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Bolivian army veterans refuse to attend 50th anniversary of “Che” Guevara's death

Wednesday, October 4th 2017 - 09:59 UTC
Full article 50 comments

A row has broken out in Bolivia between the government and army veterans over the 50th anniversary of the death of the Cuban revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The Bolivian government is planning a series of commemorations next week in the presence of foreign guests. Read full article

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  • Marti Llazo

    Good to see that the Bolivian military, which suffered so many dead from Che Guevara's terrorism, has a greater sense of decency than its hooligan president, Evo Inmorales.

    Oct 05th, 2017 - 12:02 am - Link - Report abuse +4
  • EscoSesDoidao

    Might be worth noting he was actually Argentinian (Rosario) as opposed to Cuban in origin.

    Oct 05th, 2017 - 03:36 pm - Link - Report abuse +4
  • Marti Llazo

    With a nick like “Che” there is no doubt about it.

    Castro wanted Guevara out of his hair and knew that a trip to Bolivia was one-way.

    Oct 05th, 2017 - 06:26 pm - Link - Report abuse +3
  • EscoSesDoidao

    I enjoyed 'The Motorcycle Diaries'.

    Oct 05th, 2017 - 10:38 pm - Link - Report abuse +3
  • Marti Llazo

    “The Motorcycle Diaries” revealed the nature of Mr Guevara in much the same way a film showing Joseph Stalin aged 4 through 6 could be expected to elicit sympathy.

    There needs to be a more balanced film about the Che. Perhaps one that might be appropriated entitled “The Assassin's Diaries.”

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 01:27 am - Link - Report abuse +3
  • EscoSesDoidao

    Did Stalin ever own a motorcycle?

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 03:40 am - Link - Report abuse +5
  • imoyaro

    They ought to be carrying a banner with two severed hands on it...

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 07:11 am - Link - Report abuse +3
  • EscoSesDoidao

    That would have made it very difficult to have ridden a motorcycle.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 12:09 pm - Link - Report abuse +3
  • Marti Llazo

    @escoses “ Did Stalin ever own a motorcycle?”

    The real question should be: “Did Guevara ever own a motorcycle?”

    The conveyance in question was a single-cylinder Norton 500 and Guevara was an incompetent operator, despite what the film suggested. The bike didn't belong to Guevara. It belonged to Alberto Granado.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 02:53 pm - Link - Report abuse +3
  • EscoSesDoidao

    So this Granada guy had two bikes? Who was it who didn't have any hands then?

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 04:30 pm - Link - Report abuse +5
  • imoyaro

    Che had his hands severed when he was autopsied and was apparently buried without them. Reminds me of Peron, whose hands were severed by tomb robbers.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 04:41 pm - Link - Report abuse +4
  • EscoSesDoidao

    So Peron must have had a motorcycle too then possibly. But hand removal is a bit extreme just to stop somebody riding their motorcycle.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 06:11 pm - Link - Report abuse +4
  • imoyaro

    I think it's more of a precaution. You know, to stop them from rising from the grave at night to steal other people's motorbikes and going on joyrides until dawn.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 07:34 pm - Link - Report abuse +4
  • Marti Llazo

    Guevara's hands were removed after he was killed, as a way of confirming his identity so that there could be no doubt about whether or not he had really been taken down. As I recall, the hands were sent to the authorities in Argentina who had Guevara's fingerprints on file and a confirmation was completed. Then later the hands were sent to Cuba. The photos and autopsy conducted in Bolivia after Guevara's death were largely for the purpose of unambiguous identification. There was even a detailed dental examination so that his known dental records could be matched with the description prepared at the time of his death. Remember that all of this was overseen by at least two US CIA players who were on the scene.

    Re the “Granada guy had two bikes” --- so far as we know, Granado only had the one, which was called La Poderosa II because his pal Ernesto used to have a motorised bicycle which he called La Poderosa. Guevara came from a family with a good bit of money and that allowed him to spend a great deal of time riding that bicycle around a lot of Argentina. Guevara even appeared in a print ad for that bicycle's manufacturer.

