Bolivia doubts the discovery of the body of Che Guevara


Vallegrande (Bolivia); 9.10.1967. Lifeless body of guerrilla fighter Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

Who gave the order to kill the Argentine-Cuban guerrilla Ernesto “Che” Guevara or who were the ones who warned of his presence in Bolivia are some of the questions that still remain 25 years after the discovery of his remains in Bolivia, a task facilitated at that time by a government considered to be “right-wing”.

The search was activated in November 1995 after the statements of the military Mario Vargas Salinas, a former high command of the Bolivian Armed Forces, who said he knew the location of the remains of Che, assassinated 28 years earlier.

That same month, the Government issued a decree that created a search commission based on the information that the body was in a mass grave located on the Vallegrande airstrip, a town located about 240 kilometers southwest of Santa Cruz, in the eastern region of the country.


Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (1993-1997), of the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), assumed the Presidency of the country and the then president and leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, was present in his possession, something that is believed to have influenced the discovery of the remains of Che.

The MNR was the architect of the National Revolution of 1952, one of the most important in Latin America, but by the 1990s it had already adopted an ideological turn embracing the free market economy with its sights set on the sale of the main companies. state.

“What is a government doing that was seeking capitalization (of the right) looking for the remains of ‘Che’ Guevara (…) deep down it was not, Ernesto Machicao, who was a minister and diplomat during that government, assured Efe.

Machicao affirmed that in the MNR “there were many people who believed in the Cuban Revolution”, whose “line and opinion counted in the decisions”, in addition, that “the president was also a person who had a deep friendship” with people from the left, and that for this reason “there was no resistance” to activate the search for Che’s remains.

Sánchez de Lozada “had great harmony with Fidel Castro,” “which was not ideological,” but rather “institutional collaboration,” journalist Juan Carlos Salazar, who covered the guerrillas and decades later reported from Cuba on the arrival of the remains of “Che” in Havana.


The search mission lasted almost two years with the assistance at different times of Cuban, Argentine and Bolivian experts, and advanced despite the setbacks caused by some false or contradictory versions.

The discovery took place in a grave in which seven bodies were found, including that of “Che”, in the first days of July 1997, a month after the change of Government in Bolivia, after the victory of the Nationalist Democratic Action. (DNA), of the dictator Hugo Banzer (1971-1978).

The identification of the remains of “Che” was based on their morphological features such as the shape of his forehead and the absence of a molar, to which was added the lack of part of the two upper limbs, since after his execution they had cut hands.

Ten years later, the studies carried out in Cuba determined that the remains really belonged to the revolutionary.


The burial site of “Che” “was a military secret” as are many others related to his figure because “the Army archives are closed,” said Salazar, who is the author of several texts about the mythical guerrilla.

For the journalist, it remains to be determined “who made the decision (that ‘Che’ be killed)”, which is believed to have emerged from a key meeting between the then president, René Barrientos (1966-1969) and some of his military collaborators.

Among them, the former head of the Armed Forces, Alfredo Ovando, and the commander of the Army, Juan José Torres, who later became presidents of the progressive country between 1969-1970 and 1970-1971, respectively.

“Who denounced the presence of ‘Che’ in Bolivia” in 1966, since the “only ones” who knew were “a few leaders of the Communist Party”, or “what did the United States know” of the guerrilla’s action to the point of sending officials to offer “military aid” to Bolivia in case of an emergency, there are several doubts about this case, he assured.

The investigator affirmed that since the death of “Che” in 1997, “there have been many versions” and that some of them “provided clues” to find his remains, but that at the same time “unknown aspects” remain, which is why he insisted on the “demand” for the Army to open its files.

Bolivian sergeant Mario Terán executed Guevara in La Higuera on October 9, 1967.

This story was originally published on July 6, 2022 6:10 p.m.

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