6 de noviembre 1966 - 9 de octubre 1967

  Taken from "Lonely Planet Bolivia":

Ernesto "Ché" Guevara de la Serna was born on June 14, 1928, in Rosario, Argentina, to wealthy middle-class parents. He qualified as a doctor in the University of Buenos Aires, but his conscience was awakened at an early age. Idealistically, he decided that personal sacrifice and violent revolution were the only ways to create an equal society, and rejecting his comfortable life, he set off to travel penniless around Latin America.

His travels took him to Guatemala, where in 1954 he held a minor position in the Communist government of Jacobo Arbenz. 

It was around this time that he earned his nickname, Ché, after the Argentine habit punctuating sentences with that word, meaning "buddy". After the CIA-aided overthrow of Arbenz the following year, he fled to Mexico, where he and his first wife, Peruvian socialist Hilda Gadea, met Fidel Castro.

 Guevara decided his calling was to bring about a worldwide socialist revolution, first by overthrowing the administration of Batista in Cuba, which was accomplished on January 2, 1959, after much struggle and bloodshed on both sides.

Through the late 1950s, Guevara worked as a doctor, military commander and adviser in Castro's revolutionary forces. In 1959,

 

Castro appointed him president of the Banco Nacional de la Cuba, and in 1961 he became minister of Industry and responsible for land redistribution and industrial nationalization. He presuaded Castro to ally Cuba with other Communist nations.

What happened then is rather mysterious. In 1965, the ever-zealous Guevara decided to take his Marxist message to Africa. Before he left, Castro required him to sign a resignation from his affiliation with the Cuban government. While Guevara was in the Congo, Castro made publis Guevara's resignation, making clear that his African activities were not sanctioned by the Cuban government. 

When he returned to Cuba in 1965, feeling betrayed and disappointed with Castro's bureaucratization of the Marxist ideal, Ché turned back to Latin America. The following year, with a motley band of guerrillas, he set up base at the farm Ñancahuazú, 250km southwest of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in the hopes of fomenting revolution. Marching through the rural lands of western Santa Cruz department, he attempted to convince the local campesinos that they were in fact oppressed, and to inspire them to social rebellion. Rather than being supported, however, he was either ignored or met only with suspicion, and not even the local Communist party would take up his cause, or even recognize it.

The rejection took its toll. On October 8, 1967, when he was captured near La Higuera by the CIA-trained troops of Bolivian military dictator René Barrientos Ortuño, Guevara wasn't the t-shirt icon of his sympathizers, but a pathetically emaciated figure, suffering at the age of 39 from chronic asthma, arthritis and malnutrition. He was taken to a school room in La Higuera and, just after noon the next day, was executed by the Bolivian army.

Ché's body was flown to Vallegrande, where it was displayed until the following day in the hospital laundry room. Local women noted an uncanny resemblance to the Catholic Christ and took locks of his hair as mementos. His hands, which were cut off to prevent finger print identification, were smuggled to Cuba by a Bolivian journalist and remain there in an undisclosed location. The same night he was buried with his comrades in an unmarked grave to deny him a place of public homage. 
In 1995, General Vagas, one of the soldiers who carried out the burial, revealed that the grave was beneath the airstrip in Vallegrande. The Bolivian and Cuban governments called for exhumation, which resulted in the July 13, 1997, return of Ché's body to Cuba. He was officially reburied in Santa Clara de Cuba on October 17, 1997. 

For more on Ché's extraordinary life - straight from the horse's mouth - look for "Bolivian Diary" which was written by him in his final months. 

 

In 1995, General Vagas, one of teh soldiers who carried out the burial, revealed that the grave was beneath the airstrip in Vallegrande. The Bolivian and Cuban governments called for exhumation, which resulted in the July 13, 1997, return of Ché's body to Cuba. He was officially reburied in Santa Clara de Cuba on October 17, 1997.

So, that's how it goes! He was caught because the Bolivians got their hands on a photo of him in the jungle.....and in the background was an ancient stone oven, which there are only three of in Bolivia. They quickly were able to cancel two of them from their list so they made their way to the third one. He wasn't there, but had all his supplies were. So the soldiers waited, and sure enough, two men from Ché's group came, to get some medicine for their leader who was very ill from asthma. They were captured, and brought the soldiers to the hideout!

For a detailed page on his life, click here. For some more photos, click here.

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