    The motorcycle in question was in poor condition even before the two set out, and by the time they reached southern Chile, the transmission cases were broken. The bike was apparently left around Temuco for about a year, at which time one of Granado's relatives located a replacement set of transmission cases so that the bike could be ridden back to Argentina, where it was eventually broken up and sold for parts.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 07:45 pm - Link - Report abuse +3
  • DemonTree

    Why were they so desperate to identify him? Wanted to make sure he was really dead, or wanted to make sure his supporters believed he was really dead?

    Also cutting his hands off is really macabre. Why didn't they just take his fingerprints and send them to Argentina? That would be a lot easier than sending the hands.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 09:11 pm - Link - Report abuse -3
  • EscoSesDoidao

    Man South America freaks me out. Dead people rising from the grave to steal motorcycles, that’s assumong it’s in working order, what with having to wait up to a year for spare parts etc...

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 09:17 pm - Link - Report abuse +6
  • Marti Llazo

    I was writing from my memory of the events and so I reviewed the CIA record which I believe is more correct in this respect: Guevara's severed hands were placed in preservative and taken to La Paz. Argentine police authorities were alerted and asked to bring Argentine police fingerprint records to compare to the hands, and Guevara's handwriting samples to compare to the writing in the captured documents (including his diary). The conclusions of the Argentine officers were that the hands and writing matched their records for Guevara. We must remember that there was some conflict in the killing of Guevara. The CIA wanted him kept alive and were sending resources to have him transported to Panama for interrogation. But the Bolivian military disagreed, and ordered that he be killed promptly. The main US CIA agent on the scene, where Guevara was being held, was actually a Cuban, and tried to get the Bolivian command to accede to the CIA's wishes. No dice. The Bolivian military wanted Guevara dead, and they wanted the body to disappear. Che's brother apparently went to Bolivia to recover the body and was told that it would not be possible, that the body would be cremated. Instead, it was secretly buried along with half a dozen other bodies near an airport runway that was under construction at the time. There is still some doubt that the body recovered at that site in 1997 is actually that of Guevara.

    Oct 06th, 2017 - 10:08 pm - Link - Report abuse +4
  • Lightning

    These posts are so funny, except for one.

    South America is surreal, but often pragmatic.

    “Guevara's hands were removed after he was killed, as a way of confirming his identity so that there could be no doubt about whether or not he had really been taken down. As I recall, the hands were sent to the authorities in Argentina who had Guevara's fingerprints on file and a confirmation was completed. Then later the hands were sent to Cuba”

    Great idea! Why don't we do that?

    Cheaper than transporting the whole damn body.

    Oct 07th, 2017 - 12:05 am - Link - Report abuse +2
  • EscoSesDoidao

    I can only assume they felt more hands make less work as far as the fingerprinting goes.

    Oct 07th, 2017 - 12:09 am - Link - Report abuse +3
  • Marti Llazo

    The Bolivians thought it would be handy to do it their way.

    Oct 07th, 2017 - 03:34 am - Link - Report abuse +1
  • Terence Hill

    The Bolivian soldier who executed Che Guevara 40 years ago has had his sight restored by Cuban doctors … Mr Teran was treated under Operation Miracle. Funded by Venezuelan petro-dollars and staffed by Cuban doctors, it offers free eye treatment to poor people ...
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/oct/02/cuba.international

    Oct 07th, 2017 - 03:05 pm - Link - Report abuse +1
  • DemonTree

    @ML
    That makes way more sense. Why were the Bolivian military so keen to off him if the CIA wanted him alive?

    Oct 07th, 2017 - 04:11 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marti Llazo

    In 1967 the US Special Forces and CIA were there to assist the Bolivian government in a very limited way in their dealing with the Marxist guerrillas, and most of that assistance was in the form of training of Bolivian forces. Ergo, the CIA wasn't running the Bolivian show, just helping.

    Guevara had killed a lot of Bolivian citizens. The decision was made by the Bolivian president and military staff. It was payback time. Remember that the US special ops people who killed Osama bin Laden also took some body component - it's unclear which - not for circa 1960s fingerprints but for DNA evidence, among several methods used to confirm the death of their bad guy.

