Marco Antonio Yon Sosa

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Marco Antonio Yon Sosa , called El Chino ( The Chinese ) (* approx. 1940 in Guatemala (no further details known), † May 18, 1970 in the border area of Mexico and Guatemala) was a Guatemalan professional officer and guerrilla leader . From 1962 to 1970 he was leader of the left guerrilla group Movimiento Guerrillero Alejandro de León , which was probably renamed Movimiento Revolucionario 13 de Noviembre (MR-13) as early as 1963 . His political role models originally included the former President Colonel Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán , who was overthrown by the CIA in Operation PBSUCCESS in 1954 . In the mid-1960s, Yon was one of the most influential guerrilla leaders in Latin America alongside Luis Augusto Turcios Lima (1941–1966) . According to official Mexican information, he fell in a skirmish with the Mexican army or border police on May 18, 1970 while crossing the border.

Origin and education. The military coup of November 13, 1960

Yon was the son of a Chinese trader and a Guatemalan. Nothing is known about his youth and school days. He apparently joined the Guatemalan Army (Ejército de Guatemala) around 1958 and received training as a ranger at the Escuela de las Americas / School of the Americas in Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone .

On November 13, 1960 , a secret military organization, the Compañia del Niño Jesús ( Baby Jesus Society ), launched a coup d'état against the government of the President, General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes , with the aim of gaining US support for groups in exile by eliminating the government , who were trained with the help of the CIA in Guatemala and were preparing for Operation Mongoose . Their base was Retalhuleo , where there was also an airfield for the planned Bay of Pigs invasion. The coup plotters saw in tolerating these activities a betrayal of both national and Latin American interests. Allegedly up to 120 officers were involved in the planned coup, but apparently the military secret service G-2 had at least partially learned of the coup, whereupon only 45 of the originally involved rebels took part in the operation. It was led by Captain Arturo Chur del Cid in the fortress of Matamoros, Colonel Rafael Sesam Pereira in Zacapa and Colonel Eduardo Llerena Müller in Puerto Barrios .

The coup was put down after three days by the Minister of Agriculture, Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia, with the help of tanks and the air force. Although US President Dwight Eisenhower had already sent an aircraft carrier to Guatemala at Ydígora's request , he no longer needed to intervene.

In addition to the subteniente (lieutenant) Yon, the lieutenants Luís Augusto Turcios Lima and Alejandro de León Aragón, who are trained as rangers, were involved in the company, which, apart from the aim of ending support for the Cuban exile groups, did not pursue any further political demands at Fort Benning , Georgia . Like many other people involved, they fled to El Salvador and Honduras after the end of the coup . Ydígoras soon announced an amnesty that was accepted by most of the coup plotters, but not by Yon, Turcios and León.

The creation of the MR-13

Apparently in the spring of 1961 Yon, Turcios and León returned to Guatemala and contacted the Guatemalan Communist Party, the Partido Guatemalteco de Trabajo (PGT). However, this only had a certain following in the working class and intellectual circles in the capital, Guatemala City ; it had no influence on the broad mass of the rural population. At this point in time, the ex-officers in the PGT apparently saw only civil support for their original goal of overthrowing the Ydigora government through a military uprising.

A radicalization Yons and Turcios entered after Leon was arrested at one of these exploratory meetings by the police and killed in custody. The guerrilla movement founded by Yon and Turcios therefore originally bore his name ( Movimiento Guerrillero Alejandro de León ), but was renamed Movimiento Revolucionario 13 de Noviembre (MR-13) as early as 1962 or 1963 , the name being based on the coup of November 13th 1960 should remember.

Apparently from 1963 onwards, Yon and Turcios oriented themselves towards a Castrian concept and the focus theory of Che Guevara . According to the observations of foreign analysts, the conditions for a second revolution in Latin America based on the Cuban model appeared to be better in Guatemala than in any other country in Central and South America: Extreme poverty and economic backwardness, unequal educational opportunities and a military dictatorship . However, it was overlooked that the broad masses, especially the indigenous rural population, in fact rejected any political contact with the mestizo middle and upper classes, regardless of their political orientation.

