DOCUMENT NUMBER 83
1. In view continuing concern on part of neighboring countries over Bolivian situation, request assessment current political situation, including outlook and link, if any, between current mine crisis and guerrilla activity, for possible repeat by Dept to neighboring countries in order that we may carry out consultations as appropriate.
2. We have reports that military establishments in certain neighboring countries may be viewing situation with considerable alarm. Informal consultations at this time would hopefully provide these governments with better understanding of U.S. views on current developments.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 84
SUBJECT: GUERRILLA SITUATION
1. PRESS TODAY REPORTS INTENSE BAF FIREFIGHT WITH GUERRILLAS 27 JUNE, 1700 HOURS, FIVE KILOMITERS WEST OF FLORIDA, 90 KILOMETERS SOUTHWEST SANTA CRUZ, 45 KILOMETERS DUE SOUTH COCHABAMBA-SANTA CRUZ HIGHWAY. BOLIVIAN ARMY SUFFERED THREE DEAD, TWO WOUNDED IN CLASH. NO CONFIRMED GUERRILLA CASUALTIES.
2. DEFATT REPORTS (FROM ASSISTANT G3 BOLIVIAN ARMY) FIREFIGHT IN QUESTION TOOK PLACE 26 JUNE, 16:45 HOURS, FIVE KILOMETERS NORTHWEST FLORIDA. CONFIRMED PRESS CASUALTY REPORT. ESTIMATED APPROXIMATELY 60 GUERRILLAS IN BAND.
3. CALSH OCCURRED AFTER BAND ABOUT 10 GUERRILLAS, MOVING NORTHWARD FROM ABAPO, THROUGH CABEZAS TOWARD FLORIDA-PIREY AND BEING FOLLOWING BY 4TH DIVISION CASTILLO COMPANY, MET UP WITH BAND ABOUT 50 GUERRILLAS IN MOROCOS REGION.
4. ELEMENTS 8TH DIVISION AND 4TH DIVISION CONVERGING ON FLORIDA-PIREY REGION, WITH HOPE OF “SURROUNDING GUERRILLAS”. DUE SITUATION IN MINES, NO ARMY REINFOREMENTS EXPECTED IN AREA.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 85
SUBJECT: POLITICAL CRISIS
1. ARMED INTERVENTION IN MINES, ENSUING BLOODSHED, AND TO-BE-EXPECTED REPERCUSSIONS IN POLITICAL, UNIVERSITY AND TRADE UNION CIRCLES POSE SERIOUS TEST TO BARRIENTOS ADMINISTRATION. DEVELOPMENTS NEXT FEW DAYS, PARTICULARLY IN MINES, MAY BE CRUCIAL.
2. A CENTRAL PROBLEM IS THAT GOB, HAVING DEPLOYED FORCES FIVE DAYS AGO, HAS YET TO DEMONSTRATE IT EXERCISES FULL CONTROL OF SITUATION IN MINES. THIS IS SHOW OF GOVERNMENTAL WEAKNESS WHICH ENCOURAGES OPPOSITIONISTS, SCENTING OPPORTUNITY, TO STEP UP ATTACKS, AND MEMBERS ADMINISTRATION POLITICAL COALITION, FEARFUL OF LOSS OF POWER, TO BACK AWAY FROM GIVING TUPE OF SUPPORT GOVERNMENT NEEDS AND SHOULD HAVE RIGHT TO EXPECT.
3. THIS APPEARS TO BE WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW. PREDICTABLY FSB, PDC, PRIN AND MNR ARE EXPLOTING PUBLICLY ANTI-POPULAR ASPECTS MINES INTERVENTION. AT SAME TIME, USUAL ADMINISTRATION SUPPORTERS, EXPECT FOR LOYAL MPC, ARE COOL TO MYLDLY HOSTILE TO PRESENT GOVERNMENT STANCE. FRENTE PARTIES (PSD, PIR, PRA) HAVE ISSUED STATEMENT EXPRESSING REGRET AT LOSS OF LIFE AND ASKING GOB INDEMNIFY SURVIVORS, NOTING (RATHER THAN ENDORSING) PRESIDENT’S ASSERTION AT SUNDAY’S CABINET MEETING THAT GRAVITY OF SITUATION CALLED FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION RATHER THAN PRIOR CABINET CONSULTATION. MEANWHILE, PIR REGIONAL COMMITTEE COCHABAMBA, IMPORTANT CENTER OF THIS SMALL PARTY’S STRENGTH, CALLED FOR PIR WITHDRAWAL FROM GOVERNMENT COALITION. WE UNDERSTAND THAT IMMEDIATE POLITICAL CRISIS WAS AVERTED BY INTERVENTION OF PSD AND FOREIGN MINISTER CRESPO WHO PERSUADED REBILLIOUS PIRISTAS AND PRAISTAS TO DEFER TOP LEVEL POLITICAL EXAMINATION OF SITUATION UNTIL NEXT WEEK, THEREBY GIVING ADMINISTRATION BRIEF BREATHING PERIOD FROM THIS ADDITIONAL POTENCIAL SOURCE OF PROBLEMS.
4. THE ARMED FOPRCES REMAIN KEY QUESTION MARK. DECISION MARCH INTO MINES APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN MADE JOINTLY BY PRESIDENT AND HIGH COMMAND, PROBABLY AT MEETING JUNE 23. UNTIL EVENING JUNE 26, ARMED FORCES WERE SILENT CONCERNING ITS ROLE. AT THAT TIME GENERAL OVANDO ADDRESSED NATION POINTING TO NECESSITY INTERVENE DUE CASTRO-COMMUNIST AND TRI-CONTINENTAL CONFERENCE ORIGIN MINING AND LINKED GUERRILLA PROBLEMS. HOWEVER, OVANDO MADE NO REFERENCE TO DESIRABILITY SUPPORT PRESIDENT OR ADMINISTRATION EXCEPT IN PRO FORMA CLOSING PARAGRAPH STATING ARMED FORCES ACTED TO UPHOLD CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT. MOREOVER CAS REPORTS A SPECIAL EMISSARY OF OVANDO HAS BEEN QUIETLY TELLING MINERS THAT THE DECISION TO GO INTO THE MINES WAS MADE SOLELY BY BARRIENTOS.
5. GOB IS ALSO DEEPLY CONCERNED BY BUDGET CRISIS. I HAVE RECENTLY BEEN ASKED TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY FIANANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, COMIBOL AND YESTERDAY AND UNDISCLOSED AMOUNT FOR ARMED FORCES. I TOLD PRESIDENT AND OVANDO YESTERDAY MORNING THAT I COULD CONSIDER THESE BUDGETARY PROBLEMS (EXCEPT FOR MINEDUCATION WHERE NEGOTIATIONS ALREADY WELL ADVANCED) ONLY ON BASIS TOTAL BUDGET REVIEW AND NOT AS PRESENTED PIECEMEAL BY INDIVIDUAL MINISTRIES. THIS APPEARS ONLY REALISTIC COURSE ALTHOUGH WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY RESULT IN GOB PRESENTING SERIES OF JERRY-RIGGED FIGURES WHICH WILL TAKE CONSIDERABLE EXAMINATION AND SCALING DOWN ON OUR PART.
6. SITUATION IS HIGHLY FLUID AND POSSIBLE OUTCOMES CANNOT BE FORESEEN WITH ANY CLARITY. HOWEVER, IF MINES CRISIS NOT SOON RESOLVED, COMBINED STUDENT-LABOR UNION AGITATION COULD RESULT IN SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN AGITATION IN CITIES, STRAINING GOB CAPACITY TO CONTAIN. MOREOVER, IF MINES DO NOT SOON RETURN TO PRODUCTION, NOMINAL ADMINISTRATION PARTIES MAY SEEK SURVIVAL BY PRECIPITATING CABINET CRISIS, THEREBY PRESENTING FURTHER AND VERY UNTIMELY THREAT TO GOVERNMENT.
7. ARMED FORCES FACE DILEMMA WHICH WE ASSUME THEY FULLY RECOGNIZE. WE ARE INCLINED TO BELIEVE ARMED FORCES DO NOT WISH TO TAKE POWER AS PROBLEMS AFFLICTING BOLIVIA ARE LONG TERM AND NOT SUSCEPTIBLE EASY SOLUCTIONS, EVEN FOR DE FACTO GOVERNMENT. HOWEVER, IF THEY WEAKEN THEIR SUPPORT GOVERNMENT, BARRIENTOS MAY FALL AND WITH HIM CONSTITUTINAL GOVERNMENT WHICH OFFERS PROTECTION TO MILITARY INSTITUTIONS. THEIR PRINCIPAL OPTION MAY BE ATTEMPT
TO PROMOTE ALTERNATIVE CIVILIAN BASE (FSB INCLUSION IN GOVERNMENT) ALTHOUGH HERE THEY HAVE BOTH BARRIENTOS AND POSSIBLY EXCESSIVE FSB APPETITE FOR POWER TO CONTEND WITH, AN APPETITE MADE ALL THE GREATER BY APPARENT GOVERNMENT WEAKNESS. FACED WITH THESE PROBLEMS, ARMED FORCES MAY SIMPLY TRY TO TEMPORIZE, ATTEMPTING PLACATE ALL SECTORS SITUATION BECOMES CLEARER.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 86
SUBJECT: POLITICAL CRISIS
8. NO ONE WITH WHOM WE HAVE DISCUSSED SITUATION CAN SEE CLEAR OR VIABLE ALTERNATIVE TO BARRIENTOS GOVERNMENT. WHILE THIS MAY TEND BRAKE POLITICKING OF ARMED FORCES, POLITICAL PARTIES ARE NOT NOTEWORTHY FOR LEVEL OF RESPONSIBILITY. THEY ARE MORE ORIENTED TOWARD ACTS AIMED AT ATTAINMENT OF POWER THAN MINDFUL OF CONSEQUENCES OF ACTS AND NEED FOR REFORM.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 87
1. WE UNDERSTAND THAT GOB IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING DECLARING WAR ON CUBA AS RESULT GUERRILLA ACTIVITY. THE IDEA APPARENTLY ORIGINATED WITH JAIME CESPEDES, PUBLIC AFFAIRS CHIEF FOR ARMED FORCES HIGH COMMAND, AND MARCELO GALINDO, PRESIDENT’S BROTHER IN LAW AND SCRETARY-MINISTER OF CABINET, AND REPORTEDLY HAS WON APROVAL OF GENERAL OVANDO AND POSSIBLY PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS.FOREING MINISTRY IS SAID TO BE STUDYING NOW.
2. CESPEDES TOLD EMBOFF THAT AMB. SANJINES ADVISED AND PLANS MENTION BOLIVIAN PROPOSAL TO PRESIDENT JOHNSON AT SPECIAL FUNCTION TO WHICH BOTH INVITED EVENING JUNE 29. ACCORDING CESPEDES, SANJINES ALSO PLANS RAISE MILITARY AND OTHER NEEDS WITH PRESIDENT.
3. AT LEAST ONE RATIONALE FOR STEP TO BE APPLICABILITY OF PENALTY OF TREASON TO BOLIVIAN COLLABORATORS AND PARTICIPANTS IN GUERRILLA MOVEMENT UNDER ARTICLE 17 OF 1967 CONSTITUTION AND SIMILARLY PERMIT HARSHER PENALTIES FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS IN COMPLICITY WITH MOVEMENT. CESPEDES ALSO MENTIONED PROPAGANDA ADVANTAGES TO US AND HEMISPHERE IN FIGHT AGAINST CASTRO AND COMMUNISM.
4. COMMENT: ON POSITIVE SIDE, DECLARATION OF WAR MAY TEND PULL DIVIDED NATION TOGETHER BUT POSSIBILITIES HERE SEEM VERY LIMITED AND DECLARATION WILL EVEN STRAIN BOLIVIANS’ CREDIBILITY. HOWEVER, WE BELIEVE THAT MOVE, IF TAKEN, MAY CONTAIN TRAPS FOR USG. GOB MAY ATTEMPT TO USE STATE OF WAR TO OBTAIN BLANK CHECK ASSISTANCE FROM US IN SHORING UP GOVERNMENT AND FINDING QUOTE MIRACLE SOLUTION UNQUOTE TO GUERRILLA PROBLEM. IN VIEW DISTANCE BETWEEN TWO COUNTRIES AND BOLIVIA’S LAND – LOCKED STATUS, MOVE MAY ALSO EXPOSE BOLIVIAN FOREIGN POLICY TO RIDICULE IN OAS. WE BELIEVE GOB CAN MAKE MOST CONSTRUCTIVE CONTRIBUTION TO ISOLATION OF CUBA BY GIVING FULLEST COOPERATION MFM ON VENEZUELAN INITIATIVE, AN ACTION TO WICH THEY GIVE LIP SERVICE BUT AS FAR WER KNOW HAVE TAKEN FEW IF ANY POSITVE STEPS IN IMPLEMENTING.
5. WE WOULD APPRECIATE SOONEST DEPARTMENT’S GUIDANCE ON USG VIEW THIS PROPOSAL. AS CONSIDERATIONS APPARENTLY WELL ADVANCED, URGENT REPLY REQUESTED.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 88
1. We agree declaration of war by GOB on Cuba would be extremely inadvisable and request you so inform GOB drawing on following reasoning. We will do so here.
2. The purposes of the OAS with regard to Cuba have been to prevent aggression and to bring end to the export of subversion by Cuba. Declaration of war and its implications would be inconsistent with limited actions OAS Member states have taken against Cuba in the past. Besides making GOB look foolish, declaration would be indication Castro has been successful. A declaration of war would consequently add a new psychological element in this hemisphere, would increase the danger of misunderstanding of OAS objectives, and might lead to the expanded involvement of other Communist states in support of Cuba (rather than possible attempts by other Communist states to restrain Cuba).
3. Additionally timing of declaration while 12th MFM under way would be doubly unfortunate. Bolivian efforts would be better directed toward adoption effective measures at final session that meeting. If Bolivian case against Cuba as strong as GOB seems to think, this would point all the more to Bolivia making strong presentation to MFM along lines State Circular 214532, La Paz 3253 and State Circular being sent today on same subject.
4. From point of view Bolivian internal situation we fail see how measure would contribute other than stir up patriotic emotions for very short time after which current problems would still have to be faced. In any event above international implications inevitable and far outweigh any short run domestic advantages.
5. In conversation with member of White House staff on June 29, Amb. Sanjines claimed he had no knowledge of GOB plan for declaration of war against Cuba. He said he would cable Foreign Ministry immediately opposing it.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 89
1. EMBOFF REVIEWED WITH FONOFF SUBSEC MONTENEGRO QUOTE STATE OF WAR UNQUOTE CONCEPET AFTERNOON JUNE 29. ACCORDING TO MONTENEGRO, IDEA WAS LAUCHED FULLY DEVELOPED BY NON-FONOFF OFFICIAL (POSSIBLY BAY GALINDO) AT MINISTRY WORKING GROUP MEETING JUNE 28. MONTENEGRO SAID THAT FONOFF WAS AND REMAINS HOSTILE TO IDEA IN ORIGINAL FORM I.E., DECLARATION OF WAR AGAIST CUBA. MONTENEGRO AND OTHERS IMMEDIATELY RAISED OBJECTIONS REGARDING REACTION OF US AND OTHER MEMBERS INTERAMERICAN SYSTEM NOT DISSIMILAR TO REASONS POINTED OUT REFTELS. WITH RELECTION, HOWEVER, GROUP DECIDED TO CONSIDER POSSIBILITY OF QUALIFIED STATE OF INTERNAL EMERGENCY WHICH WOULD PERMIT GOB RESOLVE AMBIVALENT LEGAL POSITION OF GUERRILLA COLLABORATORS AND ACTIVISTS, BOTH NATIONAL AND FOREIGN, NOT COVERED BY CONSTITUTION OR PENAL CODE, AND AT SAME TIME AVOID UNNECESSARY FOREIGN COMPLICATIONS. HE SAID THAT A NUMBER OF FONOFF OFFICIALS WERE DESIGNATED TO STUDY PROPOSAL FROM VARIETY OF DIRECTIONS.
2. EMBOFF POINTED OUT THAT ACCORDING TO CONSTITUTION THERE APPEARED BE NO INTERMEDIATE STAGE BETWEEN STATE OF SIEGE AND ACTUAL STATE OF WAR. IN REPLY, MONTENEGRO EMPHASIZED THAT IDEA WAS VERY TENTATIVE AND THAT WITH STUDY MIGHT PROVE UNFEASIBLE. IN ANY EVENT, HE WANTED TO STAFF PROBLEM THOROUGHLY SO AS BE IN POSITION ADVISE PRESIDENT, WHOM HE THOUGH UNAWARE OF PROPOSAL, BEFORE OTHER ADVISOR GOT TO HIM WITH CONCEPT IN HALF-BAKED FORM. WE PLAN SEEK APPOINTMENT FONOFF TODAY EXPLAINING USG POSITION DRAWING ON STATE REFTEL TO FORTIFY HAND OF MINISTRY IN COMBATTING ADVOCATES OF EXTREME POSITION.
3. COMMENT: FONOFF APPEARS BE LUKEWARM EVEN TO QUALIFIED STATE OF WAR AND SEEMS TO BE UNDERTAKING STUDY PRINCIPALLY TO UNDERMINE EXTREMISTS POSITION. MONTENEGRO INSISTED THAT FONOFF WOULD NOT ACCEPT ANY RECOMMENDATION WITH FOREIGN COMPLICATIONS AND THAT MINISTRY WAS IN POSITION CONTERACT AMATEUR FOREIGN POLICY MAKERS ELSEWHERE IN GOVERNMENT WHO THROUGH OVER-ZEALOUSNESS MIGHTPRESS FOR DECLARATION OF WAR.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 90
SUBJECT: CHE GUEVARA
1. IN INTERVIEW JUNE 30 WITH CORRESPONDENTS OF VOA, AP, BBC, GENERAL OVANDO, COMMANDER, BOLIVIAN ARMED FORCES, STATED CATEGORICALLY THAT CHE GUEVARA IS IN BOLIVIA AND DIRECTING GUERRILLA OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEASTERN PART OF COUNTRY. OVANDO SAID GUEVARA ALSO IS DIRECTING ANTI-GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES AMONG MINERS, ETC.
2. QUESTIONED RE EVIDENCE, OVANDO SAID TI CONSISTED OF TESTIMONY BY REGIS DEBRAY AND OTHERS (UNSPECIFIED). OVANDO DISPLAYED PENCIL DRAWINGS OF ALLEGED GUERRILLA LEADERS WHICH HE ATTRIBUTED TO “INTELLIGENCE SOURCES”, AND WHICH INCLUDE LIKENESS OF CHE GUEVARA.
3. OVANDO SAID STRENGTH OF GUERRILLAS IN BOLIVA IS 150 INCLUDING NUMEROUS CUBANS AND SOME PERUVIANS AND VENEZUELANS AND ASIANS INCLUDING NORTH VIETNAMESE VETERANS.
4. SOME OF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS PRESENT CONTINUE PRIVATELY TO BE SKEPTICAL CLAIMED PRESENCE OF CHE GUEVARA IN BOLIVIA.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 91
1. DEFATT REPORTS UNCONFIRMED, REPEAT UNCONFIRMED, SIGHTING PROBABLY JULY 3 ABOUT HALF DOZEN TENTS, PRESUMABLY GUERRILLAS, REGION CAMPO PAJASO, FIFTEEN KILOMETERS NORTHEAST YACUIBA. SAME SOURCE CLAIMS GOB AND GOA AGREED JULY 4 OR 5 QUOTE SEAL BOTH SIDES BORDER UNQUOTE YACUIBA REGION PREVENT POTENTIAL NECESSARY MOVE REQUIRED SECURITY FORCES INTO POSITION, BORDER WATCH PRESUMABLY EFFECTIVE BOTH SIDES TODAY. PRESENCIA STORY TODAY DATELINED BA YESTERDAY REPORTS ARGENTINE POLICE MOVEMENTS NORTHWARD AIMED GREATER VIGILANCE BORDER.
2. DEFATT HAS FURTHER UNCONFIRMED REPORTS GOB PLANNING TODAY OR TOMORROW PINCER MOVEMENT ON CAMPO PJASO WITH TROOPS 3RD. DIVISION FROM TARIJA AND VILLA MONTES AND PRECEDED BY AIR STRIKE, IF CONTINUING BAF INVESTIGATION VERIFIES SIGHTINGS. GOB DID NOT SEEK GOA PARTICIPATION IN PLANNED ATTACK, WHICH WOULD BE ENTIRELY WITHIN BOLIVIA TERRITORY. SO FAR NO CONFIRMATION 3RD. DIVISION TROOP MOVEMENTS, AND DEFATT REMAINS VERY SKEPTICAL VERACITY GUERRILLA SIGHTING AND ATTACK PLANS, ESPECIALLY IN FACE G–3 BOLIVIAN ARMY AND CHIEF STAFF BOLIVIAN AIR FORCE CATEGORICAL DENIAL TODAY ALL ASPECTS STORY.
3. PRESENCIA TODAY CONTAINS DESPATCH INTER PRESS SERVICE FROM BA WITH ARGENTINE FOREIGN OFFICE STATEMENT SEALED TRAIN WITH ARMED GUARDS PROCEEDING TOWARDS BOLIVIA CARRIED ONLY FOOD SHIPMENT, RESULTING NORMAL COMMERCIAL DEAL. INTER PRESS SERVICE ALSO REPORTS (DEFATIT CONFIRMS ESSENTIALS) SHIPMENT WORTH US $220,000 CONTAINS 700 TONS WHEAT FLOUR, 300 TONS NOODLES, 15,000 CANS CORNED BEEF, 45,000 CANS LIVER PASTE AND 1500 KILOS MEDICAL SUPPLIES. NO KNOWLEDGE HERE CONCERNING LIMITED QUANTITY SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION AND MILITARY CLOTHING REPORTED BUENOS AIRES 17.
4. COMMENT: WE SPECULATE JULY 5 COLLIER STORY NEW YORK TIMES REFERS TO APPARENT GOA DECISION STEP UP BORDER WATCH OR TO MEETING ARGENTINE MILITARY COMMITTEE (BUENOS AIRES 17).
DOCUMENT NUMBER 92
1. Bernard Collier in July 9 New York Times article datelined La Paz repeats assertion QUOTE Bolivia last Tuesday secretly requested neighboring Argentina to send ground troops into Bolivian territory to aid in process of pinning guerrilla down. END QUOTE. Article pessimistic about current Bolivian situation stating QUOTE A coup does not seem far off. END QUOTE. To support his conclusions, he says QUOTE U.S. diplomats are growing quickly discouraged with present Bolivian situation and their private tone is one of deep pessimism. END QUOTE U.S. military experts are appalled by the poor quality and poorer motivation of the Bollvian foot soldier. They bleakly predict it will be six months or more before an accelerated training program such as is now going in Bolivia with U.S. advisors helping can possibly turn out even a semiable group of anti-subversion troops. END QUOTE.
2. Article, an obvious attempt by to just if earlier article alleged Bolivian request for Argentinian assistance slanted heavily negative aspects of situation and does not reflect balance contained in recent Embassy assessments
3. Department plans contact TIMES and provide background of situation based Embassyreports.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 93
SUBJ: Bolivian Internal Developments
1. Recent Argentine concern for Bolivian situation and sensationalist news-paper coverage by New York Times prompts Department to supplement reporting from La Paz in attempt to give action addressee posts overall summary of present situation, which may be upon at your discretion in discussions with host country officials.
