eBook ISBN: 9781315867908
Adobe ISBN: 9781317965091


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Since the end of World War II, the logic of security in Latin America has been marked by the confrontation between the states of the region and violent nonstate actors. The latter is a category encompassing groups such as terrorist organizations, guerrillas, militias, and criminal gangs that use violence to capture resources and gain influence over population and territory. Traditional academic analyses of these various violent groups developed with a set of rigid conceptual boundaries that separated groups that exercised violence with criminal purposes (such as drug cartels and criminal gangs) from those who did so for political reasons (revolutionaries or counterrevolutionaries). Subsequently, groups that resorted to arms for political reasons were divided into ‘terrorists’ and ‘guerrillas,’ with the latter assumed to have more popular support or a more just cause than the former.

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