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Che Guevara In Bolivia
CSC 1985
                            WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR
                            CHE GUEVARA IN BOLIVIA
                         Major Donald R. Selvage, USMC
                                 1 April 1985
                    Marine Corps Command and Staff College
                Marine Corps Development and Education Command
                           Quantico, Virginia 22134
Author:   Selvage, Donald R. Major USMC
 Title:   Che Guevara In Bolivia
  Date:   1 April 1985
     Ernesto "Che" Guevara ranks as one of the most significant
revolutionaries of the 20th century.  After rising to power in
Fidel Castro's revolutionary government, Che Guevara attained
international status as a spokesman for radical social progress.
His manual, Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare, introduced the foco
theory of revolutions and remains one of the classic dissertations
on guerrilla warfare.  Che's attempt, however, to personally imple-
ment his foco theory in Bolivia during 1966-1967 failed completely
and resulted in his death.
     This study endeavors to analyze Che Guevara's ascent to power
and the events surrounding his aborted Bolivia campaign.  Part I
researches Che, the revolutionary leader and illustrates develop-
ments shaping his evolution into a leading figure in the world's
revolutionary movement.  Part II deals with Che's preparation for
and conduct of the Bolivian insurgency.  Part III studies the
Bolivian government's response and the role played by the United
States.  Maps and photographs depict events and people that influ-
enced the rise and fall of Che Guevara.
     Research material included both primary and secondary sources.
Che's own writings reflect his revolutionary concepts while his
diary, and those of three subordinates, provide dramatic day-to-day
accounts of the Bolivia campaign.  The study draws heavily from
Che's biographies and other sources offering various viewpoints of
this controversial figure.
     The conclusions reached in this paper attribute Guevara's
failure, primarily, to his own miscalculations and tactical errors
Steps taken by Bolivia and the United States, however, clearly
exploited Che's mistakes and hastened his defeat.
CHAPTER                                                    PAGE
        INTRODUCTION                                         ii
   I.   THE LEADER - HIS EARLY YEARS                          1
  II.   THE REVOLUTIONARY LEADER                              8
 III.   THE IDEOLOGICAL LEADER                               18
  IV.   THEORIES ON GUERRILLA WARFARE                        28
   V.   PRELUDE TO BOLIVIA                                   39
  VI.   WHY BOLIVIA ?                                        46
 VII.   THE FOCO IN ACTION                                   57
   A.   CHRONOLOGY OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS                    102
   1.   CUBA                                                106
   2.   BOLIVIA                                             107
   3.   ZONE OF GUERRILLA OPERATIONS                        108
   4.   QUEBRADA EL CHURRO                                  109
ENDNOTES                                                    110
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY                                      123
     Ernesto "Che" Guevara's unsuccessful attempt to overthrow
Bolivia's government in 1966 and 1967 ranks as a mere anecdote
in the long and continuing history of guerrilla warfare.  Barely
lasting eleven months, Guevara's small band of insurgents ach-
ieved few military victories and failed to ignite any semblance
of popular support among Bolivia's citizens.  A study of the cam-
paign reveals, instead, inadequate planning, amatuerish execution,
and pathetic results.  Despite the reputation of Che Guevara as
"...the chief revolutionary brain in the Cuban revolution..."1
his Bolivia excursion was characterized by crucial tactical errors
and basic violations of guerrilla warfare principles, including
those promoted by Che in his own writings.  When compared to the
accomplishments of Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Poncho Villa, and
other revolutionary leaders, Che's Bolivian insurgency pales to
the point of relative insignificance.
     Why, then, is the study of Che Guevara in Bolivia important
to students of guerrilla warfare?  Countless articles, disserta-
tions, and books attest to the fascination held for this Argentine
idealist.   "Che Lives!" remains the resounding call for revolution-
aries throughout the world today.  Guevara's significance lies not
in the tabulation of his achievements and failures in Bolivia, but
in what he symbolized and his actions represented to others.  For
a relatively short period in the turbulent 1960's Che was one of
the world's most renowned revolutionary leaders.  Death in the
Bolivian jungles has failed to diminish Guevara's reputation.  On
the contrary, his legacy surpasses the fame he achieved in life
as the cult of "Che" was spawned among the world's youthful left-
ists.  Che Guevara deserves close examination because he, undeni-
ably, played a significant role in shaping revolutionary ideas
which remain alive today and act as a stimulating force in personal
and propaganda senses.
     The Bolivian insurgency attempt also provides valuable insights
into methods used by the USSR and Cuba to export revolution in third
world countries.  The actual campaign in Bolivia represents only the
revolutionary "tip of the iceburg", portraying an aborted, ineffec-
tive guerrilla war while masking years of planning and preparation
by Che and his mentor in Cuba, Fidel Castro. General Robert H. Barrow,
retired Commandant of the Marine Corps, stated to an audience in
1981 that the most likely scenario involving U.S. armed forces in
combat during the forseeable future would be limited, counter guer-
rilla warfare in third world countries.2  Thus, examination of Che
Guevara in Bolivia is an historical study of events that may be
revived in similar but modified form to challenge the U.S. and its
allies in the future.  Eighteen years after Che's demise, many cir-
cumstances under which he operated remain, basically, unchanged.
Our adversaries still promote revolution and their methods continue
to achieve various degrees of success.   Furthermore, we cannot
always anticipate the errors and mistakes which the insurgents
made in Bolivia.
     Finally, a study of the Bolivian campaign reveals a counter
guerrilla success story.  Despite Che's many mistakes, both in
planning and execution, those who engineered his defeat deserve
credit for exploiting Guevara's tactical errors, thus denying him
victory.  The Bolivian Rangers who captured Che and his fellow
guerrillas skillfully executed established counter guerrilla tac-
tics with quick and decisive results.  The United States' role in
assisting the Bolivian government was highly effective and displayed
moderation in the face of pressure to escalate the response by
providing sophisticated weaponry.3  In the face of the ultimate
failure of U.S. actions in Vietnam, perhaps the Bolivian campaign
provides insights that transcend the comparative insignificance of
this little war in a small South American country.
     This study endeavors to analyze Che Guevara's Bolivia campaign
by focusing on the above stated propositions as to why that parti-
cular insurgency attempt is important to students of guerrilla war-
fare.   Part I researches Che, the revolutionary leader, and attempts
to illustrate developments that shaped his evolution into a leading
figure in the world's revolutionary Marxist movement.   Part II deals
with Che's preparations for and conduct of the Bolivia revolution;
this section addresses the covert support from Cuba in planning
the insurgency and Guevara's tactical execution of the war.  Part
III studies the Bolivia government's response and the role played
by the United States in assisting the counter guerrilla effort.
     Research material included both primary and secondary sources.
Che's own writing's provide valuable insights into his character,
while diaries of his fellow guerrillas in Bolivia complement
Guevara's account of those fateful days.  In particular, Daniel
James' biography, Che Guevara, and his translations of the Bolivian
diaries served as invaluable aids to this research.  I also attemp-
ted to obtain material that offered various viewpoints concerning
the subject in an effort to produce an unbiased account.  Since Che
Guevara, above all else, was controversial, sources representing
widely different perspectives of the man and his life were readily
available.  The reader is left to judge if the following account of
Che Guevara in Bolivia presents a balanced, accurate portrayal of
the man and his ill fated attempt to create "...two, three, many
                           Part I
                      THE REVOLUTIONARY
                          Chapter I
                THE LEADER - HIS EARLY YEARS
     The study of the wars since 1945 reveals many different types
and forms of conflict.  A long civil war in China ended and in the
ensuing thirty years an unbroken series of revolts, invasions, and
terrorist acts have plagued the world.  The causes defy simple
description and the results have often challenged traditional defi-
nitions of victory and defeat.  Complex, historical circumstances
in third world countries have created violent confrontations lead-
ing to uprisings that forced changes in the status quo.  "Uncondi-
tional surrender" frequently gave way to "cessation of hostilities"
with neither antagonist clearly the victor. If any one term adequate-
ly describes warfare since 1945, perhaps "revolutionary/unconven-
tional" or "ideological/political" come closest to representing the
true account of these myraid conflicts.
     These wars also produced unconventional leaders in comparison
to the traditional military captains of previous conventional con-
flicts of the modern era.  Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel
Castro achieved victory without utilizing established tactical man-
euvers, sophisticated weapons, and conventional military organiza-
tions.  All however, earned recognition as highly successful
leaders whose achievements matched or exceeded their more tradi-
tional counterparts.  These men, regardless of their means, accom-
plished the ends they sought.  In this regard, unconventional war-
fare is no different than conventional war: the results very often
depend upon the abilities and personalities of the leader.
     Ernesto Guevara de la Serna's achievements fall far below those
of the three men mentioned above.  Yet, he ranks as one of the pre-
mier revolutionary leaders of recent times.  He led no revolt that
resulted in the overthrow of a government; in fact, he failed in
his one attempt in Bolivia.  Guevara's prominence as a revolution-
ary leader stems from what he "stood for", his willingness to set
the example in leading social revolt.1  His influence transcends
his actual accomplishments in the field as he has become a popular
symbol of ensuing revolutionary movements. In this sense Guevara,
undeniably, rightfully earned the distinction of a revolutionary
leader, one who was able to powerfully affect the thoughts and
actions of his followers.
     Noted political scientist James MacGregor Burns in his book,
Leadership, addresses the many aspects of this elusive, intangible
quality.  He draws parallels among great men in their youthful devel-
opment and of the family influence on their evolution into leaders
as adults.2  Che Guevara's experiences as a child and adolescent in
Argentina conform to many of those factors described by Burns.
     Among the most significant correlations affecting the develop-
ment of leaders proposed by Burns is an "...intense positive attach-
ment to one parent coupled with ... an intensely traumatic and nega-
tive youthful experience."3  Ernesto, the oldest child of a middle-
class Argentine couple, suffered from asthma which he contracted as
a very young child.  His mother, an avid swimmer, regularly took
her son to a local yacht club.  After one swim on a particularly
chilly day, the child became very ill and was later diagnosed by a
doctor as having a severe asthmatic condition.4  Mrs. Guevara was
convinced that the ill-advised swim largely caused her son's asthma:
these guilt feelings then significantly affected her maternal rela-
tionship with her oldest child.  She assumed responsibility for his
schooling since Ernesto's sickness prevented him from attending
school on a regular basis.  An educated woman in her own right, she
greatly influenced Ernesto's early development and an intense, life-
long bond formed between mother and child.  This relationship assumes
an even more meaningful glimpse into Ernesto's social and political
evolution into a revolutionary because of the mother's liberal views
and avid antifascist feelings.  Even after Ernesto's rise to an im-
portant leader in Cuba, he always confided in her.5
     If this intense attachment to his mother helped shape Guevara's
leadership development, the traumatic experience of asthma apparently
affected his personality to an even greater degree.  As a youth,
Ernesto refused to allow his illness to prevent him from partici-
pating in strenuous physical activities.  Andrew Sinclair, one of
his biographers wrote:
          By temperment, Che looked on difficulties as
          challenges.  Disabilities were to be defeated,
          barriers to be broken.  A marked trait of Che's
          personality throughout his life appeared in his
          early fight against asthma.  He became an athlete
          in spite of terrible attacks which forced him to
          run off the rugby field to inhale his medicine.6
Ernesto's determination to lead a normal childhood despite his handi-
cap repeatedly manifested itself in his relationship with his peers.
The first indications of his early leadership qualities can be found
in observations by classmates, who describe Ernesto as "...incredibly
sure of himself and totally independent in his opinions...very dyna-
mic, restless and unconventional."7  His nature was to challenge the
     According to Burns, political schooling can also influence a
child's emergence as a leader, another premise which surfaced dra-
matically in researching Ernesto's youthful development.  Children
of lower socio-economic background are less likely to become politi-
cized than those from higher economic status.  Children from the
middle and upper classes seem to frequently challenge the status
quo and develop a sense of purpose which often enables them to pro-
ject a sense of leadership at an early age.8 They also encounter
more opportunities for leadership.
     Although no evidence exists that Ernesto formulated any par-
ticular political ideology until he reached adulthood, he grew up
in a family environment where the parents encouraged open discus-
sion on any subject.  Both parents, particularly the mother, were
politically oriented, dynamic, and open-minded.9  As a child,
Ernesto detested the upper class whom he believed corrupted and
exploited Argentina and he never hesitated to criticize them open-
ly.  He apparently took a great deal of pleasure in dressing like
a bohemian rebel, choosing to wear baggy trousers, dirty shirts,
and shaggy hair.10  Unlike most children who constantly seek the
approval of their peers, Ernesto preferred to shock them through
unconventional manner and dress.
     Ernesto further increased his own political awareness by travel-
ing extensively throughout South America as a teenager.  He wandered
over the continent, usually with little or no money, finding odd
jobs until he could obtain the funds to move on to his next destina-
tion.  As a result, Guevara experienced firsthand the poverty so
prevalent in Latin America.  His travels as a young man took him to
many countries, including Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Guatemala (with
even a short sidetrip to Miami).  Invariably, Guevara's observa-
tions reinforced his conviction that the ruling classes exploited
the poor.  It was at this point that Ernesto decided to forego a
career in medicine.  He discarded the degree that qualified him as
a doctor and chose, instead, to pursue revolutionary change.  In
a speech made in 1960 Che summarized those experiences:
          Because of the conditions in which I traveled,
          I came into close contact with poverty and hun-
          ger and disease.  I discovered that I was unable
          to cure sick children through lack of means and
          I saw the degradation of undernourishment and
          constant repression.  In this way I began to
          realize that there was another thing which was
          as important as being a famous researcher or
          making a great contribution to medical science:
          and that was to help these people.11
     Clearly, Ernesto's commitment to social change advanced to a
more radical level after his visit to Guatemala in early 1954.  In
his own words, "I was born in Argentina, I fought in Cuba, and I
began to be a revolutionary in Guatemala."12  When he arrived in
Guatemala City, Jacobo Arbeniz, the president, had completed the
distribution of a vast amount of land formerly owned by the country's
landowners, including 11,000 acres belonging to the United Fruit
Company.  The Arbeniz regime was immediately declared a communist
backed government by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Foster
Dulles.13  An invasion force under Carlos Castillo Armas, backed
by the CIA, succeeded in overthrowing the Arbeniz government.  As
one of Castillo's first acts as president, he returned the expro-
priated lands to their former owners.
     Ernesto frantically watched these events and actively attempted,
to no avail, to mobilize opposition by approaching the various lead-
ers of left wing organizations in Guatemala City with whom he had
become associated.  He only succeeded in drawing attention to him-
self and probably would have faced imprisonment by the new govern-
ment if the Argentine ambassador had not granted him political
asylum in the embassy.  Declared a communist by the new regime,
Guevara managed to arrange safe conduct out of the country and
departed Guatemala on a train bound for Mexico City.14
     Guatemala marked a transition in the life of Che Guevara. Pre-
viously, his involvement in social reform had remained relatively
passive, but his attempts to rally the Guatemalan leftists demon-
strated his willingness to actively lead others in the cause.  Che's
leadership development as a child had followed the traditional path
described by Burns.  The middle-class youth with an intense attach-
ment to his mother and handicapped by asthma had emerged as an adult
with distinct leadership traits.
     The Guatemala experience also caused Guevara to shift from a
traditional left of center liberal reformer to a Marxist revolu-
tionary.  He had begun to seriously study communism and was clearly
a confirmed Marxist-Leninist when he departed Guatemala.  The
passive, ineffective response by the Guatemalan communists to the
Castillo invasion convinced Che that party slogans and words were
not enough to implement social change.  The true path to fighting
imperialism and tyranny followed the course of armed revolt.  When
Ernesto Guevara left Guatemala he was completely dedicated to revolu-
tionary change.  The revolutionary only needed a revolution.
                            Chapter II
                    THE REVOLUTIONARY LEADER
     Ernesto Guevara arrived in Mexico City on September 21, 1954.
Although the 26 year old exile carried virtually no material
possessions, he brought with him an abundance of ideological pur-
pose, freshly molded by his experiences in Guatemala.  Closely
associated with the leftist movement in Guatemala, Che was fasci-
nated with the prospect of contributing to the triumph of commu-
nism in Latin America.  He became widely read in Marxist-Leninist
theory and, although Che thoroughly enjoyed debating the details
of the communist philosophy, he was unequivocally committed to its
basic doctrine.
     Che's strongest political emotion, however, was a "...deep
seated hostility towards the United States."1  He believed the
aggression in Guatemala was the work of "Yankee Imperialism", man-
ifested by the presence and actions of John Foster Dulles, the
United Fruit Company, and the Central Intelligence Agency.  He was
devoted to fighting imperialism through armed revolt, a commitment
that would influence his acts as a revolutionary for the rest of
his life.
     The Guatemala experience convinced Che that another foe contri-
buted to the oppression of the people, the regular army.  This was
the tool that the existing system used to maintain itself in power.
