Escopeteros in its original usage means 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 It has been used to describe a pitcher in baseball e.g. , or a sniping journalist It has also been used in the context of fighting to until victory "El credo del escopetero"

1950s context

During the Cuban revolution, this term was applied to the essential scouts and pickets from the Sierra Maestra and other mountain ranges to the plains (Morán Arce, 1980). The "escopeteros," were responsible for semi-continuously holding terrain against smaller sized Batista patrols 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 (Álvarez Batista,1983).

It can be argued that Ernesto 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) 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.

1960s context

A number of escopeteros joined the opposition to Fidel Castro in the War Against the Bandits (Encinosa, l989)


  • Álvarez Batista, Gerónimo 1983. III Frente a las puertas de Santiago. Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana.
  • Pérez Galdós, Benito El equipaje del rey José. Miguel D Cervantes Virtual Library
  • 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 ,
  • Morán Arce, Lucas 1980 La revolución cubana, 1953-1959: Una versión rebelde. Imprenta Universitaria, Universidad Católica; ISBN B0000EDAW9
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