2. We continue regard guerrillas as representing disturbing element to GOB but not threat capable overthrowing government. We hold to view that total number no more than 100, perhaps divided into two or more groups one of which currently operating in general area between Florida and Samaipata, north of Rio Grande, with remainder guerrillas probably in original Nancahuazu area. Most recent reports indicate no RPT no guerrillas known to be in Argentine border area. Sporadic clashes will probably continue to occur but we have no indication that guerrillas attracting from local populace, or are in stronger position than that when originally uncovered.
3. We have noted some progress on part Bolivian Armed Forces correct deficiencies revealed at outside of guerrilla campaign. Troops in area receiving intensified training and BAF specialists from other areas of country are being committed to combat zone. Training of new Ranger unit under MAP progressing satisfactorily and unit should be ready for deployment in September. In meantime small unit composed of recalled parachutists being organized by GOB carry out much needed reconnaissance missions, Some reports received indicating possibility of plans to open second guerrilla front near La Paz, but no hard evidence yet available substantiate this.
4. Recent disturbances in mine are not RPT not direct result of guerrilla situation, although initial successes of guerrillas may have encouraged radical mine leaders test GOB. In any event, strong GOB reaction indicates that troop units in Altiplano region have been weakened by GOB deployment in Camiri area. Current developments, as reported by Embassy La Paz, seem to indicate other potential dissident groups (students, urban labor unions) impressed by resolve of Barrientos deal with subversive activities and are not now disposed to suffer same fate as Catavi meiners. Situation also illustrates that publicized “pacts” or alliances between students and union groups tend to break down when all groups not in full accord on nature or intensity of grievances against the government. University students appear be following lead of more moderate elements who not in favor street demonstrations, student strikes. Factory workers have shown little enthusiasm for violent action. Barring significant guerrilla success, which does not seem too likely, miner and student protest has probably run its course for the time being.
5. On political front, past few months have witnessed considerable increase in maneuvering particularly on part of MNR, leaders of which apparently sense weakening if Barrientos’ prestige. Blunders on part of GOB, such as recent strong-arm disruption of social gathering attended by MNR politicians, probably have contributed to idea Barrientos losing confidence in his ability keep MNR off balance. On close examination, however, successes in restoring semblance MNR unity appear more apparent than real and party continues plagued by shoddy image of top leadership, plus bitter personal differences between Paz, Siles and others.
6. Other principal area of political activity concerns negotiations between Barrientos and right-wing Falange party over possibility latter’s entry into Government. Negotiations have been interpreted in some quarters as effort, in face of deteriorating situation shore up political support as well as buy off potential enemy. Most recent signs, however, indicate Barrientos cooling on idea and is raising spectre of anti-Falange campesino defection as rationale for breaking off negotiations.
7. Provided no new political tensions arise from unforeseen quarter we now believe major problem area likely to be economic. GOB budget already strained by increased defense costs and forecast further clouded by probability of significant shortfall in budgeted contribution from COMIBOL. Increased budget deficit would have serious implications for Bolivian anti-inflation and economic development efforts. We are currently attempting gather data precise impact recent developments will have on GOB budget.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 94
Subject: guerrilla situation
1. GROUP GUERRILLAS (PRESS REPORTS 100 UNDOUBTEDLY EXAGGERATED, DEFATT REPORT 30 PROBABLY ABOUT RIGHT ENTERED SAMAIPATA ABOUT 0300 HOURS JULY 7. IN WHAT APPEARS EXTRAORDINARILY WELL PLANNED OPERATION, ONE BOLIVIAN ARMY SOLDIER WAS KILLED, ONE WONDED AND GUERRILLAS ESCAPED PRESUMABLY WITHOUT CASUALTIES WITH ABOUT US$ 200 WORTH MEDICINES PLUS UNDETERMINED AMOUT FOOD.
2. BEST BUT STILL INCONFIRMED INFORMATION INDICATES GUERRILLAS OPERATED AS FOLLOWS: (A) LATE EVENING JULY 6 (PERHAPS 2300 HOURS) GROUP GUERRILLAS (NO INDICATION NUMBERS) CUT HIGHWAY AT CUEVAS, STOPPING AND DETAINING ALL TRAFFIC THEREAFTER UNTIL CONCLUSION OPERATION ABOUT 0145 HOURS JULY 7. USING ONE TRUCK AND ONE BUS COMMANDEERED AT CUEVAS ROAD BLOC, PART GROUP DEPARETED CUEVAS FOR 17 KILOMETER TRIP TO SAMAIPATA, LEAVING REMAINDER GROUP BEHIND STAFFING ROAD BLOC.
(B) CONTINGENT GUERRILLAS ARRIVED BUILDING CALLED LA TRANCA JUST OUTSIDE SAHAIPATA, AND FOUND ALL CIVILIAN AUTHORITIES PLUS SOME MILITARY MEN THERE. GUERRILLAS TOOK BUILDING WITH NO INJURIES EITHER SIDE AND PROBABLY WITHOUT FIGHT OF ANY KIND. AMONG PRISIONERS WERE SUBPREFECTO, ALCALDE, PROVINCIAL DIRECTOR GNSP, CHIEF DIC AND SEVERAL SOLDIERS. ACCORDING PRESENCIA, ABOVE AUTHORITIS ALL CLAIMED RECOGNIZE CHE GUEVARA AMONG GUERRILLAS.
(C) TAKING TEN PRISIONERS ALONG AS HOSTAGES GUERRILLAS PROCEEDED CENTER SAMAIPATA TO DRUG STORE (FARMACIA-TIENDA), FORCING PROPRIETOR TO OPEN STORE. ONE GUERRILLA, PERHAPS MEDICAL DOCTOR, SELECTED MEDICINES AND FOODSTUFFS FROM STOCK, AND PAIS IN CASH WHAT OWNER ASKED.
(D) GUERRILLAS PROCEEDED TO SCHOOL, WHERE LOCAL ARMY DETACHMENT QUARTERED. AND USING HOSTAGES AS PROTECTION, SECURED THE BUILDING. DURING INITIAL SKIRMISH. SOLDIER MADE MOVE FOR GUN AND WAS SHOT DEAD AND ANOTHER WAS WOUNDED. NO FIGHT FROM ARMY DETACHMENT DUE FEAR LIVES HOSTAGES.
(E) GUERRILLAS LEFT SAMAIPATA FOR CUEVAS IN TRUCK ABOUT 0115 HOURS, FREEING ALL HOSTAGES BOTH PLACES, BEFORE CONTINUING DOWN ROAD TOWARDS SANTA CRUZ AND LATER DISAPPEARING.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 95
1. ACCORDING TO COMMUNIQUE, BAF CLASHED TWICE WITH GUERRILLA BAND JULY 9
EL DORADO WITH RESULT
ONE BAF SOLDIER WOUNDED AND TWO UNCONFIRMED GUERRILLA CASUALTIES BAF TO HAVE CAPTURED SUBSTANTIAL CLOTHING IN OVERRUNING QUOTE TEMPORARY GUERRILLA CAMP UNQUOT AT EL DORADO. OFFICIAL COMMUNIQUE POINTS TO INCIDENT AS PROOF GUERRILLAS OPERATING IN MORE THAN ONE BAND. DEFATT SOURCE SAHSABOIT 15 GUERRILLAS INVOLVED IN CLASHES.
2. UNCERTAINTY STILL PREVAILS OVER LOCATION CLASH.
OFFICIAL COMMUNIQUE SAYS ONLY QUOTE REGION EL DORADO UOX7953. PRESS TODAY FIXES LOCATION QUOTE EL DORADO UNQUOTE ON RIO GRANLULUMI KILOMETERS EAST PIRAY, 52 KILOMETERS NORTHEAST CABEZAS, 85 KILOMETERS SOUTH SANTA CRUZ. DEFATT SOURCES PUT CLASH AT QUOTE M. DOURADO UNQUOTE IN VALLEY RIO NANCAHUAZU, ABOUT 25 KILOMETERS NORTHWEST LANGUNILLAS, AND OVER 200 KILOMETERS SOUTH SOUTHWEST SANTA CRUZ. COMMENT: IF LOCATION IS FIRST INDICATED, QUOTE PROOF UNQUOTE OF MORE THAN ONE BAND SEEMS LESS THAN CERTAIN TO US, SINCE DURING 57 HOURS FROM EARLY FRIDAY MORNING ACTIVITIES IN SAMAIPATAIXC REGION TO SUNDAY MORNING GUERRILLAS COULD HAVE MOVED FORTY KILOMETERS FROM NEAREST POINT ON ROAD TO EL DORADO CAMP.
3. WITH REGARD SAMAIPATA INCIDNT REFTEL, DEFATT NOW CONFIRMS ESSENTIALS STORY AS REPORTED. ALL LOCAL CIVIL AUTHORITIES AND REMAINING LEADERS MILITARY ATTACHMENT WERE IN ONE PLACE (LA TRANCA) WHEN GUERRILLAS ARRIVED BECAUSE GUERRILLA, IMPERSONATING ARMY OFFICER OVER PHONE SHORTLY BEFORE ENTERING SAMAIPATA , GAVE ORDERS MOBILIZE MILITARY AND CIVILIANS IN SAMAIPATA FOR IMMEDIATE TRANSFER CUEVAS AND LIKELY ACTION AGAINST GUERRILLARZAUVYE. MILITARY DETACHMENT QUARTERED SAMAIPATA SCHOOL PROBABLY NUMBERED NO MORE THAN 15 SOLDIERS, THE REST OF NORMAL CONTINGENT ABOUT 50 BEING OUT ON PATROL.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 96
1. NATIONAL CRISIS PRECIPITATED BY GOB MINES INTERVENTION APPEARS HAVE RUN CAOURSE AND CAUNTRY IS RETURNING TO NEAR NORMAL. UNIVERSITY STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS HAVE LOST MOMENTUM IF NOT ENDED, SECONDARY STUDENTS HAVE DECLARED TRUCE AND PENDING REFERENDUM ON MIN. EDUCATION SCHOOL PLAN RERURNED TO CLASSES JULY 10, AND MAJOR MINE COMPLEX ATCATAVI—SILGO XX HAS RESUMED WORK (REPORTED 90 PERCENT JULY 10) LEAVING HANUNI AS ONLY COMIBOL MINE STILL OS STRIKE. IN FINAL ANALYSIS, URBAN OPPOSITIONIST ELEMENTS FAILED TO UNITE AND SUPPORT MINER’S CAUSE. MINERS, IN TURN, CONFORONTING CONTINUED MILITARY, CLOSURE COMMISSARIES, AND LOSS OF SALARIES. WERW COMPELLED TO CAPITULATE ESSENTIALLY
2. BARRIENTOS’ POSTURE THROUGHOUT CRISIS WAS MAJOR CONTRIBUTION FACTOR TOWARD EASING OF SITUATION. HIS PUBLIC STATEMENTS WERE UNIFORMALY FIRM, BETRAYING NO SIGN OF WEAKNESS DESPITE MULTI-FACETED THREAT HE FACED. YET HE AND GOB ACTED WITH RESTRAINT AND, EXCEPT FOR MINES INTERVENTION ITSELF, AVOIDED UNBUE REPRESSION AND UNNECESSARY CREATION OF HARTYRS. AT SAME TIME, HE INVITED PRINCIPAL PROTAGONISTS FOR STATESMENLIKE DISCUSSION OF ISSUES ON BOTH SIDES. HIS COMPOSURE WAS ALL THE MORE REMARKABLE AS HE HAS SUFFERED GRIPPE LAST TEN DAYS AND NUMBER OF TALKS WITH MINERS AND OTHERS HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN PRESIDENTIALBEDROOM.
3. ANOTHER IMPORTANT FACTOR HAS BEEN DISPLAY OF UNITY OF GOVERNMENT AND ARMED FORCES DURING CRISIS. ONCE COMMITTED TO MINES INTERVENTION (WHETHER WILLINGLY OR UNDER FROM OF DURESS). ARMED FORCE HAD NO ALTERNATIVE BUT SUPPORT GOVERNMENT. IN ABSENCE MAJOR DISSENT WITHIN ARMY, NEITHER POLITICAL PARTIES NOR POLITICAL FORCES (MINERS, STUDENTS, ETC.) HAD SUFFICIENT STRENGTH OF THEMSELVES TO MOUNT SERIOUS ANTI-GOVERNMENT EFFORT AND THEIR REALIZATION THIS ELEMENTAL BOLIVIAN FACT OF POLITICAL LIFE PROBABLY CONTRIBUTED TO MODERATE, HALF-HEARTED AND UNCOORDINATED DEMONSTRATIONS.
4. FALANGE WHICH HAS TAKEN TO STREETS UNDER SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES IN PAST, WAS NEUTRALIZED BY DILEMMA OF OWN MAKING. FEW BAYS PRIOR TO MILITARY ENTRANCE INTO MINES, NATIONAL FSB CONFERENCE ENDORSED SUPPORT OF ARMED FORCES AND LABOR UNIONS AS MAJOR PILLARS OF PARTY PROGRAM. MINE INTERVENTION DESTROYED FOR TIME BEING VIABILITY THIS CONCEPT AND, INDEED, LEFT FSB WITH OPENING IN NEITHER DIRECTION, MANR POLITICAL SERVERS CONTINUE BELIEVE EVENTS OF JUNE 24 BROUGHT ABOUT SINGULARLY BY BARRIENTOS TO DESTROY DEVELOPING FSB-ARMED ENTENTE. THIS MAY HAVE BEEN ELEMENT IN DECISION TO INTERVENE MINES BUT WE SUSPECT EXPLANATION IS CONSIDERABLY MORE COMPLEX.
5. HAVING APPARENTLY WEATHERED MINES CRISIS, PRESIDENT IS NOW DEMONSTRABLY STRONGER POSITION TO INITIATE INEVITABLE CABINET RECOMPOSITION PRIOR CONVENING CONGRESS AUGUST 6. HE APPEARS HAVE FOLLOWING THREE OPTIONS: FORMATION OF (1) CABINET WITH EMPHASIS UPON MILITARY FIGURES, (2) NATIONAL PERSONALITIES OF PROVEN REPUTATION, OR (3) LEADERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES OR FORCE. MILITARY SHOWS LITTLE INCLINATION ASSUME ADDITIONAL CIVILIAN RESPONSIBILITIES WITH SO MANY UNSOLVED PROBLEMS PENDING AND ON HORIZON. SOLUTION,AS IN CASE OF PRESENT CABINET, MAY WELL BE COMBINATION OF SECOND AND THIRD OPTIONS WITH POSSIBLY SOME INCREASE IN POLITICAL DESIGNEES. ALTHOUGH BARRIENTOS IS KNOWN TO BE SYMPATHETIC TO CABINET OF NATIONAL INITY, HE ALMOST CERTAINLY RECOBNIZES NEED FOR SOME MINISTERIALSUPPORT IN CONGRESS AND MAY HENCE FEEL COOPELLED TO NAME LEADING POLITICOS TO NUMBER OF KEY CABINET SLOTS. IF FSB IS BROUGHT INTO GOVERNMENT APOSSIBILITY BY NO MEANS DISMISSED HERE DESPITE RECENTLY WELL PUBLICIZED RUPTURE IN NEGOTIATIONS, THE RATIO OF POLITICAL TO INDEPENDENT APPOINTEMENTS IS BOUND TO INCREASE SUBSTANTIALLY. A LEADING MPC POLITICIAN BELIEVES THE PRESIDENT MUST DESIGNATE NEW CABINET IN ANY EVENT BY JULY 20 IN ORDER GIVE MINISTERS RUNNING START BEFORE SEASON OF CONGRESSIONAL INTERPELLATIONS BEGIN.
6. OVER LONG TERM, BARRIENTOS OBVIOUSLY FACES MANY SERIOIS PERHAPS INSUPERABLE PROBLEMS. NOT LEAST OF WHICH ARE DECLINING REVENUES OF COMIBOL AND CONTINUING GUERRILLA OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEAST. WHATEVER FUTURE MAY BRING, OVER SHORT TERM, HE ONCE AGAIN DEMONSTRATED ABILITY TO MANIPULATE SKILLFULLY DIVIDED POLITICAL FORCES AROUND HIM. DURING CRISIS HE WASATTACKED BY ENEMIES AND IGNORED AND UNDERCUT BY POLITICAL FRIENDS. DESPITE LONESOMENESS OF POSITION AND ENTITLEMENT TO PRIVATE JITTERS. HE HAS APPEARED PUBLICLY AS NERVELESS AND SELF-CONFIDENT, AN INVALUABLE ASSER IN BOLIVIAN POLITICS. DESPITE PREVALENCE OF PERSONALISTIC AND OPPORTUNISTIC AMBITIONS OF SMALL CONSPIRATORIAL GROUPS AND THEIR INSISTENCE THAT BARRIENTOS ADMINISTRATION IS FINISHED (IF NOT IN IMMEDIATE FUTURE AT LEAST BY END OF YEAR), HE REMAINS BOLIVIA’S FOREMOST AND MOST UNDERRATED POLITICIAN AND A FORMIDABLE FORCE FOR THE OPPOSITION RO DEAL WITH.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 97
1. ACCORDING OFFICIAL BAF COMMUNIQUE, GOB TROOPS, CONTINUING QUOTE CLEAN-UP OPERATION UNQUOTE IN IQUIRA REGION OF NANCAHUAZU VALLEY CLASHED WITH UNDERTERMINED NUMBER GUERRILLAS AT 1500 HOUR JULY 11. BAF CLAIMS TO HAVE SUFFERED NO CASUALIES AND TO HAVE RECOVERED BODY ONE GUERRILLA KILLED IN CLASH. PRESUMABLY THIS GROUP GUERRILLAS IS SMALL IN SIZE, PROBABLY LEFT TO GUARD SUPPLY DEPOTS IN NA CAHUAZU AREA WHILE MAJOR FORCE MOVED NORTHWARD.
2. DEFATT REPORTS NO FIREFIGHT TOOK PLACE AND TOTAL INCIDENT JULY 11 CONSISTED OF BAF FINDING BODY ONE GUERRILLA, PROBABLY KILLED JULY 9 ACTION.
3. LOCATION GUERRILLA INCIDENT JULY 9 HAS NOT BEEN CLARIFIED BY HOGH COMMAND AND PRESS AS QUOTE M. DORADO UNQUOTE (REFTEL)
DOCUMENT NUMBER 98
1. AP DISPATCH DATELINED WASHINGTON APPEARING JULY 12 FRONT PAGE BOTH LA PAZ MORNING DALIES SOUNDS ALARM IN OPENING PARAGRAPH REAGARDING U.S. ASSESSMENT OF BOLIVIAN SITUATION, IMPLYING USG BELIEVES SITUATION MAY HAVE GOTTEN OUT OF HAND.
2. ARTICLE QUOTES FROM RECENTLY RELEASED CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY (MAY 4) OF AMBASSADOS HENDERSON AS FOLLOWS: QUOTE I WOULD JUDGE FROM EVIDENCE AVAIBLE TO US THAT THE GUERRILLA ACTIVITY IS IN ITS FIRST STAGE, AND HAS NOT YET TAKEN THE FORM OF A DIRECT AND VIOLENT ATTACK AGAINST THE GOVERNEMENT… THE GUERRILLAS ARE A DETERMINED NUCLEUS THAT IS NOT GOING TO BE ERRADICATED EASILY. IT MAY TAKE A LONG TIME. DURING THIS PERIOD, NEEDED RESOURCES WILL NECESSARILY BE DIVERTED FROM OTHER PURPOSES AND THIS, IN MY JUDGMENT, IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THREAT OVER THE LONG TERM…(IN SUMMARY), IF THIS ANALYSIS IS CORRECT, IT PLACES IN QUESTION THE CAPACITY OF THE BOLIVIAN GOVERNMENT TO CONFRONT A THREAT THAT DIFERNT FROM ANY PREVIOUS ONE UNQUOTE.
3. JUNE 26 U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT QUOTED AS CONCLUDING QUOTE WHILE GUERRILLAS CONTINUE OPERATING, THE COUNTRY FACES THE DANGER OF SEEING UNLOOSED ANOTHER MILITARY TAKEOVER, AN UNCONTROLLED INFLATION AND EVEN CIVIL WAR UNQUOTE. IN ADDITION, SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES CITED AS STATING QUOTE MERE CONTINUE EXISTENCE MEANS THE GUERRILLAS ARE WINNING MILITARILY UNQUOTE.
4. COMMENT: WE BELIEVE REPORTER’S COLCLUSION CITED PARA ONE IS EXAGGERATED AND DOES NOT SUMMARIZE WELL STATEMENTS ELSEWHERE IN ARTICLE. WHILE WE CANNOT FORESEE MAGNITUDE REACTION HERE. ARTICLE MAY STIMULATE FURTHER UNREASONABLE REQUESTS MILITARY AND OTHER TYPES OF ASSISTANCE.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 99
SUBJECT: Is “Che” Guevara in Bolivia?
Rumors that “Che” Guevara is, or has been in Bolivia as the leader of the guerrillas have become increasingly prevalent since Guevara was reportedly sighted on June 27 while traveling between Ñancahuazú and the Rio Grande river. Guevara was supposedly “attended” by “Coco” Peredo, a Bolivian guerrilla leader and about 50 guerrillas.
On June 30, Commander of the Armed Forces Alfredo Ovando Candia charged that Guevara is both the head of the guerrillas and leader of the subversive elements in the mining area. Ovando gave Guevara’s supposed presence as the reason for the Army’s failure to defeat the guerrillas and also to excuse their bloody entry into Siglo XX and Catavi.
A group of guerrillas, reportedly consisting of between 30 and 100 men, entered the town of Samaipata on July 6 in a successful search for food and medicine. A number of local leaders, including the Head of the DIC, were captured, and when released reported that the leader of the guerrillas was definitely “Che” Guevara. Also reportedly recognized werw Roberto and Guido Peredo. Guido Peredo was “confirmed” dead by the Bolivian authorities as recently as June 24.
Both Regis Debray and his fellow captive Carlos Alberto Bustos “confirmed” Guevara’s presence in Bolivia and both claimed to have interviewed Guevara while they werw the guerrillas. Debray reported that Guevara stated he came to Bolivia in November, 1966, to organize a “focal point for the liberation of Latin America.” Bustos did Debray no good when he claimed that Debray, Guevara and an unidentified Bolivian collaborated in the political indoctrination of guerrilla forces.
Comment: Although there have been several reports that “Che” Guevara is in Bolivia, the “reporters” in each case have been suspect. The June 27 sighting was made by workers whose knowledge of Guevara can be no more than questionable. While Ovando claimed to be sure that Guevara is in Bolivia he seams to have no more proof than the statements of Debray and Bustos and the bulk of his statement was aimed at using Guevara as a “red herring” to excuse the poor performance of his forces against the guerrillas and to build a case for subversive foreign intervention which might justify the unpopular entry of troops into the mines. The captured town leaders on Samaipata were in the embarrassing position of trying to explain the ease with which the guerrillas entered the town, and the almost complete lack of local resistance. Their testimony may have been nothing more than support for the now official government position that Guevara is indeed in Bolivia and is the cause of many of their problems. The government is reportedly pressuring “witnesses” to claim they have seen Guevara with the guerrillas.
