A guerrilla foco is an organized group of insurgents that wage an armed revolutionary struggle against an oppressive regime. The foco concept was first introduced by Ernesto "Che" Guevara during the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The foco became the basic unit of organization for guerrilla movements across the globe.
The guerrilla foco is described as an armed vanguard of the people. It is not a vanguard in the sense that it leads the people to revolution. The foco is simply an armed segment of the people that emanates directly from it. Because of this, the guerrilla foco is at the mercy of popular support and depends on the people for resources, lodging, information, and combatants.
In a guerrilla war, the revolution begins with the formation of a guerrilla foco and ends with the emergence of an alternative government. As the war escalates, the people form the necessary infrastructure around supporting and sustaining the foco. What emerges after the revolution will be reflective of the community of resistance formed during the guerrilla war.
Step 1: Are Conditions Right for a Foco?
A guerrilla foco will not be successful without popular support. Before any foco is formed, you must first assess whether or not conditions are right for a foco to exist. Unfortunately, it is often when conditions have declined to such an extent that the people are left with no other option, that a guerrilla group can be formed. However, you can try to build the support you need through campaigns, rallies, and other forms of mass action. When it is clear that non-violent protest has been exhausted you can proceed with the formation of the foco.
Step 2: The Make-up of the Group
Identify possible members of the guerrilla foco. Ideally, these should be people that are not only trustworthy, but also have the same politics. Weapons training and skills are always a plus but should never be a condition for entering the group. The most important attributes of a good candidate is that they are trustworthy, have sound politics, and are from the communities most affected. The size of the initial group should be no more than 5-10 people.
Step 3: Group Dynamics
The guerrilla foco is often the beginning of what will come after the revolution is won. Because of this, the foco should reflect the deepest morale and ethics of the people. Make a code of ethics for the group and statement of the group's politics. Group dynamics should be organized in a way that destroys cis-male domination. Women, trans, and queer combatants must be affirmed and encouraged to take leadership positions in the group. Patriarchal gun-culture must be thoroughly smashed within the group.
Step 4: Setting up the Guerrilla Foco
When all pieces are in place and there is enough popular support, the guerrilla foco can be formed. Set up a series of bases that are extremely underground, difficult to find, and can be easily abandoned. Traditionally, a guerrilla foco functions best in the jungle or rural countryside. However, urban guerrilla warfare can function well but with no more than 5 people. It will prove very useful to have a medical practitioner who is down with the cause among your ranks or in your circle of immediate contacts. You will need to utilize radio, internet, newsprint and other media to maintain communications with the people and continue to build popular support.
Step 5: Foco Operations
The first thing the foco should do once it is formed is establish relationships, supply lines and networks of support with the local people. The foco will need to depend on local people for resources. The foco should use enemy supplies as a source of weapons. Whenever the foco launches offensives it is also an opportunity to retrieve weapons and other resources. Foco operations should be organized with the clear goal of weakening and eventually eliminating the current government. This is done through armed offensives, large-scale sabotage, general strikes, and other means.