The Death of Che Guevara Declassified

A lock of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s hair sits next to photos of Guevara’s dead body and fingerprints taken after his death.

“About 10 years ago, I traveled with the producers of the Hollywood film on Che Guevara—starring the actor Benicio del Toro and directed by Steven Soderbergh—to Miami to obtain further information for the movie about the circumstances of Che’s execution. At a restaurant in Little Havana, the stronghold of the anti-Castro exile community in the United States, we met with Gustavo Villoldo, who had been the senior Cuban-American CIA operative assigned to Bolivia in 1967 to assist in tracking down and capturing the iconic revolutionary. Villoldo arrived carrying a thick white binder, filled with memorabilia of Che’s execution on October 9, 1967—original photographs, secret telexes, news clips, and even the official fingerprints taken from Che’s dead hands. The scrapbook recorded the historic results of the CIA’s covert efforts to train and assist the Bolivian special forces in eliminating Che and his small band of guerrilla fighters. … The Bolivians wanted to cut off Che’s head, he said, and preserve it as proof that Guevara was dead and gone. According to Villoldo, he convinced them instead that they could create a ‘death mask’ of plaster, and that cutting off and preserving Che’s hands would be sufficient evidence. Villoldo explained how he arranged to secretly bury the body where it would never be found. Indeed, for 30 years Che’s remains were ‘disappeared’; in July 1997, his bones, minus hands, were located in a makeshift grave alongside an airstrip on the outskirts of Villegrande. … Fifty years ago, US officials shared that sentiment. They considered the capture and execution of Che Guevara as arguably the most important victory of the United States over Cuba and Latin America’s militant left during the era of US intervention and counterinsurgency warfare in the 1960s. Top CIA and White House officials drafted numerous secret documents analyzing the significance of Che’s demise—for Fidel Castro and Cuba, and for US interests in blocking the spread of revolution in Latin America. …”
The Nation (October 10, 2017)
Che Guevara records in CIA’s archives are still heavily redacted 50 years later
On the trail of Che Guevara, 50 years on
BBC: The Death of Che Guevara (Audio)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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