Debray and Bustos, the two men who were with the guerrillas and also sufficiently familiar with Communist leaders to be able to recognize Guevara, are subject to all the obvious pressures which may be brought against captives charged with crimes which may lead to thirty year prison terms, or worse. Both are admitted sympathizers with the guerrilla movement (Bustos reportedly is a functionary of the separatist Castro branch of the Argentine communist Party,) and have the added motivation that the use of Guevara’s name and the attached mystic may strengthen the guerrillas rather than the Army. If this is the final result of the Guevara rumors, Debray and Bustos will have pleased the government and thereby reduced the considerable pressures on themselves, while simultaneously serving their own cause. Then, too, Bustos may see his position as singularly vulnerable and wish to cooperate in any way possible with the Bolivian military. Alone among the foreign prisioners, his government has taken no interest in his welfare.
The argument against Guevara’s presence in Bolivia is basically that those who claim to have seen him are neither disinterested observers, nor especially competent. Yet, the thesis is not wholly implausible and some of those say they have seen Guevara may be correct and telling the truth. Whatever the case, the guerrillas are obviously led by an experienced man of professional caliber. While this leader may not be Guevara, he is certainly someone who has studied and absorbed his insurgency doctrine and techniques.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 100
1. DURING COURSE COURTESY VISIT ON GURGEL VALENTE, ASSISTANT SYG FOR LA AFFAIRS. DCM AND EMBOFFICER WERE TOLD BRAZ FONOFF HAS EXCHANGED VIEWS ON BOLIVIAN SITUATION WITH ARGENTINA, PARAGUAY, CHILE AND PERU. VALENTE SAID: (A) ARGENTINA IS COUNTRY MOST CONCERNED OVER SECURITY ASPECTS OF SITUATION WHILE CHILE, PARAGUAY AND PERU APPEAR MORE APPREHENSIVE OVER STEPS BEING TAKEN TO BUILDUP AND STRENGTHEN BOLIVIAN ARMY: (B) INTERNAL SITUATION BOLIVIA RESULTING FROM POLITICAL PICTURE, MINER AND STUDENT DISTURBANCES AS WELL AS GUERRILLA ACTIVITY CREATING UNSTABLE CONDITION LEADING TO PROBABLE MILITARY TAKEOVER: (C) BRAZIL COLLABORATING WITH BOLIVIA IN ATTEMPT PREVENT ASSISTANCE TO GUERRILLAS OVER BORDER. AT REQUEST OF BOLIVIA, BRAZIL HAS REMOVED SENATOR CASTRO FROM VICINITY OF BORDER.
2. COMMENT: VALENTE GAVE IMPRESSION THAT MILITARY TAKEOVER WOULD NOT BE UNDULY DISTURBING FROM BRAZILIAN POITN OF VIEW:
DOCUMENT NUMBER 101
1. Washington assessment current guerrilla situation in Bolivia fully in accord with that of Embassy. No U.S. officials here have made any statements, public or private, which would lead to pessimistic conclusions carried recent AP, U.S. News, or NY Times stories on Bolivia. We hold background briefing for press wire services this afternoon: assessment contained La Paz 85 will be very useful for this purpose.
2. We understand from telecom that possibility of negative reactions to press stories and garbling of Ambassador’s statements on guerrillas has abated with further press interview by Barrientos in which he noted reporters had confused own assumptions with Ambassador’s testimony in writing stories. Nonetheless you may wish at your discretion to put out statement categorically disassociating USG, Embassy, and Ambassador Henderson from exaggerated news reports. We are pouching Selden Sub-committee report, which you may wish to use un clarifying precisely what Ambassedor said in testimony.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 102
1. IN VIEW GUERRILLA DEVELOPMENTS, COUNTRY TEAM IS RESTUDYING BOLIVIAN ARMY CAPABILITIES AND MEASURES U. S. SHOULD TAKE TO MEET REQUIREMENT OF SITUATION. WE CONTINUE BE HAMPERED BY INABILITY OBSERVE OPERATIONAL ZONE ACTIVITY FIRST HAND; HOWEVER, REPORTS FROM SANTA CRAZ AND NON-GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL VISITING ARE DISQUIETING. AMONG DISCOURAGING EVIDENCE ARE (1) FREEDOM WITH WHICH SMALL GUERRILLA FORECES MOVE CONTRYSIDE. INCLUDING BRIEF UNOPPOSED OCCUPATION OF GARRISONED TOWN OF AMAIPATA ON KEY SANTA CRUZ-COCHABAMBA HIGHWAY LAST WEEK. (2) REPORTED LACK OF AGGRESSIVENESS. SLOW REACTION TIME, AND LOW MORALE AMONG BOLIVIAN ARMY UNITS (NOT INCLUDING 2ND RANGERS), (3) REPORTED ON-SITE TRAINING AT GUTIERREZ CONSISTING LARGELY OF CLOSE ORDER DRILL WITH NO MEANINGFUL TRAINING FOR COIN OPERATIONS OBSERVED. (4) AURA OF PESSIMISM PERVADING ARMED FORCES HOGH COMMAND LA PAZ: THEY CONTINUE SEEK QUOTE MIRACULOUS SOLUTION UNQUOTE, EMPHASIZING NEED FOR AUTOMATIC WEAPONS TO RAISE SOLDIERS’ MORALE.
2. AS DEPARTMENT AWARE, WE HAVE RESISTED MIRACULOUS SOLUTION AND WILL CONTINUE DOING POINTING OUT THAT AUTOMATIC WEAPONS IN HANDS OF TROOPS WITHOUT ADEQUATE TRAINING AND MOTIVATION ARE ONLY LIKELY TO END UP IN ARSENAL OF GUERRILLA FORCE. AT SAME TIME, WE RECOGNIZE MORAL PROBLEM AMONG TROOPS HAVING ONLY SLOW FIRE WEAPON USE AGAINST AUTOMATIC WEAPONRY OPPOSITION AND ATTRIBUTE PART OF ARMY’S CAUTICN AND LACK OF INITIATIVE TO THIS CAUSE THE SAD FACT IS THAT GUERRILLA FORCE, WHILE APPARENTLY NOT APPRECIABLY THAN IT WAS THREE MONTHS AGO. HAS FOR ALL PRATICAL PRUPOSES RELATIVE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT WITHIN WESTERN AND SOUTHERN PROVINCES OF SANTA CRUZ.
3. WE ARE SUGGESTING THAT PRESENT SITUATION ROSES IMMEDIATE AND GRAVE THREAT TO WHOLE OF SOUTHEAST OR TO BARRIENTOS GOVERNMENT. INDEED. IN LATER INSTANCE. PRESIDENT’S FIRM HANDLING OF MINING AND STUDENT CRISES APPEAR HAVE STRENGTHENED REGIME’S SHORT TERM PROSPECTS MORE THAN SAMAPAITA AND OTHER RECENT GUERRILLA INCIDENTS HAVE WEAKENED IT. OUR CONCERN CONTINUES BE INDIRECT AND LONG TERM OF PROLONGED GUERRILLA ACTIVITY IN DESTABILIZING FOUNDATIONS OF CONTITUTIONAL REGIME. WHILE A DRAMATIC AND IMMEDIATE MILITARY SOLUTION IS UNREALISTIC, WE SEEK FORMULA FOR ASSISTING GOB BRING ABOUT EFFECTIVE TERMINATION GUERRILLA PROBLEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
4. THE COUNTRY TEAM CONSIDERS 2ND RANGER BATTALION, THOUGH ON PANACEA. BEST APPROACH TOWARD EVENTUAL RESOLUTION GUERRILLA PROBLEM AND GOD FOUNDATION TO BUILD ON. HOWEVER, PERSONNEL OF 2ND RANGERS ARE INSUFFICIENT TO DO JOB THEM SELVES AND WHILE RANGERS ARE GETTING QUALITY INSTRUCTION FROM MTT, AND ARE RESPONDING VERY WELL. THERE WILL BE UNAVOIDABLE SLIPPAGE AND EFFECT IVENESS WHEN SEPARATED FROM U. S. INSTRUCTIORS AND GO INTO ACTION ON THEIR OWN.
5. WE CONSIDER IT HIGHLY DESIRABLE IF NOT ABSOLUTELY AASSENTIAL THAT THEIR FIREPOWER BE INCREASED AND THAT MUT BE AUTHORIZED REMAIN LA ESPERANZA AT END OF PRESENT CYCLE TO RESTRAIN AND PARTIALLY RE-ARM OTHER ARMY UNITS. BEGINNING SEPTAQBER. WITH DEPARTURE 2ND RANGERS, WE PROPOSE ROTATING NINE LINE COMPANIES NOW IN 4TH AND 8TH DEIVISION AREAS THROUGH LA ESPERANZA FOR ONE MONTH TRAINING PERIOD CONSISTING OF COMPANY AND SQUAD TACTICS AND OF USE (BY SQUAD) OF FOUR M-2 CARBINES OR M-3 QUOTE GREASEGUNS UNQUOTE. FOUR M-1 RIFLES AND ONE BAR (BARS’ ALREADY IN COUNTRY). THESE AUTOMATIC WEAPONS WOULD BE PROVIDED IMMEDIATELY OUT STF U.S. STOCKS ON SPECIAL GRANT BASIS. FIVE OF NINE COMPANIES ARE MAP EQUIPPED. INHERENT IN THIS PROPOSAL IS REDISTRIBUTION TO NON-MAP COMPANIES OF FOUR FIFTHS MAP M-1’S THUS BECOMING EXCESS VICE MAUSERS. ACCORDING TO OUR ESTIMATE, ADDITIONAL TRAINING. DONATION TO BOLIVIAN ARMY OF APPROXIMATELY 450 ,-2 OR M-3 WEAPONS AND TRAINING AMMO WILL COST APPROXIMATELY $ 130,000 (M-3) TO $ 144,000 (M-2). IF PROGRAM APPROVED NOW, SUBRECT TO CONDITIONS CITED BELOW, 2ND RANGERS CAN BE SIMILARY EQUIPPED DURING ADVANCED TRAINING PERIOD AND ARRANGEMENTS MADE RO MOVE IN FIRST LINE COMPANIES IMMEDIATELY AFTER RANGERS DEPART. IF SUFFICIENT M-2’S OR M-3 ALSO EXIST TO EQUIP 2NBARAGERS, COST INCREASES BY $ 35,000 (M-3) TO $ 40,000 (M-2) FOR ADDITIONAL 150 WEAPONS EXTRA AMMO AND RELATED EQUIPMENT (WEB HALTER, MAGAZINE CLIP POUCHES, ETC.)
6. OUR PROPOSAL FOR FURNISHING ON GRANT BASIS SUFFICIENT M-2 OR M-3 WEAPONS IS BASED ON CAREFUL COUNTRY TEAM ESTIMATION APART FROM ENORMOUS FAVORABLE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT WHICH THEIR INTRODICTION WILL HAVE THROUGHOUT BOLIVIAN MILITARY, THERE IS STRONG MILITERY JUSTIFICATION FOR THEIR EMPLOYMENT IN GUERRILLA AREA. COMBAT TERRAIN IS EXTRAOORDINARILY DIFFICULT, ODVERED WITH DENSE ALMOST IMPENETRABLE DRY THRONY UNDERBRUSH, WHERE HOSTILE CONTACT IS NECESSARILY AT SHORT RANGE AND WHERE SUDDEN AND HEAVY FIRE SUPERIORITY SPELLS LARGE PART OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESS AND FAILURE. WE PROPOSE GRANT AID RATHER THAN CASH SALES BECAUSE GOB LACKS RESOURCES AND BECAUSE WE WISH MAINTAIN CONTROL SO AS PROVIDE ACCOMPANYING AND AVERT MISUSE AND ABANDONMENT AUTOMATIC WEAPONS IN SALES. WHILE WE UNDERSTAND NUMBER OF M-2’S BROUGHT INTO BOLIVIA TO EQUIP PREREVOLUTIONARY POLICE FORCE, WE ARE SATISFIED AFTER PRUSTRATING EFFORTS ATTEMPT RETRIEVE AND ASSURANCES BY GOB THAT THEY DISAPPEARED IN 1964 REVOLUTION AND ARE NOT RECOVERABLE.
7. AS CONDITIONS PROVISION HIGHLY PRIZED AUTOMATIC WEAPONS AND TRAINING (WHICH MAYWELL BE MORE IMPORTANT OF TWO FACTORS), WE PROPOSE REQUIRING PRIOR BAF PERFORMANCE IN FOLLOWING AREAS:
(A) ESTABILISHMENT OF JOC IN SANTA CRUZ TO ORDORDINATE BAF REGIONAL COIN EFFORT.
(B) OFFICIAL AND PUBLIC GOB COMMITMENT TO TWO YEAR TOUR FOR 2ND RANGERS AND OTHER BENEFICIARES OF SPACIAL TRAUNING. IN CASE OF 2ND RANGERS, EM’S STILL UNIFORMED OF THEIR TWO YEAR COMMITMENT. IF NOTADVISED AT PSYCHOLOGICAL PEAK OF TRAINING, SERIOUS MORALE PROBLEM MAY SUBSEQUENTLY DEVELOP.
(C) ON RECEIPT APPROVAL. WE WOULD ADVISE BOLIVIANS THAT AUTOMATIC WEAPONS AND TRAINING WILL BE MADE AVAIBLE TO ADDITIONAL LINE COMPANIES ONLY AS LONG 2ND RANGERS ARE COMMITTED AS A UNIT, INTEGRITY IS PRESERVED. AND BATTALATION IS ACCORDED ADEQUATE LOGISTICAL SUPPORT.
8. OUR EXPERIENCE SUGGEST THAT BEST LEVERAGE WE HAVE TP BRING ABOUT ESSENTIAL REFORMS IS THREAT TO WITHHOLD ON-GOING ASSISTANCE SPECIFICALLY AIMED AT INSURGENCY PROBLEM. IN VIEW OF GOB OBSESSION WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS. IT MAY BE DOUBLY EFFECTIVE IN THIS INSTANCE. WE ALSO PROPOSE USE RATIONING OUT OF OPERATIONAL AMMUNITION IN SUPPORT OF ABOVE OBJECTIVES AS WELL AS LONG OVERDUE REFORMS IN BAF ORGANIZATION (SEE CASP. PART III, INTERNAL SECURITY, SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES. ARMED FORCES EFFECTIVENESS AND COUNTERINSURGENCY, REVISION OF JULY 1, 1967).
9. COUNTRY TEAM IS CONVINCED THAT THIS IS BEST PERHAPS ONLY PROGRAM WHICH CAN INDUCE TIMELY, POSITIVE AND RESPONSIVE BAF MOVEMENT AGAINST GUERRILLA THREAT. IT IS RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE YET POTENTIALLY PRODUCIVE OF 1,500 RELATIVELY BETTER ARMED AND TRAINED SOLDIERS. WE BELIEVE PRESENT SITUATION CONTAINS NUMBER OF SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE AND IS SUFFICIENTLY PRESSING TO MERIT THE REQUEST FOR ESCEPTIONS IN POLICY, PARTICULARY REGARDING SUPPLYING ARMS TO NON-MAP UNITS, THAT WE APPERCIATE ARE INHERENT IN THIS PROPOSAL. IN VIEW LIMITED TIME FRAME, WE WOULD APPRECIATE EARLIEST INDICATION DEPARTMENTS OF STATE AND DEFENSE VIEWS. WE UNDERSTAND BOTH WEAPONS AND AMMO ARE IN STOCK.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 103
SUBJECT: GUERRILLA SITUATION
1. DEFATT REPORTS BAF BELIEVE LOCATION GUERRILLA BAND RESPONSIBLE INCIDENT SAMAIPATA 15 TO 20 KILOMETERS SOUTHEAST SAMAIPATA, IN HILLS. BAF QTE WATCHING UNQTE THE SITUATION, NOT CURRENTLY PLANNING AGGRESSIVE MOVE.
2. OPERATION CYNTHIA, THE QTE CLEAN-UP UNQUOTE OF THE NANCAHUAZU VALLEY CONTINUES, WITH NO REPORTS GUERRILLA SIGHTINGS LAST THREE DAYS.
3. BAF DISPATCHED LAST FORTY EIGHT HOURS TOTAL 150-200 TROOPS FROM GARRISONS TARIJA AND POTOST TO INVESTIGATE UNCONFIRMED REPORT TWO INWARKED PLANES LANDING IN SOUTHERN CHUQUISACA AREA, DISEMBARKING QTE FORTY FOREIGNERS UNQUOTE. SMALL UNITS DISPATCHED YEASTERDAY INVESTIGATE PRESUMED “GUERRILLA INCIDENT” JULY 10 LA BELGICA. ADJACENT WARNES, 40 KILOMETERS NORTHSANTA CRUZ.
4. BARRIENTOS MADE LIGHTNING INSPECTION TRIP CAMIRI YESTERDAY, TAKING MEDICINES AND AMMUNITION WITH HIM TO TROOPS.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 104
Subject: Persistent Guerrilla Movement Poses Growing Problem for Bolivia and its Neighbords.
A guerrilla movement discovered in Bolivia in March 1967 is contributing significantly to the instability quotient in that country. Moreover, the insurgency has aroused increasing concern among Bolivia’s neighbors. This paper discusses the nature and scope of the insurgency and assesses its prospects.
The guerrilla movement: its genesis, nature, and habitat. In March 1967, the Bolivian Army stumbled upon a small (estimated 60-member) guerrilla band in southern Bolivia. The force is apparently composed mainly of Bolivians, some of whom have been trained in Cuba; it almost certainly also includes a few foreigners, possibly Cubans, Argentines and Peruvians. The movement has links with Havana, which has given it strong propaganda support and probably outfitted in initially. Whether the decision to launch the insurgency was made by Fidel Castro in keeping with his grandiose scheme to make the Andes “the Sierra Maestra of South America” or by Bolivian extremists, it clearly had Havana’s full concurrence. The of foreign material support and the methods by which it is furnished are uncertain. The guerrillas are well-armed with automatic weapons, communications equipment, and other essentials, though they are now short of food and medicines; unconfirmed reports say they serviced by light aircraft, possibly operating out of Peru or Brazil. The guerrillas have as yet won little support in Bolivia but they enjoy the evident sympathy of leftist leaders of the Bolivian tin miners, of some students, and of far left movements.
The guerrillas are active in a region in southern Bolivia in and around a ranger of Andes, with altitudes varying from 1,000 to 9,000 feet. Sharp north-south ridges, heavy vegetation (which provides heavy, year-round concealment and cover), and meandering streams make cross-country movement extremely difficult. The center of the zone is roughly miles west of the Paraguayan border and a similar distance from the Argentine frontier. Health hazards and disease are prevalent; Bolivians from the high-rainging altiplano apparently find it difficult to adjust to the zone. Despite the physical rigors of this rugged terrain, it seems likely that the guerrillas will be able to survive its natural hazards barring severe morale problems or insuperable logistics difficulties.
Guerrillas outmaneuver Bolivian military. The initial weeks of the guerrilla insurgency cast an unflattering light in the Bolivian armed forces. Planning equipment, operations, and troop performance left much to be desired. The military was unable to maintain contact with the guerrillas—much less defeat them—and in occasional encounters came off second best. Elements of some MAP-supported units were transferred to the guerrilla zone in May, and these have given a better account of themselves than the units initially engaged. A 600-man Ranger Battalion now being trained with US assistance will be available in late September; this unit should greatly strengthen the government’s counterinsurgent effort. However, the difficult terrain, the apparently high level of skill and training of the guerrillas, and the low level of efficiency of the Bolivian armed forces are factors which militate against any optimistic assessment of the government’s capabilities to eliminate the guerrilla movement within the near future.
Guerrilla outbreak adds pressure cooker atmosphere of Bolivian politics. Bolivian political movements are highly fragmented and fractionalized. The government-supporting Revolutionary Bolivian Front (FRB) is weak, and its various sectors would be quick to scent and react opportunistically to decay in government authority. The elements of the political opposition, including the divided communist parties, are
equally on the alert for opportunities to improve their position as a result of the guerrilla outbreak. Under “normal” conditions, the Bolivian opposition affers little threat to President Barrientos or the government. However, should the government adopt harshly repressive measures against disruptive sectors such as the miners, the students, or other groups, the disparate opposition elements might make common against the government, Even united opposition, however, would likely have little weight against Barrientos so long as the government retains support of the military and peasants.
The overall impact of the guerrilla movement thus far has been to add to the heat and pressure of Bolivia’s political brew. The guerrilla band in its present strength poses significant military threat to the government. The failure of the government, however, to put down the guerrilla insurgency—or even make a very good showing against it—unquestionably weakens government authority and encourages opposition groups to step up their efforts to improve their own position at the expense of the government.
Bolivia’s neighbords increasingly nervous. Governments of neighboring countries were initially inclined to minimize the threat posed by the Bolivian guerrillas. As the insurgency persisted, however, and the inadequacy of counterinsurgent efforts became apparent, there were increasing indications of concern on the part of Bolivia’s neighbors, particularly Argentina and to somewhat degree, Brazil and Peru. None of Bolivia’s neighbors seems to see the insurgency as an military threat to the Bolivian Government or a significant threat to the security of its own frontiers. What the neighbors fear is that a persistent guerrilla movement may so erode Bolivian Government authority as to lead to an eventual breakdown of that authority and the emergence, somehow, of radical leftist regime, i.e., “another Cuba” on their frontiers. If such a breakdown seemed imminent, Argentina and Brazil might decide to intervene in Bolivia, possibly by stimulating the Bolivian Government to request their assistance. On balance, we believe Paraguay and Peru might support or acquiesce in such action. Chile would be likely to oppose intervention and to express in international forums.
If Bolivia requested Organization of American States (OAS) assistance against the guerrilla movement, and presented clear evidence of outside support of the movement, a sizable majority of OAS members would probably approve the rendering of assistance—e.g., providing arms and supplies—by states willing and able to do so, but probably would not go so far as to sanction assistance in the form armed forces.
The outlook for the Bolivian guerrilla movement. The evidence supports the following tentative conclusions.
1) The prime movers of the Bolivian insurgency have had sufficient success—surviving, increasing tensions in Bolivia, alarming neighboring countries, attracting world attention—to encourage them to maintain the guerrilla movement on an active footing.
2) The guerrilla movement will survive and will substantially contribute to internal tension and disoreder in Bolivia for the immediate future, despite future, despite the best efforts of the Bolivian armed forces. The Ranger Battalion, when training is completed in September, will strengthen the counterinsurgent effort.
3) The persistent guerrilla movement, if accompanied by recurring crises such as that involving the tin miners, may eventually so frustrate the Bolivian military as to undermine its support for President Barrientos and lead to his ouster.
4) Under certain circumstances, Argentina, accompanied or supported by Brazil, might decide to intervene, possibly on the basis of a request for assistance from the Bolivian Government. The likely trigger for such action would be Argentina’s assumption—not necessarily based on sound analysis—that the guerrilla movement and other factors of instability in Bolivia were creating a chaotic situation in which a radical leftist regime might seize power.
5) Is it doubtful that Argentine, Brazilian, or other outside forces could quickly and efficiently mop up the guerrillas. The presence of foreign troops would add to internal stresses in Bolivia.
6) Intervention, no matter what the circumstances, would lead to controversy in the OAS. However, if Bolivia request assistance from the OAS, a majority of member states would probably support a favorable response—e.g., provision of arms and supplies those governments who wished to assist Bolivia, assuming that there was clear evidence of outside support for the guerrillas and, the response did not include the sending of armed forces.
7) The next few weeks and months are likely to prove a crucial test of the Barrientos administration’s ability to cope with the guerrilla movement and other major internal problems.