The failure of the Guatemalan Army to adequately defend their coun-
try from invasion provided condemning evidence in Che's mind that
these forces were corrupt and ineffective in combating imperialist
aggression.  He believed that the destruction of the existing re-
gime's regular army was essential to the revolution's success.
After his triumphant march into Havana in 1959 with Fidel Castro,
Che quickly put this vital lesson into effect by supervising the
ruthless purge of Cuba's regular army.2
     In Mexico the stage was set for Che's complete transformation
from idealist to revolutionary.  An intelligent, rebellious youth
who wandered over a continent observing social inequalities, poverty,
and corruption now became a true revolutionary with a cause.  All
he needed was a revolution.
     He found it in Mexico.  Mexico City harbored a small community
of Cuban exiles who had unsuccessfully attempted the overthrow of
Fulgencio Batista in 1953.  Led by Fidel and Raul Castro, this group
was actively preparing for a second incursion into their island
homeland.  Guevara, who had obtained work as a doctor, met the
Castro brothers through one of his patients.  In July 1955 Che was
introduced to Fidel Castro at a small apartment on Calle Emparan
49, later to become famous as the general headquarters of the Cuban
Revolution.3  Fidel's impressions of this Argentine idealist explain
why Che quickly adopted the Cuban cause as his own:
          He was filled with a profound spirit of hatred
          and loathing for imperialism, not only because
          his political awareness was already considerably
          developed but also because shortly before, he
          had the opportunity of witnessing the criminal
          imperialist intervention in Guatemala through
          the mercenaries who aborted the revolution in
          that country.  A man like Che did not require
          elaborate arguments.  It was enough for him to
          know that there were men determined to struggle
          against that situation, arms in hand; it was
          enough for him to know that those men were in-
          spired by genuinely revolutionary and patriotic
          ideas.  That was more than enough.4
     The revolutionary had found his revolution.  Che joined Castro's
group as a doctor but his performance as a member of the band demon-
strated his potential as a leader.  Revolutionary leadership demands
dedication, single-mindedness, ideological motivation, courage, and
a commitment to conflict.5  Che quickly proved that he possessed
those qualities in abundance.
     Castro had obtained the services of Colonel Alberto Bayo to
train his men in guerrilla tactics.  Bayo, a former officer in the
Spanish Republican Army, had a great deal of guerrilla warfare ex-
perience gained in Morrocco against the Arabs and in the Spanish
Civil War.  Castro and Bayo set up a training camp on a large ranch
in the mountainous Chalco district of Mexico.6  Bayo combined the
lessons of Mao Tse-Tung with his own experiences and conducted a
very rigorous training camp.  His curriculum included guerrilla
organization, marksmanship, demolitions, and tactics.  Guevara
excelled under Bayo's tutelage and was rated the star pupil at the
Click here to view image
end of the course.  Che also earned the same respect from his
fellow students who characterized him as a "...brilliant leader
and exceptional commander."7
     Although the key to post World War II revolutionary movements
is the marriage of techniques with ideology, evidence indicates
that Fidel Castro did not indoctrinate his trainees with specific
communist doctrine at this time.  The Cuban revolutionary movement
was initially directed in nationalistic terms - the overthrow of
a ruthless dictator.  Many of the revolutionaries were communists,
including  Che,  but the driving force of the group was the desire
to rid Cuba of Batista.  Not until the reigns of power were seized
did the revolutionary movement follow the classic model of Marxist-
Leninist ideology.  Che's role in shaping Castro's policies in
governing Cuba would emerge much later.  Guevara, at this time, con-
centrated on learning the techniques of guerrilla warfare.
     All of Che's biographers address Colonel Bayo's influence on
the young revolutionary.  Bayo's instruction profoundly affected
Che's philosophy of guerrilla warfare.  Not only was the experience
Ernesto's first formal military training, Bayo introduced him to
the guerrilla warfare ideology of Mao; both lessons provided Guevara
with practical insights on how to conduct revolutions.  Che recog-
nized Bayo's contribution to his education when one of the first
copies of Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare was sent to his former
teacher with the following dedication:  "To the master, with the
affectionate devotion of his pupil, Che."8
     Daniel James, in his biography, Che Guevara, submits that Che
learned more than just guerrilla tactics at the Mexico camp.  the
clandestine arrangements of Castro and Bayo in preparing the site
for their purposes involved attempts to pose as legitimate real
estate investors.  The cover included the hiring of laborers to
work on the "farm".  The entire script was duplicated by Che in
Bolivia in 1966.9
     On November 25, 1956 eighty-two men departed Tuxpan on the
east coast of Mexico aboard the yacht Granma bound for Cuba.
The difficult trip, on a boat designed to carry 20 persons, en-
countered bad weather at sea and finally landed on Cuba's south-
eastern coast near the Sierra Maestra Mountains on December 2, 1956.
(See Map #1, page 106).  Che's introduction to the rigors of mili-
tary intervention first occurred aboard the Granma when he suffered
severe asthma attacks; these were to regularly surface during per-
iods of stress for the remainder of his life.  Just as he responded
to similar attacks as a child on the rugby fields of Argentina
schoolyards, Che never permitted his affliction to restrict his
activities, no matter how difficult the circumstances.
     Che's initiation into combat also challenged his perseverance
in the face of severe adversity.  Due to a combination of betrayal
and fatal mistakes, Castro's guerrillas met with disaster immedi-
ately upon landing.  Surrounded by Batista's soldiers, the group
of eighty-two was ruthlessly reduced to a mere fifteen men.  Guevara
suffered superficial wounds during the firefight but managed to
remain with the other survivors.  Che's conduct during his baptisn
of fire, while not heroic, was adequate under the extreme conditions
of the one-sided battle.  More importantly, Che resolved in his own
mind which role he was to play in the Cuban revolution, doctor or
combatant.  As he fled with his fellow survivors, Che was forced
to make a symbolic choice:
          This was perhaps the first time I was faced
          with the dilemma of choosing between my dedi-
          cation to medicine and my duty as a revolu-
          tionary soldier.  At my feet were a pack full
          of medicine and a cartridge box; together they
          were too heavy to carry.  I chose the cartridge
          box, leaving behind the medicine pack.10
     Che's fateful decision certainly benefitted Fidel Castro and
his "July 26 Movement" in the ensuing months and years in the Sierra
Maestras.  He so distinguished himself in the early battles of the
revolution that Fidel began granting Che increased responsibility.
As Castro successfully employed his guerrillas against a faltering
Batista, his small force grew steadily.  In July 1957, Guevara was
promoted to "Commandante", the highest rank in the rebel army, and
awarded command of the second column of the guerrilla force.  He
now joined Fidel and Raul Castro as one of the principal leaders
of the revolution.
     Che proved worthy of his new status by leading his men with
distinction.  His abilities as a leader surface repeatedly in
accounts of those days in the Sierra Maestras.  He demonstrated
unwavering self-discipline and constantly set the example for
others, suffering the hardships of his men without reserving any
privileges for himself.  Che also possessed the quality of charisma
and personal magnetism that inspired his followers.11  Finally, he
revealed brilliance in executing guerrilla warfare, attacking key
lines of communication and maintaining constant pressure on the
enemy while skillfully choosing when to fight or withdraw.  Che's
column fought the final, decisive battle of the revolution at
Santa Clara in the central plains of Cuba.  The city fell to
Che Guevara on New Year's Day, 1959.  Four days later he marched
into Havana at the head of his column and was hailed as the hero
of the revolution.                   
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     Che's achievements on the battlefields of Cuba propelled him
into the world spotlight at the side of Fidel Castro.  During 25
months of combat Guevara proved himself under fire as an audacious,
brilliant, rebel commander.  Che rose to the top of Castro's revo-
lutionary army because of his victories in the field and his demon-
strated charisma, boldness, and personal magnetism as a leader.
The transformation from passive idealist to active revolutionary
leader was confirmed in the mountains and central plains of Cuba.
     The "July 26 Movement" provided Che with his advanced training
in guerrilla warfare, enabling him to form a framework for the con-
duct of future revolutions. He states in his book, Che Guevara on
Guerrilla Warfare, that three fundamental conclusions were revealed
in the Cuban revolution:
          1) Popular Forces can win a war against an
          2) One does not necessarily have to wait for
             a revolutionary situation to arise; it
             can be created.
          3) In the underdeveloped countries of the
             Americas rural areas are the best battle-
             fields for revolution.12
These theories glided Che in his future attempts to export revolu-
tion in Africa and Latin America.  These principles acted as the
foundation on which he based his philosophy of social change through
armed revolts; they also gained him international fame as a leader
in revolutionary thought.  Events would prove later that Guevara's
theories failed the test of universal application in guerrilla
warfare.  Che's final attempt to put them into effect in Bolivia
would end in his death.
                          Chapter III
                    THE IDEOLOGICAL LEADER
     According to Burns in his book, Leadership, "...ideological
leaders dedicate themselves to explicit goals that require social
change and to organizing and leading political movements that
pursue these goals."1  Ultimately, such leaders' effectiveness is
judged by the achievement of social change.  Although some his-
torians debate the degree of Guevara's ideological contribution
to Castro's revolution, he is widely credited with introducing
consistency and organization into the social changes implemented
in Cuba.2  Beyond the confines of his adopted island country, Che,
unquestionably, asserted himself as an ideological leader.  During
the seven years following his triumphant march into Cuba's capital,
Che Guevara achieved world-wide recognition as a spokesman for radi-
cal change in third world countries.  Che pursued his goals of revo-
lutionary progress through his writings, speeches, and actions.  In
many respects, Guevara, rather than Castro, became the symbol of
the international revolutionary movement.
     Any analysis of Che Guevara's impact on the Cuban revolution-
ary government must first address the relationship between him and
Fidel Castro.  Both men admired the other and Fidel trusted Che
implicitly because he realized that his Argentine lieutenant fos-
tered no political ambitions in Cuba.  One month after Batista's
fall from power, Castro declared through official decree that Che
was a Cuban by birth.  Thus, Guevara's role in the new hierarchy
was legitimized, albeit, by rather artificial means.  The relation-
ship, born in Mexico and strengthened in the Sierra Maestras,
reached its height in Havana.   Their association benefitted both
men in the ensuing years, but, conflicts between these two strong
personalities were inevitable.  Martin Ebon, another of Che's biog-
raphers, summarizes the differences between the two:
          But while he shared with Castro a penchant for
          snap decisions, irregular hours, and anti-United
          States sentiment, he differed from him in seve-
          ral personality traits.  Simply put, Che was a
          purist where Fidel was a realist; Che was rigid,
          where Fidel was flexible or erratic; Che was
          utopian, where Fidel was worldly.3
These dissimilarities influenced many of the events involving Che
Guevara's role as ideological leader in Cuba's revolutionary govern-
     Che's first assignment in Castro's regime reveals the degree to
which he was committed to initiating change through revolutionary
means.  His involvement in the terrible paredon - the reign of terror
following Castro's assumption of power - also resurfaces Che's hatred
of the foe identified in Guatemala, the regular army.  Guevara led
the tribunals against the real and imagined enemies of the revolu-
tion.  In the name of "revolutionary justice", Che supervised the
execution of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in the wake of
Click here to view image
Castro's consolidation of power.  The exact toll of victims in
the paredon cannot be established, but figures vary from 7,876
calculated by anti-Castro exile reports to Che's own admission of
at least 1,500 deaths.4  Che perceived no injustice in this sys-
tematic slaughter of "enemies of the people", particularly since
most were former members of the "oppressor army".  The specific
charge against a defendant meant little in Che's judgement; the
accused stood before him guilty of the much larger crime of ser-
ving in the ranks of Batista's regular army.  The massive blood-
letting revealed Che's willingness to deal with foes ruthlessly.
He, however, saw the purpose in revolutionary political terms;
it was absolutely necessary to further the aims of social progress
through the removal of potential obstacles to the revolution.5
     Following his involvement in the paredon, Che was prepared to
institute his ideological philosophy in the doctrine and policies
of Castro's new government.  At the age of 32, he became one of
Castro's primary advisors in all matters relating to the direction
of Cuba's revolutionary movement.  In October 1959, Castro named
him director of the Industrial Department of the National Institute
of Agrarian Reform (INRA); a month later Che also assumed duties as
the president of the National Bank of Cuba.  These appointments
gave him broad policy-making responsibilities in agriculture,
industry, and finance.  One of his first acts was to oversee the
nationalization of plantations, large farms, and major properties,
which Che believed represented the first step in an agrarian revolu-
tion.  In Che's words, "Radical, agrarian reform, the only type
which can give land to the peasant, collides directly with the in-
terests of the imperialists, large landowners, and sugar and ranch-
ing magnates..."6  Che expresses the two themes inherent in his
theory for revolutionary progress - distributing resources to the
peasants and fighting imperialism.  These convictions, which had
their roots in Guatemala, greatly influenced his efforts in Cuba
and can be detected in his later attempts to export revolution
     Ideological leaders pursue their goals so intensely that nor-
mal human aspirations - those of both the leader and his followers -
are subordinated to the purposes of the movement.7  Che personified
those traits in his ranking position as a minister in Castro's cab-
inet.  Accounts of Che's personal and work habits reveal his will-
ingness to sacrifice material possessions and emotional needs to
the goals of the revolution.  By all accounts he was a revolutionary
puritan.  He despised money and took great pride in the fact that
his monthly salary as Minister of Industries never exceeded 125
pesos (then equivalent to $125).8  Che rejected any temptation to
lead a life of luxury as an important government official, choosing,
instead, to follow a moderate lifestyle.
     Che was fanatically devoted to the revolution.  He now had a
wife and family (after his first marriage in Mexico ended in
divorce) but Che found little time for parental responsibilities.
He relegated his family to the needs of the revolution as revealed
by comments in his article, Socialism and Man in Cuba, "The leaders
of the revolution bear children who do not learn to say father with
their first stammers; wives who must be part of the general sacri-
     Ideological leaders demand the same sacrifices from their
followers and Che was no exception.  Ironically, the president of
Cuba's National Bank set about to end the pursuit of money.  He
vehemently opposed capitalism and free enterprise, favoring instead
the communist philosophy of a single wage scale with everybody earn-
ing according to his needs.  The worker's reward was not material
gain, but the satisfaction of knowing that his productivity contri-
buted to the general well-being of society as a whole.10
     Accounts of Fidel Castro's acceptance of Che's radical design
for economic reform, the chaos that followed its implementation,
and its ultimate failure, reveal Guevara's total commitment to
Marxist-Lenin tenets, regardless of the sacrifices involved by those
affected.  Underlying Che's dogmatic injection of basic communist
doctrine into Cuba's agrarian society is the confirmation of his
ideological philosophy, which is highly relevant in analyzing his
later attempts to export revolution to Bolivia.  Che saw his radical
economic steps as a necessary extension of the fight against impe-
rialism.  Socialism provided the means to subvert the imperialists'
grip on the worker by eliminating the pursuit of money for indivi-
dual productivity.  In Che's own words, socialism could supply "a
future in which work will be man's greatest dignity, in which work
will be a social duty as well as a true human pleasure and the ulti-
mate act of creation."11
     Thus, the ideological leader emerges during the turbulent years
following Batista's capitulation.  His reputation grew worldwide
as he was portrayed by the international press as Cuba's most
potent political influence and generally credited with the broad
formulation of radical policies within Castro's government.  Along
with Fidel and Raul, Che became a member of Cuba's "Unholy Trinity".12
Fidel then provided Che with the means to further his international
reputation while representing Cuba's interests throughout the world.
Che became Castro's roving ambassador, traveling on important mis-
sions to various communist and non-alligned countries.
Click here to view image
     Guevara, although steadfastly loyal to Fidel during his tra-
vels, placed his mentor in awkward positions by alienating Cuba's
closest ally, the USSR.  Eventually, his influence in Cuba would
suffer as a result.  Che, the purist, did not restrict his verbal
attacks to the United States.  The Soviet Union received its share
of lectures from Guevara, who believed the communist giant could
be guilty of imperialistic designs by tying  aid to underdeveloped
countries to reciprocal trade agreements.  He urged the Soviets to
stop proposing "mutually benefical trade based upon an unequal law
of value and of international relations which are a product of that
law."13  Che advanced the idea that the developed socialist coun-
tries should finance the emerging revolutions in third world coun-
tries - aid in the form of gifts, not loans with strings attached.
Rather than accepting the USSR's state socialism/communism as
developed by Stalin, Guevara propounded the concepts of true inter-
national revolutionary movement.
     Guevara continued his attack on the USSR by criticizing its
so-called peaceful coexistence policy towards the West.  Calling
the Soviets "Marxist revisionists" Che attacked the Russians'
failure to adhere to literal Marxist theories of advancing revolu-
tions worldwide.  He began to see the world in terms of underdeve-
loped versus developed countries and included the Soviets in the
latter camp.14
     As he continued to include the USSR in his barbs, Che moved
closer to the Maoists of Communist China, whose willingness to
openly support armed insurrections paralleled his own feelings
of socialist governments' responsibilities to nurture struggling
revolutions.  He exacerbated the situation by stating in an inter-
view that "The Cuban people would resist to the last drop of blood
any attempt by the USSR to make Cuba a satellite."15  He then pro-
ceeded to negotiate an agreement with China for the purchase of
Cuban sugar.
