38. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 80/90–66


The Problem

To estimate the character of the insurgency threat in Latin America, and the prospects over the next few years.3


There has been a rash of insurgencies in Latin America since Castro’s triumph in Cuba in 1959, but only a few have developed much virulence. The more active ones, in Venezuela, Guatemala, Peru, and Colombia, have either lost ground or gained little over the past year.
The growth of Latin American insurgencies has been hindered by the disunity of extremist groups, the want of willing martyrs, and the failure to attract much popular support. It has also been contained by the counteraction undertaken by the governments involved, with substantial US support.
Insurgencies tend to prosper along one of two lines: the largely unhampered expansion of a guerrilla campaign, as in Cuba, or the exploitation of a sudden upheaval, as in the Dominican Republic in 1965. Thus the prospects for a particular insurgency are likely to depend less on its initial strength than on the disabilities of the government which may prevent effective counteraction. The danger of insurgency is probably greater in some chronically unstable countries not now plagued by insurgent activity, such as Bolivia or Haiti, than in a country like Venezuela, where the government is moving effectively against an active insurgency and, to an extent, against the underlying social tensions.
In this context, the inherently unstable political situations in the following countries render them vulnerable to the rapid development of insurgency: Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Panama.

[Omitted here is the Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–R01012A, O/DDI Registry. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet this estimate was prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency with the participation of the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense, and the National Security Agency. The United States Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on February 17. The estimate supplements NIE 80/90–64 (Document 24).
  2. Excluding Cuba, for which the current estimate is NIE 85–65, dated 19 August 1965. [Footnote in the source text; for text of NIE 85–65, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXXII, Document 305.]
  3. By insurgency we mean the systematic use of violence to overthrow or undermine the established political and social order. We exclude military coups d’état, endemic banditry, and spontaneous disorder. [Footnote in the source text.]