The US role. The enjoys substantial, but not unlimited, influence and leverage in the Bolivian situation. US assistance (training and equipment) in the long run should enable the Bolivian armed forces to cope with the insurgency, if the authority of the Bolivian Government does not irretrievably degenerate, The US can exercise considerable—though not necessarily decisive—influence over the decisions which the Argentine and Brazilian Governments may take respect to Bolivia. However, should the US seek to dissuade those governments from armed action which they consider necessary for their own security, they would undoubtedly expect the US to undertake alternative means of dealing with the Bolivian problem in a fashion which would satisfy their security requirements. Or, if the Bolivian Government should request assistance from the OAS, the US opposition on the request in the regional organization would likely be decisive.
I. THE GUERRILLA MOVIMENT
The reported discovery in March 1967 of a guerrilla band in southern Bolivia was received with substantial skepticism by observers both inside and outside the country. Several factors – the unreliability if the Bolivian government’s intelligence system, prevalence of bandits in the traditionally wild and lawless frontier area where the guerrillas were said to be, the government’s propensity for distracting public attention from its more pressing internal problems – contributed to this skepticism. Since March, however, the fact of the guerrillas’ existence has been confirmed; moreover there are convincing of Cuban influence and involvement in insurgency. There is increasing evidence of the guerrillas’ ability to survive the government’s thus far ineffective and fumbling counterinsurgency campaign.
Origin and composition. The existence of foreign support for or links with the Bolivian guerrillas is predicated primarily upon the statements of captured guerrillas or persons who have assisted them, and on printed material and equipment of Cuban origin found in a former guerrilla camp. Another conspicuous indication of outside involvement was the capture in the zone of Jules Regis Debray, a young French revolutionary theoretician closely associated with Fidel Castro during the past two years. Captured guerrillas allege the presence of foreigners among the Bolivian insurgents, including Cubans, Peruvians, and Argentines.
The available evidence supports the following tentative conclusions with respect to the guerrillas’ origin and composition:
1) The movement consists of some 60 guerrillas. Possibly some new recruits are in training.
2) There are a few foreigners (Cubans, Peruvians, Argentines) with the band.
3) The guerrillas are supplied with modern automatic weapons and essential such as essentials such as medicines (the group includes a doctor). There are reports that they have reasonably good communications facilities for operational use in the zone as well as contact with Cuba. Some reports say the guerrillas have or are serviced by light aircraft, but recent foraging attack on a village by the guerrillas indicates that stocks of food and other necessities may be low.
4) Several of the guerrillas have been tentatively identified as Bolivians who received training in Cuba.
5) The guerrilla movement has Cuban support – certainly moral and probably material. Havana radio has strongly backed the movement. The determination to launch the insurgency may have originated with the Castro regime, in keeping with Castro’s grandiose hope to make the Andes the !Sierra Maestra of South America”, or it may have originated with Bolivian extremists who then sought and obtained Castro’s enthusiastic support.
6) Communist party leaders and eaptured guerrillas have stated that the discovery of guerrillas was accidental, and that the movement’s leaders planned further training and organizational work before undertaking armed action, this is probably true.
Internal support. Thus far the guerrilla movement has elicited little support within Bolivia. Some leaders and individuals within the pro-Moscow Bolivian Communist Party (PCB/S) were apparently involved in the initial planning for the insurgency. The First Secretary of the PCB/S was reportedly in Havana in November 1966 to discuss plans for guerrilla warfare. A majority of guerrillas may be present or former members of PCB/S, and some individual members of Party are working directly in liaison with the guerrillas. However, the rank and file of PCB/S members as well as other communist groups – Trotskyites or Peking-oriented – seem to have been taken by surprise be the insurgency and have only recently begun to make tentative gestures (e.g. “classroom training” in guerrilla warfare) of material support.
Extreme leftist leaders of Bolivia’s tin miners have tried hard to establish ties between the miners and the guerrillas but without much sign of success thus far, although a few unemployed miners have reportedly been recruited to join the guerrillas. Some university and high school students undoubtedly sympathize with the guerrillas but have not demonstrated support to the same extent they have for the tin miners, with whom the students have a “pact”. There are no indications that Bolivia’s political parties of the noncommunist left are greatly interested in the guerrilla movement, other than as a source of possible opportunities to improve their own positions.
The crucial question of peasant support for the guerrillas in the zone of operations cannot be answered at present because of the lack of information.
Foreign support. The likelihood of Cuban support for and possible material involvement in the Bolivian insurgency has been noted above. The presence of Jules R-gis Debray in the guerrilla zone ans Debray’s association with Castro points to Cuban involvement in the guerrilla movement. An even stronger indication would be confirmation, as yet not forthcoming, of the recurring rumor that “Che” Guevara is alive and in Bolivia, and that there are Cuban advisors with guerrillas.
The extent of Cuban or other foreign support and the means by which is extended is uncertain. Movements of the extreme left in neighboring oountries have expressed moral and promised material assistance, but a Chilean Communist who recently commented on the Bolivian insurgency gave no indication that the Chilean extreme left plans in fact to provide any material support. It would be hard to introduce material into Chile for this purpose, hard to move it past Chilean security forces (which are anyway various reasons, prone to scrutinize carefully Bolivian-bound shipments through Chile), and risky to move it across Bolivia to the guerrilla zone. A Bolivian Communist emissary reportedly recently requested financial aid for the insurgency from the Argentine Communist Party.
A few reports hint at supply routes to the guerrillas via Peru or Brazil, presumably by air from points within one or both of these countries. The prevalence of smuggling activities in most South American countries including particularly Bolivia and Paraguay would support a conclusion that the introduction of material from Cuba or another country into one more of Bolivia’s neighbors and thence to the approximate area of guerrilla activity would not prove insuperably difficult. However, the process might be slow.
The guerrilla zone. The area in southern Bolivia in which the guerrillas have been active is situated in and around the north-south Andes chain know as the Cordillera de Aguaragüe; incidents or sightings have occurred within a radius of about 100-150 miles around the town of Camiri and possibly include a crossing of the Rio Grande some 70 miles north of Camiri. The town of Camiri is associated with a 1964 petroleum discovery, the Tarerends field to the south of the town. Elevations within the range from 1000 to 9000 feet above sea level. Deeply dissected north-south ridges and meandering, braided streams almost rule out cross-country movement in this sector of the Andes. Dense forest in much of the area precludes vehicular movement and provides cover and concealment throughout the year. The town of Camiri lies some 100 miles north of the Argentine border and about the same distance from Paraguay. The region has few towns or settlements.
There have been reported sightings of guerrillas in other areas, both north and south of Camari, (they have seemingly split into two groups, at least temporarily), and there are some indications that the guerrillas hope to establish other “fronts”. There is, however, no evidence that they have begun operations in new areas or that, in their present strength, they can do so in the near future.
Can the guerrillas survive? The threat to the guerrilla movement from the Bolivians armed forces is discussed below, but the proposition may be advanced here that such threat is likely to remain less than critical for some time. The obstacles wich natural hazards present to the guerrillas’ welfare and expansion are presently more formidable. The guerrilla’ zone of operation is well-chosen in that they would probably be able to evade and harass government forces for an indefinite period. At the same time, the guerrilla movement is effectively isolated from the most populous areas of Bolivia if it chooses or is forced to remain in the present zone, and the difficulties of recruitment, resupply, and communication are substantial. Some essential supplies – e. g. arms – must be brought in from outside or captured from government forces. A major disadvantage, from the guerrilla standpoint, is the prevalence of health hazards and disease in that area.
The guerrillas can probably survive the physical rigors of the terrain and climate in their present zone of operations but only if 10 morale remains high, 2) sickness remains within manageable limits, and 3) logistics and personnel replacement or reinforcement problems are solved.
II. THE COUNTERNSURGENCY EFFORT
The first few weeks of the guerrilla insurgency shed a glaring light on the deficiencies of Bolivian armed forces. Intelligence was extremely poor and some field commanders showed a tendency to eliminate possible sources of information. Officers as well as the raw and virtually untrained troops after their initial blooding were not confident of their ability to overcome an enemy seemed better trained and equipped than themselves and who had the advantage of surprise in rugged terrain. As a result, military units to exaggerate or distort reports of engagements in order to save face. Planning was obviously haphazard, even in such vital respects as provisions for the care of the wounded. Communications equipment was in poor repair or nonexistent. In La Paz, as in the field, military and government “spokemen” spoke with many voices, most of them raised. A number of cases of “mistaken identity” (i.e. innocent peasants of guerrillas) and indications that the peasants were mistreated were reported and probably more occurred. Unable to retain contact with the guerrillas or plot out movements with assurance, the armed forces nevertheless called air strikes a predictable paucity of results.
In order to make better showing against the guerrillas, the Bolivian command in May moved elements of several MAP- support united to the guerrilla zone. More adequately trained and equipped than the units which initially faced the guerrillas, these units are better able to move about in the area and engage in skirmishes without disastrous results to themselves. The MAP-supported united units are limited in number and size, however, and cannot all be diverted to fighting guerrillas because of the recurring tendion in Bolivia’s mining area, the capital, and other population centers.
Perhaps more significant than the armed forces’ military ineptitude and inefficiency is their apparent failure to adopt essential safeguards against alienation of the local population. The increasing frustration of the Bolivian military, if it fails to stamp out the guerrillas, as seems likely in the short term, may lead to authoritarian excesses and brutality which would serve the guerrillas’ purposes. In a recent raid on the village of Samaipata, the guerrillas, for their part, demonstrated full awareness of the importance of not antagonizing the local population. They paid more than the cost of the foodstuffs and medical supplies which they took. In a related incident, the guerrillas machine gunned the tires of truck which failed to stop at their roadblock; the guerrillas paid the driver of the truck for the value of the tires.
The recent of the Bolivian military in the mining zone which result in the deaths of some sixteen miners and the wounding of scores of others is a prime example of methods which, if applied to peasants in the guerrilla zone, can win support for the guerrillas. One encouraging recent sign, however, was the prudent restraint with which government security forces dealt with student demonstrations.
In its present state of training and readiness the Bolivian army can probably do no more than harass the guerrillas from time to time. We do not foresee early success in stamping out the insurgency. The military may again profit from such apparent accidents as that of stumbling upon Debray, but the military might well come out second best in such accidental encounters. Clearly, however, the 600-man Ranger Battalion now being trained with U.S. assistance will enhance the capabilities of the armed forces to cope with the guerrillas.
It is evident that the Bolivian armed forces have not perfiormed well in responding to the guerrilla threat. Their failures, however, should not overshadow the fact that the elimination of the guerrilla band, even in its present size, in the difficult terrain of southern Bolivia would probably prove an exacting task for a well-trained and well-equipped counterinsurgent force. It is small wonder that the task has exceeded the present capacity of the Bolivian armed forces.
III. IMPACT OF GUERRILLA OUTBREAK ON BOLIVIAN POLITCS
The fragility of Bolivia’s institutions and the fragmentation and fractionalization of those institutions reflect a political structure which is brittle and incapable of withstanding sharp or prolonged strain. In fact, the more significant institutions contribute in varying degree to a climate of instability.
Political parties. The Barrientos administration is somewhat shakily supported by a coalition, the Bolivian Revolutionary Front (FRB). One opposition group, the conservative Bolivian Socialist Falange (FSB) has been alternately courted and rebuffed by President Barrientos. Former President Paz Estensooro’s Revolutionary Movement (MNR) is split into three feuding factions, now tenuously and probably onlu momentarilu united. Even the Communist are divided among Trotskyites, pro-Moscow, and pro- Peking groups. The national Leftist Revolutionary Party (PRIN) chose not to participate in the July 1966 national elections and its organizer, labor leader Juan Lechin, is in exile in Chile.
Weak, ineffectual, and manipulated by self-seeking politicians, Bolivia’s pro-government political parties are weak supporting reeds for the administration in dealing with the guerrilla insurgency or other major problems. The opposition parties tend to see the guerrilla movement primarily in terms of the opportunities it may provide for their own advancement. In “normal” situations, the opposition is too divided to offer any significant threat to the government. However, should the government’s efforts counter the guerrillas or to impose its authority upon the miners or students lead to authoritarian excesses, the leftist elements among the opposition might draw in support of any or all of the victims of repressive measures and in self-defense. Opportunistic politicians from almost any of Bolivia’s political parties can be expected to form alliances among themselves and/or with military elements to move against the government if Barrientos appears to be losing control. Civilian alliances clearly have change of success without military support.
Tin miners. The government declared a state of siege on June 8 and sent troops into mining area, apparently in response to extremist mine leaders’ calls for solidarity with the guerrillas, On June 23, troops occupied the Siglo Veinte-Catavi mines. There are conflicting reports as to what happened, the methods used, and justification for the occupation. In any event, sixteen miners were killed many were wounded, and the miners have expressed bitter resentment over the alleged brutality and indiscriminate nature of the attack on them and their dependents. There is fertile ground for disaffection among the tin miners, and extremist leaders will doubtlessly continue to try to link the miners with the guerrillas in opposition to the government. However, when the government intervened in the mines in May 1965, it broke up the then-united miners’ union and exiled some leaders. Moreover, it instituted changes in the wage system which gave some miners a better economic deal than they had theretofore enjoyed. As a result, the miners ate presently divided and therefore represent less of a threat to government authority than they did in the past.
Students. Bolivian university and high school students have in the past proved their ability to create serious disorder and tension. The students have a “pact” with the tin miners and demonstrated on their behalf as a result of the government’s repressive measures during June. There is little information attitudes toward the guerrillas, but it would be surprising if the guerrillas did not enjoy a measure of sympathy among students. As noted above, Bolivian security forces have used restraint in dealing with student demonstrations. Should they adopt harsh measures, student sympathy for the guerrillas would almost certainly increase.
The military. The military establishment is Bolivia’s strongest institution but it is far from monolithic. Armed forces chief, General Alfredo Ovando, is a political rival of President Barrientos and enjoys greater military support than the President, Other leading officers, notably Army Chief of Staff Col. Marcos Vasquez, are known to be highly ambitious and to maintain contact opposition political groups. Under certain circumstances – e. g., if the military frustration over its own failure to stamp out the guerrillas became intolerable, or if popular opposition to the government became widespread and focused on Barrientos – Ovando or other military officers might decide to depose the President. A strongly dissuasive, however, may be the realization of would-be plotters that the ouster of Barrientos would not solve Bolivia’s problems; it would merely transfer responsibility for their solution to the military which has indicated its reluctance to accept such burden.
The overall impact. The impact of the guerrilla outbreak on Bolivia’s internal political situation is difficult to measure, but it has evidently been strong. On the surface, at least, the declaration of state of siege and the military measures in the mining zone are more or less direct side effects of the guerrilla insurgency. Another indication of the insurgency’s impact was the approach made by government to the US, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru, respectively, for material of the counterinsurgent effort, as well as such near-panicky proposals within the Bolivian government as that for a declaration of war against Cuba.
The guerrilla band in its present strength poses no significant military threat to the Bolivian government. The most immediate effect of the guerrilla problem is psychological. It is not only highly frustrating to the armed forces, but it increases government sensitivity – already acute – to miner and student unrest and feeds the desire of some military leaders to use harshly repressive measures. The insurgency spurs efforts by left-of-center and extreme left political parties to unite in opposition to the government, as these groups scent decay in government credibility and authority. Even more significantly, the guerrilla movement is increasing government budget requirements; it can thus precipitate inflationary trends or force stringency measures which would for obvious reasons be popular. Finally, the guerrilla movement diverts government attention from the problems of relieving the social and economic causes of discontent.
By its very survival, the guerrilla movement could eventually cause the Bolivian military in frustration and humiliation to fix upon President Barrientos as a scapegoat and oust him. Moreover, should the guerrilla movement survive and prosper, the question will inevitably arise as to whether the military establishment itself can retain power in the face of an armed insurgency which it seems powerless to defeat.
IV. EFFECT OF THE INSURGENCY ON BOLIVIA’S NEIGHBORS
For some weeks after the reported discovery of a guerrilla band in Bolivia, neighboring governments were inclined to take the statement of Bolivian officials with a grain of salt and to discount the extent of any guerrilla threat to Bolivian stability or the the security of their own frontiers.
The governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay seemed primarily interested in making certain that there was no spillover of guerrilla activity into their own territory. Bolivian officials approached the governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Peru for material support. Argentina has provided some food, uniforms, and a small quantity of small arms and ammunition. Press reports on July 5 and 7 of a Bolivian request for Argentine troops have not been confirmed and have been denied by the two governments. Peru has sent some food for use in the counterinsurgent effort. Bolivia has apparently not asked for material support from Paraguay, but President Barrientos recently visited Asuncion and agreed to the presence of a Paraguayan military officer as an observer in the guerrilla area.
In recent weeks, the neighboring governments and their military establishments, particularly those of Argentina and Brazil, have shown increasing concern over the situation in Bolivia and are obviously uneasy over the evident inability of the Bolivian forces to extirpate the guerrilla movement. The Argentines and Brazilians apparently recognize that the guerrillas as yet pose no military threat to the Bolivian government, but they are also aware that a prolonged guerrilla insurgency could gravely undermine Bolivian stability and they fear this might lead to a takeover by radical or extreme leftists – at worst, “another Cuba” on their frontiers.
Argentina. Influential sectors of Argentina opinion, including government and military circles, believe Argentina should play the role of a “rector” with respect to its weaker neighbors, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Moreover, the Ongania regime holds strong anti-communist views, and usage of the term “communist” among Argentines military leaders tends to be loose. There are reports of increasing concern over the Bolivian situation among Argentine military leaders. These leaders seem to be fully aware of the political problems in Argentina, Bolivia, and the hemisphere which would flow from Argentine intervention in Bolivia. As well as the difficulty of delimiting the scope of intervention, once initiated. It seems clear, however, that the Argentine military in particular and probably the government in general consider intervention in Bolivia as a real – not a remotely hypothetical – possibility.
If the guerrilla movement in Bolivia should persist accompanied by increasing widespread disaffection and disorder threatening a breakdown in Bolivian government authority, the Argentine government might conclude that a communist takeover in the neighboring country was at hand. In such case, Argentina would likely choose one of a range of interventionist measures. This could include the introduction of Argentine troops into Bolivia, particularly should the Bolivian government request assistance, to shore up the Barrientos government or any successor military or conservative regime. Argentina would undoubtedly seek US and Brazilian support and the acquiescence of Paraguay, Peru, and Chile, but if support or acquiescence were not forthcoming, would be likely to take unilateral action as a last resort. Argentina would probably not seek action through the Organization of American States )OAS), unless it was certain OAS approval for intervention would be forthming.
Brazil. The Brazilian government, and particularly the military, share Argentine apprehensions over any possibility of a radical leftist regime coming to power in Bolivia. Probably an equally compelling argument for Brazilian action would be concern over any Argentine initiative which could give Argentine a decisive say in Bolivian affairs. Brazil would be more concerned than Argentina over hemispheric and world opinion, would seek the support of the US and other OAS members, and would probably favor an effort to obtain OAS approval for any initiatives in Bolivia. The pace of events or Argentine impatience, however, could force Brazil’s hand.
Chile. The Chilean government has little reason to fear the spread of guerrilla insurgency to its own territory. It undoubtedly could and would prevent the use of Chilean territory in support of the Bolivian guerrillas. The Frei administration whose programs have suffered from the opposition of a strong, legal Marxist movement (a coalition of Chile’s Communists and Socialists) would be alarmed over the prospect of a radical leftist takeover in Bolivia. The chances are, however, that the Frei government and the Chilean public would be even concerned over any prospect of significant intervention (i.e., a military presence) in Bolivia affairs by Brazilians and particularly by the Argentines, even if the Bolivian government invited such intervention. On balance, it seems probable that Chile strongly oppose armed intervention in Bolivia by any state or group of states, including the OAS, and might lead the political opposition to intervention within the OAS and possibly the UN.
Paraguay. Paraguay’s principal interest in the Bolivian guerrilla movement has thus far focused on the political of guerrilla activity in northern Paraguay. The Stroessner government, from its own nationalistic viewpoint, can hardly be enthusiastic over the possibility of intervention in Bolivia by its two giant neighbors. The Paraguayan government is, however, emphatically anti-communist, and would be gravely concerned aver the prospective establishment of a government of the extreme left in the adjacent country. Moreover, Paraguay’s geographical situation makes it highly vulnerable to pressure from Argentine and Brazil. There can be little doubt that Paraguay would support, morally and perhaps materially, Argentine and Brazilian initiatives to forestall the emergence of “another Cuba” in Bolivia.
Peru. Elements of the Peruvian military establishment have recently expressed concern over the situation in Bolivia. The Peruvian government successfully concluded a counterinsurgent campaign against Peruvian guerrillas in early 1966, and the memory of that insurgency as well as occasional rumors of renewed guerrilla activity in Peru would cause the government to be seriously apprehensive over a persistent and thriving guerrilla movement on its southern frontier. Under some circumstances, Peru might be sorely tempted to join with or strongly support Argentina and Brazil in measures aimed at eliminating the guerrilla threat in Bolivia, In such circumstances, Peru in determining its position would be mindful of the fact that Argentina and Brazil (along with the US and Chile) are the Guarantors of the Rio Protocol which governs Peru’s boundary settlement with Ecuador. All factors considered, we believe that Peru would acquiesce, perhaps tacitly, in an Argentine-Brazilian initiative to intervene in Bolivia, should the two governments conclude that intervention was unavoidable.
V. THE OUTLOOK FOR THE BOLIVIAN INSURGENCY
We do not foresee any prompt solution of the problems posed by the Bolivian guerrilla movement and would draw the following tentative conclusions.
1) The sponsors and prime movers behind the Bolivian guerrilla movement – whether they are Cubans, Bolivians, or both – have had a measure of success, probably enough to encourage them to maintain the movement on an active footing. The guerrillas have survived, outmaneuvered and outfought the Bolivian armed forces, contributed to the tension and level of instability in Bolivia, aroused concern among Bolivia’s neighbors, and attracted worldwide attention.
2) If the guerrilla movement endures, it is likely to further raise the level of unrest and instability in Bolivia and encourage opposition groups such as the miners, disaffected students, and leftist political groups. If the Bolivian security forces fall back on harsh and repressive measures, support or sympathy is likely to accrue to the guerrillas.
3) If the guerrilla movement persists and is accompanied by recurring crises such as that in its frustration might withdraw its support for President Barrientos and oust him.
4) A confluence of adverse developments, (e.g. the endurance and expansion of the guerrilla movement; recurrent crises related to the tin miners, students or other groups; the emergence of unified political opposition ranging from left-of-center to extreme left) might tin the balance and lead Bolivia’s neighbors, most likely Argentina jointly with Brazil, to send troops to Bolivia, possibly at the invitation of the Bolivian government.
5) It is doubtful that any outside force, whether Argentine, joint Argentine/Brazilian, or other, could promptly and surgically excise Bolivia’s guerrilla movement. The very smallness of the guerrilla band means that it could easily disperse, regroup, transfer its activities to other areas, or simply go underground with relative ease It is therefore conceivable that an interventionist force (solicited or unsolicited) might find itself in Bolivia with no visible enemy and faced with the question of whether to stay or withdraw. In such a situation, it is questionable whether the small guerrilla movement now active poses any greater threat to Bolivian stability than would the presence of foreign troops whose mission seemed to evaporate and whose sojourn in Bolivia was indefinite. Foreign troops in the country might inspire nationalistic unity in opposition to the foreign force and government and produce violent and massive resistance. On the other hand, if an intervening force promptly without destroying the guerrilla movement, the latter spring up again without destroying the guerrilla movement, the latter might spring up again without delay.