     Che's penchant for criticizing Cuba's closest ally eroded his
support in Havana.   The old guard communists considered his hereti-
cal remarks a betrayal of the worldwide socialist movement headquar-
tered in Moscow.  It was inevitable that Fidel Castro would begin
to view his independent minded minister as a liability, both at
home and abroad.  Cuba's survival depended upon the USSR's contin-
ued economic support and Che's verbal assaults on the financiers
in Moscow placed Fidel in an untenable position.  The leader of
Cuba's pro-Soviet group, Anibal Escalante, finally pressured Castro
into accepting Che's resignation from his cabinet in 1965.  Escalante
blamed Cuba's economic instability and her strained relationship
with the Soviet Union on Che's "... impractical projects and patho-
logical adventurism."16  Che fell victim to "in-house" ideological
disputes within Cuba's communist party which revealed significant
powerful positions and groupings in the revolutionary hierarchy.
Che's tenure as an ideological leader in Cuba's revolutionary
movement was over.
     Che, at the age of 38, still carried the same revolutionary
passions of his youth.  He remained the idealist with dreams of
leading the oppressed out of the bonds of their oppressors.  The
rebellious, wandering adolescent from Argentina who became a
guerrilla commander in the Sierra Maestras and an ideological leader
in Cuba's government began to search for another revolution.
                             Part II
                         THE REVOLUTION
                           Chapter IV
     Bernard B. Fall published his famous book, Street Without Joy
in 1961, the same year as Che's Guerrilla Warfare.  In it he re-
counts his observations of a rule which was printed in capital
letters at the French guerrilla warfare school in Vietnam and which
appeared every month on the first page of its monthly magazine:
"Remember - the enemy is not fighting this was as per French Army
Regulations."1  Mr. Fall prophetically urged the United States to
substitute the word "French" with "American" and to heed the lessons
learned by their predecessors in Vietnam.  The analogy can also
apply to Che Guevara's guerrilla warfare theories, which introduced
concepts and methods that did not necessarily follow previously es-
tablished doctrine.  Although similarities exist in Guevara's ideas
with those of other authors on the subject, his foco (A Spanish
word used to refer to the center of guerrilla operations) theory
remains distinct in many respects.
     Understanding Che Guevara's concepts on guerrilla warfare
requires, first, a review of the experiences that influenced his
theories, primarily, the Cuban revolution.  Fidel Castro, after the
aborted landing on Cuba's southeastern coast, escaped into the
Sierra Maestras with only fifteen survivors.  This nucleus accom-
plished the remarkable feat of overthrowing an established govern-
ment in just over two years.  Initial successes in the field cap-
tured the imagination of Cuba's citizens and resulted in the steady
growth of Castro's revolutionary army.  The ranks of the guerrillas
filled with men and women responding to the cause embodied by Fidel
Castro's "July 26 Movement".  Che lived and fought in the country-
side, alongside the peasants and far away from the cities.
     Che's foco theory stems directly from his involvement in the
Sierra Maestra Mountains.  In the narrow context of the Cuban revo-
lution, his theory appears to defy argument.  Popular forces did
win the war against an army; the revolutionary situation that led
to victory was created by Fidel Castro without the direction of an
established communist party, and the war was won in Cuba's rural
     Sir Robert Thompson's comprehensive book on warfare since 1945,
War in Peace, reveals the fallacies in Guevara's "three lessons"
drawn from the Cuban revolution.  Because of Batista's corrupt,
ruthless regime, Cuba was ripe for revolution.  Castro succeeded in
bringing the various factions opposing Batista together and he pro-
vided leadership to the fragmented groups.  Batista had also aliena-
ted the middle class and the peasants by completely disregarding
individual rights.
     The army was defeated psychologically, almost from the start.
Batista's forces capitulated after losing approximately only 200
of its 30,000 men.  This reflected its unwillingness or inability
to overcome the wide dissatisfaction with the regime.  By the end
of the revolution the army was ineffective as an operational force.
     Finally, Castro achieved victory in the rural areas because
of urban and middle class resistance to Batista; they tied down
security forces in the cities and towns.  Che ignores the fact that
Castro also received substantial support from Cuba's cities and
towns in the form of supplies and recruits.  Although Castro's
forces operated from a rural base, the conclusion that the urban
areas played no significant role is misleading.2
     Despite the argument that Che's theories represent conclusions
drawn from unique circumstances existing in Cuba during the late
1950's, his book, Guerrilla Warfare demands serious study.  Che's
manual not only provides the basis for analyzing his attempt to
implement his theories in Bolivia; it has much broader implications
in its truly revolutionary precepts for the conduct of insurgencies.
Guevara's theories captured the imagination of revolutionaries world-
wide and has directly impacted upon their attempts to fight wars of
national liberation.
     Perhaps the most attractive appeal of Che's counsel to poten-
tial revolutionaries is its defiance of traditional doctrine, a
"revolution in the revolution".  Guevara preached the concept of
creating a revolutionary situation without the support of the
orthodox communist party.  He submits that his conclusions "refute
the do nothing attitude of those pseudo revolutionaries who procras-
tinate under the pretext that nothing can be done against a profes-
sional army."3  Che is saying: forget parties, doctrine and theories;
do not listen to traditional communist organizations who want to wait
for the right time and conditions.  He offers the ultimate freedom
for revolutionaries, freedom from the bonds of traditional Marxist-
Lenin parties with their slow, methodical approach to social change.4
The ideological force behind the revolution begins with a commitment
to overthrowing the existing regime and eliminating tyranny.  The
foco creates the revolutionary situation by seizing the initiative
and convincing the people to join them in fighting oppression. Party
organization and ideological direction are created after the foco
gains momentum.  The foco, not the communist party, acts as the
catylist for the revolutionary movement.  The Cuban revolutionaries
won without benefit of the direction of a central party organization.
Such revelations defied the communist establishment in Moscow and
served to further alienate Che from the international communist
     Che argued emphatically against shifting the revolutionary
struggle to the cities.  He submits, "...armed revolt can all too
easily be smothered when customary civil liberties are suspended or
ignored, thus, forcing resistance movements to act clandestinely,
without arms, and against enormous dangers."5  Such restrictions
do not exist in rural areas, according to Che, where guerrillas
can operate with the support of the inhabitants relatively free
of government interference.  A highly mobile guerrilla force, op-
erating in the countryside, enjoys freedom of movement and the
ability to strike the opposing forces on more favorable terms.
     One of Che's biographers, Richard Harris, proposes that this
insistence on the rural vice urban base for guerrilla operations
reveals the primary descrepancy in Guevara's theories.  Latin Ameri-
can armies, through the use of counter-insurgency tactics learned
from United States advisors, have become highly effective in defeat-
ing guerrilla forces in the rural population.  More importantly,
the increasing migration from the countryside to the rapidly expan-
ding cities of Latin American provides excellent breeding grounds
for revolution.  The unemployment, poverty, and misery existing in
the cities create the frustration and discontent necessary for mobi-
lizing support for armed revolt.6
     Che's strategic aims for conducting guerrilla warfare revolve
around the destruction of the regular army.  The campaign is conduc-
ted in three phases:
          1) Survival and adaption to conditions of guer-
             rilla life.
          2) Erosion of enemy strength in the area marked
             out by the guerrilla group for its own terri-
          3) Attacks on the enemy on his own ground, con-
             centrating blows on communications and bases.7
By executing these three phases, the guerrillas can destroy the
army while acting as a catylist for the revolutionary situation to
erupt against the existing government regime.
     During the first phase, the foco is molded into an effective
fighting force.  Che's instructions during this period of the cam-
paign distinctly reflect his own personal values of self-sacrifice
and devotion to the cause.  The primary characteristic of the
guerrilla, according to Che, is dedication to the purposes of social
revolution.  He must be willing to sacrifice personal needs for the
difficult life in the jungle.  The ideal foco member is an inhabi-
tant of the area of operations because his knowledge of the local
terrain and the people will prove invaluable.  The guerrilla fighter
must be ready to risk his life and to voluntarily sacrifice it if
circumstances demand such action.  In addition to these moral commit-
ments, the good guerrilla fighter must possess the physical stamina
to endure the most difficult environmental conditions.  Finally, the
guerrilla must adapt to a life of almost constant movement in which
he will be required to march long distance through very difficult
     Erosion of the enemy's strength during the second phase involves
both political and military objectives.  Teach the local populace
the aims of the guerrilla band and establish trust by avoiding use-
less terrorism, paying for all services and goods, and demonstrating
impeccable moral conduct.  Concurrently, strike the enemy constantly
through the use of ambushes, sabotage, and unpredictable tactics.
The foco of 30-50 men should not attempt to hold much territory dur-
ing this phase.  Instead, create new guerrilla groups when suffi-
cient recruits join and, then, expand territory.
     The final phase of the guerrilla campaign escalates into more
aggressive, offensive action directly against the regular army.
Combining speed with "hit and run" tactics, the guerrilla force
demoralizes the opponent and paralyzes him by cutting off his lines
of communication.  During this phase the offensive against the army
on its own ground begins.  At all times, the guerrilla group must
treat opposing soldiers with mercy, handle prisoners with dignity,
and care for enemy wounded.  Conversely, deal with traitors dis-
covered in the guerrilla ranks with summary justice.  Betrayal by
defection has serious consequenses for the guerrilla band and can-
not be tolerated.10
     Che's Guerrilla Warfare continued by outlining the many require-
ments for organizing the guerrilla movement.  Everything from medi-
cal care, supply, and civil administration to the role of women is
discussed.  Che treats the practical aspects of guerrilla life with
precise detail, revealing a comprehensive, insightful knowledge of
how to survive and fight effectively during the guerrilla campaign.
     Che Guevara's theories contain both similarities and differ-
ences with other practitioners of guerrilla warfare.  The evolu-
tion of warfare through the ages is well documented and "guerrilla"
or "revolutionary" tactics can be found in many classic disserta-
tions on warfare.  Sun Tzu's writings, The Art of War, establish
the doctrine followed by all revolutionaries since:  deception,
flexibility, and concentration against the enemy's weakest point.
His theories of offensive strategy, in particular, apply to modern
guerrilla warfare techniques.  Sun Tzu emphasizes attacking the
enemy only when the situation favors the attacker and withdrawing
when it does not.  Particularily relevant to Che's theories is
Sun Tzu's belief that attacking cities is the worst course of action
to follow and should only be pursued when no other alternative
     Frequent comparisons are made between Guevara's theories and
those expounded by Mao Tse Tung.  Certainly, common to both are the
tactics of fighting the enemy and the use ot the countryside as a base
of operations.  Mao Tse Tung's seven fundamental steps in Yu Chi
Chan (Guerrilla Warfare) reveal both similarities and differences
with Che's theories:
          1) Arousing and organizing the people
          2) Achieving internal unification politically.
          3) Establishing bases.
          4) Equipping forces.
          5) Recovering national strength.
          6) Destroying enemy's national strength.
          7) Regaining lost territories.12
Mao's seven steps evolved under unique circumstances and specifi-
cally address the eradication and ejection of Japanese forces then
occupying China.  Yet, many of his precepts apply universally to
guerrilla warfare and Che's foco theory, in particular.  Mao and
Che concur in the necessity of arousing the people, establishing
bases, and equipping forces.  The most striking difference, however,
is Che's claim that political unification is not necessary for
success; the revolution can flourish without organized political
     Regis Debray, the French writer, documented the revolutionary
concepts originating from the Cuban revolution.  He claims that
Che's foco theory is the "staggering novelty" of the evolution of
international revolutionary experience:
          Under certain conditions, the political and
          military are not separate, but form one organic
          whole, consisting of the peoples' army.  The
          vanguard party can exist in the form of the
          guerrilla foco itself.  The guerrilla force is
          the party in embryo.13
Debray supports Che's rejection of traditional Marxist doctrine.
Organizing the masses as a whole can be preempted by a small group
of insurgents who act as a focus for the discontented elements
already present in the country.
     The final comparison of Che's theories applies to later devel-
opments in urban guerrilla warfare, namely, the strategies of
Carlos Marighella, the Brazilian communist.  Both believed that a
small group of aggressive revolutionaries could ignite popular
support; both opposed Lenin's contention that such notions amounted
to anarchy rather than revolutionary progress.14  Marighella applied
the foco theory to the cities, proposing that through terrorism and
armed propaganda, government activity can be disrupted.15  The
establishment would be forced to institute additional repressive
measures, thus polarizing society and eroding government support.
Marighella's primary enemy was the police, unlike Che's target, the
regular army.  He believed that rural guerrilla operations could
not succeed because security forces were too firmly entrenched in
the countryside.16
     Che's theories of guerrilla warfare cannot be studied in a
vacuum.  Understanding the foco theory of revolution demands an
analysis of the evolution of revolutionary thought expounded by
others before and after Che Guevara.  Many of Che's precepts are
inextricably linked to historical guerrilla warfare doctrine while
others are distinctly unique.  Like its author, the foco theory
remains controversial, defying simple classification and definition.
Its impact, however, on others who study or conduct guerrilla war-
fare is undeniable.  With regard to Che, the foco theory produced
much more personal ramifications.  Armed with his "three lessons"
of the Cuban revolution, Che set out to prove his theories in the
mountains of Bolivia.
                         Chapter V
                     PRELUDE TO BOLIVIA
     Che returned to Cuba in March 1965 following a three month
trip that included visits to the United Nations and Africa.  Nine-
teen months later, he entered Bolivia to embark on his final attempt
at leading a revolution.  Many factors influenced Che's decision to
personally export his foco theory abroad.  His position in Cuba was
untenable, at best, and his relationship with Fidel Castro had
suffered significantly.  Che's desire to lead revolutions elsewhere
and Castro's willingness to support such endeavors also influenced
events leading to Guevara's ill-fated escapade in Bolivia.  Finally,
Che's personal involvement in Cuba's aborted attempt to support the
Congo rebellion played a decisive role in subsequent decisions to
try again in a country closer to home.
     Although Che's prestige among third world countries reached
new heights as he became one of the world's primary spokesmen for
revolutionary change, his support in Cuba steadily diminished.
Despite Castro's demonstrated faith in Guevara, accounts indicate
that Cuba's citizens never fully shared their leader's confidence
in the Argentine.  Their natural distrust of a foreigner entrusted
with so much power over their daily lives seemed to prove even more
legitimate as Che's economic reforms failed.  His four year plan,
initiated in 1961, to change Cuba from an agrarian to an industrial
based economy disrupted the country's traditional reliance upon
the exportation of sugar.  Che's prediction that Cuba's standard
of living would double by 1965 proved entirely false.  Agricultural
production fell below the levels attained before the revolution and
the entire economy suffered as a result.  His policies were based
on ideology which ignored practical realities.  Che was forced to
admit that his plan for accelerated industrialization was a failure.2
     Che's attacks on the USSR continued to add impetus to those who
sought his removal from power.  Che's unorthodox theories for con-
ducting revolutions, his critical stance towards the Soviet's
"peaceful coexistence" efforts, and his preference for China's for-
eign relations policies inevitably placed him in jeopardy of falling
into disfavor.  At a meeting with Castro shortly after returning to
Havana in 1965, Che proposed that Cuba follow a foreign policy in-
dependent from Moscow.  When Castro rejected the recommendation,
Che realized that his days of influencing Cuba's political direc-
tion were over.3
     The most significant factor affecting Che's loss of influence
in Cuba surfaced in his conflicts with Fidel Castro.  Che's contin-
uing verbal feud with the Soviets placed Castro in the increasingly
awkward position of sponsoring an individual attacking those whose
support was vital to Cuba.  Che further irritated his mentor by
openly criticizing him.  In his article, "Socialism and Man in
Cuba", Che declared Castro's 1953 attempt to take the Moncada
Barracks a "failure" and a "disaster", criticism never before
uttered by any of Fidel's followers.4  Castro retaliated against
Che's criticisms in a speech made in July 1965 in which he attacked
Guevara's principles of "moral incentives" as a basis of social
reform.5  These incidents, plus others, illustrate the ambivalent
relationship then existing between the two men.  Despite these spats,
Castro and Guevara remained, basically, loyal to one another.  Che
still regarded Fidel with deep affection and admiration, feelings
reciprocated by Castro.  Neither allowed their differences of opin-
ion to interfere with later efforts to work together in exporting
     Thus, Che's fall from grace in Cuba can be attributed to the
failure of his economic reforms, his attacks on the Soviet Union,
and, finally, policy clashes with Castro.  His loss of power in
Cuba dictated the pursuit of revolutionary leadership opportunities
     Che never lost his dream of leading a revolution in his own
country and then throughout the world.  He possessed the charac-
teristics of both theorist and activist.  Che and the Castro
brothers had discussed conducting revolutions outside Cuba since
1959 and the trio considered themselves a "self-appointed revolu-
tionary high command."6  Cuban schools for guerrilla training of
political exiles and ambitious revolutionaries prospered, preparing
others to follow the example of the "July 26 Movement" in their own
countries.  Che supervised these efforts for Castro and was disig-
nated to determine who should receive money, arms, and manpower.