The foundation of the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR)

On February 6, 1962, under Yon's leadership, the MR-13 began guerrilla fighting in three divisions in northeast Guatemala in the Zacapa , El Progreso and Izabal regions ; his deputy was Turcios. The number of guerrillas could only be estimated at the time. Lamberg suspects that the MR-13 never had more than 60 combatants operating at the same time. The first phase of the fight apparently only lasted a few weeks, then the guerrillas returned, u. a. decimated by desertions , returned to the capital and participated in student protests . Yon's strategic goal had apparently been to persuade sympathetic circles of the military to carry out another coup and to bring the government down. The student unrest, in which the PGT was also involved, formed the nucleus for a new edition of the guerrillas, which from the outset was to be characterized by tendencies of division, especially between an Orthodox-Marxist wing under Turcios and a Trotskyist wing under Yon.

As early as March 1962, three guerrilla groups had formed: the Movimiento Revolucionario 20 de Octubre (MR-20) of the PGT under the leadership of Colonel Paz Tejada, the Movimiento Revolucionario 12 de Octubre of the student group AEU and the remnants of the MR-13 . The first two groups were wiped out by the army in March. Lamberg suspects that the PGT's participation in the guerrillas was always only of a tactical nature, in order to be able to send representatives of its own guerrilla to a government junta in the event of Ydígoras being overthrown .

From September to December 1962, Yon reportedly stayed with an MR-13 delegation in Havana - no further evidence is known to date . Whether this is true or not is irrelevant insofar as the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR) were founded from the remnants of the three movements and operated in three zones :

- Zone 1 ( Frente Alaric Bennett ) in the Izabal region under Yon itself,

- Zone 2 ( Frente de la Granadilla ) in the Zacapa- Chicimula region under the former officers Luis Trejo Esquivel and Bernal Hernández,

- Zone 3 ( Frente Guerrillero Edgar Ibarra , FGEI) southwest of Lake Izabal under Turcios.

Apparently, operations against the army and police did not start until the end of 1963. In the meantime, however, the domestic political situation had worsened, as a group of right-wing extremists around Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia Ydígoras had overthrown in March 1963.

The split of the FAR

As far as is known, at the end of 1963 the FAR began to split into two tendencies , a more or less Orthodox-Marxist one around Turcios and the PGT and a Trotskyist one under Yon. The former PGT functionary Carlos Manuel Pellecer seems to have played a key role in establishing contact between Mexican Trotskyists and Yon.

While Turcios and the PGT preferred a so-called national-democratic solution, in which the rule of a progressive bourgeoisie was sought first and the guerrillas fulfilled a purely political purpose, Yon and his Mexican advisors propagated a socialist revolution, the bearers of which should be the peasants and not the guerrillas .

The split was completed in early 1965. From this point on, Yons operated now in MR-13, group renamed Frente Guerrillero Alejandro de León independently of the FAR. His deputy, former Lieutenant Colonel Augusto Vicen Loarca, died in July 1965 under circumstances that were not known. The main result of the split was a general weakening of the guerrillas in Guatemala.

The tactics of the new MR-13 consisted mainly of terrorist acts in the capital, while the rural areas were apparently used as a retreat. In fact, the MR-13 did not even begin to mobilize the rural population to fight the government. Their activities were therefore limited from 1965 to 1967/68 to sometimes spectacular raids in the capital, in which a good 200,000 Quetzales (the Quetzal was equivalent to one US dollar at the time) are said to have been looted. The Trotskyist tendency of the MR-13 as the cause of the split in the Guatemalan guerrillas was criticized by Fidel Castro at the Conferencia Tricontinental in Havana in January 1966 according to Lamberg "in detail and in a strictly orthodox style". In April the Trotskyists were expelled from the MR-13, but not for ideological reasons. They embezzled the stolen funds and made them available to their organization in Mexico.