6) The role and attitude of the OAS situation is difficult to assess in view of the many variables involved. If the Bolivian government requested OAS assistance the guerrilla movement and if it were able to present clear evidence of external support for the guerrillas, a sizable majority of the members states would probably support an OAS recommendation to member states those willing and able to do give Bolivia appropriate assistance in the form of material and equipment and cooperation in policing border areas. The weaker the available evidence of outside support for the guerrillas, the less change of any OAS action on Bolivian request in view of the strong opposition of many OAS members to intervention in the internal of any country, Further, it would seem doubtful that the OAS would recommend or sponsor the sending by other countries of armed forces to Bolivia in this situation.
The Argentine government, which is the most likely one to give serious consideration to intervention in Bolivia, would probably have reservations about OAS involvement as an element which might serve to detract from Argentine freedom of action. It is possible, therefore, that Argentina would discourage any Bolivian for OAS assistance.
7) The next few weeks and months may prove to be a crucial test of whether the Bolivian government can cope with its internal problems, including the guerrilla insurgency, without inviting or acquiescing in military support from the outside.
VI. THE ROLE OF THE U.S.
The extent of US influence and leverage in the Bolivian situation is substantial but not without limits, and the alternatives open to the US are restricted by the interests and motivations of groups within Bolivia as well as by those of neighboring countries. The following considerations, in our opinion, would affect directly the range of US options.
1) The US is presently providing the Bolivian armed forces with the wherewithal (i.e., training and materiel) necessary eventually to neutralize the guerrilla threat, if the insurgency movement remains at its present size without winning popular support, and if the Bolivian government and military establishment retain authority and control over the country.
2) The US could exercise considerable – though not necessarily decisive – influence over the Argentine and Brazilian governments if they began seriously to weigh the pro’s and con’s of the intervention in Bolivia. The US might not be able dissuade the Argentine and Brazilians from intervening if the two governments concluded that the Bolivian situation threatened the security if their own frontiers or contained the threat of a radical leftist regime coming to power. In such case, US leverage would likely correlate closely to some US counterproposal for dealing with the Bolivian problem which would satisfy Argentine and Brazilian concern.
3) Should the Bolivian government call upon the OAS assistance in quelling the guerrilla insurgency, the position of the US would almost certainly be decisive.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 105
1. Department’s objection to undertaking formal contingency planning on the Bolivian situation with Argentina at this time is based on fact that such conversations, if carried to logical conclusion, would almost certainly involve discussions of possible military activity by foreign in Bolivia, with or without the consent of the Bolivian Government. Despite the best efforts of all concerned, word of such conversations might well leak to the public, and such reports could be expected substantially to undermine the position of Barrientos in Bolivia and cause considerable embarrassment to both Argentina and the U.S. We do not believe current situation or outlook in Bolivia is so disturbing to either U.S. or Argentine vital interests, as to justify such a risk.
2. As indicated in State 7071, we desire maintain close contact with Argentine authorities on Bolivia, and in addiction to an exchange of information, we are prepared to compare evaluations of the situation and views re possible future developments. We do not anticipate that the situation will degenerate so as to require foreign troops in near future, and we would expect in this unlikely contingency that the inter-American system would provide initial forum discussion. Thus, we would not wish to discuss possible use of Argentine troops with GOA at this time.
3. In addition to current cable traffic you may draw on Research Memorandum RAR-17 dated July 18 when next you have occasion for an exchange of views with Foreign Minister Costa Mendez. Ambassador Alsogaray has asked for an appointment with Assistant Secretary Oliver this week.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 106
Subject: Guerrillas in Bolivia – PART II OF III
Ambassador Alsogaray said that Argentina considered the problem of guerrillas in Bolivia to be of high importance, and he feared that the situation was more serious than had originally appeared. His government believed that secret discussions should be undertaken with United States to determine in advance what political and military steps would be taken in case the Bolivian government collapsed and was replaced by a Castro-Communist government. He said the Bolivian situation looks better now, but anything could happen, and he suggested the creation of working groups to prepare contingency plans.
Mr. Oliver stated that we were interested in exchanging views and opinions with Argentina and other neighbors numbered about 100 and that they were well armed and trained, but he did not believe that there was any imminent threat to the Bolivian government. Mr. Oliver added that were assisting the Bolivian by training a Ranger battalion in the Santa Cruz area. He inquired if this corresponded with the Ambassador’s impressions.
Ambassador Alsogaray again said that he saw no immediate danger but pointed out that Argentine officers felt that the Bolivian army did not have the capability to deal with the situation. Further, the political-military situation in Bolivia could change rapidly, and the Ambassador suggested that we should be prepared for the worst.
Mr. Oliver inquired regarding the correctness of New York Times correspondent Bernard Collier’s story that the Bolivians had requested Argentina for combat troop assistance. The Ambassador said it was true that the Bolivians had asked for other types of help but not the dispatch of a military force; some help had been given. Arrangements had been made for the gendarmerie to be permitted to enter Bolivia for one or two kilometers if in hot pursuit of guerrillas. Ambassador Alsogaray went on to say that Argentina was carrying on conversations with Brazil and Paraguay as well as with Bolivia regarding the guerrilla situation. He added that he thought it important to avoid placing the United States in a situation where it would have to intervene unilaterally in Bolivia.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 107
1. In talk with Assistant Secretary Oliver yesterday, Ambassor Alsogaray proposed creation working group for contingency planning on Bolivia. He said situation apparently not so bad now as formerly but thought anything could happen in Bolivia at any time and that U. S. and Argentina should be prepared both politically and militarily to deal with possible Castro-Communist type regime in Bolivia.
2. Oliver said that our information indicated improvement in general outlook in Bolivia and that we did not consider Bolivian stability in any immediate danger. He emphasized our desire to exchange information and opinions with GOA but omitted any reference to possible military contingency planning.
3. Asked about Collier’s insistence on accuracy his report Bolivia had either misunderstood or had elaborated on story. Bolivia had in fact requested Argentina material aid and some had been given, but not repeat not troops. He confirmed existence agreement for Argentine gendarmerie to cross into Bolivia QUOTE one or two kilometers UNQUOTE in hot pursuit of guerrillas.
4. Alsogaray has asked for appointment with Secretary but no date has yet been fixed.
5. Memcon being puuched.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 108
SUBJECT: Argentine Concern Over Bolivian Situation (Part II of IV)
Ambassador Alsogaray said that his Government was quite concerned over developments in Bolivia and feared there was a possibility that with the guerrilla problem and other internal problems the Bolivian Government might be overthrow and replaced by far leftist Government. He stated that Argentina was prepared to take action to counter such a development, but that it wished to discuss possible contingencies with the United States. He added that he had been authorized by the Foreign Minister to make himself available and to discuss with us “hypothetical cases” of what might happen in Bolivia and what we might jointly do about them. The Ambassador pointed out that Argentine gendarmes and troops were currently deployed in the Bolivian border area and he stated that Bolivia and Argentina have a highly confidential agreement which permits Argentine gendarmes to move a few kilometers into Bolivian territory temporarily in pursuit of guerrillas. He mentioned that such deployments would be difficult to maintain permanently and that the Argentine forces, although generally adequately equipped, might need additional items such as helicopters, to improve their capability to aid Bolivia and contain subversion in the border area.
The Secretary responded that it appeared conditions had improved somewhat over the past month in Bolivia and that a Bolivian Ranger Battalion we are helping train should be of assistance in the Bolivian fight against subversion when it is ready to go into action in the near future.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 108
SUBJECT: Argentine Concern Over Bolivian Situation (Part II of IV)
Ambassador Alsogaray said that his government was quite concerned over developments in Bolivia and feared there was a possibility that with the guerrilla problem and other internal problems the Bolivian Government might be overthrow and replaced by far leftist Government. He stated that Argentina was prepared to take action to counter such a development, but that it wished to discuss possible contingencies with the United States. He added that he had been authorized by the Foreign Minister to make himself available to discuss with us “hypothetical cases” of what might happen in Bolivia and what we might jointly do about them. The Ambassador pointed out that Argentine gendarmes and troops were currently deployed in the Bolivian border and he stated that Bolivia and Argentina have a highly confidential agreement which permits Argentine gendarmes to move a few kilometers into Bolivian territory temporarily in pursuit of guerrillas. He mentioned that such deployments would be difficult to maintain permanently and that the Argentine forces, although generally adequately equipped, might need additional items such as helicopters, to improve their capability to aid Bolivia and contain subversion in the border area.
The secretary responded that it appeared conditions had improved somewhat over the past month in Bolivia and that a Bolivian Ranger Battalion we are helping train should be of assistance in the Bolivian fight against subversion when it is ready to go into action in the near future. With regard to Ambassador Alsogaray’s suggestion that we jointly discuss and plan for contingencies in Bolivia, the Secretary stated that there were obvious delicate problems involved in such discussions and that he would wish to think over the Ambassador’s suggestion before commenting on it. The secretary asked if Argentina had consulted with some of Bolivia’s such as Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Peru. Alsogaray replied that his Government had discussed the problem with Brazil and Paraguay but he was not sure about Chile and Peru. He added that his brother, General Julio Alsogaray, Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine Army, was visiting Peru and would undoubtedly raise the subject of Bolivia with Peruvian authorities.
Ambassador Alsogaray remarked that with regard to situations as Bolivia, the Argentine Gvernment felt that Article 11 of the Venesuelan Draft Resolution prepared for the forthcoming Meeting of Foreign Ministers (MFM) could be of some concrete use and might serve as a basis for joint contingency planning such as the Argentines were suggesting. However, he noted that his Government did not believe that the rest of the Revolution would be of much value, as it merely reiterated things that had been said before and did not provide for any new effective action against Castro. (The Ambassador made it clear that his phrase “action against Castro” did not encompass military action at this time.) Nevertheless, he said, Argentina was prepared to attend the MFM and go along with the consensus with regard to the Resolution to be adopted.
The Secretary, in response to Alogaray’s comments on the MFM, pointed out that one of our hemispheric problems was to give a demonstration of solidarity of all the nations with any Hemisphere nation that was threatened by subversion, and through such solidarity to convince Castro to cease his subversive activities. He added that this was often hard to do because countries not geographically close to the threatened nation often tended to remain aloof. The Secretary added that the MFM and the Dreaft Resolution, would, in our opinion, represent such a demonstration of hemispheric solidarity.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 109
DIRECTORATE OF INTELIGENCE
The Bolivian Guerrilla Movement:
An Interim Assessment
This document contains information affecting the national defense of the United States, within the meaning of Title 18, sections 793 and 794, of the US Code, as amended. Its transmission or revelation of its contents to or receipt by an unauthorized person is prohibited by law.
CENTRAL INTELIGNECE ANGENCY
Directorate of Intelligence
8 August 1967
The Bolivian Guerrilla Movement:
An interim Assessment
A guerrilla movement discovered in Bolivia in March 1967 appears through its genesis, nature, and tactics to be a concentrated Castro-style revolutionary professional than similar efforts elsewhere in Latin America. The insurgent’s success to date, is spurring Bolivia’s neighbors into developing contingency plans for military intervention should the situation deteriorate drastically.
The guerrillas adhere closely to the revolutionary theories espoused at various times by Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and French Marxist theoretician Jules Regis Debray. The insurgents have received training, propaganda support, and some arms and equipment from Cuba.
Note: This memorandum was produced solely by CIA. It was prepared by Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with the Office of National Estimates and the Clandestine Services.
Additional propaganda assistance is now being provided by the Havana-based Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO), which is championing armed revolutionary activity throughout the hemisphere. Furthermore, because worldwide publicity has been given both to the alleged presence of Che Guevara with the guerillas and to the capture of Debray, this insurgency movement will be kept in the public eye. It could become a focus for the continuing polemical debate in the Communist world over the wisdom of political versus militant revolutionary action.
Bolivia: Area of Guerrilla Activity
1. Bolivia is a relative newcomer to the list of Latin American nations where Communist-inspired insurgency has become an acute problem. Preparations to begin guerrilla operations there first began to be reported in late 1966. Such reports were initially receivers, the prevalence of bandits in the traditionally wild and lawless frontier area where the guerrillas were reported to be located, and the government’s propensity for trying to distract public attention from its more pressing internal problems.
2. After considerable prodding, army patrols in early March began to follow up reports of groups of bearded strangers in southeast Bolivia. On 23 March a patrol stumbled into a guerrilla camp, and in the resulting battle seven army personnel were killed and five wounded. In addition, the guerrillas took 21 prisoners who were released after they were treated for wounds and interrogated. In subsequent clashes, the army fared little better.
Effectiveness and Orientation of the Guerrilla Movement
3. Although much has been written and reported about the Bolivian guerrillas since their discovery, much more remains to be learned about them. Few reliable accounts of their activities have been obtained from the guerrillas themselves, and the extreme isolation of the areas where the guerrillas have been active prohibits coverage by ordinary news media. Even the number and nationality of the guerrillas remain uncertain. The last estimate indicates that there are about 100 of them, mostly Bolivians and Cubans, with a few Peruvians. More than one group may exist. They are apparently supplied with arms that have been smuggled into the country through Chile, Peru, and Brazil.
4. One major point is clear. The Bolivian guerrillas are a well trained and disciplined group. The insurgents are better led and better equipped forces. Moreover, it is evident that Cuban-style training techniques have been used to prepare the guerrillas for action. Many of them have been trained in Cuba, and there is good evidence that a small cadre of Cuban guerrilla warfare experts is actively fighting with the insurgents. In contrast to the pro-Castro insurgents active in Venezuela, Guatemala, and Colombia, the Bolivians stand out because they usually have been able to seize the initiative in encounters with the military.
5. Another important consideration has been Havana’s willingness to become more directly involved in providing tangible support to Latin American guerilla groups. The Cuban involvement in the landing of Venezuela on 8 May demonstrates that this recent Cuban “escalation” has not been confined to Bolivia. The Bolivian group, however, probably received a more professional start because of a more direct Cuban role from the beginning.
6. As a result of Cuban involvement, this professionalism, along with careful preparation and imaginative leadership, is readily apparent. Considerable emphasis has obviously been given to training exercises, ideology, and tactics. All of this is reflected in indications that the guerrillas are highly motivated and that their morale is good. Moreover, this professionalism has been attained even though the guerrillas were discovered by accident well before they felt themselves ready to begin actual operations.
Leadership and Doctrinal Guidelines of the Movement
7. A few know Bolivian Communists have been identified as leaders of the insurgents. Other reports from within Bolivia and elsewhere allege that one of the leaders is Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine-born revolutionary who was the key figure in the Castro government in Cuba until he dropped out of sight in March 1965. Theses reports, which come from sources of varying credibility, are in essential agreement on the details of where and when Guevara is supposed to have been with the guerrillas, but conclusive evidence of Che’s direct participation has not been obtained. Whether Guevara is a participant, or indeed whether he is even alive, it is plain in any case that the guerrilla leaders are well-schooled in the insurgency techniques and doctrines previously espoused by Guevara.
8. These techniques and doctrines are basically common to both Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Recently they have been given fresh emphasis with their publication in handbook form by Jules Regis Debray, a young French Marxist protégé of Castro. Debray’s book, Revolution Within the Revolution, was written after conversations with Castro and was published last January with Cuban Government backing. The book’s preface points out that Debray has shared the life of guerrillas in various Latin American countries. This assertion was underlined in late April 1967 when Debray and two other foreigners were captured by the Bolivian Army shortly after leaving the guerrilla camp. Debray is still awaiting military trial.
9. The Castro-Guevara-Debray theories which challenge the role of national Communist parties can be briefly stated as four main revolutionary tents: (a) Latin America needs a dynamic, offensive, rural-oriented guerrilla action; (b) there should be only one major guerrilla movement, directed by a united leadership and guided by one clear strategy; (c) guerrilla operations should be initiated, developed, directed controlled from rural areas; and (d) the guerrilla unit precedes the urban-based party and, in fact, ultimately evolves into the “authentic” party. Castro, Guevara, and Debray all have contended that given the unique political, social, economic, geographic, and cultural conditions prevailing in Latin America, Cuba’s revolutionary struggle is much more relevant to the situation than the experience of the Soviet Union and Communist China.
10. The recent interrogation of Ciro Roberto Bustos, an Argentine free-lance journalist who was with the Bolivian guerrillas from 6 March until his capture along with Debray by the Bolivian Army on 20 April, directly supports other indications that theses Castroite revolutionary theories are being implemented in Bolivia. Both Bustos and Debray have claimed that Guevara was personally directing this implementation. Indeed, Bustos has given a rather full account of an alleged conversation with Guevara on this subject in late March.
11. According to Bustos, Guevara defined his strategic objective as the capture of political power in one or more South American countries after insurrectional armed struggle had developed. Paraphrasing the Castro-Debray thesis, Guevara is said to have explained that the guerrilla band must be the nucleus of revolutionary impetus. It must be developed, consolidated, and expanded by its own activity in order to proliferate. Amplyifing the current attacks of the Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO) on imperialism as the real enemy of the people and the organization’s international revolutionary flavor, Bustos claims Guevara told him that external political support is necessary for any successful Latin American revolution, although initially the struggle should appear to be strictly internal. As the revolution progresses, the theory goes, its “proletarian-revolutionary-international character will become a simple fact, or, in other words outside assistance to the revolutionaries need and cannot be hidden or obscured for long.
12. LASO delegates who are now meeting in Havana, ostensibly to coordinate hemisphere revolutionary activity, have apparently adopted the Cuban tenet that “reactionary oppression” must be met with “patriotic revolutionary violence”. Following this reasoning, the Bolivian delegate, Aldo Flores, a member of the central committee of the pro-Moscow Communist Party, implied that the Bolivian guerrillas were merely exerting their patriotic duty in opposing US advisers and materiel that had been sent to “oppressive forces” in Bolivia.
13. The conference itself is basically serving as a forum for Castro to appeal to Latin Americans to band together in “Red Beret” groups in order to begin a true revolutionary struggle. The spectre of “Che” Guevara, who was elected honorary chairman of the conference “in absentia,” personifies the militant approach Castro wants the meeting to take and creates worldwide sensational publicity. No particular emphasis has been placed on the success of the Bolivian guerrillas during the proceedings; their continuing progress, however, has certainly raised the morale and affected the outlook of the delegates. The worldwide play being given to the Guevara theme and the Debray capture, moreover, will help to maintain the Bolivian guerrillas in the public eye log after the LASO Conference ends. The Bolivian experience may well become an important element in the continuing debate in the Communist world over the wisdom of armed action versus peaceful methods as the best means of achieving power.
The Military’s Role Against the Guerrillas
16. In spite of the potentially volatile situation prevailing in the major urban mining regions, President Barrientos has sent several MAP-supported units serving in those regions into the guerrilla area. Bolivian Army efforts to reinforce the counter-guerrilla units, however, have been hampered by ad hoc organization of units without regard to units without regard to unit integrity and state of combat efficiency; assignment to the guerrilla zone of a few officers and NCOs trained in counterinsurgency tactics; and employment in the type or army reinforcements to date supplied to the guerrilla zone has not materially enhanced combat effectiveness. At best, therefore, theses troops locally committed to the area are able only to harass and make sporadic contact with the guerrilla forces.
17. Pressed by the public and by his advisers to obtain immediate favorable results in the guerrilla area, President Barrientos is at present mainly concerned with seeking an immediate spectacular victory over the guerrillas. All his plans rest mainly on hope of obtain modern firepower from the US without regard to the need for concurrent training and other logistical requirements.
Domestic Impact of the Insurgency
18. Thus far the guerrilla movement has elicited only minor support within Bolivia, with most tangible assistance having come from the far left. Leaders and individuals within the pro-Moscow Bolivian Communist Party (PCB/S) are directly involved in the insurgency, and some individual members of the party are working in liaison with the guerrillas. The rank and file of PCB/S as well as other Communist and radical leftist groups seem to have taken by surprise by the insurgency. Except for the Communist Youth sector of the Pro-Chinese Communist Party of Bolivia (JCB/C) which reportedly offered active support to the guerrilla movement two months ago, the others have only recently begun to make tentative gestures of material support. Some extreme leftist leaders of Bolivia’s chronically disconnected tin miners have tried hard to establish ties between the miners and the guerrillas. They have had little success, although a few unemployed miners have reportedly been recruited to join the guerrillas. Many university and high school students undoubtedly sympathize with the insurgents but so far have not demonstrated this support to any significant degree. There are no indications that the Bolivian non-Communist parties of the left are greatly interested in the movement other than as the source of possible opportunities improve their own position. The extent of peasant support for the guerrillas is unknown. It is know, however, that the guerrillas have been circumspect in their treatment of indigenous population. In those instances where they have found it necessary to go into town for food and supplies, they have been scrupulous in their dealing with the townspeople, often paying more than the going rate for supplies. Doctors attached to the bands often have treated local villagers, at the same time propagandizing for the insurgents.
19. Guerrilla representatives are reportedly in contact with one of the larger political opposition parties in Bolivia, the opportunistic Bolivian Socialist Falange (FSB), which received 12 percent of the vote in 1966. The guerrillas have reportedly offered to collaborate with the FSB if the latter would begin activities in the cities. FSB chieftain Mario Gutierrez Gutierrez has ordered that three party members be sent to talk with the guerrillas and find out the exact terms of cooperation and what assurance the FSB would have of coming to power if the guerrillas were successful. At the same time, however, the power-hungry FSB has help informal talk with government leaders with a view toward joining the government.
Impact of insurgency on Bolivia’s Neighbors
20. There is considerable doubt among Bolivia’s neighbors, especially Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru that the Barrientos government can cope with the insurgency problem. Presidents Ongania of Argentina an Stroessner of Paraguay are reportedly agreed that if Barrientos is overthrow they may have to intervene military. The Argentine Government has provided Barrientos with food, clothing, and small arms. There is no confirmation of recent press reports that Bolivia has requested the assistance of Argentine military troops. Argentina has sent military and police reinforcements to the Bolivian border, however, and a speedup in antiguerrilla training has been ordered.
21. The sponsors and prime movers of the Bolivian guerrilla movement—including Bolivians and Cubans—have had a measure of success that will encourage them to keep the movement on an active footing. Nothing on the horizon would indicate that the guerrilla problem will ease soon or that the Bolivian armed forces can quickly improve their capabilities. This seems bound to lead to increasing tensing tension and instability within the country and more concern on the part of Bolivia’s neighbors lest the contagion spread across their own borders.
22. The longer-run outlook may be a little brighter if the Barrientos government manages to survive. Although this government, like its predecessors, has had its political ups and downs, there is no significant threat to the government at present. The guerrilla activity has encouraged dissident political groups somewhat, but the firm measures taken by Barrientos late in June to quell the violence that broke out at the tin mines may have served to show such elements that the government will crack down on them just as firmly if need be. At present theses opposition groups are even less united and less effective than the government is, and as long as this situation prevails, Barrientos will retain the upper hand.
23. Bolivia’s military capabilities may gradually improve. Forces in the operational zone are undergoing intensive retraining in anti-guerrilla tactics, and 600-man ranger battalion now training in Santa Cruz is expected to be added to the forces in the field in late September or October. Guerrilla successes thus far have come against ill-trained, raw troops, and it remains to be seen if they are as effective against a well-disciplined and organized force. Although the lessons the guerrillas are teaching the Bolivians are painful ones, they could be beneficial if they help the Bolivians and other Latin Americans understand the need to devise new defenses against an elusive enemy in a difficult terrain testing revolutionary doctrine and tactics. On the other hand, should the guerrillas continue succeeding in Bolivia, their experiences and methods are certain to be emulated in other Latin American countries.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 110
1. OFFICIAL COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AUGUST 14 DETAILS GUERRILLA FIREFIGHT WITH BOLIVIAN ARMY AFTERNOON AUGUST 14, NEAR CHUYUYACA, 11 KILOMETERS NORTHEAST MONTENEGRO. NO CONFIRMED CASUALTIES EITHER SIDE AND NO INDICATION NUMBER GUERRILLAS INVOLVED.