The list of Cuban supported revolutions during this period is im-
pressive, although the results were minimal.  Beginning in April
1959, when Castro sponsored an attempt to overthrow the government
of Panama, Cuba proceeded to assist insurrectionists in Nicaragua,
the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina.7
All ultimately failed but the setbacks did not deter Castro's deter-
mination to place Cuba at the head of international attempts to
force revolutionary change.
     Two of the aborted insurgencies are particularly relevant to
Che Guevara's later attempts to lead revolutions: those in Bolivia
and Argentina.  Cuba's ambassador to Bolivia, at Che's behest, or-
ganized a subversive drive to promote unrest among Bolivia's workers
and peasants in 1961.  The Bolivian government discovered the plot,
expelled the Cubans and arrested 150 leading communists, effectively
terminating the conspiracy.  Among the Bolivians who assisted the
Cubans were Jorge Kolle Cueto and Mario Monje Molina, communist
party officials who subsequently would play significant roles in
Guevara's later Bolivia campaign.8
     Che ultimately desired to bring revolution to his homeland and
had established a network of subversion in Argentina as early as
1961.  Like the Bolivian plot, the conspiracy was foiled; this led
to Argentina breaking diplomatic relations with Cuba in January 1962.
A year later, Che sponsored a group of insurgents under the leader-
ship of Jorge Recardo Masetti, an Argentine journalist turned revo-
lutionary.  Masetti established a base of operations in Bolivia and
attempted to implement Che's foco theory by infiltrating a small
group of guerrillas into neighboring Argentina in the hope of crea-
ting a foco insurrecional.  Masetti, calling himself "Comandante
Segundo", committed a series of mistakes that quickly led to the
group's defeat and his demise.  The parallels between Masetti's
adventure and Che's Bolivia campaign are unmistakable.  Both men
established a base in southeastern Bolivia, compromised the security
of their forces foolishly, and committed their guerrillas prematurely
against the enemy.  Both died in the jungles of South America.9
     Che's function in Castro's early sponsorship of Latin America
revolutions was restricted to providing moral and logistical support
to the participants rather than personal involvement in the fighting.
That relatively passive role changed in 1965.  Events causing his
fall from power in Castro's government, coupled with his personal
desire to return to a more active role in the revolutionary effort,
dictated a new course of action.  Ironically, Che's return to combat
occurred in a country far away from his native region - the Belgian
Congo.  This brutal civil war erupted after a military coup deposed
the Soviet backed Patrice Lumumba in 1960.  Fighting continued be-
tween the rebel factions and the government for the next seven
years.10  Che had become committed to the struggle in Africa, as
evidenced by his remarks in his United Nations speech in December
1964 that "The free men of the world must be prepared to avenge
the crime committed in the Congo."11  Che's years of travel had
led him to Africa frequently and he established close ties with
many revolutionary figures on the continent, including the Congo-
lese rebel commanders.
     Soon after his return to Cuba in March 1965, Che convinced
Castro to permit him to lead a contingent of guerrillas to assist
the Congolese rebel effort.  Castro agreed and in July Che departed
with about 125 hand-picked Cubans.  The group infiltrated into the
African country and began to serve as advisors to the rebel troops
under the leadership of Gaston Soumialet and Pierre Mulele.12
     The campaign soured early for Che.  The rebel tribesmen were
illiterate and ill-equipped to fight President Tshombe's highly
effective European mercenaries.  Although little is known about
the details of his experiences in the African jungle, evidence
indicates that Che became disillusioned with this ruthless civil
war.  One of his fellow guerrillas who was to later accompany Che
into Bolivia, Ciro Roberto Bustos, stated that Guevara confided
to him that "There is no will to fight, the leaders are corrupt."13
The revolutionaries in the Congo evidently failed to meet Che's
standards of ideological purpose and individual code of conduct.
     Sources differ in recounting events leading to Che's departure
from the Congo.  Disgust and disappointment in the rebels' conduct
of the war may have caused Che to decide to return to Cuba approx-
imately nine months later.14  Another theory proposes that Castro
was forced by external pressures to withdraw his mercenaries.  The
Soviets, alarmed that discovery of the Cubans would cause an inter-
national crisis, may have urged Castro to order Che and his group
home.  Peking may have also affected the circumstances leading to
the Cuban withdrawal.  Castro had started a feud with the Chinese,
accusing them of plotting to subvert the Cuban army by distributing
anti-Soviet literature to the Cuban troops.  Peking retaliated by
threatening to end its substantial financial support of the Congo-
lese rebels if Che and his guerrillas did not leave.15  Castro,
facing pressure from both the USSR and Red China, may have decided
that the stakes were too high.
     Che's reasons for ending the Congo adventure may be unclear,
but the results of the campaign cannot be debated.  The attempt
had failed, a bitter blow to Che.  The experience, however, seems
not to have dimmed his revolutionary spirit.  He returned to his
adopted country more determined than ever to lead a successful
revolution outside of Cuba.
                          Chapter VI
                         WHY BOLIVIA?
     Che Guevara's decision to choose Bolivia as his next revolu-
tion was not generated after his return from the Congo.  He had
previously considered Bolivia.  Although the aborted campaign in
Africa may have acted as a catylist in setting his plan into action,
Che revealed his intentions while in the Sierra Maestras almost a
decade earlier:
          I've got a plan.  If some day I have to carry
          the revolution to the continent, I will set
          myself up in the selva at the frontier between
          Bolivia and Brazil.  I know the spot pretty
          well because I was there as a doctor.  From
          there it is possible to put pressure on three
          or four countries and, by taking advantage of
          the frontiers and the forests, you can work
          things so as never to be caught.1
These remarks, coupled with Cuba's attempt to subvert the Bolivian
government in 1961, indicate that Che had long considered the coun-
try well-suited for a foco style revolution.
     Bolivia shared many geographical, economic, social, and poli-
tical characteristics with other countries in Central and South
America.  Inhospitable terrain, abject poverty, marked class dis-
tinctions, and political corruption exist in many Latin American
countries and Bolivia is certainly no exception.  Such comparisons,
however, reveal only general commonalties and omit many of Bolivia's
unique features.  Like all nations, Bolivia is a product of its
past and any conclusion that it is essentially no different than
any other country in South America ignores its distinct historical
     A landlocked nation, Bolivia is bordered by Peru, Chile, Brazil,
Paraguay, and Argentina.  (Refer to Map #2, page 107).  The "Swit-
zerland of South America"2 is a geographically diverse country.
Towering mountains, windswept vistas, and deep tropical valleys
divide Bolivia into many distinct regions.  The Andes Mountains,
running north to south, separate the western high plateau, the Alti-
plano, from the tropical savannahs and plains to the east.  The
Altiplano contains three fourths of the population and its capital
city, La Paz.  This area is also the heart of Bolivia's economic
resources, the tin mines.3
     These natural geographical barriers have also created separate
cultural and economic regions.  Although mining dominates the economy,
only 4% of its labor force work in the mines.  Over 50% of the popu-
lation is Indian, most of whom make a living through farming.  The
predominant Indian ethnic group, the Quechuas, remain culturally
distinct, speaking their own language rather than Spanish.  Highly
distrustful of outsiders, the Quechua's loyalty rarely extends
beyond their own families.3  In contrast, the caucasian Bolivian
upper class consider themselves from purely Spanish heritage. This
group forms the foundations of wealth and political power in Bolivia.
Traditionally, a notion of race superiority exists among these
citizens, fostering a very class-conscious society.4
     A country of great natural wealth, Bolivia has suffered ex-
ploitation of its resources since the Spaniards discovered the
vast silver deposits in the Altiplano during the 16th century.
This "Beggar on a throne of gold"5 has surrendered an estimated
$200 billion worth of mineral resources over the ensuing centuries,
with very little profits remaining in the hands of its inhabitants.6
When Che entered Bolivia in 1966, the country had the highest unem-
ployment rate in South America and only 40% of its people were lit-
     Despite massive economic support from the United States, Boli-
via still labored under extreme poverty.  United States foreign aid
amounted to 457.3 million dollars since 1946 with 38.8 million
dollars sent to Bolivia in 1966 alone.8  Since 1954, no other South
American country had received more assistance from the U.S. than
     Bolivia's political history reflects its turbulent beginnings
during South America's independence movements in the early 19th
century.  Since Simon Bolivar became its first president in 1825,
forty-four men had served as the head of government by 1965.10
Bolivia possessed the dubious distinction of being the most prone
to revolutionary change of all South American countries.  One of
the most significant causes of continued political turmoil in the
20th century was the bloody Chaco war with Paraguay during 1930-32.
Bolivia lost 50,000 troops and a large portion of the Gran Chaco
territory in the southeast.  The aftermath of this humiliating
defeat saw the formation of the National Revolutionary Movement
(MNR).  In 1952, the MNR, under the leadership of Paz Estenssoro,
gained the support of the powerful labor movement and succeeded
in overthrowing the La Paz government.  Widely regarded by Boli-
vians as "their revolution", the Paz Estenssoro government institu-
ted many economic and social reforms, including national land real-
location and universal sufferage.11
     In 1964, Paz's popular vice president, air force General Rene
Barrientos, took the reigns of power in a bloodless coup.  His
theme was the continuation of the revolution, not the overthrow of
it, an important platform since the idea of the Bolivian revolution
was still very much alive.  Barrientos continued the reforms begun
in 1952 and strengthened the army.  By the mid 1960's Bolivia's
army enjoyed considerable prestige and improving morale.12  Barrien-
tos' flamboyant behavior earned him the title, "Latin America's
Captain Marvel", and he used his popularity to build a wide base of
support.  He was confident enough to conduct a government controlled
election in 1966, winning formal election to the presidency.13
     Bolivia's historical development had molded its social,
economical, and political makeup into a distinct entity.  Bolivia,
in 1966, shared little in common with Cuba's situation ten years
earlier.  Unlike Batista, Barrientos enjoyed general popular
support anong the people. Although the country's upper class
commanded a disproportionate share of the power and wealth, steps
had been taken to redistribute land and generally improve the
plight of the poor.  Cubans, under the Batista regime, existed in
a state of regression while the people of Bolivia perceived pro-
gressive reform and social improvement.  Most significantly, Boli-
vians generally believed that their "revolution" had occurred in
       In historical hindsight, Bolivia appears to have been an ex-
tremely poor choice for conducting a foco insurrection in 1966.
The essential ingredients necessary for igniting revolutionary
fervor among the people simply did not exist.  Che's guerrilla
warfare concepts, when applied to Bolivia, did not mesh with the
realities of existing circumstances.  On the contrary, his theories
constituted a formula for failure.  Why, then, did he choose Bolivia?
     Understanding the steps leading to Che's selection for his next
revolution first requires an appreciation for Cuba's position in
1965 as the vanguard for the worldwide "wars of national liberation".
The newly formed Organization of Solidarity of Asian, African, and
Latin American Peoples (commonly called the Tricontinental) met in
Havana during January 1966.  Che's revolutionary concepts were the
central topic discussed by the 400 delegates attending the con-
ference.  Castro was publically committed to maintaining his
leadership role in the international revolutionary movement.14
At the Tricontinental conference, he created the Latin American
Solidarity Organization (OLAS) with the charter to control and
coordinate revolutionary activities in the western hemisphere.15
     With this framework as the foundation for extending Cuba's
influence in Latin America, Che Guevara inherited a natural role
in its implimentation.  Following his failure in the Congo, Che's
status in Cuba was in limbo, dictating a reevaluation of his own
revolutionary aspirations.  All evidence indicates that Che assigned
himself the mission of Bolivia.  Fidel, alarmed at Cuba's failure
to follow through on his promise of carrying successful armed
struggles abroad, evidently believed that his prestige could be
restored if Che could succeed in Bolivia.  Castro promised to support
the campaign, even at the risk of incurring the wrath of the Soviet
Union for sponsoring another insurgency without its sanction.
     Che's strategic plans for revolution sprung from his oldest
dream of liberating the Latin American people and later evolved
into a desire to lead a continental movement independent of Moscow.
He fantasized about an alliance of revolutionary governments in the
western hemisphere with Cuba serving as the ideological capital.16
Che was not alone in yearning for another fight.  Many of his com-
patriots from the Sierra Maestras willingly followed him into
Bolivia.  Of the 17 Cubans who accompanied Che on his final mission,
five held the rank of "commandante" in the Cuban army, one was the
chief of Cuba's border forces, and seven others were army officers
of lesser rank.17  This nucleus of guerrilla fighters was to form
the Bolivia foco.
     Central to Che's strategic theme was his old nemesis, the
United States. He believed that the bonds of oppression in Latin
America could only be broken by ejecting the imperialist giant
from the north.  Recognizing that the Vietnam war was drawing the
U.S. into a morass that was causing significant internal strife, Che
believed that simultaneous confrontations in Latin America could
lead to the final defeat of his ultimate enemy.
          It is the road of Vietnam; it is the road that
          should be followed by the people; it is the
          road that will be followed in Our America...
          The Cuba Revolution will today have the job
          of... creating a Second or Third Vietnam of
          the world.18
     Che considered other countries for his insurgency, particu-
larly, Peru and Argentina.  He found political conditions unfavor-
able and turned his attention to Bolivia.  His analysis of circum-
stances in that country stemmed from his personal experiences there
in 1953 and periodic reports that he received in Cuba from sources
supposedly familiar with conditions in Bolivia.  When Che stopped
in Bolivia in 1953 during his travels as a young man, Bolivians
were celebrating the previous year's overthrow of its repressive
government.  Revolutionary fervor ran high and Che was impressed
with the people's spirited acceptance of radical social reform.
He was convinced that in the years since his visit, politicians,
generals, and the United States had corrupted the revolution.  Two
Bolivian communists, Coco and Inti Peredo, reinforced Che's analysis
of conditions in Bolivia when they visited Cuba in 1962 and 1965.
They, along with other wishful thinkers, told of widespread dissent
with Barrientos.  Finally, the Cuban intelligence service reported
that the Bolivian security forces were the most badly organized in
Latin America.19
     Che's intelligence regarding the social conditions in Bolivia
were exaggerated, but the strategic geographical importance of
Bolivia, for Guevara's purposes, remains unquestioned.  Bolivia
lies in the heartland of South America and borders most of the con-
tinent's major countries.  From the sparsely populated areas in
southeastern Bolivia, guerrillas could strike at neighboring coun-
tries with a secure sanctuary in easy reach.
     Che planned to establish a base of operations in the Nancahuazu
River valley, a tropical, heavily forested region in the southeast.
After organizing his foco, building a logistical cache, and training
his guerrillas, Che intended to strike north at three of Bolivia's
major cities: Cochabama, Santa Cruz, and Sucre.  Once his force
controlled these cities, the railway link to Argentina would be
severed, and the Gulf Oil Company pipeline cut that runs between
Santa Cruz and Camiri.  By then breaking his guerrillas into small
groups, Che hoped to cause the Bolivian army to disperse, placing
themselves at the mercy of aggressive "hit and run" tactics.  In
accordance with foco doctrine, Che counted on the campesinos
(peasants) and miners to rally to his support as the guerrillas
demonstrated their ability to defeat the army.
     Once the Bolivian guerrilla movement was firmly established,
Che planned to infiltrate other focos into Peru and Argentina.  His
timetable called for inserting a nucleus of guerrillas into Peru
by the end of 1967.  Convinced that the United States would commit
advisors to Bolivia once the insurgency gained momentum, Che hoped
to draw the U.S. into ever increasing commitments throughout Latin
America.  As the second and third "Vietnam" erupted, the hated
"Yanquis" would rapidly exhaust themselves trying to suppress the
     Che dismissed certain fallacies in his plan.  Significant poli-
tical and military dangers imperiled his scheme from the start.  The
communist party in Bolivia was seriously split between Pro-Peking
and Pro-Moscow lines.  Che distrusted the Moscow group and had pro-
mised Fidel that he would not deal with the Peking faction.  Che
minimized this split and opted to seek the support he needed from
the few Castroites in the party, primarily, the Paredo brothers. 21
The foco theory of revolution rejected the need for orthodox commu-
nist party direction but its author acknowledged the necessity for
organized support within Bolivia to sustain his guerrilla movement.
