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The machete (pronounced /məˈʃɛti/, Spanish pronunciation: [maˈtʃete]) is a large cleaver-like cutting tool. The blade is typically 32.5 to 60 centimetres (12.8 to 24 in) long and usually under 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. In the English language, an equivalent term is matchet,[1] though the name 'machete' is more commonly known. In the English-speaking Caribbean such as Jamaica, Grenada and in Trinidad and Tobago, the term "cutlass" is used for these agricultural tools.



In tropical and subtropical countries, the machete is frequently used to cut through rainforest undergrowth and for agricultural purposes (e.g. cutting sugar cane). Besides this, in Latin America it is not uncommon to see a machete being used for such household tasks as cutting large foodstuffs into pieces—much as a cleaver is used—or to perform crude cutting tasks such as making simple wooden handles for other tools. It is also common to see people using machetes for their odd jobs such as splitting open coconuts, working the lawns, clearing brush, even shaving, or other related activities.

As a weapon

In many tropical countries the machete is a common tool. Consequently, it is often the weapon of choice for uprisings. The Macheteros, for instance, is a clandestine popular army organization. Boricua Popular Army is the official name of Los Macheteros, which gets its name from the machete wielding laborers of sugar cane fields of past Puerto Rico.

A machete may also be classified as a sword, because it can be used like one. Many of the killings in the Rwandan Genocide were performed with machetes.[2] and were the primary weapon used by the Interahamwe militias there.[3] Machetes were also the distinctive tool/weapon of the Haitian Tonton Macoute.[4]

In 1762, the Kingdom of Great Britain invaded Cuba in the Battle of Havana, and peasant guerrillas led by Pepe Antonio, a Guanabacoa councilman, used machetes in the defense of the city.[5] The machete was also the most iconic weapon during the independence wars in that country (1868–1898), although it saw limited battlefield use.[6] Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, owner of the sugar refinery La Demajagua near Manzanillo, freed his slaves on 10 October 1868. Armed with machetes, he proceeded to lead them in revolt against the Spanish government.[7] The first cavalry charge using machetes as the primary weapon was carried out on 4 November 1868 by Máximo Gómez, a sergeant born in the Dominican Republic, who later became the General in Chief of the Cuban army.[8] Possibly due to this historical background, machetes inspired a form of martial discipline in Cuba known as "machete fencing", focused as its name puts it, in the best movements and techniques to use machetes as weapons, especially against similarly armed enemies or even firearms.

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