2. ADDITIONAL COMMUNIQUE REPORTS DISCOVERY AUGUST 12 ANOTHER ARMS CACHE INCLUDING VARIOUS ITEMS AMERICAN-MADE MILITARY EQUIPMENT SOME OF WHICH PRESS SPECULATES MAY HAVE BEEN CAPTURED FROM BOLIVIAN ARMY BY GUERRILLAS IN EARLY CLASHES. FISHER
DOCUMENT NUMBER 111
1. CWO ROBERT H. QUINN, ASST ARMY ATTACHE AND LT. COL. MANUAL CARDENAS, DEPUTY G-3 OF BOLIVIAN ARMY, ARE ARRIVING WASHINGTON AUGUST 27 WITH IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS DISCOVERED BY BOLIVIAN ARMED FORCES (BAF) LIKING GUERRILLA OPERATION TO CUBA AND SPECIFICALLY TO CHE GUEVARA. IN WASHINGTON, COURIERS WILL MAKE DELIVERY TO DIA.
2. GENERAL OVANDO SHOWED MATERIAL FIRST TO MILG-P COMMANDER ALTHOUGH CAS ALMOST AT SAME TIME HAD INDENTIFIED DOCUMENTS AND THEIR IMPORTANCE. THIS IMPOSED NECESSITY OBTAIN DOCUMENTS THROUGH MILITARY CHENNELS.
3. BAF, AND SPECIFICALLY GENERAL OVANDO, APPEAR UNDERSTAND NECESSITY, USE THIS EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT CASE AGAINST CUBA IN 12TH MFM. UNFORTUNALLY RECENT EXPIRIENCE HAS SHOWN BAF TENDENCY MISLAY, WRONGLY EVALUATE, OR NOT SHARE VALUABLE INTELLIGENCE, E.G., FAILURE ANSWER GOB FONMIN REQUESTS FOR EVIDENCE, REPORTED EMBTEL LA PAZ 404.
4. I RECOMMED THEREFORE THAT WE PROVIDE EVALUATION OF DOCUMENTS TO GOB THROUGH GENERAL OVANDO AS ORIGINAL SOURCE AND SUGGEST TO HIM THAT DOCUMENTS BE TURNED OVER TO BOL. EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON FOR SAFEKEEPING AND PRESENTATION AT 12TH MFM BY BOLIVIAN DELEGATION. THIS WILL OBVIATE UNNECESASRY HANDLING WITH RISK OF LOSS R LEAKAGE AND WILL KEEP EVIDENCE CONSTANTLY AVAILABLE TO BOLIVIAN OFFICIALS WHO ARE SERIOUSLY INTERESTED IN PRESENTING STRONGEST POSSILBE CASE OF CUBAN SUBVERSION. GP-1 GENDERSON
DOCUMENT NUMBER 112
1. I HAD LEISURELY DINNER AND EVENING ALONE WITH PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS AUGUST 28 FOR PURPOSE CATCHING UP ON PRESIDENTIAL ATTITUDES. THE PRESIDENT WAS IN CONFIDENT AND EXPANSIVE MOOD AND MORE RELAXED THAN WHEN GENERAL PORTER AND I HAD SEEN HIM EARLIER IN AFTERNOON (LA PAZ 443). THE FOLLOWING TOPICS WERE DISCUSSED:
(A) POLITICAL SITUATION. HE SAID HIS GREATEST PROBLEM WAS OPPORTUNISM AND POVERTY OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, INLUDING MEMBERS OF CABINET WHO HAD FAILED TO HANG TOGETHER IN SUPPORT OF DIEZ THE MEDINA. OTHERWISE, OPPOSITION PARTIES THOUGHT ONLY IN TERMS OF WHAT PARTISAN ADVANTAGE THEY COULD EXTRACT FROM BOLIVIA’S GUERRILLA PROBLEM. HE CHARACTERIZED HIS LEGISLATIVE PROBLEM AS HAVING TO FACE A COUNTRYS ALMOS WHOLLY GIVEN OVER TO INTERPELLATIONS AND HE SAID HE HAD DESIGNED HIS NEW CABINET SPECIFICALLY TO MEET THIS CHALLENGE. IN ADDITION TO TECHNICIANS IN MINOR MINISTRIES, HE HAD PURPOSELY SELECTED LEADERS OF QUOTE SEVEN PARTIES UNQUOTE TO BE THE ADMINISTRATION’S PRINCIPAL DEFENDERS IN KEY CABINET SLOTS. HE SAID THAT MINISTERS ARE BOUND TO GET QUOTE BURNED UNQUOTE IN CONGRESSIONAL FIRES BUT THAT CABINET WOULD HAVE SERVED ITS PURPOSE IF IT LASTS UNTIL DECEMBER (LATE DECEMBER OR FARLY JANUARY IS TRADITIONAL CLOSING OF CONGRESS).
(B) PERSONALITIES. IN PASSING, HE GAVE SHORT DESCRIPTIONS OF SOME MAJOR POLITICAL PERSONALITIES. HE DESCRIBED ROLON ANAY A BRIGHT BUT ONE WHO WILL BE KEPT IN LINE BY HIS INTENSE DESIRE TO REMAIN MINLABOR. E SCOFFED AT MARXIST CREDENTIALS OF RICARDO ANYA, CALLING HIM A BOURGEOIS AT HEART AND ASSERTING HIS CONVICTION THAT ANAYA WOULD SUPPORT EXITING GOB MINERAL AND PETROLEUM POLICY. HE SAID HE HAD COME TO RESPECT ROMERO LOZA MOST SOLID CABINET MEMBER.
(C) MILITARY. AS FOR GENERAL OVANDO, THE PRESIDENT SAID QUOTE HE IS STUPID AND MAKES MISTAKES UNQUOTE. BY WAY OF ILLUSTRATION, HE REVIEWED EVENTS LEADING UP TO MINES INTERVENTION AND FORMATION NEW CABINET. IN FORMER INSTANCES, HE SAID HE HAD WARNED OVANDO IN MID-JUNE, AFTER MINERS REFUSED TO DISCUSS GIEVANCES WITH PRESIDENT, OF NEED TO PREPARE FOR MINES INTERVENTION. FIVE DAYS LATER, HE FOUND OVANDO STILL BALKING WITH NONE OF LOGISTIC SUPPORT MEASURES OR ARMY MOVEMENT TAKEN. AS RESULT, PRESIDENT SAID HE HAD GIVEN NECESSARY ORDERS HIMSELF. HE SAID THAT DURING MINES INTERVENION, HE HAD PLACED ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF COLONEL MARCOS VASQUES SEMPERTEQUI IN COMMAND IN ORURO. THOUGH VASQUES, HE SAID, IS VENAL AND NOT OVERLY INTELLIGENT, HE IS CAPABLE OF MAKING COMMAND DECISIONS SO UNLIKE MANY OTHER MILITARY LEADERS. AGAIN, PRIOR TO ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW CABINET, HE SAID HE CONVINCED OVANDO, WHO UNACCOUNTABLY PREFERRED ADMIRAL HORACIO UGARTECHE AS MINDEFENSE, OF NEED TO HAVE POSSIBILITIES OF NEUTRALIZING CONGRESSIONAL CRITICISM, OVANDO MADE WEAK PRESENTATION AT MEETING OF ARMED LEADERS AND PRESIDENT WAS COPELLED TO MAKE PERSONAL APPEARANCE TO SWING MILITARY LEADERS INTO LINE. (ANAYA LATER REFUSED POSITION BUT BARRIENTOS HELP FIRM ON CIVILIAN APPOINTMENT).
(D) ANTI-MNR SENTIMENT. BARRIENTOS SAID HE HAS BEEN IMPRESSED BY HOW DEEPLY RESENTFUL THE BOLIVIAN PEOPLE REMAIN OF MNR. HE HAD DECLARED APRIL 9, THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE MNR’S ACCESSION TO POWER, A NATINAL FLAG DAY AND HAD BEEN SURPRISED BY THE SCANT DEGREE OF PUBLIC OBSERVANCE. HE SAID HE HAD BEEN SURPRISED BY UNEXPECTED DEGREE OF APPARENTLY POPULAR OPPOSITION TO WALTER GUEVARA, MNR FOUNDER AND FORMER LEADER, AS FOREIGN MINISTER.
(E) DEBRAY. BARRIENTOS WAS VAUGE ON GOB’S POSTTRIAL INTENTIONS WITH REGARD DEBRAY SUGGESTING THAT HE HAD NOT COMPLETELY MADE UP MIND ON SUBJECT. HOWEVER, HE SAID HE DID NOT SEE HOW GOVERNMENT COULD CONVENIENTLY KEEP DEBRAY AFTER TRIAL. I INTERJECTED THAT IF GOB WAS CONTEMPLATING MATERIAL OR PRISONER EXCHANGE, SUCH AS HAD BEEN SUGGESTED PUBLICLY, MIGHT FIND IT USEFUL TO CONSULT WITH US FIRST, SINCE WE HAD SOME EXPIRIENCE WITH CUBE IN THESE MATTERS.
(F) GURRILLES. PRESIDENT SAID BOLIVIAN ARMY THROUGH INFORMATION PROVIDED BY DEFECTOR WAS ON THRESHOLD OF UNCOVERING MOST SPECTACULAR ARMS AND SUPPLY CACHE TO DATE. HE SAID LOCATION WAS NOETH WEST OF IRIPITI IN AREA NOT UET SWEPT BY FOURTH DIVISION FORCES. HE SAID HE WAS INCLINED HIMSELF TO ASSUME COMMAND OF DISCOVERING FORCE BUT WAS, INSTEAD, INSISTING THAT OVANDO LEAD THE TROOPS AND GET THE CREDIT.
2. COMMENT, BARRIENTOS COMBINED CYNICISM, RELAISM AND TO MARKED DEGREE, RUTHLESSINESS HAS MADE HIM ADEPT AT MANIPULATING THE NATURAL DIVISIONS IN BOLIVIAN POLITICS. HE IS KEENLY AWARE OF PERSONAL VULNERABILITIES OF THOSE AROUND HIM AND QUICK TO USE THESE PRESSURE POINTS TO FORCE COMPLAINCE ALONG ADMINISTRATION LINES. HIS RESPECT AND CONFIDENCE IS INCREASINGLY GIVEN THOSE RELIABLE WITHOUT PERSONAL INTERSTS, LIKE ROMERO LOZA AND CRESPO.
3. OPPOSITIONISTS AND GOVERNMENT POLITICIANS ALIKE VIEW OVANDO AS A DADING POLITICAL STAR. DESPITE HIS DEROGATORY COMMENTS AND DIFFERING POLITICAL STYLE, BARRIENTOS HAS WORKED WELL IN TANDEM WITH OVANDO, PERHAPS PRINCIOALLY FOR THE REASON THAT HE BELIEVES PRESIDENTIAL CONTROL OF THE ARMED IS MOST CERTAIN THROUGH OVANDO’S SOMETIMES MALLEABLE AND INDECISIVE LEADERSHIP. THIS WOULD SEEM A MAJOR REASON BARRIENTOS HAS ALWAYS MADE (AND CONTINUES TO MAKE) SPECIAL EFFORT KEEP OVANDO’S NAME IN FOREFRONT AS KIND OF SECOND RATE POLITICAL CONSORT. HENDERSON
DOCUMENT NUMBER 113
SUBJECT: GUERRILLA CLASH
1. ARMED FORCES COMMUNIQUE ISSUED LATE NIGHT SEPT. 1 FROM GENERAL OVANDO’S HOME STATES: QUOTE FIRST – IN VIOLENT COMBAT IN MASICURI BAJO (BADO DE YESO) SOUTHERN GUERRILLA GROUP UNDER COMMAND OF CUBAN JOAQUIN WAS EXTERMINATED.
SECOND – BAF CASUALTIES: ONE DEAD, SOLDIER OF 12TH MANCHEGO INFANTRY REGIMENT.
THIRD – ENEMY DEAD: JOAQUIN, HEAD OF GROUP: ERNESTO: DOCTOR: WALTER: BRAULIO: MOSIES: TORO: TANIA: NEGRO: ALEJANDRO.
FOURTH – BODIES OF TANIA AND NEGRO HAVE NOT BEEN RECOVERED FROM WATERS OF RIO GRANDE. OTHER RODIES WERE TAKEN TO VALLEGRANDE, FROM WHERE WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO LA PAZ. END QUOTE.
2. MASICURI BAJO IS ABOUT 5 KILOMETERS NORTHWEST OF CONFLUENCE OF NANCAHUAZU AND RIO GRANDE RIVERS SOME 50 KILOMETERS SOUTHEAST OF VALLEGRANDE. ACCORDING TO PRESS OPERATION WAS CARRIED OUT BY FORCES OF 8TH DIVISION WHICH HAD BEEN TRAILING GUERRILLA BAND SINCE EARLY JUNE.
3. WE ARE SEEKING TO EVALUATE THIS REPORT ASAP ESPECIALLY INCLUDING THE LISTING OF ALLEGED GUERRILLA DEAD BY NICK NAMES KNOW TO HAVE BEEN USED BY CUBANS IN GUERRILLA FORCE, AND ARE INVESTIGANTING WHY THIS INFORMATION REACHED PRESS BEFORE PASSING THROUGH ESTABLISHED CHANNELS TO US.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 114
SUBJECT: GUERRILLA CLASH
1. DEFATT OBTAINED PRELIMINARY FOLLOW-UP DATA FROM BAF G-2 IRELIABLE SOURCE) ON MASICURI FOREFIGHT REFTEL UNIT FROM MANCHEGO REGIMENT CONTINUED TO TRAIL GUERRILLA GROUP AFTER CLASH AUGUST 30. ECOUNTERED GROUP AGAIN AT MASICURI PAJO NIGHT AUGUS 31. GROUP LISTED REFTEL, WHICH REPRESENTS GUERRILLA REARGUARD WERE ALL KILLED. UNLISTED BOLIVIAN NAMED PACO TAKEN PRISIONER. G-2 SAID NONE ESCAPED. G-2 SAID 2 OF THOSE KILLER WERE BOLIVIAN, REST CUBAN OR ARGENTINE, BUT HAD NO DETAILS ON MEANS OF IDENTIFICATION. UNIT ALSO CAPTURE DOCUMENTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ARMS AND EQUIPMENT.
2. COMMENT: BAF FIELEZREPORT OF AUGUS 31 CLASH WENT PERSONALLY TO AVANDO AND EVEN G-2 KNEW NOTHING OF IT UNTIL OVANDO RELEASED COMMUNIQUE TO PRESS.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 115
1. PURSUANT TO MY RECENT CONVERSATION IN DEPARTMENT WITH DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYRE, I TAKED TODAY WITH BRAZILIAN AMBASSADOR TO BOLIVIA LAURO ESCOREL ABOUT THE GUERRILLA SITUATION IN BOLIVIA AND, IN SPECULATIVE SENSE, ABOUT SOME POSSIBLE INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS SHOULD SINGNS OF SERIOUS DETERIORATION APPEAR. I EMPHASIZED REPEATEDLY THROUGHOUT CONVERSATION THE HYPOTHETICAL (AND VERY DELICATE) NATURE OF LATTER SUBJECT MATTER.
2. WE AGREED THAT SECURITY SITUATION IN BOLIVIA HAS IMPROVED MARKEDLY IN RECENT WEEKS, WITH BARRIENTOS EMERGING WITH UNDIMINISHED OR EVEN INCREASED STRENGTH FROM CRISES OVER ARMED INTERVENTION IN THE MINES, STUDENT MANIFESTATIONS AND CABINET SHAKEUP. BOLIVIAN MILITARY IS PERFORMING BETTER IN THE FIELD AGAINST GUERRILLAS, WHO APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN FEELING CREASED PRESSURE IN PAST WEEKS, AND WHO EVIDENTLY TOOK THEIR FIRST BAD MAULING NIGHT BEFORE LAS AT MASICURI (SEPARATELY REPORTE).
3. I OUTLIENED U.S. POSITION THAT GUERRILLA PROBLEM IS ESSENTIALLY BOLIVIAN ONE WHICH BOLIVIANS MUST SOLVE. I EXPLAINED HOW STRICTLY DELIMITED OUR BILATERAL ASSISTENCE IS, AND SKETCHED FOR HIM PLANS FOR SOME ADDITIONAL TRAINING AND EQUIPPING OF UNITS NEAR SANTA CRUZ. I INDICATED THAT IN GENERAL USG WOULD RELY ON EMBASSY LA PAZ TO KEEP FRIENFDLY EMBASSIES CURRENTLY INFORMED WITH RESPECT TO OUR INFORMATION AND VIEWS ON GUERRILLA PROBLEM. I ALSO REFERED TO NEWSPAPER REPORTS OF DISCOVERY BY GOB COMPROMISING DOCUMENTS WHICH I SUGGESTED HIS GOVERNMENT MIGHT WISH OFFER EVALUATE IN PREPARATION FOR MFM.
4. POSING HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION IN WHICH MILITARY IN NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES MIGHT WANT TO START SOME CONTINGENCY PLANNING ON BOLIVIA, I INQUIRED WHETHER ESCTWEL THOUGHT HIS GOVERNMENT HIS GOVERNMENT WOULF WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS SORT OF THING, OR WOULD INSTEAD PREFER TO DEFINE A BRAZILIAN POSITION ALONG THE LINES OF “NO CURRENT NEED”. HE EVADED THIS EITH AND “IT WOULD DEPEND” ANSWER, BUT DID SAY BRAZYL FELT ITS INTERESTS WERE DEEPLY INVOLVED IN THE BOLIVIAN SECURITY SITUATION, AND COULD NOT IDLY WATCH IT GO OUT OF CONTROL. HE SAID THERE HAD BEEN NO CONSULTATIONS WITH OTHER NEGHBORS ON CONTINGENCY PLANNING, SO FAR AS HE KNEW.
5. ESCOREL GAVE BRAZILIAN POSITION AGINST IAPF, WHICH AFFORDED ME OPPORTUNITY TO LAY OUT THE GRAVE INTERNATIONAL CONSEQUENCES WHICH COULD FLOW FROM UNILATERAL OR REGIONAL ARMED INTERVENTION IN BOLIVIA BY ONE OR MORE OF NEIGHBORS. IN THE CONTEXT OF REFERENCES TO GENERAL OVANDO’S CLOSE CONNECTIONS WITH ARGENTINE MILITARY, I AM SATISFIED THAT IT WAS ABUNDANTLY CLEAR TO ESCOREL THAT THERE COULD HAVE BEEN IN JUNE-JULY REASON FOR SOME CONCERN ABOUT ILL-ADVISED INTIATIVES FROM THAT QUARTER.
6. HAVING LEARNED FROM ME THAT I DID NOT EXPECT OUR EMBASSY IN BRAZIL TO HOLD SIMILARY TALK THERE, ESCOREL WILL DOUBTLESS REPORT OUR CONVERSATION IN FULL. HE IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY PERCEPTIVE AND ASTUTE DIPLOMAT AND I AM SURE GOT THE MESSAGE STRAIGHT, BUT CANNOT PREDICT THE TONE OR EMPHASES WHICH HE WILL GIVE IN HIS ACCOUNT. HE WAS AT HIS CAGEY, PROBING BEST IN THIS CONVERSATION, AND SAW FIT TO CONCEAL FROM ME AND EVEN DENY THE FACT WHICH I HAPPENED TO BE AWARE OF, THAT BRAZIL YESTERDAY DELIVERED QUNATITY OF AIRCRAFT ROCKETS TO BOLIVIA.
7. ESCOREL AND I AGREED THAT IT WOULD BE A FINE IDEA IF HE COULD BRING ABOUT A VISIT TO BRAZIL BY OVANDO, WHO HAS NO ACQUAINTANCE WITH THAT COUNTRY.
8. LETTER TO SAYRE FOLLOWS.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 116
1. Bolivian press reports of successful Army August 31 ambush of guerrilla rearguard have been substantially corroborated by other sources. At least seven and possibly more guerrillas killed with death of only one soldier. Encounter clearly represents army’s first important success.
2. Department believes this successful action by Bolivian Army will help to cool off any Latin American interest in intervention in Bolivia.
3. As regards very delicate problem of Argentine plans, (reference Buenos Aires Defatt 0773) Department wishes coordinate evaluation or replies to State 31273 following Country Director Pat Morris return from conversations with Ambassador Martin.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 117
SUBJECT: MILITARY CONTINGENCY PLANNING FOR BOLIVIA
1. COSTA MENDEZ WAS GREAT INFLUENCE WITH ONGANIA ON FIREIGN AFFAIRS, IS WELL AWARE OF PROBLEMS OF WITHDRAWAL FROM FOREIGN TERRITORY, AND PREVIOUSLY HAS CAUTIONED PRESIDENT AGAINST DIRECT MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN BOLIVIA.
2. IN LIGHT RECENT REPORTS OF ARGENTINE PERUVIAN DISCUSSIONS IN MILITARY CHANNELS ABOUT POSSIBLE TROOP ASSISTANCE TO BOLIVIA, BELIEVE IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO CONVEY INFORMALLY TO COSTA MENDEZ THREE POINTS, TAKING FOR GRANTED HE KNOWS ABOUT THESE INITATIVES OF ARGENTINE MILITARY:
(A) THAT WE HOPE US WILL NOT BE INVITED TO MILITARY MEETING, GIVEN HIM REASONS CITED BY GEN. MULLER IN HIS TALK WITH IAVICOLI SEPTEMBER6.
(B) THAT IN PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS BARRIENTOS HAS TAKEN POSITION THAT BRINGING FOREIGN TROOPS INTO BOLIVIA WOULD BE POLITICALLY DISASTROUS MOVE, VIEW WE FULL SHARE AT THIS TIME.
(C) THAT TALKS MAY HAVE PROVIDED BASIS, IF ANY, FOR PUBLIC REPORTS OF REQUEST FOR HELP, WERE NOT SO FAR AS WE CAN DETERMINE, REFLECTION OF COORDINEATED BOLIVIAN GOVERNMENT POSITION, AND THAT EVEN IF NEED FOR TROOP HELP ACCEPTED BY SOME OFFICIALS AT ONE TIME, RECENT ENCOURAGING DEVELOPMENTS IN BOLIVIA HAVE, WE SUSPECT, ALTERED THESE VIEWS.
3. AN OCCASION FOR DOING SO MAY ARISE AT MEETING OF SECRETARY WITH FOREIGN MINISTER IN NY, WHERE WE THINK FONMIN WILL ALMOST SURELY RAISE GUERRILÇLA PROBLEM BOTH ON ITS OWN AND AS ASPECT OF 12 MFM SEPTEMBER 13. REQUEST AUTHORITY TO MAKE THESE POINTS IF HE DOES S6.