Che apparently was confident that he could unify the two factions
once his insurgency gained popularity.22  Che's confidence was not
deterred by the fact that Bolivian leftist groups had a history of
failure whenever they attempted to promote armed revolt.23
     Che's contempt for the Bolivian army was based upon its past
performance and current appearance.  It had never won a war and
filled its ranks with one year conscripts.  Almost none of the sold-
iers had received any counter-insurgency training.  These short-
comings, however, belied an important fact about the Bolivian armed
forces.  Since 1952 the army had engaged in extensive civic action
programs throughout the country.  The conscripts were true "citizen-
soldiers", rather than professional fighters, and they were per-
ceived as a "peoples' army".24  The army's progressive image differ-
ed greatly from Batista's ruthless soldiers.  Che could not count
on Bolivia's peasants to betray the regular army for his benefit.
     Final preparations for the campaign commenced during, or just
after, the Tricontinental conference in January, 1966.  Castro met
with the Bolivian communist chief, Mario Monje, and discussed the
plan.  Moje reportedly pledged his full support for the project.25
     If Che perceived and analyzed the weaknesses in his plan, he
dismissed them as of little consequence when compared to the many
favorable conditions that he saw in Bolivia.  Its geographical
importance for conducting further operations, coupled with the
reports depicting a corrupt government and weak army rendered
Bolivia an ideal target for his revolution.  Che, by selecting
Bolivia, engendered his own destiny.  He prepared to embark on
his last mission.
                          Chapter VII
                       THE FOCO IN ACTION
       Final Preparations - January 1, 1966 - November 2, 1966
     Fidel Castro's meeting with Monje during January 1966 propelled
the Bolivian campaign into its active planning and preparatory stage.
Although Che did not officially join the foco until ten months later,
important events occurred in the ensuing months as he prepared for
his final mission.  During this period Che went into hiding.  Amid
worldwide press speculation concerning his whereabouts, reports
emerged of Che's death in the Dominican Republic,1 followed by
accounts of appearances in Columbia and other Latin American coun-
tries.2  Daniel James addresses the mystery of Che's activities after
returning from Africa, admitting that the paucity of historical facts
renders any account pure speculation.  According to James, Che pro-
bably went into seclusion for a time but evidence also indicates
that he may have secretly visited Bolivia in early 1966.3
     Notwithstanding the secrecy surrounding Che's activities while
preparations progressed for the operation, details of his compatriots'
actions exist from various sources.  The most fascinating aspect of
Che Guevara's Bolivian campaign is the existance of four diaries
outlining the day to day activities of the guerrillas.  In addition
to Che, three of his subordinates produced diaries:  Israel Reyes
Zayas (Alias "Braulio"), Harry Villegas Tamayo ("Pombo"), and
Eliseo Reyes Rodriguez ("Rolando").1  These three Cuban army officers
augment Che's revealing accounts of events during the ill-fated in-
surgency.  Che's diary covers only the period he spent in Bolivia,
while the other three also disclose glimpses of activities that took
place before their leader arrived to take command of the foco.
     Rolando's initial diary entry, dated August 11, 1966 reads:
"Today our training begins.", revealing that he and other guerrillas
received formal training before embarking on the operation.  Rolando's
next entry tells of visits to the Cuban training camp by "Ramon"
(one of Che's code names during the campaign) and "C" (Castro).4  As
early as March 1966,  Bolivians were receiving guerrilla training in
one of Cuba's many revolutionary "schools".5
     Meanwhile, preparation for the guerrillas' infiltration into
Bolivia continued at a steady pace.  Cuban agents coordinated with
communist party officials in La Paz, arranging for logistical support
of the forthcoming operation.  Working with these agents was Tamara
Banke Bider, a young woman of Argentine-German nationality who later
gained international fame as "Tania".  Tania had met Che in East
Germany while serving as his interpreter during one of his visits
in 1960.6  She became enthralled with Che and his revolutionary ideas.
     1All of the guerrillas, including Che, used one or more code
names while operating in Bolivia.  Daniel James' book, The Complete
Bolivian Diaries of Che Guevara and other Captured Documents lists
every alias used by the guerrillas on pages 324-325.
Click here to view image
The woman subsequently traveled to Cuba where she was recruited
and trained by Che to become one of his agents.7  Tania entered
Bolivia in 19648 and began establishing important contacts on be-
half of her mentor.  Under specific orders from Che to obtain stra-
tegic and tactical information, Tania proved highly effective.9
     Tania also worked for another employer, the KGB.10  Her long
association with the Soviet intelligence agency surfaced after the
the campaign ended, rendering her loyalties while serving as Che's
liaison highly suspect.  This controversial double agent was to
play a key role in the Bolivia drama, serving two masters - and
dying in the process.
     Following the script originated in Mexico ten years earlier,
Che ordered his agents to purchase a farm where the foco could
train and organize.  In June 1966 the Peredo brothers bought an
abandoned 3,000 acre farm for $2,500 at Nancahuazu in the rugged
southeastern region of Bolivia.  Located fifty miles north of Camiri
(refer to Map #3, page 108), Nancahuazu sits in a very hostile en-
vironment in a sparsely populated area.  Characterized by steep can-
yons, mosquitoes, thin reeds, vines, and cacti, the site provided
the necessary isolation for Che to begin the critical, initial steps
of building an effective fighting force.11
     Recruitment of Bolivian guerrillas to augment the Cuban contin-
gent continued throughout the summer.  Monje promised to supply 20
men from his communist organization and negotiations began with the
Bolivian Maoist labor leader, Moises Guevara, in hopes of obtaining
miners for the cause.12  Che considered the addition of Bolivian
revolutionaries vital to the success of the insurgency, planning to
use his veteran Cuban guerrillas to train and lead the natives un-
til they were prepared to assume responsibility for liberating their
own country.13
     Infiltration of the guerrillas from Cuba commenced in late
summer.  Groups of two and three men flew from Havana to various
Eastern Bloc countries where they were able to continue their
journey without arousing suspicion.14  Using false passports they
again flew across the Atlantic into cities in Latin America, finally
slipping into Bolivia by both ground and air transportation.  This
incremental deployment of the Cubans lasted until the end of the
year.  Their commander, however, was among the first arrivals, enter-
ing Bolivia on November 3, 1966.15
        The Beginning - November 3, 1966 - January 31, 1967
     Che's itinerary from Cuba into Bolivia cannot be clearly docu-
mented.  Sources assert three different routes and methods of entry.
This conjecture concerning how he entered the country illustrates
Che's elaborate attempts to disguise the nature of his journey from
Cuba to Bolivia.   He entered the country in early November as a
clean-shaven, bald man wearing glasses and he carried two Uraguayan
passports.  One was under the name of Adolfo Mena and the other
used the alias Ramon Benitez.  Che then traveled to the Nancahuazu
farm where he joined three of his guerrillas.16  These four men
formed the advance party of the foco.  Che opened his diary on
November 7th with the words: "A new stage begins today."17
     As more Cuban guerrillas and a few Bolivian recruits steadily
made their way to the farm, Che directed the construction of
Click here to view image
underground tunnels, refuges, storage sites, and a well-concealed
field hospital.18  Increasing amounts of supplies, ammunition, and
weapons were smuggled into the camp from La Paz, approximately 400
miles away.  In mid - December the group, now totaling 24 men,19
erected a second camp farther away from the ranch house.20  Che,
thinking in terms of a struggle lasting "seven to ten years", in-
tended to establish a permanent base that was impregnable.21
    Construction of the foco base of operations proceeded as
scheduled, but not without problems and mistakes that were to
haunt the guerrillas in the future.  Upon his arrival, Che dis-
covered that the farm was not as isolated as he had believed.
Neighbors were nearby, including one right next door, Ciro Alga-
ranaz.  Algaranaz, who suspected the group of building a cocaine
factory, represented the guerrillas' first breach of security.22
Overconfidence led the guerrillas to commit numerous violations
of security from the start.  Photographs were taken, diaries writ-
ten, and wireless communications sent routinely.23  As further in-
dication of the group's rather disjointed efforts, Che directed the
study of Quechua, only to later discover that this important Indian
language, although used in the Bolivian highlands farther south,
was not spoken by the local peasants.  The people in the Nancahuazu
region spoke Guarani.24
     A fateful event occurred on December 31 when Mario Monje, the
Bolivian communist chief, visited the camp.  The results revealed
Che's strong beliefs concerning his personal role in the revolution.
Monje wanted to control all aspects of the guerrilla movement on
Bolivian soil, including the military operations.  Che immediately
dismissed the proposal as unrealistic, commenting in his diary: "I
would be the military chief and I was not going to accept ambigui-
ties on this point.  Here the talks ended in a stalemate...".25
Monje then talked to the Bolivian guerrillas who unanimously opted
to remain with Che.  Dismayed at the turn of events, Monje depar-
ted and later went to Cuba to present his viewpoint to Castro.
Despite Castro's mediation, the breach never healed.  Thereafter,
the Bolivian communist party gave lip service to the campaign but
refused to actively support the operation.26
     As training and stockpiling of supplies continued during Janu-
ary 1967, the group experienced further problems.  Many of the guer-
rillas became ill as a result of their field diet and the hostile
environment.  Occasional friction erupted between the Bolivians
Click here to view image
and the Cubans, usually regarding the Cubans' leadership positions
in the foco.  Che's leadership, however, prevailed and the group
began to slowly coalesce.  A final disturbing episode in January
nearly compromised the developing operation.  A Bolivian police
detachment arrived in response to a report from the neighbor,
Algaranaz, that the farm was a cocaine factory.  Fortunately for
Guevara, the officials found nothing and departed, apparently with-
out suspicion.27  Che's analysis of January reflected his main con-
cern with the progress so far: the slow recruitment of Bolivian
           The Long March - February 1 - March 20, 1967
     The 24 man foco, which included 17 Cubans (including Che) and
7 Bolivians, completed both camps by the end of January.  Che organ-
ized the unit into two platoons of equal size, further designating
a vanguard, center and rear-guard unit.  The Bolivians, because of
their inexperience, performed most of the menial tasks.  Che quickly
pointed out to them, however, that their lowly status was transi-
tory.  This cadre of natives was ultimately destined to ascend to
the leadership positions in Bolivia's struggle for liberation.29
     Che believed that his group now required training in the rigors
of field operations.  After designating one man to remain at the
camp, the guerrillas embarked on a march on February 1.  Che inten-
ded to accomplish three fundamental objectives: to harden his men
and teach them how to adjust to the rigors of guerrilla life, to
explore the terrain, and to establish a base of popular support.30
Juan Vitalio Acuna Nunez (Joaquin), one of the Sierra Maestra
veterans, assumed duties as second-in-command.  Communications
continued with Havana through a high powered radio, used to broad-
cast and receive coded messages.  Che planned a march of 25 days.
It lasted 48 days because of various unfortunate events which were
bad omens that foretold the future of the campaign.  From the begin-
ning the group was plagued with miserable weather, mosquitoes and
other severe hardships.  Four of the Cubans suffered from malaria
and none of the group was physically prepared for a hard march, in-
cluding Che.  The 38 year old asthmatic revolutionary discovered
that his stamina had diminished considerably since his days in the
Sierra Maestras.31  His February 23rd diary entry reveals his physi-
cal deterioration: "A black day for me; I made it by sheer guts,
for I am very exhaused."32
     Their maps proved highly inaccurate and the group wandered over
some of the most rugged terrain in Bolivia.  Marching and counter-
marching, Che exhausted his men.  Communications failed and his
group regularly became separated.  Tragedy struck twice as the guer-
rillas attempted to cross rain swollen rivers.  Two of the men
drowned and valuable supplies were swept away by the torrents.  Lack
of food added to their misery.  Scavenging for edible plants and
wild animals to kill became the principle daily activity.  Not
surprisingly, all of these hardships caused dissension among the
guerrillas and incidents of friction between individuals became
     Encounters with local peasants eliminated hopes of achieving
the final objective of Che's march, gaining popular support for the
insurgency.  The peasants' Guarani dialect rendered communication
difficult even for the Bolivian members of the group.  The natives
failed to respond to the revolutionary cause, remaining curious
about the guerrillas but unwilling to commit themselves to this
strange band.  Such responses were to become typical throughout the
coming months.
     Through the month of February and into March the demoralized,
exhausted guerrillas wandered through the area northeast of their
base camp.  During the arduous march their sole contact with the
outside world existed through the high powered radio as Castro
remained faithful in maintaining contact with his expedition.  The
guerrillas, lost most of the time, finally found their way back to
the Nanchuazu area on March 20.34  As the ragged band approached
the campsite, Che recorded another disturbing omen in his diary:
"...a small plane was circling..."35
          The Guerrilla Offensive - March 21 - July 6, 1967
     During the guerrillas' absence from the camp a number of events
occurred which greatly affected the progress of the campaign.  Rumors
had been circulating in La Paz of guerrilla activity in the south-
east, creating increasing interest by the police concerning the
Nancahuazu farm.  New recruits had also arrived at the camp.  Most
were Bolivians enlisted by Moises Guevara, the labor leader.  Coco,
the Cuban guerrilla who had not accompanied Che on the march,
brought the group into the camp, only to lose two through desertion
in early March.  The two men had become quickly disenchanted with
living in the primitive camp.  They left on the morning of March 11,
ostensibly to hunt game, and proceeded to Camiri where they tried
to sell their rifles.  Their actions attracted the police, who arres-
ted both men.  During questioning the deserters gave detailed accounts
of the guerrilla activities at Nancahuazu.  The Fourth Army Division,
headquartered in Camiri, was alerted by the police.  The commander
ordered aerial observation of the Nancahuazu site and dispatched a
small unit to verify the deserters' stories.  On March 17, the army
unit reached the camp and discovered various documents, including
Braulio's diary and various photos.  The soldiers also captured
another Bolivian recruit before returning to Camiri.36
     Another episode that compromised the guerrillas has since crea-
ted controversy regarding Tania, the double agent.  Tania, dispatch-
ed by Che to Argentina in January for a liaison mission with guer-
rilla leaders in that country, returned to Bolivia in early March.
She then escorted two men, Regis Debray, the young French leftist
writer, and Ciros Bustos, one of Che's Argentine contacts, to the
camp.  (Che had been notified of both men's upcoming visit via
coded message from Havana).  The trio rendezvoused in Camiri with
Coco, who transported them to Nancahuazu.  Tania left her jeep
parked on a deserted street in the town.  The vehicle eventually
attracted police attention, who searched it and discovered a
wealth of information about Che's foco, including a notebook list-
ing all of his urban contacts.  Whether by design or stupidity,
Tania sabotaged the operation through her actions.37
     In the midst of these dramatic circumstances Che returned to
the camp on March 20.  Greatly disturbed by the army's discovery of
the base camp and infuriated at Tania for her indiscretions, Che
assessed the situation.  After learning that her jeep had been dis-
covered, Che's diary entry reveals his inescapable conclusion:
"Everything appears to indicate that Tania is spotted, whereby two
years of good and patient work are lost."38  He had no choice but
to keep Tania with the group now that her cover in La Paz was des-
troyed.  Foolish mistakes of such magnitude by an experienced agent
should have aroused suspicion but Che appears to have only attribu-
ted her actions to simple "feminine stupidity".  He restricted his
punishment of Tania to an emotional, verbal reprimand.
     Che, despite the realization that his base was compromised,
chose to remain at the site rather than move elsewhere.  When sold-
iers were discovered in the vicinity, Che decided to take the offen-
sive.  His guerrillas ambushed an army unit near the camp on March 23,
killing seven soldiers and capturing fourteen.  The prisoners were
interrogated, divested of their clothes, and set free.39  The
guerrillas' baptism of fire was a success.
     The guerrillas regrouped at the camp and joyfully listened to
transistor radio broadcasts of their victory.  The remaining days
of March were used to consolidate the force and prepare for further
operations.  The foco reached its maximum strength of 43 combatants,
which included 17 Cubans (including Che), 23 Bolivians, and 3 Peru-
vians.40  The bare majority of Bolivians in the group failed to im-
press Che, who characterized most of them as quitters, slackers,
and dregs.  Tania, Debray, and Bustos remained with the guerrillas
as non-combatants.  Both of the male visitors were anxious to leave,
particularly Debray.  His introduction to the realities of guerrilla
life, about which he wrote so eloquently, convinced Debray that his
contributions to revolutionary warfare should remain theoretical.
Che, the activist, was not impressed: "The Frenchman stated too ve-
hemently how useful he could be on the outside."41
     The guerrillas departed Nancahuazu on April 1 and proceeded to
raise havoc with the Bolivian army for the next four months.  Che's
guerrillas  foiled attempts by the army to encircle them, inflict-
ing heavy casualties while sustaining very few.  Their second en-
counter with the army occurred at Iripiti, 12 miles north of the
original camp (see map #3, page 108): they inflicted 19 casualties
on the army.  During April the guerrillas clashed twice more with
the army in the area southwest of Nancahuazu between El Meson and
Muyupampa.  Again, the guerrillas surprised the soldiers with
deadly ambushes.  Guerrilla casualties remained light, although
Rolando, one of Che's most valuable lieutenants and a diary author,
was killed at El Meson.42
     Despite the military victories of April, two significant events
occurred which were of particular importance to the campaign's out-
come.  Debray, Bustos, and George Roth (an English journalist in
search of a story who had managed to locate the group in mid-April)
elected to leave the group.  They were almost immediately apprehen-
ded by the army.  The public announcement that the famous French
writer was among the guerrillas caused a worldwide sensation.
