Revolutionary Movement 13th November

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Revolutionary Movement 13th November (in Spanish: Movimiento Revolucionario 13 Noviembre) was a leftist movement in Guatemala. MR-13 was founded in 1960 by a group of dissident officers. It grew partly out of the popular protests against the government of President Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes following his election in 1958.[1] It was led by Luis Augusto Turcios Lima, Marco Antonio Yon Sosa and Luis Trejo Esquivel. Alejandro de León, co-founder of the group, was captured and shot by the judicial police in 1961. In 1963, MR-13 joined the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR).

MR-13 nominally continued to exist until 1973, after it was severely hampered in the 1966-67 counterinsurgency by the Guatemalan government.


On 13 November 1960, a group of 120 young military officers joined by approximately 3000 enlisted soldiers seized the Zacapa military base and most of the Eastern Military Zone of the country and demanded the resignation of President Ydígoras. The rebels' discontent was fueled by the staggering corruption of the Ydígoras regime, the government's showing of favoritism in military promotions and in providing other rewards to officers who supported Ydígoras, and what they perceived as incompetence in running the country. The proximate trigger for the November 13 revolt, however, was Ydígoras' decision to allow the United States to train an invasion force in Guatemala to prepare for the planned Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. Ydígoras had not consulted the Guatemalan military about this decision and did not share with the military the payoff he received in exchange from the US government. The military just watched as unmarked US warplanes piloted by US-based Cuban exiles flew in large numbers over their country. The rebel officers were concerned about the loss of sovereignty for the country as the US established a secret air strip and training camp at Retalhuleu to prepare for its invasion of Cuba. The rebellion was not ideological in its origins.[2]

Defeat and exile[edit]

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) flew B-26 bombers disguised as Guatemalan military jets to bomb the rebel bases because the coup threatened its plans for the invasion of Cuba as well as the Guatemalan regime it supported. The rebels fled to neighboring Honduras and formed the kernel of what became known as MR-13.[3]

Return and civil war[edit]

In early 1962 they returned and on 6 February 1962 in Bananera they attacked the offices of the United Fruit Company (present day Chiquita Brands), an American corporation that controlled vast territories in Guatemala as well as in other Central American countries. The attack sparked sympathetic strikes and university student walkouts throughout the country, to which the Ydígoras regime responded with a violent crackdown. This violent crackdown sparked the Guatemalan Civil War.[4]

The MR-13 later initiated contact with the outlawed PGT (Guatemalan Labour Party; composed and led by middle-class intellectuals and students) and a student organization called the Movimiento 12 de Abril (April 12 Movement) and together with these groups merged into a coalition guerilla organization called the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) in December 1962. Also affiliated with the FAR was the FGEI (Edgar Ibarra Guerrilla Front). The MR-13, PGT and the FGEI each operated in different parts of the country as three separate "frentes" (fronts); the MR-13 established itself in the mostly ladino departments of Izabal and Zacapa, the FGEI established itself in Sierra de las Minas and the PGT operated as an urban guerrilla front. Each of these three "frentes" (comprising no more than 500 combatants) were led by former members of the 1960 army revolt, who had previously been trained in counterinsurgency warfare by the United States.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

The US government supported the Guatemalan junta in the Guatemalan Civil War against MR-13 and other rebel factions as well as the civilians who supported them. A 1968 CIA report stated that: "With some assistance from Cuba, the small band, under the leadership of Marco Antonio Yon Sosa, engaged in sporadic terrorist acts, including harassment of communications lines, buses, and railroad tracks, pillaging of military supply points and plantations for money and arms, assassination of army collaborators, and attacks on commercial and official installations."[11] An estimated 200,000 civilians were killed or "disappeared" during the civil war, most at the hands of the military, police and intelligence services of the Guatemalan regime. Victims of the repression included indigenous activists, suspected government opponents, returning refugees, critical academics, students, left-leaning politicians, trade unionists, religious workers, journalists, and street children on a scale that constituted genocidal.Uppsala Conflict Data Program (n.d.). "Guatemala, Government of Guatemala – civilians". Conflict Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 May 2013.  The "Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico" has estimated that 93% of violence in the conflict have been committed by government forces and 3% by the guerrillas.[12]


  1. ^ May 1999, pp. 70-71.
  2. ^ Michael McClintock, "The American Connection," Volume Two: "State Terror and Popular Resistance in Guatemala," (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1985), p. 49-50
  3. ^ Michael McClintock, "The American Connection," Volume Two: "State Terror and Popular Resistance in Guatemala," (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1985), p. 50
  4. ^ Michael McClintock, "The American Connection," Volume Two: "State Terror and Popular Resistance in Guatemala," (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1985), p. 50
  5. ^ Amnesty International (1976). Amnesty International Annual Report 1975–1976. London, UK: Amnesty International Publications. 
  6. ^ Black 1984, p. 72.
  7. ^ Dunkerley 1988, pp. 448–453.
  8. ^ McClintock 1985, p. 76.
  9. ^ Hey 1995, p. 35.
  10. ^ Schirmer 1988, p. 16.
  11. ^ Central Intelligence Agency. Intelligence Memorandum. The Communist Insurgency Movement in Guatemala. 0624/68, September 20, 1968. In Guatemala and the U.S.; DNSA collection.
  12. ^ "Truth Commission: Guatemala". February 1, 1997. 
  • Digital National Security Archive. Revolutionary Movement 13 November (Guatemala). Accessed 09/30/2007.
  • May, Rachel (March 1999). ""Surviving All Changes is Your Destiny": Violence and Popular Movements in Guatemala". Latin American Perspectives. 26 (2): 68–91. doi:10.1177/0094582x9902600204. 
  • Charles A. Russell; James A. Miller; Robert E. Hildner (1974). "The Urban Guerrilla in Latin America: A Select Bibliography". Latin American Research Review. 9 (1): 37–79.