    Nowadays, a Bolivian president like Evo would have invited a murderer like Guevara to a state dinner and asked for his autograph.

    Oct 07th, 2017 - 10:39 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Terence Hill

    “I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”
    “He was unaware that the United States government had sent a team of the CIA's Special Activities Division commandos and other operatives into Bolivia to aid the anti-insurrection effort. The Bolivian Army would also be trained, advised, and supplied by U.S. Army Special Forces, including a recently organized elite battalion of U.S. Rangers trained in jungle warfare…in addition, the 2007 documentary My Enemy's Enemy alleges that Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie advised and possibly helped the CIA orchestrate Guevara's eventual capture”
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/dec/23/world.secondworldwar Che Guevara From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    What is missing is how the US tracked him was through checking prescriptions of the asthma medicine he was known to be using. Also,the execution was botched and he suffered agonizing wounds but would not cry out.

    Oct 08th, 2017 - 12:32 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • imoyaro

    Sure pal, anything you say...

    https://panampost.com/karina-martin/2017/10/06/cuban-writer-jacobo-machover-talks-che-guevara-twisted-history-of-the-lefts-beloved-murderer/

    Oct 08th, 2017 - 01:12 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marti Llazo

    @THill “.... Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”

    That is the version that often appears in English and it's thought that it was dressed up a bit, perhaps for a better story, perhaps to make Guevara more memorable, or just the usual sort of bad translation. There is some considerable doubt that it is accurate..

    The version that usually appears in Spanish language media is different, as follows:

    ¡Póngase sereno y apunte bien! ¡Va a matar a un hombre!” (Calm down and aim well! You're going to kill a man!)

    The Bolivian sergeant, Terán, who evidently was the one who killed Guevara, was interviewed in about 2014 by the Spanish daily “El Mundo” and they reported Terán's words according to the above “aim well” quote. He had previously declined interviews. The “aim well” quote version is almost identical to that which Bolivian general Reque had provided to the Argentine media during the 1970s. ​

    Terán did confess that he did not “aim well” at first, which is the reason that his first burst with the carbine hit Guevara in the legs and caused considerable pain. Terán says that he then regained his composure (and his aim) and fired another burst into his chest, which proved fatal.

    Oct 08th, 2017 - 04:30 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Terence Hill

    Marti Llazo
    It appears that each version largely confirms the other. The English version’s source is probably from the number of foreign journalists that were encamped with him at the time.

    Oct 08th, 2017 - 12:43 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Think

    “Vaya s nos acordamos, de vez en cuando, de ese pequeño condottiere del siglo XX....”

    Oct 08th, 2017 - 05:31 pm - Link - Report abuse -1
  • Marti Llazo

    That may have been what he called or considered himself, but in reality he was little more than another murdering and thieving criminal, and we correctly remember him for that.

    Oct 08th, 2017 - 07:34 pm - Link - Report abuse -1
  • Terence Hill

    Marti Llazo
    “The CIA wanted him kept alive and were sending resources to have him transported to Panama for interrogation. But the Bolivian military disagreed, and ordered that he be killed promptly.“
    “Che: An assassin or a revolutionary?
    Americans have long denied responsibility for the killing - a claim neatly dismantled by American lawyers Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith in their book “Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away with Murder”. .. Writing in the Washington Post in 1997, documentary filmmaker Saul Landau described Guevara as a “tough disciplinarian who impassively dispatched traitors [but] also refused to let enemy wounded go untreated” - a man who built hospitals and schoolrooms, whose “love for the unknown masses” drove him to entirely sacrifice his own physical comfort in pursuit of a more just society. .. Yet the “assassin” card continues to be played by plenty of folks, many of them with dodgy right-wing track records. .. Guevara's abhorrence of Yankee imperialism didn't materialise out of nowhere. He personally witnessed the 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala against the democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had stepped on the toes of the US banana company, United Fruit, and other enemies of Guatemalan democracy.“
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/171008092329530.html

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 12:26 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    @ML
    You know he's never gonna be remembered as a common criminal, even thought he did kill people.