Debray confirmed that Che Guevara was leading the insurgency, which
added to the excitement of the news.43  The Bolivian government now
realized the significance of the guerrilla movement and responded
to the threat with increased mobilization.  Six hundred soldiers
were placed in the field to fight the guerrillas.
     Che induced the second event by committing a disastrous blun-
der.  While planning a raid on Muyupampa on April 17, Che divided
his force, leaving Joaquin north of the town with approximately
14 guerrillas, including Tania.  She and another guerrilla were
very ill and Che apparently elected to split his unit rather than
allow the two sick members to impede the raid.  Che discovered that
Muyupampa was under heavy guard and he diverted his force north
towards Ticucha.44  The change in direction delayed his plan to
rejoin Joaguin's detachment.  Unaware of the turn of events and
unable to communicate with Che, Joaquin finally began searching
for the main unit but to no avail.  For the next four months the
two groups unsuccessfully scouted the region south of the Rio
Grande looking for each other.  The loss of nearly a third of his
unit severely hampered Che's ability to concentrate his forces on
the enemy.  The two units never found each other and the Bolivian
Rangers, after first disposing of Joaquin's band, only had to deal
with two thirds of the original guerrilla force.45
     May and June activities included some inconsequential engage-
ments with army units at El Pincal, Muchiri, Caraguataenda, and
Abapo as the guerrillas moved generally north across very rugged
terrain.46  The strenuous, unrelenting pace began to take its toll
on Che.  He sufferred violent asthmatic attacks without any remain-
ing medicine for relief; at times he was nearly incapacitated.
Nearly every entry in Che's diary during this period describes his
personal fight with asthma.  Despite this adversity, Che claims in
his May analysis that "...the guerrilla movement is acquiring a
powerful morale, which, if well administered, is a guarantee of
success."47  His June analysis repeats the same theme.  Che's main
concern still reflects his inability to recruit peasants to the
cause.  The military successes bolstered Che's confidence in his
guerrillas' fighting abilities and reinforced his contempt for the
Bolivian army.  He states: "The legend of the guerrilla movement
continues to grow.  Now we are super-men guerrillas."48  From
Guevara's perspective, his foco was achieving the propaganda effect
necessary to convince the peasants that the revolution was gaining
     Against this backdrop, Che led his men in a daring attack on
the small army post at Samaipata, a town nearly 80 miles north of
Nancahuazu.  The assault took place on the night of July 6 in view
of a large number of spectators.  The guerrillas quickly captured
two policemen and the eleven soldiers manning the barracks.  After
raiding the local pharmacy in search of medicine for Che's asthma,
they left their prisoners naked in the dark and withdrew to the
     Che's military motives for attacking the barracks remain un-
clear.  The guerrillas apparently sought no particular military
objective such as cutting off the Cochabama-Santa Cruz highway that
ran through the town or temporarily seizing and occupying the bar-
racks.  The raid, however, turned into a publicity coup for Che,
making nationwide headlines and convincing the Barrientos govern-
ment that the guerrillas were overrunning the southeast.  The town
mayor added to the sensational news by declaring that he had person-
ally seen the famous Guevara leading the guerrillas, confirming
what Debray had confessed to his captors earlier.49  The Samaipata
raid was clearly the highlight of the campaign.  Che, however, was
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denied the full fruits of victory, remarking in his July 6th entry
that his guerrillas purchased the wrong medicine at the pharmacy
and "...bought nothing of the items necessary for me..."50
               The Final Days July 7 - October 8 1967
     Following the Samaipato raid Che's group moved southward, vain-
ly searching for Joaquin's unit.  Joaquin meanwhile had moved his
detachment into the Nancahuazu area, doggedly pursued by elements
of the Fourth Division.  Morale problems plagued the group as
their situation deteriorated.  Some of the Bolivian recruits, in
particular, had become disenchanted with the guerrilla force.
Since joining the group they had experienced nothing but hardships
and danger with nothing to show for their efforts.  On July 9 Joa-
quin's guerrillas were ambushed and forced to flee, leaving behind
a number of documents, photographs, a code book, and a list of the
members of his group.  On the following day the soldiers again
attacked the group, killing one of the Bolivian guerrillas.  Joa-
quin's unit fled northward with the army in close pursuit.  Two
Bolivians deserted in the confusion and surrendered: then subse-
quently led the army to the remaining cache of supplies hidden at
     As Joaquin moved north, Che travelled south towards the towns
of Florida and Moroco.  On July 27 and again on the 29th, the guer-
rillas clashed with the army.  Both sides suffered casualties.  More
significantly, in the confusion during the second encounter, Che
lost the tape recorder used to record coded messages from Cuba.52
By this time their radio was capable of receiving messages only;
none could be transmitted.  The guerrillas' isolation was now com-
plete.  Although Che remained positive in his July analysis, he ad-
mits in his diary: "The negative aspects of last month prevail...".
Che complains about the loss of men in his group (now down to 22),
the failure to make contact with Joaquin, and the lack of contact
with outside sources.53
     During August Che's group worked its way southwest towards
the Rio Grande River.  Che sent several men ahead with orders to
retrieve his asthma medicine from the cache at Nancahuazu.  Short-
ly after the group departed, Che heard over the radio that the two
deserters from Joaquin's group had led the army to the supply caves
at the original campsite.  The soldiers had discovered documents,
rolls of film, and Che's medicine.  He recorded in his diary his
feelings after hearing the terrible news: "Now I am condemned to
suffer asthma for an indefinite period... it [the loss of medicine]
is the hardest blow they have given us...".54  His asthma now be-
came nearly intolerable and Che was forced to ride one of the pack
mules.  The entire group now suffered from hunger and thirst as they
made their way across the inhospitable terrain north of the Rio
Grande.  The only bright moment occurred when the men sent to obtain
Che's medical supplies managed to return to the main group.  Although
they returned empty handed, the guerrilla force badly needed all
22 men available.
     Joaquin's group had progressed northward to the Rio Grande
where they hoped to find the other unit.  Joaquin committed a fatal
error by requesting information from a local peasant concerning
the best place to ford the river.  The peasant told the guerrillas
of a nearby ford called El Vado del Yeso where it was possible to
wade across the river.  An army patrol of 32 men operating nearby
appeared at the same peasant's house the following day and ob-
tained information about the probable location of the guerrillas.
In the early evening hours of August 30, the soldiers destroyed
Joaquin's group as they waded across the ford.  Only one guerrilla
survived to become a prisoner.  The rest of the group, including
Tania, Joaquin, Moises Guevara, and Braulio (another diary author)
were killed within minutes of the ambush's opening salvo.55
     Che, unaware of the tragedy at the Rio Grande, summarized
August as "...without a doubt, the worst month we have had so far
in this war."  Che describes a completely demoralized unit and his
usual optimism and confidence are missing entirely.56
     Following firefights of little consequence on September 3 and 6
near Masicuri Bajo, Che and his men headed northwest towards the
village of Alto Seco.  The guerrillas were jolted by two radio broad-
casts, one detailing the ambush of Joaquin's group at El Vado del
Yeso and the other announcing that 16 members of Che's underground
network in La Paz had been arrested.  The army's collecting of vari-
ous documents and photographs during the summer had finally paid
off and the last remnants of Che's Bolivia support structure was
     On September 26 Che and his men reached La Higuera, a village
near the Rio Grande.  Che noticed that the village was nearly
deserted, except for a few women.  Coco discovered that a telegram
had been sent to the town mayor, informing him that the guerrillas
were in the area.  Che immediately ordered his men to evacuate the
village but his warning was too late.  The army unit ambushed the
group as they fled La Higuera.  The guerrillas managed to escape
annihilation but lost three men, including the invaluable Coco.58
Che summarizes September by reporting that the situation was the
same as in August, except that the peasants refuse to help and
"...are turning into informers."  Che retained confidence in his
guerrillas, remarking that the only potential deserter is one of
Moises Guevara's recruits, Willy.59
     As October began the guerrillas were forced to hide during the
day and move only at night.  The desperate group was now struggling
over the extremely rugged ravines just west of La Higuera.  Che's
accounts during these final days reveal his realization that the
end was near.  On October 4 he comments about a radio broadcast that
discusses where his trial will be held after his capture.  Che's
last entry, dated October 7 related the capture of an old woman who
had wandered into the canyon where the guerrillas were camped. After
questioning her, the guerrillas released the woman, bribing her
with 50 pesos not to tell anyone of their presence in the area.
Seventeen guerrillas now remained in the group as they departed the
camp that night.60
     Apparently, the old woman, or someone else who had observed the
the guerrillas, government officials pressured U.S. ambassador
Douglas Henderson for increased military aid in the form of jets,
tanks, and napalm.  Other men, both in La Paz and Washington,
advocated American armed intervention to prevent "another Cuba".
     Ambassador Henderson opposed U.S. involvement and Washington
shared his view.  Despite official announcements to that effect,
however, press reports persisted in publishing accounts of a U.S.
military buildup.  Although no evidence indicates that Che ever
read it, the announcement by the La Paz newspaper, El Diario,
that "We may be witnessing the first episode of a new Vietnam"1
would have thrilled the guerrilla leader.
     In fact, the initial U.S. response amounted to providing
machine guns, carbines, and a large quantity of "C" rations to the
Bolivian army.  In April 1967, a few helicopters and field radio
sets were added to the shipments.  U.S. military personnel in
Bolivia never exceeded 53 advisors, including a sixteen-man Mobile
Training Team (MTT) from the 8th Special Forces Group based at
Fort Gulick, Panama Canal Zone.  Commanded by Major Ralph ("Pappy")
Shelton, the MTT set up a training camp near Santa Cruz.  The ad-
visors arrived on April 29 and instituted a 19 week counter-insur-
gency training program for the Bolivian 2nd Ranger Battalion.2  The
intensive course included training in weapons, individual combat,
squad and platoon tactics, patrolling, and counter-insurgency.  The
Bolivians responded well to the training and quickly developed into
a spirited, confident, and effective counter guerrilla unit.3
     The Samaipata raid on July 6 by Che's men shocked the army
into launching two offensives against the guerrillas.  The first,
"Operation Cynthia", directed the Fourth Army Division from Camiri
to conduct operations south of the Rio Grande River (see map #3,
page 108).  In early August the second offensive, "Operation
Parabano", was initiated by the Eighth Army Division in the area
north of the river.  The Fourth Division soldiers pursued Joaquin's
group northward throughout the months of July and August, periodi-
cally clashing with the guerrillas.  The "Cynthia" soldiers, however,
were denied the final victory when Joaquin's band crossed the im-
posed boundary at the Rio Grande.  Their counterparts of the Eighth
Division, waiting at the river, destroyed their prey at the El Vado
del Yeso ford.4
     The 2nd Ranger Battalion completed its training on September 15,
1967 and were immediately deployed to the "Red Zone", the name given
to the area where the offensives were taking place.  Following the
La Higuera battle on September 26, the Bolivian General staff order-
ed the Ranger Battalion to set up a screening force along the Rio
Grande to prevent the guerrillas from escaping to the south.5  The
Rangers saturated the area with patrols and received reports on
October 7 of guerrilla movement in the Quebrada de Yuro, a steep
ravine west of La Higuera (see map #4, page 109). Captain Gary
Prado's B company (praised by Major Shelton as the Ranger's best
unit)6 trapped Che's force on October 8.
     Prado's employment of his troops in the final fight with the
guerrilla unit "...reads like a scenario out of a U.S. army counter-
insurgency manual."7  When his point elements discovered the enemy
and fixed their location, Prado immediately isolated the guerrillas
by deploying his company on the surrounding high ground in a tight
cordon.  As the guerrillas fled in two separate groups the Rangers
opened fire, killing six men and capturing three, including Che.
The Rangers lost two of their own men in the firefight.
     The second group of guerrillas, led by Inti Peredo, somehow
managed to escape the crossfire and avoided immediate capture or
death.  In subsequent weeks, half of this group were killed by the
army.  Three of the Cubans, including Pombo, the last of the diary
authors, escaped into Chile.  Inti and two other Bolivians went
into hiding in Bolivia.8
     Che, Willy, and the Cuban, Aniceto, were taken to La Higuera.
Willy and Aniceto were placed in a shed while Che was led to a
nearby two-room schoolhouse and treated for his leg wound.  During
the night the Bolivians questioned the three guerrillas.  Che re-
mained recalcitrant during the interrogation, barely responding to
     The Bolivian army had anticipated the capture of Che and had
discussed what to do with him.  The turbulent trial of Regis Debray
earlier that summer had attracted worldwide publicity, much of it
adverse to Bolivia.  The generals feared the repetition of interna-
tional leftist sympathy for the famous guerrilla leader.  They rea-
soned that a highly publicized trial would serve as impetus for
dissident factions in Bolivia to mount another insurgency.  Under
these circumstances, Che's fate was sealed.
     On the morning of October 9, 1967, two Ranger sergeants re-
ceived orders to execute the three prisoners.  Sergeant Mario Teran,
after his companion shot Willy and Aniceto, walked into the school-
room where Che sat, hands bound.  As the prisoner stood, the two
reportedly exchanged angry words.  Teran fired a burst from his
carbine, instantly killing Che Guevara.9
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     Thus, Che Guevara's last campaign ended with his execution
in a tiny hamlet in southeastern Bolivia.  With the death of its
leader, the foco, now reduced to a few desperate stragglers attempt-
ing to escape the country, immediately evaporated as a guerrilla
threat.  The insurgency that was intended to spark a hemispheric
revolution lasting seven to ten years failed after only eleven
months.  Che Guevara's attempt to artificially create a "Vietnam"
in Bolivia was a fascinating gamble.  How that fate was avoided
demands analysis of the various actions taken by both Che Guevara
and Fidel Castro on one hand, and Bolivia and the United States on
the other.
                          Chapter IX
     Brigadier Samuel B. Griffith, USMC (Ret.) introduced his
translation of Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare by comparing the
revolutions in Vietnam and Cuba.  He analyzed the two campaigns
through the use of charts, listing determinants in each revolution,
assigning the categories arbitrary weights on a scale of 0 - 10,
and examining the opposing sides comparatively.  Figure I reflects
General Griffith's conclusion that Fidel Castro enjoyed favorable
odds of approximately three to two when he landed in the Sierra
     Griffith stressed that specific aspects of various guerrilla
situations differ.  However, an impartial analysis in the same
manner of Che Guevara's campaign provides an accurate portrayal of
the situation in Bolivia at that time.  Figure II applies the same
determinants in comparing Guevara's forces with those of the incum-
bant, Barrientos.  "Supplies" and "external support"  have been
added to the chart since both factors directly affected the out-
come of the Bolivia insurgency.  The aggregate sum of the determi-
nants (arbitrarily weighted by this writer) reveals that Che Guevara
faced odds of two to three against success, exactly the opposite
of Fidel Castro's situation in 1956.  Closer examination of the
eleven determinants validates this conclusion.
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     Only three determinants favored the guerrillas in Bolivia:
quality of leadership, military efficiency, and base area terrain.
These factors, initially advantageous to the insurgents, actually
became liabilities as the campaign progressed, working against
the guerrillas in the end.
     Che Guevara's powerful leadership drove the guerrilla movement.
Dedicated, charismatic, and competent, he enjoyed the complete loy-
alty of his subordinates.  Despite the differences that existed in
the group between the Bolivians and Cubans, Che was able to initially
maintain a relatively cohesive unit.  The guerrilla leader, however,
faced a capable opponent in Barrientos, who was also popular and
effective, unlike Castro's foe, Batista.  Furthermore, Che's effec-
tiveness eroded greatly as the campaign progressed because of his
asthma.  Even Che's strong will could not overcome the dibilitating
asthma attacks which dominated his daily existance and adversely
affected his judgement.
     The military efficiency of Che's force in the initial stages
of the campaign clearly surpassed that of the Bolivian army.  His
Cuban veterans raised havoc with their ineffective opponents for
over three months.  Ironically, Che's over-confidence in his guer-
rillas' fighting ability, coupled with his contempt for the Boli-
vian army, led him to commit his force too soon.  The decision to
attack the soldiers on March 23 rather than withdraw violated Che's
own doctrine.  His foco was still in its infant stage and not yet
prepared for the second phase of the revolution.  Che prematurely
took the offensive and could not sustain the initiative as he
attempted to integrate the raw Bolivian recruits into his unit
while fighting the enemy.  As Che suffered casualties, lost his
base of operations, and split his force, the balance of military
efficiency dramatically changed in favor of the Bolivian army.  The
introduction of newly trained Bolivian Rangers tipped the scales
even further.
