The diary that Che wrote in Bolivia stopped on the date of October 8, 1967, the day that he was arrested. On October 9, 1967, sergeant Mario Terran was ordered to execute Che Guevara in the village La Higuera. Bolivia's military government wanted to eliminate the seeds that the popular revolutionary had seeded in the country.
The result was quite the contrary. In the days following his death, thousands of Bolivians visited the location where the body of the man who tried to get them out of poverty was kept. Even to this day, it is believed in many Bolivian villages that the portrait of Che can cure diseases.
40 years after Che’s death, Reportage Without Frontiers travels to Latin America’s poorest country, Bolivia, to track down the Commandante’s last steps. RWF witnesses Che’s heritage and the radical changes taking place in the country.
Che’s bolivian diary unfolds through the attestations of his companions, but also of the man who arrested him.
When Ernesto Che Guevara arrived in Bolivia in November 1966, his goal was to create a guerrilla cell that would expand to the whole of Latin America. His first goal was to prepare a revolution in his own birth country, Argentina.
According to Loyola Guzman, who was his contact to the Bolivian Communist Party in La Paz, Che believed that Bolivia would be the last country to be set free. The first problems appear following Che’s argument with the secretary of Bolivia’s CP, Mario Monje, over the leadership of the guerrilla. Eusebio Tapia, who was only 19 years old at the time, was one of the Bolivians who went against the ruling of the Communist Party and decided to follow Che.
The guerrilla was exposed early, when one of Che’s comrades defected and revealed the existence of the group to the armed forces. The first battle would take place in March, 1967. Despite the first accomplishments, Che realized that there was no way the guerrilla would be successful. He then informed his men about his thoughts, telling them that whoever wanted to leave the guerrilla could freely do so. He however would stay until the end.
All but one decided to follow him on a trail of death, to prove to the world that people could still stand up. "Benigno", one of Che’s Cuban comrades who followed him to Bolivia, tells RWF about those dramatic moments: "We asked Che to shoot Camba because he was a coward. But Che said ‘You are wrong. He was asked to make a decision about his life. He did so and we have to respect it. Are we fighting for democracy or not?’."
In the Bolivian diary many pages remained to be filled with endless military coups, extreme liberalism and economic abjection. Since 2000 the country has been rocked by continuus public revolts. The greatest one, in 2003, resulted in 84 people dead. It radically changed the political scene in the country. Fourty years later, the first indigenous leader in the history of Bolivia and Latin America came to power. His party, the Movement for Socialism (MAS), has Che Guevara as its emblem...
Two more episodes of Reportage Without Frontiers on the life of Che Guevara will be broadcasted right after the news:
FROM ERNESTO GUEVARA TO CHE
This is the first of two documentaries on the life of Che Guevara, filmed on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of his death.
This documentary by Stelios Kouloglou, filmed in Cuba, USA, Spain and France, presents the life and death of the famous rebel, as it is taught to second grade pupils at a school in Havana. The program features interviews with Che's daughter Aleida Guevara, his closest companion Orlando Boregos, his close friend and co-worker Enrique Oltouski, and fragments of an old but extremely interesting interview where Fidel Castro himself talks about Che.
CUTTING THE BRIDGES
Why does minister Che Guevara, who happens to be one of the most powerful men in Havana, decide to leave Cuba in 1965, "cutting all bridges" with his companions?
In this documentary, filmed in Cuba, USA, Spain and France, Stelios Kouloglou examines the conflict between the famous rebel and the Soviet Union and the path that led to his capture and execution by Bolivian guerrillas. The documentary features interviews with "Benigno", one of the three people who survived the Bolivian guerrillas, and Rodolfo Saltana, one of the Bolivian communist youth leaders. Also, Aleida Guevara describes her last goodbye with her father, Fidel Castro explains why Che wanted to leave, while Felix Rodriguez, a Cuban CIA agent speaks about his last conversation with Che, a bit before his execution; Rodriguez, who had been Che's sworn enemy in the past, is charmed by the personality and attitude of the captive rebel and tries to save his life...