4. ABOVE DISCUSSED WITH MORRIS WHO CONCURS. MARTIN
DOVUMENT NUMBER 118
1. BAF ANNOUNCED SEPTEMBER 7 THAT BODY OF QUOTE TANIA UNQUOTE FOUND ON BANKS RIO GRANDE RIVER AND IS BEING TRANSPORTED TO SANTA CRUZ. FINDING OF BODIES OF QUOTE NEGRO UNQUOTE AND QUOTE TANIA UNQUOTE COMFIRMS EARLY BAF REPORTS THAT, EXCEPT FOR IMAURED BOLIVIAN GUERRILLA QUOTE PACO UNQUOTE, ENTIRE GUERRILLA PATROL WIPED OUT IN ACTION OF AUGUST 31. HENDERSON
DOCUMENT NUMBER 119
1. IN CALL TODAY ON FONMIN WALTER GUEVARA AT HIS REQUEST, HE RAISED QUESTION OF PREPARATIONS FOR MFM ON CUBAN INTERVENTION.
2. I URGED THAT GOB DISTINGUISH BETWEEN DEBRAY TRAIL. WHERE ADVERSE WOLD PUBLIC OPINION HAS HEAD START DIFFICULT OR IMPOSSIBLE TO OVERTAKE, AND MFM PRESENTATION ON CUBAN INTERVENTION WHERE SHOWING WOULD BE INVALUABLE TO BOLIVIAN CASE, AND WOULD PUT DEBRAY ISSUE INTO SHADOW. GUEVARA AGREED.
3. GUEVARA SAID THAT GOB IN FACT HAS FIRM INTENTION TO MAKE STRONGEST POSSIBLE CASE AT MFM, AND AT SAME TIME INTENDS TO CONSULT WITH GOVERNMENT OF VENEZUELA TO AVOID ANY APPEARANCE OF ATTEMP TO UPSTAGE LATTER. HE ADMITTED THAT BECAUSE OF HEAVY PREOCCUPATION WITH OTHER ISSUES IN THE FEW WEEKS SINCE HE TOOK OFFICE. HE HED NOT YET HAD OPPOR. TUNITY TO MAKE CONTACTS WITH GOV.
4. GUEVARA SAID HE WOULD HOPE TO PRODUCESDESIRED EFFECT AT MFM WITH PRESENTATIONINCLUDING DISPLAY OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS GIVING VISUAL EVIDENCE OF PRE ENE CHE GUEVARA AND OTHER CUBAN GUERRILLAS IN ARMED ACTION AGAINST GOB IN BOLIVIA. HE SAID HE NOW RECEIVING COMPLETE COOPERATION BAF. INCLUDING OVANDO. HE ASKED THAT WE HELP HIM WITH TECHNICAL SIDE OF PRESENTATION.
5. RESPONDING TO MY SUGGESTION THAT GOB REQUEST OTHER GOVDAVMENTS EVALUATE DOCUMENTS, PARTICULARLY FORGED PASSPORTS, HE AGREED THAT WRITTEN EVALUATION FROM THESE GOVERNMENTS WOULD BE ESSENTIAL, BUT FEARED DELAYS, ALTHOUGH AGREEING TO TRY.
6. GUEVARA THOUGHT DRAFT VENEZUSLAN REVOLUTION WEAK AND INEFECTIVE. HE INTENDS PROPOSE TO OA XA DEFINITION OF GUERRILLA AS MANIFESTATION OF ARMED FOREIGN INTERBENTION IN DOMESTIC AFFAIRS, AUTOMATICALLY BRINGING INTO OPERATION AGREEMENTS TO COMBAT INTERVENTION.
7. SECOND POINT, AND ACKNOWLEDGING HIS AWARENESS OUR GENERAL POLICY OF KEEPING REGIONAL PROBLEMS IN OAS, HE SAID THAT OAS SHOULD SUBMIT RESOLUTION TO UNGA WITH MOTION TO CONDEMN CUBA’S AGGRESSION. HE FELT THAT THIS FORUM WOULD HAVE FAR GREATER PUBLIC RELATIONS IMPACT, BUT REALIZED NEED FOR AND BESPOKE USG COOPERATION WITHOUT WHICH THIS EFFORT WOULD FAIL ACHIEVE NECESSARY VOTING STRENGTH.
8. GUEVARA EXPRESSED LITTLE INTEREST IN OAS RESOLUTION ON SHIPPING CONTROLS, AND CLAIMED THAT ARGENTINE, BRAZILIAN, AND OTHER FONMIN AGREED WITH HIM IN INFORMAL TALKS AT RECENT ASUCION LAFTA MEETING THAT PROPOSED TOUR OF CAPITALS OUTSIDE HEMISPHERE BY LA REPRESENTATIVES SEEKING TIGHTER SHIPPING CONTROLS HAD SO LITTLE OUTLOOK FOR SUCCESS AS SCARCELY TO MERIT CONSIDERATION.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 120
1. IN PLICY STATEMENT YESTERDAY AT VALLEGRANDE PRIOR VISITING GUERRILLA ZONE MASICURI, BARRIENTOS OFFERED QUOTE MAXIMUN GUARANTIES UNQUOTE TO ANY BOLIVIAN GUERRILLAS WHO SURRENDER. PRESIDENT SAID QUOTE I HAVE MADE THIS TRIP PURPOSE GAINING CANTACT WITH BOLIVIANS WHI HAVE BEEN RECRUITED BY FOREIGN AGENTS WHO CAME TOOUQCREATE PAIN, SUFFERING AND COMMOTIONNUNQUOTE. HE ADDED QUOTE IF I GAIN SOME CONTACT WITH BOLIVIANS WHO WERE CONTRACTED AS BUTCHERS IN THIS STERILE AND USELESS CONFLICT I WILL OFFER THEM MAXIMUM GUARANTIES IN ORDER PUT ASIDE BLOODY BATTLE AND EXTRICATE CASTRO-COMMUNIST AGENTS WHO THEMSELVES TO ARMED FORCES PATROLS UNQUOTE.
2. COMMENT: ALTHOUGH SPECIFICS PROFFERED GUARANTIES NOT SPELLED OUT, PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT SEEMS MAJOR DEPARTURE FORMER UNOFFICIAL ARMED FORCES POLICYHCOCKILLING ALL GUERRILLAS AND FAILING DIFERENTIATE DEFECTORS. COUNTRY TEAM HAS LONG BEEN URGING POLICY SUCH AS THAT NOW ENUN. CIATED AND IT IS HOPED PRESIDENTIAL WORDS WILL BE IMPLEMENTED BY ARMED FORCES.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 121
SUBJECT: CHE GUEVARA
1. PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS, IN SURPRISE PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT SEPTEMBER 11, STATED GOB HAS EVIDENCE CHE GUEVARA HAS BEN IN BOLIVIA, HE OFFERED FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS FOR CAPTURE OF GUEVARA, PREFERABLY ALIVE.
2. THIS IS CHANGE FROM PRESIDENTIAL SKEPTICISM EXPRESSED PUBLICLY DURING WEEKEND TRIP TO GUERRILLA ZONE WHEN HE DECLARED HIS DOUBT THAT QUOTE CHE IS IN BOLIVIA AND I MAINTAIN MY ORIGINAL POSITION THAT CHE IS DEAD UNQTE.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 122
1. ALL INDICATIONS HERE POINT TO COMPLETE IDENTIFY BETWEEN MILITARY VIEWS AND THOSE EXPRESSED BY BRAZILIAN EMBASSY, BUENOS AIRES ON THE BOLIVIAN SITUATION.
2. BRAZILIAN ARMED FORCES ARE DISPLAIYNG SLIGHTLY MORE INTEREST IN BOLIVIAN SITUATION THAN SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, BUT THIS LARGELY REACTION TO RUMORS THAT APPROXIMATELY FIFTEEN BRAZILIANS IDENTIFIED AS MEMBERS OF BOLIVIAN GUERRILLA GROUP. THE BRAZILIAN ARMY REPORTEDLY HAS UP-DATED A TWO-YEAR OLD PLAN FOR LIMITED MATERIAL ASSISTANCE TO BOLIVIA, BUT IS DOUBTFUL THAT A REQUEST WILL COME FROM LA PAZ IN VIEW OF PERSISTENT BOLIVIAN MILITARY UNHAPPINESS OVER THE CAVALIER TREATMENT ACCORDED BOLIVIAN CHIEF OF STAFF KOLLE CUETO IN RIO DURING HIS PROPE FOR HELP LAST MARCH.
3. DURING VISIT TO ARMA LAST WEEK, THE ARGENTINE MILITARY ATTACHE LEFT A COPY OF A BOLIVIAN SITUATION ASSESSMENT PREPARED BY THE ARMED FORCES STAFF IN BUENOS AIRES. IN ESSENCE, THE EARLY AUGUST VIEW OF THE ARGENTINES WAS THAT BOLIVIA UNLIKELY TO ELIMINATE GUERRILLAS SOON, BUT THAT PRESENT GUERRILLA FORCES DID NOT REPRESENT THREAT TO GOVERNMENT IF SIMILAR OUTBREAKS DID NOT OCCUR ELSEWHERE IN COUNTRY. THE ARGENTINE ATTACHE BITTERLY DENOUNCED THE LACK OF INTEREST OF BRAZILIAN MILITARY MEN, HE DEPLORED THE APPARENT COOLING OFF IN RELATIONS BETWEEN THE ARMED FORCES OF THE TWO NATIONS AND HE BLAMED FOREIGN MINISTER MAGALHAES PINTO FOR BRAZIL’S INDIFFERENCE. BELTON
DOCUMENT NUMBER 123
1. USIS PERSUAL OF PUBLISHED MATERIALS DO NOT DISCLOSE ANY REPORTS WHICH COULD HAVE LED TO THIS MEASURE AND AS FAR AS WE (OR CANELAS) ARE AWARE THERE ARE PUBLISHED REPORTS UNDER HIS BYLINE OF AUGUST 30.
2. USIS CONTRETS REVEAL THAT THIS “EXPLUSION” INCIDENT APPARENTLY TRINGGERED BY MILITARY’S BELIEF THAT (A) CANELAS HAS BEEN “PASSING NOTES AND INFORMATION” TO
DOCUMENT NUMBER 124
SUBJECT: Press Article on Che Guevara
Following is an informal translation of an article written by Humberto VACAFLOR Ganam, which appeared in theSeptember 13 issue of the La Paz daily Presencia, entitled, “Che Guevara in Bolivia.” The article believed to be substantially accurate, although CAS states that Guevara probably entered Bolivia by place, traveling directly to La Paz, in November 1966, and not by crossing the frontier with Brazil at Corumba in January 1967, as stated in the article.
Vacaflor is an enterprising journalist and apparently obtained some of the information from Bolivian Armed Forces (BAF) sources. Since this article appeared (although apparently for different reasons), the BAF has revoked Vacaflor’s press credentials to enter the operational zone, including Camiri.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 125
SUBJECT: WHEREABOUTS CHE GUEVARA
1. EMBASSY HAS BEEN QUERIED INFORMALLY BY FONOFF RE ACCUARACY STATEMENT CONCERNING CHE GUEVARA ATTRIBUTED TO BOLIVIA FONMIN GUEVARA ARCE DURING HIS STOPOVER LIMA, SEPTEMBER 17. ACCORDING TO EXPRESSED SEPTEMBER 18 FONMIN SAID “WE ARE COMPLETELY SURE THAT CHE GUEVARA IS IN OUR COUNTRY.” LA PRENSA QUOTED HIM AS SAYING”… IT IS POSSIBLE HE IS STILL IN BOLIVIA.”
2. REQUEST URGENT GUINDANCE RE LINE EMBASSY SHOULD FOLLOW.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 126
1. We understand Bolivian Gov’t is informing OAR’s, thru diplomatic channels, on capture of assorted documents including passports and photographs, which strongly substantiate presence Cubans, including Che Guevara, in guerrilla band in southeast Bolivia. Bolivian Foreign Minister will exhibit documents at MFM to demonstrate Cuban intervention in Bolivia.
2. Documents in question were captured in course of Army operations in guerrilla zone in July and August. They include 4 Uruguayan, 6 Panamanian, 7 Ecuadorian, 2 Colombian and one Peruvian passports; notebooks, and snapshots apparently taken in guerrilla camp.
3. Two of the Uruguayan passports contain photographs which are said to be almost certainly Che Guevara in disguise. Thumbprints in each clearly match prints know to be of Che. Available evidence indicates Guevara entered Bolivia in November 1966, remained guerrillas until at least April 1967. Possibility is not ruled out he may still be with band. Other Cubans positively identified are: Commandant Juan V. Acuna, Capt. Orlando Pantoja, Capt. Eliseo Reyes, Capt. Jesus Suarez, and Commandant Gustavo Machin. It is noteworthy that all foregoing know to have played important role with Castro and Guevara in anti-Batista struggle and represent QUOTE first team UNQUOTE insurgents. Most hold, or help, important positions in Castro regime. Also noteworthy that according to info provided by defectors and prisoners, Cubans assumed full leadership for all operations in Bolivia.
4. We understand Foreign Minister Guevara, in exhibiting documents at MFM, will call upon interested members of OAS to assist in their evaluation. Countries whose passports are involved will be requested by GOB to cooperate in providing strongest possible evidence to document their fraudulent nature. U.S. planning respond by offering technical examination of materials other than passports and we prepared to assist with passport examination if requested by country involved.
5. Should host raise question prior to Bolivian presentation at MFM, you should respond that U.S. also informed by GOB of existence of documents, that we prepared to supply whatever technical assistance is needed in evaluation of material, and that we hope full cooperation will given Bolivia in any requests it makes to other governments for evaluation.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 127
SUBJ: Bolivian MFM Presentation
1. FonMin made presentation at MFM at 1500 hours, accompanied speech with slide exhibits of photos, passports, handwriting samples, etc. showing Cuban, Che Guevara intervention. In course of speech expressed hope that OAR’s would contribute to through-going evaluation of evidence. In conclusion, Guevara indicated Bolivian support for Venezuelan resolution but pointed out that international nature of Cuban-inspired intervention posed whole new range of problems for hemisphere which must be dealt with on regional basis, rather than each nation individually. He called on OAS study closely the threat from this viewpoint.
2. Presentation somewhat marred by poor organization and operation of slides, but received exceptionally heavy press coverage. General impression is that audience accepted thesis Che Guevara alive and was active in Bolivia.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 128
SUBJECT: CHE GUEVARA
1. LATE SEPTEMBER 26 I WAS PASSED MESSAGE FROM A SOURCE WHO HAD JUST TALKED TO PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS, TO EFFECT THAT BOLIVIAN ARMY DURING DAY HAD KILLED CHE GUEVARA AND THREE OTHER GUERRILLAS IN BOLIVIAN ARMY EIGHTH DIVISION AREA NORTH OF RIO GRANDE. GEN. OVANDO LATER CONFIRMED TO SAME SOURCE THAT SEVERAL GUERRILLAS KILLED THAT DAY, BUT NOT AS CERTAIN AS BARRISNTOS (WHO HAD SAID “98 PER CENT CERTAIN”) THAT CHE AMONG DEAD.
2. PRESS MORNING SEPTEMBER 27 CARRIES ARMED FORCES COMMUNIQUE STATING THREE GUERRILLAS KILLED AT HIGUERA ON RIO GRANDE RIVER SOUTHWEST OF VIA GRANDE: BODIK BEING TAKEN TO VIA GRANDE FOR IDENTIFICATION. COMMUNIQUE STATES THERE WERE NO ARMY LOSSES.
3. SEEKING VERIFICATION CHE GUEVARA REPORT THROUGH INTELLIGENCE CHANNELS.
4. COMMENT: SOME HOGH GOB SOURCES HAVE BEEN HINTING TO US RECENTLY THAT GOB WOULD SPRING SENSATIONAL SURPRISE DURING DEBRAY TRIAL.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 129
SUBJECT: # GARBLED PORTION OMMITTED
GOB ISSUED COMMUNIQUE AFTERNOON SEPTEMBER 27 THAT GUERRILLA BODIES RECOVERED AFTER SEPTEMBER 26 FIREFIGHT IDENTIFIED AS BOLIVIAN LEADER QUOTE COCO UNQUOTE PEREDO, CUBAN QUOTE ANTONIO UNQUOTE, AND UNIDENTIFIED THIRD GUERRILLA.
IN RESPONSE TO QUESTION, GOB SPOKEMAN SAID CHE GUEVARA WAS NOT AMONG KNOW CASUALTIES. FONOFF EXEC MONTENEGRO LATER REPORTED THIRD GUERRILLA UNDENTIFIED AS CUBAN QUOTE JULIO UNQUOTE.
NOTE: CORRECTION TO FOLLOW.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 130
1. NO BOLIVIAN OFFICIAL HAS REVEALED EITHER DIRECTLYOR INDIRECTLY THORUGH ANY INTELLIGENCE SOURCE, REQUEST TO ANY NEIGHBOR COUNTRY FOR TROOPS TO ASSIST IN COUTER-GUERRILLA OPERATIONS.
2. PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS PUBLICLY DENIED IN MOST UNEQUIVOCAL TERMS RUMOR WHICH CIRCULATED SEVERAL WEEKS AGO THAT BOLIVIA HAD REQUESTED TROOPS FROM OUTSIDE COUNTRY.
3. IT IS FACT OF LIFE IN THIS SUPER-NATIONALISTIC COUNTRY THAT ANY INVITATION TO FOREIGN GOVERNMENT TO PUT TROOPS ON BOLIVIAN SOIL IS POLITICAL DYNAMITE WHICH COULD READILY BLOW LEADER RESPONSIBLE FOR IT OFF THE SCENE.
4. OVANO IS CAPABLE OF MAKING ADVANCES ON HIS OWN TO MILITARY COUNTERPARTS IN NEIGHBOR COUNTRIES ALONG LINES REPORTED IN BA DAO REPORT 0773, PARTICULARY TO ARGENTINA TO WHICH HE ORIENTED BY EARLY TRAINING. WE THINK IT UNLIKELY HE WOULD HAVE CONSULTED BARRIENTOS, AND UNLIKELY THAT ANYTHING WILL COME OF IT U VLESS GUERRILLA THREAT GROWS FAR BEYOND DIMENSIONS TO PUT GOB IN OBVIOUSLY DESPERATE SITUATION. WE CAN POSTULATE THAT IN LATE JUNE, WITH GUERRILLA WAR GOING BADLY AND ARMED FORCES PRESTIGE DIMINISHED FURTHER BY INTERVENTION IN MINES, OVANDO MAY HAVE SOUNDED OUT ARG MILITARY FRIENDAS. WE DOUBT HOWEVER THAT OVANDO WOULD HAVE MADE AN UNEQUIVOCAL INVITATION, WHICH WOULD BE CONTRARY HIS NATURE.
5. THERE IS AWAYS IN THE BACKGROUND OF COURSE THE EMOTIONAL ATTRACTIVES TO BOLIVIANS OF CARRYING ON MILITARY FLIRTATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS WHICH WILL CAUSE DISCOMEFITURE TO THE CHILEANS.
6. TODAY REOPRT, APPARENTLY ACCURATE, THAT BOLIVIAN ARMY ON NIGHT AUGUST 31 WIPED OUT ENTIRE 8-MAN GUERRILLA REARGURAD, SHOULD COOL OFF FOREIGN TROOP QUESTION VERY CONSIDERABLY.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 131
SUBJECT: CHE GUEVARA AND GUERRILLAS
1. PRESENCIA OCTOBER 9 REPORTS CAPTURE QUOTE CHE UNQUOTE GUEVARA. GUERRILLAS REPORTED LOST THREE DEAD TWO SERIOUSLY WOUNDED ANDCAPTURED INCLUDING QUOTE CHE UNQUOTE IN SIX HOUR FIREFIGHT OCTOBER 8 WITH UNIT 2ND RANGERS SEVEN KILOMETERS NORTH HIGUERA. BAF LOSSES TWO DEAD AND FOUR WOUNDED. GENERAL OVANDO REPORTEDLY PROCEEDING VALLEGRANDE TODAY AT HEAD INVESTIGATING TEAM PURPOSE INDENTIFYING GUERRILLA DEAD AND CAPTURED.
2. COMMENT: THIS CONFIRMS BAF CONVICTION QUOTE CHE UNQUOTE GUEVARA, EILRIR SERIOUSLY WOUNDED OR ILL AND AMONG CAPTURED. AMONG DEAD ARE BELIEVED TWO CUBANS QUOTE ANTONIO UNQUOTE AND QUOTE ARTURO UNQUOTE NOT OTHERWISE IDENTIFIED. ALSO CAPTURED IS SAID TO BE BOLIVIAN QUOTE WILLY UNQUOTE (IDENTIFIED AS SIMON CUBA). DUE NIGHTFALL, EVACUATION DEAD AND WONDED GUERRILLAS TO VALG BOCDE DEFERRED UNTIL MORNING OCTOBER 9. BAF BELIEVES RANGERS HAVE SURROUNDED GUERRILLA FORCE BOXED INTO KANYON EXPECT ELIMIATE SOON.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 132
1. PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS AT 10 A.M. OCTOBER 9 TOLD GROUP OF NEWSMEN, BUT NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THAT CHE GUEVARA IS DEAD.
2. NO FURTHER CONFIRMATION OR DETAILS AS YET.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 134
SUBJECT: CHE GUEVARA
ACCORDING TO SAME SOURCE AS GIVEN REFTEL, CHE GUEVARA DIED OF HIS WOUNDS TODAY OCTOBER 9.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 135
SUBJECT: DEATH CHE GUEVARA
1. IN STATEMENT TO PRESS EVENING OCTOBER 9 COLONEL MARCOS VASQUES SEMPERTEGUI, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF, EXPRESSED 90 PERCENT CERTAINTY CHE GUEVARA AMONG SEVEN GUERRILLAS KILLES, YAGUEY CANYON OCTOBER 8, BAF LOSSES FOUR DEAD AND FOUR WOUNDED. PRESS REPORTS DEAD GUERRILLAS IN ADDITION GUEVARA ARE ARTURO, ANTONIO, ANICETO, WILLY AND TWO UNDETIFIED. GENERALS OVANDO AND LA FUENTE WENTO VALLEGRANDE OCTOBER 9 AND REPORTEDLY CONFIRMED DEATH GUEVARA. REMAINS ARE BEING EMBALMED AND FINGERPRINTS WILL BE TAKEN. USIS CAMERAMAN AS PART OF PRESS CONTINGENT PROCEEDED VALLEGRANDE MORNING OCTOBER 10 IN PRESIDENTIAL PLANE.
2. TWO DAY OPERATION 2ND RANGERS IN AGUEY CANYON, SEVEN KILOMETERS NORTH HIGUERA, REPORTEDLY COMPLETED AFTERNOON OCTOBER 9. CLARIFICATION CONFLICTING REPTRTS EXACT NUMBER GUERRILLA LOSSES AWAITING RETURN COMBAT UNIT. OVANDO STATES REMAINING GUERRILLA FORCE BELIEVED VERY SMALL FRACTION LED BY INTI PEREDO.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 136
1. Reuters carrying story by Roper describing arrival Guevara body in Vallegrande. Article states in part:
QUOTE As soon as the body was taken across the airport to a shed which severs as a mortuary, a stout balding man, dressed in jungle green uniform, made attempt stop newsmen from seeing body. Although he was not identified, the man, in his mid-30’s, appeared be directing the operation. Reports here said he was a Cuban exile working for CIA named Ramos. UNQUOTE
Article continues that at one point Ramos shouted in English QUOTE Let’s get the hell out of here UNQUOTE but later professor no knowledge of English when questioned by English speakers in crowd.