     The base area terrain operationally favored the guerrillas,
but this advantage also eventually worked against them.  Relatively
isolated, the Nancahuazu region adequately served Che's purposes
for organizing, equipping, and training his foco.  The rugged
terrain allowed Che to attack his foe from good cover and conceal-
ment while frustrating the army's attempts to isolate the guerrilla
force.  This same terrain later extracted a severe toll on the
guerrillas as their situation became increasingly desperate.  Commu-
nications failed, resulting in a loss of contact between Che and
Joaquin's group and, finally, with Havana.   As the guerrillas
struggled over the inhospitable terrain they were forced to live
off the land and discovered that food and water were scarce. Hunger
and thirst, rather than military objectives, frequently drove the
decision-making process.
     The determinant, "Appeal of Program", can arguably be consid-
ered equal for both forces.  Che's dedication to improving the
plight of the peasants in Bolivia compared favorably to Barrientos'
program of social reform.  Although the Bolivian peasants were
unresponsive to his program due to language barriers and their
inherent distrust of outsiders,  Guevara's ideas enjoyed a world-
wide constituency.  Barrientos' program, however, capitalized on
reforms widely accepted by Bolivians after the 1952 revolution.
The mass appeal of his program notwithstanding, Che vastly under-
estimated the favorable perception by Bolivians of existing social
     The remaining determinants clearly favored the incumbent.  Most
of these negative comparisons stem from purely military considera-
tions regarding the guerrilla force.  Che, despite the cadre of
Cuban veterans, commanded a unit of marginal quality.  During the
initial stages of the insurgency the guerrillas were able to capi-
talize on the unprepared and confused Bolivian units.  Their initial
superior military efficiency stemmed from the guerrillas' initiative
and the Bolivian army's disorganization, rather than an overall high-
er quality of troops in the foco.  As the fighting intensified, Che
revealed in his diary that many of his men were "dregs" who were
basically inferior guerrillas.
     The Bolivian recruits, with few exceptions, lacked the self-
discipline and sense of purpose to fight effectively.  Their poor
performance, coupled with the Cubans' sense of superiority, caused
dissension among the guerrillas, preventing the group from ever
achieving true internal unity.
     The challenges facing every guerrilla force, equipment/supplies,
communications, and sanctuary, presented unique problems for Che.
Initially well equipped with weapons, ammunition, and supplies,
his logistics support gradually disintegrated as the Bolivian army
captured his base camp caches.  As the campaign progressed, the
guerrillas became totally isolated from their sources of supply.
Communications failed internally as evidenced by the failure of
Che and Joaquin's group to reunite.  When the military situation
worsened, the guerrilla force had no safe sanctuary in which to re-
group.  Tied down to a permanent base camp in his area of operations,
Che was stranded in "enemy territory" after the army destroyed the
Nancahuazu site.
     Ultimately, Che failed in Bolivia because of the lack of pop-
ular support.  Griffith submits that their is very little hope of
destroying a revolutionary movement that gains the sympathetic
support of a significant segment of the population (perhaps 15
to 20 percent).2  Che could have probably overcome the many handi-
caps inherent in his insurgency attempt if the peasants had support-
ed his movement.  His guerrillas, however, were never perceived by
the local population as anything more than strange intruders, out-
siders not to be trusted.  Not one local peasant joined the guer-
rillas during the campaign.  On the contrary, Che admitted in his
diary that they had become informers for the army.  As a result,
Che's guerrilla foco became little more than roving bandits, pur-
sued by the authorities and feared by the citizenry.
     While lack of popular support condemned Che Guevara's Bolivia
adventure to ultimate failure, certain external factors hastened
his defeat.  Cuban support to Che and American aid to the Bolivia
army figured significantly in the insurgency.  The Bolivian commu-
nist party, Tania, and Fidel Castro further complicate the exami-
nation of external support as a determinant in the revolution's
     The Bolivian communist party deliberately betrayed Che, first
by giving false information to Havana about the political situation
in Bolivia, and secondly, by failing to support him once the foco
was in place.  Richard Harris attributes the first act of betrayal
to Mario Monje, who falsely portrayed Bolivia as an anarchic state
ripe for revolution.  Harris submits that Monje and his friends
were "con artists" who planned a fraudulent guerrilla operation in
order to expand their party treasury at Cuba's expense.  When Che
established the foco in Bolivia, Monje actively sabotaged the guer-
rillas by withholding all support.  Harris further claims that the
pro-Moscow communists in La Paz were acting in accordance with in-
structions from the Soviets, who regarded Che's operations in Bolivia
as a serious threat to their Latin American policy.3
     Tania's controversial role in the ill-fated campaign adds
credence to Harris' theory of Soviet complicity.  Daniel James
refuses to attribute Tania's amatuer bungling of the affair in
Camiri to honest mistakes.  Accidently leaving incriminating
documents in a deserted jeep is not the work of a professional
agent who had successfully operated covertly in Bolivia for two
years.  That incident, plus other deficiencies in Tania's perfor-
mance, drives James to conclude that: "Tania was sabotaging Che
and his guerrilla movement in the interests of Moscow."4
     Fidel Castro's complicity in Che's failure is not clearly
evident.  Castro certainly provided the guerrilla movement with
the fundamental external support necessary to initiate the foco.
He was its sole financier and contributed manpower, weapons, and
supplies to Che's force.  Bolivian guerrillas trained in Cuba and
Castro bore all expenses.  Yet, many Latin American communists be-
lieve that Fidel Castro betrayed his comrades in Bolivian jungles.
Betrayal implies that Castro intentionally subverted the guerrilla
movement, an illogical accusation when the tremendous assets ini-
tially provided to Che by Fidel are taken into account.  Abandonment
best describes Castro's actions as the situation deteriorated in
Bolivia.  Despite Che's implication by message on May 18, 1967 that
he desired public announcement of the Bolivia insurgency, Castro
never acknowledged to the world that Che Guevara was fighting for
the "liberation" of Bolivia.  He remained strangely quiet through-
out the summer, when publicizing Che's presence in Bolivia might
have achieved a propaganda victory for the beleaguered guerrillas.
     Castro may have sensed the inevitable defeat of Che's guer-
rillas and decided to cut his losses, allowing the aborted campaign
to wither away.  Another theory behind Castro's abandonment of Che
involves the underlying issue of personal problems between the two
men.  Daniel James proposes that Castro believed that publically
announcing the insurgency would greatly enhance Che's reputation
as a worldwide revolutionary.  In view of the two men's recent diff-
erences, Fidel may have considered resurrecting Che as a great lead-
er counter to his own personal interests.  James concludes: "Fidel
Castro and the Bolivian army combined unwittingly to end a mutual
     Any hypothesis regarding Fidel Castro's reasons for abandoning
Che is based on speculation.  The circumstances under which Castro
abandoned Guevara, however, clearly indicate that the Cuban dictator
deliberately deserted his former minister.  Castro, a superb politi-
cian, may have played Machiavellian politics.  Guevara may have been
a problem alive, but in Bolivia, Castro can "win either way: if Che
fails and is killed, the cause has a martyr; if he wins, he is out
of Cuba spreading the new zeal of revolutionary warfare.  Martyrdom
can always be used for propaganda victories.  Castro may have real-
ized that a dead Guevara would be more valuable to Cuba and a threat
to the U.S. and its allies than he was alive.
     External support from the United States clearly enhanced the
Bolivian army's counter-guerrilla effort.  The United States' mea-
sured response to pleas for sophisticated weapons proved entirely
appropriate to meet the threat.  By restricting material aid to
fundamental equipment and supplies, the Americans prevented need-
less and inappropriate escalation of the insurgency.  The second
decision to train the Bolivians to fight their own war rather than
intervene directly with American combat troops was a significant
factor in defeating Che.  The Bolivia soldier proved fully capable
of conducting effective counter-insurgency operations once he was
properly equipped and trained.  American recognition of this fact
averted Che's hopes of "...two, three, many Vietnams...".
     Therein lies the central issue of why American students of
guerrilla warfare should study Che Guevara's Bolivian insurgency-
the avoidance of "another Vietnam".  This relatively insignificant
melodrama in a poor South American country contained all of the
elements relevant to revolutionary warfare today: a charismatic
leader committed to revolutionary social and economic change, oppres-
sed people condemned to lifelong poverty, and a powerful, external
government willing to support insurrection in another country.  The
gross miscalculations of Che Guevara notwithstanding, his Bolivian
campaign began with the three essential factors in the framework
for revolution: conditions conducive for revolt, revolutionaries
willing to exploit those conditions, and external/foreign support.
The battleground, whether rural or urban, matters little.  The
political cause, whether Leninist, Maoist, or reactionist, matters
even less.  The rank and file of guerrilla movements rarely fight
for a particular ideology: they fight for food and freedom.  People
existing under such desperate conditions are easily swayed by lead-
ers who are capable of indoctrinating the masses through ideological
manipulation.  A paradox results; the rank and file perceive the
revolution as a means to improve their living conditions while the
leaders see the real issue as a political struggle for power.  By
harnessing the powerful desire to escape poverty and injustice,
revolutionary leaders ruthlessly exploit the oppressed as a means to
their own political ends.
     Faced with these realities, the United States awaits the next
Che Guevara.  Intolerable social conditions still exist in many
third world countries and powerful forces remain all too willing
to support revolutions in other nations.  Seething discontent only
requires a revolutionary leader to ignite the flames of revolt.
Training armies with U.S. advisors will strengthen a government's
ability to conduct counter-insurgency operations but does nothing
to eliminate poverty, hunger, and injustice.  American commitments
to fighting insurgencies must rely on more than military response
alone.  This single diminsion approach to eradicating revolutions
inevitably results in the portrayal of the United States as the pro-
tector of the status quo, while elevating the revolutionaries to
the role of a vanguard force leading the oppressed to a better life.
American involvement in fighting insurgencies must be universally
perceived as a commitment to improving the welfare of the people
where the insurgency is taking place.  The Bolivia campaign illus-
strates that point clearly.  The United States supported a govern-
ment that was relatively progressive and one that had gained true
legitimacy from its citizenry.  American military aid, although
significant, played a secondary role in defeating the guerrilla
     As stated earlier, the U.S. response proved to be entirely
appropriate for the situation.  Despite pressure in La Paz and
Washington to intervene with more sophisticated weaponry and even
combat troops, American aid was primarily restricted to carbines,
ammunition, and a training team.  Although key individuals - prin-
cipally Ambassador Henderson - recognized that limited aid would
suffice, others lobbied for a Vietnam type commitment from the U.S.
Unfortunately, an argument can be made that Henderson's voice
of moderation prevailed because Bolivia was considered a "sideshow"
and relatively unimportant when compared to the then escalating war
in Vietnam.  Would the United States have introduced combat troops
to Bolivia if our involvement in Vietnam had not reached such pro-
portions in 1966 - 1967?  Would we have stood idly by if Che's
forces had routed the Bolivian army?  The answers to those questions
remain pure speculation but their ramifications pose important con-
siderations for future foreign policy decisions in similar situations.
For whatever reasons, Washington listened to Ambassador Henderson's
realistic appreciation of the local situation and acted appropri-
ately.  Measured response rather than overraction carries a lesson
which should not be forgotten in future crisis facing this country
and its allies.     
     Che Guevara committed many tactical blunders that led to his
defeat, but, in the final analysis, his personality and ego prede-
termined his fate in Bolivia.  Che's supreme confidence in his lead-
ership abilities to overcome any problems allowed him to ignore the
obvious, fatal flaws in his Bolivian campaign.  Che grossly over-
estimated his capability to influence circumstances that existed
in Bolivia.  He remained convinced that the revolution depended
upon Che Guevara alone to succeed.  The same uncompromising, head-
strong determination that cost him his influence in Cuba condemned
him to die in Bolivia.  Che, the purist, believed so strongly in his
cause and his destiny to lead that cause, that he refused to consi-
der any compromises in the pursuit of his goal.
     This dogmatic view of the revolution and his own role in it
caused Guevara to overestimate his ability to fight the revolution
without the support of the Bolivian communists.  He was aware of
the diverse factions that existed within the Bolivian communist
party but Che believed that he could unite them and gain their full
support.  His insistence on commanding all aspects of the revolution
led him to reject the communist leader, Monje's demands for control
of the revolution.  In both cases, Che falsely assumed that his
personal leadership was essential to the success of the revolution.
Bolivia was his revolution, not to be shared with others who pur-
ported to have a claim to the leadership role in the "liberation"
     Che's foco theory of revolution inherently depends upon person-
ality and leadership for its success.  Without the backing of a
powerful communist party to develop widespread support among the
populace the foco leadership must ignite the revolutionary spirit
through their own actions.  Impetus for the escalation of the revolu-
tion stems from the ability of the guerrilla foco to relate to the
peasants:  gain their trust and confidence, indoctrinate them in
the goals of the revolution and demonstrate the corruption and weak-
ness of the existing regime.  By setting the example and showing
the way to a better life, the guerrilla movement gains increasing
momentum, finally reaching overwhelming proportions incapable of
being stopped.  Che possessed supreme confidence in his ability to
establish a guerrilla force, manned largely by Cubans, in a foreign
country.  He grossly overrated the power of his own charisma and
leadership.  The Bolivian peasants were not prepared to cast their
fate with these foreigners; Che Guevara discovered that more than
his personality and charisma were needed in Bolivia.
     Therein lies the ultimate reason for the failure in Bolivia:
the unwillingness of the Bolivian people to rally to Che Guevara
and his cause.  He never achieved the one vital element necessary
to win a revolution: popular support.  Mao Tse-Tung likened the
people to water and the guerrilla to a fish who inhabits it.  Che
Guevara was condemned to the destiny prophesized by Mao for the
guerrilla failing to achieve this vital alliance who: " the
fish out of its native element, cannot live."6
Click here to view image
                           APPENDIX B
              Identification of Main Personalities
                     (Listed Alphabetically)
1.   General Rene Barrientos.  Bolivian Air Force officer who took
reigns of power in a bloodless coup during 1964.  President of
Bolivia during Che's insurgency.
2.   Tamara Banke Bider, "Tania".  Young woman of Argentine-German
nationality who was Guevara's primary agent in Bolivia.  She also
served as a double agent, working for the KGB.
3.   Colonel Alberto Bayo.  Former officer in the Spanish Republican
Army who trained Castro's guerrillas, including Che, in Mexico in
preparation for the Cuban insurgency against Batista.
4.   Fidel Castro.  Current premier of Cuba; led revolution that over-
threw Batista regime in 1959.
5.   Regis Debray.  French leftist writer who was captured by the
Bolivian Army.  Court-martialed for his involvement in the insur-
gency; he was convicted and imprisoned.
6.   Ernesto "Che" Guevara.  Argentine born revolutionary who became
a principal figure in Fidel Castro's government.  Led insurgency
in Bolivia.
7.   Moises Guevara (No relation to Che).  Bolivian Maoist labor leader
who recruited guerrillas for Che's foco.  Among those killed by the
Bolivian Army in ambush on August 31, 1967.
8.   Douglas Henderson.  U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia during the insur-
gency.  He advised moderate response by the United States to meet
the guerrilla crises in Bolivia.
9.   Mario Monje Molina.  Bolivian communist leader who convinced
Castro to commit guerrillas to Bolivia.  He refused to support the
insurgency after Guevara would not allow him to lead the revolution.
10.  Juan Vitalio Acuna Nunez, "Joaguin".  Second-in-command of the
foco.  Cuban veteran of Castro's "July 26th Movement".  His group
was accidentally separated from the main guerrilla force.  He and
most of his guerrillas, were killed in the August 31st ambush.
11.  Captain Gary Prado.  Bolivian Army Ranger who commanded unit
that captured Che.
12.  Major Ralph ("Pappy") Shelton.  U.S. Army officer who commanded
the American advisors that trained the Bolivian Rangers.
13.  Sergeant Mario Teran.  Bolivian Army non-commissioned officer
who executed Che Guevara, following the orders of his superiors.
Click here to view image
     1"Man In the News", New York Times, Dec 12, 1964.
     2General Robert H. Barrow, USMC, Commandant of U.S. Marine
Corps, in a speech to audience in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 1981
(attended by the writer)
     3Richard Harris, Death of a Revolutionary, Che Guevara's Last
Mission (W.W. Norton and Company INC 1970 New York) p. 69
     4Andrew Sinclair, Che Guevara, (Viking Press, 1970, New York)
p. 93
                         CHAPTER I
               The Leader - His Early Years
     1Daniel James, Che Guevara (Stein and Day, 1969, New York)
p. 304
     2James MacGregor Burns, Leadership, (Harper and Row, 1978,
New York) , P. 83
     3Burns, Leadership, p. 82
     4Harris, Last Mission, p. 18
     5Harris, Last Mission, p. 19
     6Sinclair, Guevara, p. 3
     7Sinclair, Guevara, p. 2
     8Burns, Leadership, p. 90
     9Sinclair, Guevara, p. 1
    10James, Guevara, p. 55
    11Sinclair, Guevara, p. 4
    12Sinclair, Guevara, p. 1
    13Harris, Last Mission, p. 26
    14Harris, Last Mission, p. 28
                         CHAPTER II
                  The Revolutionary Leader
     1James, Guevara, p. 77
     2James, Guevara, p. 80
     3James, Guevara, p. 83
     4Sinclair, Guevara, p. 13
     5Burns, Leadership, p. 239
     6Harris, Last Mission, p. 29
     7James, Guevara, p. 86
     8James, Guevara, p. 86
     9James, Guevara, p. 85
    10Sinclair, Guevara, p. 17
    11Harris, Last Mission, p. 33
    12Che Guevara, Che Guevara On Guerrilla Warfare, (Frederick A.