A major reason for the end of the MR-13 and the FAR was the rejection of an amnesty offer by the new bourgeois government of President Julio César Méndez Montenegro . The Guatemalan Army, meanwhile trained by US-American Special Forces (Green Berets) and partly directly supported, carried out anti-guerrilla operations, which were coupled with so-called acciones cívico-militares , which were supposed to improve the rural infrastructure to win or at least neutralize the rural population for the government. In two offensives in October 1966 and February 1967, the rural guerrillas were practically crushed by government troops. At no point does it appear to have had more than 600 active members.

With the withdrawal of MR-13 and FAR to the capital, the domestic political conflict intensified. In addition to the army and police, right-wing death squads were active such as the MANO ( Movimiento de Acción Nacionalista Organizado , assigned to the police), the NOA ( Nueva Organización Anticomunista , assigned to the army), the ASA ( Asociación Anticomunista ), the OES ( Organización del Ejército Secreta ) and the CADEG ( Consejo Anticomunista de Guatemala ). They extended so-called white terror to include liberal and left-wing bourgeois politicians; In January 1968 they also murdered the former beauty queen of Guatemala, Rogelia Cruz, who had sympathized with the guerrilla. As early as 1966, Yon's niece, Kris Yon Cerna, had been murdered by the army, the police or a death squad.

The end

Yon's stay between 1968 and 1970 is unknown. After Lamberg he went into hiding after another major military offensive during the state of emergency from September to November 1968. At this point at the latest, the MR-13 also seems to have disbanded or only existed nominally. Mexican press reports in May 1970 revealed that Yon was killed in a gun battle on May 18 on the Mexican border with Guatemala. This version appeared dubious in Lamberg in 1972:

Yon Sosa and his group seemed to have taken refuge in Mexico for a long time. It is not clear why he was involved in a skirmish with Mexican troops instead of surrendering to them if necessary.

In his autobiography , published in 1998, Julio César Macías, alias César Montes , who was his successor in the FAR after Turcio's death in 1966, describes a different version of Yon's death. Then Yon was accompanied by a Fidel Raxacoj Xitumul alias Socorro Sical and an Enrique Cahueque when crossing the border to Mexico near Ixcán . They were allegedly denounced by a farmer trying to earn a reward, arrested by a unit of the Mexican Army under General Casillas, and searched and interrogated by Captain Varquera, with Yon asking for political asylum. During the search of Yon, the Mexicans found $ 50,000 and murdered Yon and his companions as well as the informers as witnesses in order to take the money. Casillas arranged a mock battle to cover up tracks. However, a military doctor could not find any traces of a combat act on the corpses, such as abrasions or soiled clothing. The bodies were brought to Tuxtla Gutiérrez and buried in an anonymous grave .


  • Fritz René Allemann : Power and impotence of the guerrillas. R. Piper & Co., Munich 1974, ISBN 3-492-02006-2 .
  • Jean Lartéguy : Guerrillas or the fourth death of Che Guevara. Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1968.
  • Richard Gott: Guerrilla Movements in Latin America. Doubleday & Co., Garden City NY 1971.
  • Julio César Macías: Wed Camino: La Guerrilla. La apasionante autobiografía del legendario combatiente centroamericano “César Montes”. Presentación de Carlos Montemayor. DF, Mexico 1998.
  • Robert F. Lamberg: The guerrillas in Latin America. Theory and Practice of a Revolutionary Model. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1972, ISBN 3-423-04116-1 .
  • Robert H. Holden: Armies without Nations. Public violence and state formation in Central America 1821-1960. Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-516120-3 .
  • MA Yon Sosa: Breves apuntes históricos del Movimiento Revolucionario 13 de Noviembre. In: Pensamiento crítico. No. 15 (April 1968).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lamberg: The guerrillas in Latin America. P. 90, note 102.

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