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 03:58 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marti Llazo

    The record is rather unambiguously clear that it was a Bolivian government decision to kill Guevara, that Guevara had killed a number of Bolivian citizens, but that the CIA wanted him alive for further interrogation. Anyone with the least understanding of the times would have appreciated the potential intel to be extracted, and the bargaining value of Guevara alive in US hands. In that respect, Guevara was unsurprisingly correct when he (allegedly) said, “Valgo más vivo que muerto” (usually mistranslated into English for popular consumption).

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 04:15 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Terence Hill

    Marti Llazo
    “The record is rather unambiguously clear“ Then of course all you have to do is produce the record, as there is nothing that indicates this in google news. Of which there are copious citations.
    Demonstrator
    He killed military in battle and he executed traitors is all I’ve discovered. If you have something more specific enlighten us. Or, otherwise I’ll assume your just blowing smoke out of your ass.

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 04:32 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    The article says the book dismantles the claim that it was the Bolivian authorities who decided to kill him, but it doesn't say how, which is a shame. Perhaps they want people to buy the book?

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 05:35 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marti Llazo

    We do not rely on “google news” but rather the closest thing we can find to the original sources, which are largely (though not entirely) in Spanish and have cited the accounts of the events by the participants in the events over the years and not just those appearing in the 50-year celebration love-fest.

    The claim that Guevara limited his killing to only “military” and “traitors” is frankly laughable, the sort of thing that Cuban propaganda and Al Jazeera might produce. But we are not surprised that you support the killing of Bolivian military personnel by foreign terrorists.

    If you could or would read the verbatim entries in Guevara's diaries you'd better understand. In the murder of a Cuban civilian merely suspected, Guevara confirms that he is not only a murderer but a thief: “Acabé con el problema con una pistola del calibre 32, en el lado derecho de su cerebro... Sus pertenencias ahora son mías”.

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 06:39 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Terence Hill

    Marti Llazo
    Google news is merely collection of original news sources. Since my citation of Al Jazeerais a reliable middle eastern news agency, unless you can support your implied claim against them. It would appear that you are one of these people “Yet the “assassin” card continues to be played by plenty of folks, many of them with dodgy right-wing track records. ..”
    “If you could or would read the verbatim entries in Guevara's diaries” I never thought he was a saint for a minute. But, neither am I that gullible that I’m going to accept the diatribes of loony reactionaries as bastions of truth.
    Demonstrator
    “It doesn't say how, which is a shame. Perhaps they want people to buy the book?”
    Probably, this is some of the documents that were released under the Freedom of Information Act
    “The line of the [U.S.] government was that the Bolivians did it, we couldn’t do anything about it. That’s not true,” Smith said. “This whole operation was organized out of the White House by Walt Whitman Rostow. And the CIA, by this time, had become a paramilitary organization.” http://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB5/

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 08:15 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    Marti, out of curiosity, who do 'we' and 'you' in your comment refer to?

    For those who can't read Guevara's diaries, here is the article Mart's quote comes from, which very much agrees with his opinion:

    http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1535

    @TH
    This is a quote from the site you linked which supports the idea it was the Bolivian authorities who wanted him dead, and the CIA who wanted him taken alive:

    Memo from Walt Rostow to President Johnson -

    “CIA tells us that the latest information is that Guevara was taken alive. After a short interrogation to establish his identity, General Ovando - Chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces - ordered him shot. I regard this as stupid, but it is understandable from a Bolivian standpoint, given the problems which the sparing of French communist and Castro courier Regis Debray has caused them.”

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 08:46 pm - Link - Report abuse +1
  • Terence Hill

    Demonstrator
    “This is a quote from the site you linked which supports the idea it was the Bolivian authorities”
    Like I stated it is some of the declassified material, not en total that the author relied on. My point was that authors are civil rights lawyers. I doubt that they would be making such an assertion unless they have the evidence to back it up. There is more than a strong possibility its true if you are in any way familiar with the way that US covert operators have behaved in Latin America.