Praeger, Inc., 1961, New York), p. 3
                         CHAPTER III
                   The Ideological Leader
     1Burns, Leadership, p. 248
     2Sinclair, Guevara, p. 50
     3Martin Ebon, Che: The Making of a Legend, (Universal Books,
1969, New York), p. 44
     4James, Guevara, p. 113
     5James, Guevara, p. 114
     6Sinclair, Guevara, p. 54
     7Burns, Leadership, p. 248
     8James, Guevara, p. 162
     9James, Guevara, p. 166
    10Sinclair, Guevara, p. 64
    11Sinclair, Guevara, p. 66
    12"Shadowy Power Behind Castro", New York Times Magazine,
June 19, 1960, p. 5
    13James, Guevara, p. 131
    14Ebon, Legend, p. 53
    15Ebon, Legend, p. 49
    16Harris, Last Mission, p. 36
                         CHAPTER IV
                 Theories of Guerrilla Warfare
     1Bernard B. Fall, Street Without Joy, (The Stackpole Company,
1961, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) p. 381
     2 Sir Robert Thompson, consult. ed., War in Peace, (Orbis
Publishing Limited, 1981, London) pp. 148-149
     3Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare, p. 4
     4Sinclair, Guevara, p. 41
     5Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare, p. 5
     6Harris, Last Mission, p. 51
     7Sinclair, Guevara, p. 34
     8Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare, pp. 30-36
     9Sinclair, Guevara, p. 34
    10Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare, p. 27
    11Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffith (Oxford
University Press, 1963, New York), pp. 77-84
    12Mao Tse-Tung, Guerrilla Warfare, trans. Samuel B. Griffith
(Praeger Publishers Inc., 1961, New York), p. 42
    13Regis Debray, Revolution in the Revolution?, trans. Bobbye
Ortez (Monthly Review Press, 1967, New York), p. 106
    14Thompson, War in Peace, p. 175
    15Thomas J. Deakin, "The Legacy of Carlos Marighella", FBI Law
Enforcement Bulletin, October 1974, p. 2
    16Thompson, War in Peace, p. 175
                            CHAPTER V
                       Prelude to Bolivia
     1"Shadowy Power Behind Castro", New York Times Magazine,
June 19, 1960
     2Harris, Last Mission, p. 54
     3Harris, Last Mission, p. 56
     4James, Guevara, p. 170
     5James, Guevara, p. 169
     6James, Guevara, p. 180
     7James, Guevara, pp. 181-187
     8James, Guevara, pp. 182
     9James, Guevara, p. 187
    10Thompson, War in Peace, p. 142
    11Sinclair, Guevara, p. 88
    12Harris, Last Mission, p. 59
    13James, Guevara, p. 159
    14James, Guevara, p. 160
    15Harris, Last Mission, p.60
                          CHAPTER VI
                         Why Bolivia?
     1Jean Larteguy, The Guerrilla, (World Publishing Co., 1970,
New York), p. 19
     2William H. Brill, Military Interventions in Bolivia: The
Overthrow of Paz Estenssoro and the MNR, Political Studies Series
No. 3, (Institute for the Comparative Study of Political Systems,
1967, Washington, D.C.), p. 3
     3Harris, Last Mission, p. 62
     4Thomas E. Weil, Area Handbook for Bolivia, DA Pamphlet 550-66,
2nd ed. (Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data, 1974,
Washington D.C.), p. 109
     5Brill, Military Intervention in Bolivia, p. 3
     6William Weber Johnson and the Editors of LIFE, LIFE World
Library - The Andean Republics, (Time Inc., 1965, New York) p. 102
     7Weil, Introduction, Area Handbook, p. ix
     8John D. Waghelstein, "A Theory of Revolutionary Warfare and
its Application to the Bolivian Adventure of Che Guevara", (Thesis,
Cornell University, 1973), p. 63 (Unpublished MA)
     9Weil, Area Handbook, p. 257
    10Johnson, Andean Republics, p. 101
    11Harris, Last Mission, pp. 63-64
    12Brill, Military Intervention in Bolivia, pp. 44-58
    13Harris, Last Mission, p. 64
    14Harris, Last Mission, p. 64
    15Robert D. Hagan, "Che Guevara: An epilogue", (Thesis, Naval
War College, Newport, Rhode Island, 1969), p. 55 (Unpublished)
    16Harris, Last Mission, p. 65
    17Waghelstein, "Theory of Revolutionary Warfare", p. 54
    18Sinclair, Guevara, p. 93
    19Harris, Last Mission, pp. 64-67
    20Harris, Last Mission, pp. 68-69
    21Harris, Last Mission, p. 72
    22Harris, Last Mission, p. 65
    23Weil, Area Handbook, p. 348
    24Waghelstein, "Theory of Revolutionary Warfare", p. 41
    25James, Guevara, p. 188
                          CHAPTER VII
                      The Foco In Action
     1"Guevara Termed Slain in Dominican Republic", New York Times,
Aug 21, 1965
     2"Bogata Said to Circulate Photographs of Guevara", New York
Times, Aug 29, 1965
     3James, Guevara, p. 189
     4Daniel James, ed., The Complete Bolivian Diaries of Che
Guevara and Other Captured Documents (Stein and Day, 1968, New York),
p. 226
     5James, Diaries, p. 71
     6Marta Rojas and Moita Rodriguez Calderon, eds., TANIA, The
Unforgettable Guerrilla, (Random House, 1971, New York), p. 39
     7Rojas and Rodriguez, TANIA, pp. 111-112
     8Rojas and Rodriguez, TANIA, p. 146
     9Rojas and Rodriguez, TANIA, p. 187
    10James, Guevara, p. 200
    11Harris, Last Mission, pp. 72-77
    12James, Diaries, p. 71
    13James, Diaries, p. 193
    14James, Guevara, p. 193
    15Harris, Last Mission, p. 75
    16Harris, Last Mission, pp. 77-78
    17James, Diaries, p. 80
    18Weil, Area Handbook, p. 348
    19James, Guevara, p. 215
    20Harris, Last Mission, p. 78
    21James, Guevara, p. 215
    22Harris, Last Mission, p. 79
    23Ebon, Legend, p. 95
    24Harris, Last Mission, p. 78
    25James, Diaries, p. 96
    26Ebon, Legend, pp. 99-100
    27James, Diaries, p. 73
    28James, Diaries, p. 108
    29James, Guevara, pp. 222-227
    30James, Diaries, pp. 291-292
    31James, Guevara, p. 227
    32James, Diaries, p. 116
    33Weil, Area Handbook, p. 349
    34James, Guevara, pp. 224-233
    35James, Diaries, p. 126
    36Harris, Last Mission, pp. 87-89
    37James, Guevara, pp. 237-239
    38James, Diaries, p. 131
    39Harris, Last Mission, pp. 86-87
    40 James, Guevara, pp. 248-249
    41James, Diaries, p. 132
    42James, Diaries, pp. 74-75
    43Harris, Last Mission, pp. 94-96
    44Harris, Last Mission, p. 105
    45James, Guevara, p. 256
    46Harris, Last Mission, pp. 106-109
    47James, Diaries, p. 164
    48James, Diaries, p. 176
    49James, Guevara, p. 262
    50James, Diaries, p. 179
    51Harris, Last Mission, pp. 112-113
    52James, Diaries, p. 77
    53James, Diaries, p. 190
    54James, Diaries, p. 195
    55Harris, Last Mission, pp. 119-120
    56James, Diaries, p. 202
    57Harris, Last Mission, p. 122
    58James, Guevara, pp. 268-269
    59James, Diaries, pp. 219-220
    60James, Diaries, pp. 220 - 223
    61Harris, Last Mission, pp. 125-128
                         CHAPTER VIII
                "Operations Parabano and Cynthia"
     1James, Guevara, p. 277
     2James, Guevara, pp. 279-280
     3Waghelstein, "Theory of Revolutionary Warfare", p. 74
     4James, Guevara, p. 263
     5Joseph P. Rice, "The Last Days of Che Guevara", (Monograph,
US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, 1972), p. 3
     6Waghelstein, "Theory of Revolutionary Warfare", p. 87
     7Harris, Last Mission, p. 126
     8Harris, Last Mission, pp. 127-128
     9Ebon, Legend, pp. 115-117
                          CHAPTER IX
            The Bolivian Campaign in Perspective
     1Griffith, trans, Introduction, Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla
Warfare, pp. 28-29
     2Griffith, trans, Introduction, Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla
Warfare, p. 27
     3Harris, Last Mission, pp. 159-163
     4James, Guevara, pp. 240-241
     5James, Guevara, pp. 301-303
     6Mao Tse-Tung, Guerrilla Warfare, p. 93
                    ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Introduction.  Research material for this paper included both
     primary and secondary sources.  Ample sources were available,
     including the writings of Che Guevara, and, in particular,
     biographies by numerous authors.  Most of the sources were
     written in the 1960's and early 1970's, reflecting the world-
     wide reputation of Che Guevara during that period.  Following
     the death of Guevara in 1967, myraid books, articles, and
     dissertations were written about this controversial figure in
     revolutionary history.
A.   Primary Sources
Guevara, Che. Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare. New York: Frederick
     A. Praeger, Inc., 1961.  Essential to any research into foco
     theory. Concise, thorough explanation of Che's theory of revolu-
     tionary warfare.
James, Daniel. editor. The Complete Bolivian Diaries of Che Guevara
     and Other Captured Documents. New York: Stein and Day, 1968.
     James' translations of Bolivian Diaries. Essential to research
     of Bolivia campaign. Day-to-day first person accounts of Che
     and three subordinates while in Bolivia.
B.   Secondary Sources
Brill, William H., Military Intervention in Bolivia: The Overthrow
     of Paz Estenssoro and the MNR. Political Studies Series No. 3,
     Institute for the Comparative study of Political Systems,
     Washington, D.C., 1967. Comprehensive study of Bolivia's poli-
     tical, social, economic, and military history.  Addresses
     Barrientos' ascendancy to power.  Excellent background material
     for research into Bolivia's situation during early 1960's.
Burns, James MacGregor Leadership. New York: Harper and Row, 1978.
     Thorough analysis of all types of leadership.  Particularly
     relevant to this research regarding ideological and revolution-
     ary leadership.  Uses historical leaders to illustrate evolu-
     tion of leadership styles and impact on society.
Debray, Regis Revolution in the Revolution?. Trans. Bobbye Ortiz.
     New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967. Essential reading for
     any research into Cuban revolution. Leftist French writer who
     wrote about Castro and Guevara's revolutions. Particularly use-
     ful in studying foco theory.
Ebon, Martin. CHE: The Making of a Legend. New York: Universal
     Books, 1969. Analyzes Che Guevara's rise to power and Bolivia
     failure.  Useful for background material concerning external
     factors leading to Che's defeat.  Explores Soviet complicity,
     Che's motivations, and events since his death.
Fall, Bernard B. Street Without Joy. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The
     Stackpole Company, 1961. Although this book is a history of
     the Vietnam conflict prior to U.S. involvement, Fall discusses
     guerrilla warfare in general. Particularly relevant to study
     of Che Guevara's theories on guerrilla warfare and his tactical
     concepts, as compared to those used in Vietnam.
Harris, Richard. Death of a Revolutionary, Che Guevara's Last
     Mission. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1970. Out-
     standing source for analysis of Che Guevara's Bolivia campaign.
     Also discusses Che's life and theories on guerrilla warfare.
     Particularly useful in analyzing why Che failed.
James, Daniel. Che Guevara. New York: Stein and Day, 1969. Complete
     biography of Che Guevara. Highly useful to research of all
     aspects of Che Guevara's life.  In addition to thorough des-
     cription of Che's life, James provides excellent objective
     analysis of why Che failed and his impact on future of guer-
     rilla war.
Johnson, William Weber and the Editors of LIFE. LIFE WORLD LIBRARY-The
     Andean Republics. New York: Time, Inc., 1965. Limited use for
     this research but does provide good background material on
     Bolivia's history.
Larteguy, Jean. The Guerrillas. Trans. Stanley Hochman. New York:
     World Publishing Co., 1970. Explores Latin America revolutions,
     including accounts of Che's conversations concerning his theo-
     ries on revolutionary warfare. Excellent source for analysis
     of Che Guevara and Latin American revolutions.
Mao Tse-Tung. Guerrilla Warfare. Trans. Samuel B. Griffith. New York:
     Oxford University Press, 1963. Translation of Mao's classic
     work. Useful in comparing Che's theories with Chinese concepts.
     Introduction by Griffith is an outstanding concept or model for
     analyzing evolution of guerrilla warfare. Griffith compares
     Cuban and Vietnam revolutions in a unique, concise manner.
Rojas, Marta and Moita Rodriguez Calderon eds. TANIA, The Unforgett-
     able Guerrilla. New York: Random House 1971. Leftist account
     of life of Tania. Somewhat idealistic portrayal of Tania through
     use of letters, photographs, and interviews. Very biased account,
     but useful in gaining another perspective of Tania's relation-
     ship with Che.
Thompson, Sir Robert consult. ed. War in Peace. London: Orbis pub-
     lishing Limited 1981. Covers warfare and conflict since 1945.
     Essential to research on guerrilla wars for its concise but
     valuable overviews of wars, theories, and personalities. Of
     particular relevance to this paper are accounts of Cuban
Sinclair, Andrew. Che Guevara. New York: Viking Press 1970. Biog-
     raphy that provides excellent source material, not as detailed
     as the James or Harris biographies, but outstanding analysis
     of why Guevara failed in Bolivia. Also addresses theories, Congo
     adventure, and relationship with Castro.
Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Trans. Samuel B. Griffith. New York: Oxford
     University Press 1963. Translation of classic work that pro-
     vides excellent source for comparing Che Guevara's concepts to
     ancient theories of warfare.
Journals and Periodicals
"Bogota Said to Circulate Photographs of Guevara", New York Times,
     Aug 29, 1965, p. 45:5. Article discusses rumors of Guevara's
     presence in Columbia.
Deakin, Thomas J. "The Legacy of Carlos Marighella", FBI Law Enforce-
     ment Bulletin., Washington, D.C., October, 1974. Compares urban
     guerrilla warfare with Che Guevara's foco theory. Concise, ana-
     lytical work relevant to current events regarding terrorism.
"Guevara Termed Slain in Dominican Republic", New York Times, Aug
     21, 1965 p. 6:8. Illustrates rumors circulating about Che's
     whereabouts prior to entering Bolivia.
"Man in the News", New York Times, Dec 12, 1964, p. 13:1. Short
     article describing Guevara's continued rise to power in Cuba.
     Useful for capturing press opinion of Che while he was in Cuba.
"Shadowy Power Behind Castro", New York Times Magazine, June 19, 1960,
     p. 5. One of the first portrayals of Guevara by American press.
     Excellent accounts of interviews with Guevara by an American
     reporter. Useful for gaining perspective of Guevara as seen in
     his early years in Cuba.
Weil, Thomas E. Area Handbook for Bolivia. DA Pamphlet 550-66, 2nd
     2d. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress Cataloging in Publi-
     cation Data 1974. Provides excellent background material on
     Bolivia's political, economic, social, and military evolution.
Unpublished Secondary Sources
Barrow, Robert H., "Armed Forces Day Address", presented to
     audience in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 1981. Attended by
     writer. Remarks included discussion of potential commitments
     of U.S. armed forces.
Hagan, Robert D. "Che Guevara: An Epilogue". Thesis. Naval War
     College, Newport, Rhode Island 1969. Unpublished work that
     provides only limited accounts of Che Guevara's Bolivia cam-
     paign. Does give good analysis of political framework in Cuba
     following Castro's revolution.
Rice, Joseph P. "The Last Days of Che Guevara" Monograph. U.S.
     Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 1972. Short
     account of final days in Bolivia. Author concentrates on Boli-
     vian Ranger interviews, giving detailed descriptions of final
     firefight. Excellent sketch maps included.
Waghelstein, John D. "A Theory of Revolutionary Warfare and its
     Application to the Bolivian Adventure of Che Guevara", Thesis,
     Cornell University, 1973. Thorough analysis of revolutionary
     warfare. Gives comprehensive analysis of U.S. involvement in
     Bolivia campaign, including personal interviews with partici-
     pants. Outstanding source document for study of Che Guevara
     in Bolivia.

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