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During the Cuban revolution, escopeteros were essential scouts and pickets from the Sierra Maestra and other mountain ranges to the plains.[1] The "escopeteros" were responsible for semi-continuously holding terrain against smaller sized Batista patrols.[2] The escopeteros provided first alerts, communications, protected supply routes, provided essential intelligence and often captured weapons which were sent up to the mainline Castro forces in the high mountains.

Raúl Castro's mission to open a second front was in reality a mission to control an area already in possession of independent (“por la libre”) escopeteros.[3]

It can be argued that Ernesto "Che" Guevara's overseas adventures failed at least in part because of the lack of equivalent escopetero support. In the series of articles written by the staff of Escambray (circa 1988 to 2007, Che entre nosotros. Supplement to Escambray) [4] the critical role of escopeteros is repeatedly mentioned. Yet the Argentine guerrilla leader never appears to have planned the use of these essential, if poorly armed auxiliaries, in his operations overseas.

In the 1960s a number of escopeteros joined the opposition to Fidel Castro in the Escambray Rebellion.[5]


The original meaning of Escopeteros (shotgunners in Spanish) was those armed with a smoothbore long barrel firearm, sometimes a trabuco or blunderbuss, and has been used in this general context in histories of Spain and Latin America.[6] It has been used to describe a pitcher in baseball, or a sniping journalist.[7] It has also been used in the context of fighting on until victory: "El credo del escopetero".[8]


  1. ^ Morán Arce, Lucas 1980 La revolución cubana, 1953-1959: Una versión rebelde. Imprenta Universitaria, Universidad Católica; ISBN B0000EDAW9
  2. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2005-11-11. Retrieved 2005-12-08.
  3. ^ Álvarez Batista, Gerónimo 1983. III Frente a las puertas de Santiago. Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana.
  4. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2007-02-28.
  5. ^ Encinosa, Enrique G. 1989 El Escopetero Chapter in Escambray: La Guerra Olvidada Un Libro Historico De Los Combatientes Anticastristas En Cuba (1960-1966). Editorial SIBI, Miami Archived 2005-10-04 at the Wayback Machine,
  6. ^
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2005-11-11. Retrieved 2005-12-08.
  8. ^ [1] Archived 2006-01-11 at the Wayback Machine