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 09:36 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marti Llazo

    The Cuban government, certainly no friend of the US CIA, routinely blames the Bolivian president and not the CIA for the order to kill Guevara rather than let him be released to the CIA. Havana does indeed blame the CIA for helping capture Guevara.

    Cuban government news item - google it and others like it - “Militar boliviano que capturó al Che le dijo que sería juzgado ante una corte marcial”

    “Tras la captura del Che, el entonces presidente, general René Barrientos, y el alto mando militar tomaron la decisión de ultimarlo, pues no deseaban que un eventual juicio desencadenara una ola mundial de manifestaciones a favor del famoso guerrillero.”

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 10:10 pm - Link - Report abuse -1
  • DemonTree

    @TH
    I don't think anyone is denying that the CIA were after Che, trained the Bolivian army and helped them capture him. It's hardly a surprise they wanted to stop a communist revolutionary.

    But it also seems clear the CIA wanted to question him, and it was the then Bolivian government who ordered his immediate execution.

    Since none of us have read the book we don't even know exactly what the authors are claiming happened, or what evidence it's based on, so it's kind of pointless to speculate.

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 10:27 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Think

    TWIMC...
    I wonder if it's kind of pointless to speculate if it “R-E-A-L-L-Y” seems clear thaT the CIA wanted to question Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden..., errr... , I mean..., Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna...

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 10:49 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    No, feel free. I've never heard that the US gov wanted to do anything other than kill Bin Laden, and considering the raid was conducted by Navy Seals, and they took his body back to Afghanistan with them, it's reasonable to think they might have taken him alive if they had wanted to.

    It's not like they were exactly distraught about Che's death either. After the bit I quoted earlier it goes on to say:

    “The death of Guevara carries these significant implications:

    - It marks the passing of another of the aggressive, romantic revolutionaries like Sukarno, Nkrumah, Ben Bella - and reinforces this trend.

    - In the Latin American context, it will have a strong impact in discouraging would-be guerrillas.

    - It shows the soundness of our ”preventive medicine“ assistance to countries facing incipient insurgency - it was the Bolivian 2nd Ranger Battalion, trained by our Green Berets from June-September of this year, that cornered him and got him.

    We have put these points across to several newsmen.”

    (It strikes me that I have only heard of one of those three other 'aggressive, romantic revolutionaries'. Why did only Che become famous?)

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 11:20 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Think

    Obvious..!
    He was Argentinean.. ;-)

    Oct 09th, 2017 - 11:53 pm - Link - Report abuse -1
  • DemonTree

    Ha! And looks good on a t-shirt. :)

    Why do you care anyway? Is it any better if the CIA wanted to drag him off to Panama for some 'enhanced interrogation' rather than offing him?

    Oct 10th, 2017 - 12:06 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marti Llazo

    @Tinkle: “ ....He was Argentinean....”

    Che Guevara was as incommutably Argentine as Alfredo Astiz.

    Oct 10th, 2017 - 01:34 pm - Link - Report abuse +1
  • Terence Hill

    Marti Llazo
    People in glass-houses shouldn’t throw stones. They both have something in common with you, which makes you an absolute hypocrite. Approval of violence against political opponents, plus your support of the overthrow of a legitimate government.

    Oct 10th, 2017 - 04:38 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marti Llazo

    Rumours of my having murdered political opponents on the scale of argentines Astiz and Guevara are greatly exaggerated.

    Oct 10th, 2017 - 06:04 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Think

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ35rghbqeg

    Oct 10th, 2017 - 08:20 pm - Link - Report abuse +1
  • DemonTree

    Did you join the revolution, Think?

    Oct 10th, 2017 - 08:39 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Tarquin Fin

    It is worthy to point out that intel agencies do have their internal struggles. Lest we forget that it even gets more complicated when foreign intel tries to deal with governments. We will never know for sure whom the order ultimately came from.

    Oct 10th, 2017 - 10:34 pm - Link - Report abuse +1

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