2. Dept, if questioned on this matter will have no comment.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 137
SUBJ: DEATH OF CHE GUEVARA
1. ACCORDING FONOFF SUBSEC MONTENEGRO, PRESIDENT POSITIVELY CONFIRMED TO FONOFF AT 1630 HOURS OCTOBER 10 IDENTITY OF CADAVER AS THAT OF CHE GUEVARA AND BOLIVIAN POSTS ABROAD ACCORDINGLY NOTIFIED. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, NEWS BEGAN TO POUR BACK FROM JOURNALISTS WHO HAD LEFT TO VIET BODY IN VALLEGRANDE. AMONG MORE SALIENT POINTS WERE:
(A) IDENTIFICATION CONFIRMED BY FINGERPRINT COMPARISONS OBTAINED FROM ARGENTINA. (PRESENCIA CONTAINS FIVE COLUMN OUT ON FRONT PAGE OF CADAVER.)
(B) GUEVARA WAS CAPTURED MORTALLY WOUNDED. DUE TO CONDITION, ACCORDING TO 8TH DIVISION COMMANDER ZENTENO ANAYA, HE COULD NOT BE INTERROGATED. ACCORDING SAME SOURCE, GUEVARA UTTERED LAST WORDS AT TIME OF CAPTURE, QUOTE I AM CHE GUEVARA AND I HAVE FAILED UNQUOTE.
(C )GUVARA’S DIARY, ACCORDING TO SENTENO WAS FOUND IN KNAPSACK AND CONTAINS EVIDENCE THAT DEBRAY PARTICIPATED IN QUOTE GUERRILLA MISSION UNQUOTE. DIARY WILL EVENTUALLY BE MADE PUBLIC BUT NOT UNTIL MILITARY TRIBUNAL IN CAMIRI HAS HAD OPPORTUNITY TO REVIEW CONTENTS.
(D) PRISIONER IDENTIFIED OTHER FALLEN GUERRILLAS AS ANUWETO AND WILLY (BOLIVIANS), ARTUTO, ANTONIO AND PANCHO (CUBANS) AND EL CHICO (PERUVIAN). OFFICIAL ARMED FORCES COMMUNIQUE OCTOBER 10 CONFIRMS ABOVE EXCEPT FOR NATIONALITY OF ANICETO AND IDENTITY OF PANCHO AND EL CHICO. ACCORDING PRESS, BURIAL TO TAKE PLACE AT VALLEGRANDE EXCEPT FOR GUEVARA WHOSE BODY, ACCORDING TO RADIO, MAY BE BROUGHT TO LA PAZ.
(E) ACCORDING TO MILITARY SOURCES CITED IN PRESS, GUERRILLA FORCE ESTIMATED AT ABOUT 50 WHEN ACTION BEGAN LAST MAECH. OF THIS BEEN KILLED IN ACTION, SEVEN TAKEN PRISIONER, AND NINE REMAIN FIGHTING IN THE AREA OF HIGUERAS (INTI, NATO, PABLO, CHAPAGO, URBANO, BENIGNO, EUSTAQUIO, DARIO AND POMBO).
(F) RESPONDING TO STATEMENT APPEARING IN EL DEIARIO OCTOBER 10, NEWSMAN ASKED ZENTENO IF QUOTE SOME MEMBERS OF THE CIA ARE WORKING ON INVESTIGATION UNQUOTE. ACCORDING TO TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE APPEARING IN EL DIARIO OCTOBER 11, ZENTENO REPLIED QUOTE ONLY NATIONAL ELEMENTS HAVE BEEN AIDING US. I AM UNAWARE OF THE PRESENCE OF ANY OTHERS, UNQUOTE.
3. MEANWHILE, PUBLIC STATEMENTS BY OFFICIALS IN LA PAZ INDICATE GOB CONVICTION THAT GUERRILLA THREAT IS ALL BUT LIQUIDATED. PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS SUMMARIZED FOR THE PRESS QUOTE THREE ERRORS UNQUOTE OF CHE GUEVARA:
(1) HIS BELIEF THAT GOB WAS REACTIONARY, (2) BELIEF THAT CAMPESIONS OF NANCAHUAZU AND OF ENTIRE REGION WOULD AID GUERRILLAS, AND (3) UNDERSTIMATION OF BOLIVIAN ARMY. GENERAL OVANDO SAID IN VALLEGRANDE THAT QUOTE THE CRUEL ADVENTURE IS PRACTICALLY TERMINATED. AS ANY CRAZY ADVENTURE, IT WAS A FAILURE UNQUOTE. HE ADDED, AS REASON FOR GUERRILLA FAILURE, SELECTION OF SOUTHEASTERN ZONE WHICH WHILE OFFER ING TACTICAL ADVANTAGES STRATEGIC- ALLY CONDEMNED THE MOVEMENT TO FAILURE. PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS, IN PRESING BAF, DENIED THAT THE ARMY HAD RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL HELP FROM THE UNITED STATES, EXCEPT FOR SHIPMENT OF DRY RATIONS. CONGRESS HAS RESOLVED HONOR PRESIDENT, COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF ARMED AND MILITARY IN SPECIAL SESSION OCTOBER 11.
3. DEFATT INFORMED BY MILITARY SOURCE THAT GOB INTENDS DIVIDE 50.000 PESO REWARD FOR CAPTURE CHE GUEVARA BETWEEN CAMPESINO GUIDES AND OTHER LOCAL RESIDENTS WHO COLLABORATED WITH ARMED FORCES IN TRACKING DOWN GUERRILLAS DURING LAST FEW WEEKS OF CAMPAIGN.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 138
*Bolivia: Cuban supported guerrillas have been nearly wiped out by recent army operations.
For the past three weeks, the Bolivian Army has scored a number of successes against the guerrillas. In the latest encounter at least seven guerrillas were killed. One of these has been tentatively identified as Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The Bolivian Army believes that the remaining guerrillas are surrounded and will soon be eliminated.
The defeat of the guerrillas will be a severe blow to Fidel Castro. Although in itself this is not likely to weaken Castro’s determination to continue to foment armed revolution in the hemisphere, it will dim the enthusiasm of many Latin American extremists who have been making plans along these lines.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 139
SUBJECT: Observations on Bolivian Guerrilla Threat
1. Current Foreign Relations, Issue No. 40, October 4, 1967, contains an excellent summary of the development and decline of the Bolivian guerrilla problem. With the death of the guerrilla leader, positively identified as “Che” Guevara, and substantial destruction of the “main body” of the guerrilla force, some further and necessarily tentative comment would seem appropriate especially with regard to the victory of “one of the weakest security forces in Latin America” over highly trained and ideologically motivated Cuban-led guerrilla professionals.
2. The designers of the Bolivian insurgency appear to have made a major miscalculation in constructing the Bolivian effort after the Cuban model. The eastern lowlands of the Andes and the Bolivian campesino do not find their counterparts easily in the Sierra Maestre Mountains and the Cuban rural peasant of 1959.
3. The area between Camiri and Vallegrande is rugged tropical terrain; it is also disease ridden, largely unpopulated, and with an extremely difficult climate. Also unlike Cuba, the Bolivian guerrilla zone is almost completely inaccessible to populations living in the altiplano, where traditionally social unrest is greatest but by the nature of the treeless sweep of mountain and plateau a “Cuban-style” guerrilla operation could not be mounted.
4. This must be a major reason why, throughout the conflict, there appears to have been almost no contact in the form of covert propaganda between the guerrillas and the Bolivian populace. Even the support apparatus, recently discovered in linking up with the guerrilla force once the presence of insurgents was known publicly. Testimony from various guerrilla prisoners and defectors likewise points to a continued lack of supplies, chronic hunger, loss of bearings, desertion by Bolivian elements, debilitating illness, and a breakdown in morale – most of which occurred between the Samaipata incident July 6, the peak of guerrilla effectiveness, and the destruction of the rearguard by a Bolivian Army unit on August 31, the apparent beginning of the end. During this period, there was negligible contact between the Army and the guerrillas emphasizing the fact that, while the Armed Forces contributed to the guerrillas’ isolation by being a bothersome and persistant presence, the most important factor leading to the deterioration of the guerrilla forces was the vast, remote, and naturally hostile pocket of land in which they had placed themselves.
5. By the end of August, the guerrillas were weakened by attrition and the Army strengthened by experience and by the entrance on duty if the counterinsurgency-trained 2nd Ranger Battalion. The result was a “surprising” series of Bolivian Army victories on August 31, September 26, and October 8-9, culminating in the death of “Che” Guevara.
6. The other major factor in the guerrilla defeat was the role performed by the sparse campesino population of the area. Guerrilla theorists expected to exploit a latent anti-government sentiment among the native populations. Indeed. The evidence suggests that insurgents hoped “to sttle in” and build a “Bolivian” base for a full scale insurrection not to begin until late in 1967. The timetable, to be sure, seems to have been upset by the premature discovery by the Army in March 1967. Nonetheless, to our knowledge, the guerrillas, although with at least four months preparation, failed to attract a single campesino of the immediate area to the movement. The campesino sold his produce to the extremely well-paying guerrilla shoppers and probably served as an occasional guide, but in none of the prisoner accounts does he appear as more than a mute and passive actor in the drama.
7. The Bolivian campesino of eastern Chuquisaca and southwestern Santa Cruz is a much more primitive being the Cuban peasant in 1959. He is conservative in the protection of his own interests and suspicious of interlopers whether they be foreigners, a distinction he might be hard pressed to make, or representatives of the government, the existence of which he may be only vaguely aware. He has no tradition of aggravated landlordism to rebel against, and in an area where the bubonic plague has only recently and apparently temporarily been eliminated, there is no invidious example of a better life for him strive toward. He is, for the most part, completely without conventional political awareness and sophistication.
8. In this setting, he cooperated self-interestedly with the guerrilla but likewise with the Armed Forces. The recent tracking of the guerrilla bands appears to have been done almost wholly through the help of campesino guides and informers. Unless the sudden and striking attention he has received from both sides has had the effect of alerting him to the existence of a better life, he will probably welcome the departure of both elements foreign to his experience and the return to normality.
9. A curiously unprofessional aspect of the guerrilla’s life, an aspect which has raised doubt the design of the operation in the minds of foreign journalists, has been his preoccupation with keeping diaries, records of various kinds, and taking photographs, the discovery of which has led to the disclosure of the La Paz support apparatus and provided the Army with valuable descriptive information. This can perhaps be explained by the guerrillas’ conviction that he represented the wave of the future, a desire to record a series of historic events, and a belief that a movement of this nature could not suffer such dramatic setbacks so quickly. It also supports the thesis that the guerrillas were in a casual “setting up” phase when the Army blundered into them on March 23. Most of the pictures captured and printed in the press appear to have been taken during the first three months of 1967 and afterwards there was little time for “picnic”- type photographs. However, the diarists, including “Che”, continued their work and their record, when released, will help to document and historic failure rather the other purpose they may have hoped to serve. In the guerrilla chieftains were captive of their ideology and prior experience as to see a similarity between the Sierra Maestre and Nancahuazu, they are not the “supermen” many have supposed and their error in leaving such a complete record behind is more understandable.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 140
SUBJ: CHE GUEVARA
1. GENERAL ALFREDO OVANDO HAS ANNOUNCED BURIAL CHE GUEVARA OCTOBER 11 UNMARKED GRAVE VALLEGRANDE. HE ADDED QUOTE REMAINS NO DOUBT THAT CHE IS DEAD, IT IS AN INCONTROVERTIBLE FACT UNQUOTE AND ADDED THAT FOREIGN NEWSMEN WHO WERE IN VALLEGRANDE HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED TAKE GUEVARA’S FINGERPRINTS IF THEY DESIDERED. HE ALSO ANNOUNCED 2ND RANGER BATTALION HAD DECIDED DONATE 50.000 PESOS REWAD TO SMALL TOWN OF HIGUERA NEAR WHERE ACTION TOOK PLACE.
2. ARMY EXPECTS EARLY CAPITULATION REMAINING GUERRILLA FRAGMENT BELIEVED LOCATED NEAR HIGUERA.
3. COMMENT: PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS TOLD AMBASSADOR OCTOBER 12 THAT ARMED FORCES PLAN CREMATE GUERRILLA DEAD INCLUDING THOSE BURIED VALLEGRANDE, PRESUMABLY AVOID CREATION FUTURE GUERRILLA SHRINES.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 141
“Che” Guevara’s death was a crippling—perhaps fatal—blow to the Bolivian guerrilla movement and may prove a serious setback for Fidel Castro’s hopes to foment violent revolution in “all or almost all” Latin American countries. Those Communists and others who might have been prepared to initiate Cuban-style guerrilla warfare will be discouraged, at least for time, by the defeat of the foremost tactician of the Cuban revolutionary strategy at the hands of one of the weakest armies in the hemisphere. However, there is little likelihood that Castro and his followers throughout Latin America will cease their efforts to foment and support insurgency, albeit perhaps with some tactical modifications.
The mystery of Guevara. Argentine-born Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Fidel Castro’s righthand man and chief lieutenant in the Sierra Maestra, author of a book on guerrilla tactics, one-time president of Cuba’s National Bank under Castro and later Minister of Industries, mysteriously disappeared in March 1965. Rumor said that he was ill, or that he had been put to death by Castro, or that he was in the Dominican Republic during its civil war or in Vietnam or in the Congo. In October 1965, Castro finally announced that Guevara had renounced his Cuban citizenship and set off to devote his services t the revolutionary cause in other lands. Rumors as to his whereabouts continued, but until recently there was no substantial evidence to prove even that he was alive.
Guevarismo makes a strong combeback. The March 1965 disappearance of Guevara occurred during a period when Fidel Castro was toning down his emphasis on violent revolution and trying to compose his differences with traditional pro-Soviet communist parties in Latin America. But it was not long before Castro again began to favor openly the independent revolutionary theory which he and Guevara had developed based on their view of the Cuban revolution. Since the Tricontinental Conference in Havana in January 1966, Castro has advocated with increasing stridency the thesis which is set forth most clearly in a book entitled Revolution within the Revolution? By Castro’s principal theoretical apologist, French Marxist intellectual Jules Regis Debray (now on trial in Bolivia). Disgusted with the “peaceful path-to-power” arguments of the Latin American old-line communist parties—especially the Venezuelan CP—and their Soviet supporters, Fidel and Debray have asserted that Latin America is ripe for insurgency now and have specified that the ruralguerrilla movement rather than any urban-based communist party other group must be the focal point and the headquarters of the insurgency. They have declared that action must take precedence over ideology and that the guerrilla movement—as the nucleus of a Marxist-Leninist party—will create the objective condition for its ultimate success and attract the local peasantry.
On April 17 this year Cuban media gave great play to an article supposedly written by Guevara reiterating the Castro-Guevara-Debray thesis. Two days later Fidel praised the article and eulogized Guevara, eliminating any lingering impression that the romantic “Che” had been removed from the Cuban pantheon.
LASO Conference highlights disagreement of orthodox communists. The first Latin American Solidarity Organization meeting in Havana this summer served to underscore disagreement with the Castro thesis by the old line communist parties. They argue that conditions for violent revolution exist only in very few Latin American countries at present and that the local communist parties—not Cubans or other foreigners—should be the only ones to determine in accordance with traditional Marxist theory what tactics are called for. Despite an outward show of harmony among the delegates, the LASO conference, of which Guevara was named honorary president in absentia, widened the breach the pro-Moscow communists and those who want revolution now.
Bolivia: testing group for the theory group for the theory? The guerrilla insurgency in Bolivia which came to light in March 1967 rekindled international interest in Latin American insurgencies and especially in the movements then underway in Latin America. The Guatemalan guerrillas seemed to be on the ropes; guerrilla forces in Venezuela and Colombia were making no headway. The new Bolivian insurgency, on the other hand, seemed to be the most promising. In an effort to maintain unity with Castro and within the Latin American extreme left, even traditional communist parties agreed to endorse the Bolivian guerrillas. Interest was further heightened when in April Debray himself was captured by the Bolivian armed forces and he indicated that Che Guevara had organized and was leading the guerrillas
Initial battles between the guerrillas and the Bolivian army last March and April almost disastrous to the poorly trained, ill-equipped troops who suffered heavy losses in every encounter. The failure of the army to deal effectively with a handful of insurrectionists shook the entire Bolivian government and led to consider what action might be required by them. But the guerrillas proved neither invincible nor infallible. By July, aided by testimony from Debray and other captives who were members of the guerrilla force or had contact with it, as well by peasants who demonstrated more loyalty to the armed forces than to the guerrillas despite the latters’ efforts to woo them, Bolivian army units were able to inflict some damage on the guerrillas albeit with fairly heavy casualties. In late August, a significant victory took place when the guerrilla rear guard was wiped out in a well-executed ambush. Still, a successful encounter with the main body of the guerrilla force did not occur until October 8, when the army recouped its reputation by the action which resulted in the death of Guevara.
Effects in Bolivia. Guevara’s death is a feather in the cap of Bolivian President Rene Barrientos. It may signal the end of the guerrilla movement as a threat to stability. If so, the Bolivian military, which is a major element of Barrientos’ support, will enjoy a sense of self-confidence and strength that it has long lacked. However, victory could also stir political ambitions among army officers who were directly involved in the anti-guerrilla campaign and who may now see themselves as the saviors of the republic.
Castro’s reaction: public rededication and private reassessment. Cuban domestic media have thus far limited their reporting on Guevara’s death mentioning “insistent statements” to this effect in the international press which Cuban authorities can neither confirm or deny. However, the broad outlines of Havana’s public position are generally predictable. Guevara will be eulogized as the model revolutionary who met heroic death. His exemplary conduct will be contrasted to the do-nothing, cowardly theorizing of the old line communist parties and other “pseudo-revolutionaries” in Latin America and elsewhere. The Castro-Guevara-Debray thesis will be upheld as a still valid and the protracted nature of the struggle will be emphasized. Blame for Guevara’s death will be attributed to the usual villains—US imperialism, the Green Berets, the CIA—with only passing contemptuous reference to the Bolivian “lackeys”. A call eill no doubt be made for new “Che’s” to pick up the banner of the fallen leader and optimistic predictions will be made as to the inevitability of the final triumph.
In private, however, Castro and his associates will have to reappraise the prospects for exported revolution. Castro might up his commitment of Cuban men and resources to foreign insurgency in order to demonstrate that the death of one combatant—even the illustrious “Che”—makes little difference to the eventual success of guerrilla struggle in the hemisphere. Such response would fit with Castro’s characteristic refusal to accept failure in a major undertaking. Or he might curtail Cuba’s efforts to foster insurgency abroad, pending further assessment stocktaking on the prospects for potential and existing insurgencies. Or, on analyzing the Guevara effort in Bolivia, he might adopt some new tactical approaches for guerrilla movements. On balance, it seems most likely that he will continue to commit about the same level of resources as at present to promising revolutionaries while utilizing the memory of the “martyred” Guevara and perhaps some tactical changes in approach.
Probable Latin American reaction to Guevara’s death. News of Guevara’s death will relieve most no-leftist Latin Americans who feared that sooner or later he might foment insurgencies in their countries. The demise of the most glamorous and reputedly effective revolutionary may even cause some Latin Americans to downgrade the seriousness of insurgency and the social factors which breed it. On the other hand, communists of whatever stripe and other leftists are likely to eulogize the revolutionary martyr—especially for his contribution to the Cuban revolution—and to maintain that revolutions will continue until their causes are eradicated.
If the Bolivian guerrilla movement is soon eliminated as a serious subversive threat, the death of Guevara will have even more important repercussions among Latin American communists. The dominant peaceful line groups, who were either in total disagreement with Castro or paid only lip-service to the guerrilla struggle, will be able to argue with more authority against the Castro-Guevara-Debray thesis. They can point out that even a movement led by the foremost revolutionary tactician, in a country which apparently provided conditions suitable for revolution, had failed. While theses parties are unlikely entirely to denigrate Che’s importance and abilities, they will be able to accuse the Cubans of adventurism and point out that the presence of so many Cubans and other foreigners among the leaders of the Bolivian guerrillas tended to alienate the peasants upon whose support they ultimately depended. They will be able to argue that any insurgency must be indigenous and that only parties know when local conditions are ripe for revolution. Castro certainly will not be able to disassociate himself from Guevara’s Bolivian efforts and will be subject to “we told you so” criticism from the old line parties. Although leftist groups which may have marginally accepted the Cuban theory probably will reevaluate their policies, Castro’s spell on the more youthful leftist elements in the hemisphere will not be broken.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 142
SUBJECT: GUERRILLA ACTIVITY
BOLIVIAN ARMY G-3 ADVISED ACTING ARMA THAT CO “B” SECOND RANGERS SUFFERED FIVE KILLED IN SERIES THREE CONFLICTS WITH REMAINING GUERRILLA FRAGMENT BETWEEN 1300 HOURS OCTOBER 12 AND 0400 HOURS OCTOBER 13. ONE CIVILIAN GUIDE LIKEWISE KILLED. NO CONFIRMED GUERRILLA CASUALTIES. LOCATION OF ACTION WAS TEN KILOMETERS NE OF HIGUERAS. GP-R HENDERSON
DOCUMENT NUMBER 143
SUBJECT: Death of Che Guevara
1. Death Che Guevara in Bolivia is perhaps fatal blow to current guerrilla operation that country and is serious setback to Castro hopes foment violent revolution throughout Latin America. It is too early forecast exact effects of failure of Bolivian guerrillas on Castro planning, or on LASO versus traditional Communist party relationships.
2. Until picture clarifies, it important void euphoric attitude regarding long-term significance Bolivian events. Insurgency will continue to be a problem for Bolivia where chronic political instability still exists. Doubtful that Bolivian events will have any significant effect on insurgency efforts already underway in other LA countries, at least in the short run.
3. We have noted tendency some quarters relate death of Guevara to possibility US may relax on support of Alliance for Progress. If fear of this possibility expressed, you should emphasize that US committed to give full support to Alliance quite apart from insurgency, or Castro/Communist subversion.
4. Havana may well seek to offset loss by portraying Guevara as martyr of our QUOTE intervention UNQUOTE. All US sources, both here and in filed, should therefore X refrain from any statement which appears to claim QUOTE credit UNQUOTE for guerrilla defeat and thus provide Communists with QUOTE proof UNQUOTE Guevara was victim of QUOTE Green Berets UNQUOTE, QUOTE American military advisers UNQUOTE, QUOTE CIA UNQUOTE, etc. Triumph should be 100% Bolivian, reflecting among other things Bolivian peasant unwillingness help Castro Communist intervention.
5. Intelligence note dealing with possible significance Guevara’s death is under preparation and will shortly be distributed to you. In meantime, you should keep Department informed of local reactions to Guevara developments. You should also be especially alert to any information that would suggest Castro action to recoup losses he has suffered recently or to retaliate against US personnel, businesses, etc. for US training Bolivian units which killed Guevara.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 144
SUBJECT: Press Conference on Death Guevara
In a press conference help at Vallegrande on October 10, Col. (reportedly being promoted to General) Joaquin ZENTENO Anaya, commander of the Eighth Division in the guerrilla zone, made the following points:
1. Che Guevara was gravely wounded in the clash seven kilometers north of Higueras on October 8 and was transferred to that town the afternoon of the same day. He had been shot in the chest and the left leg and presumably died from the chest wound. The soldiers who transported him from the scene of action to Higueras were combat troops who did not know the identity of their prisoner. It was not possible to interrogate Guevara before he died because there was no special personnel available for that purpose and the situation did not permit an interrogation. (Presencia reports that Guevara died of eight or nine bullet wounds and that the soldier who moved him to Higueras state that he said, “I am Che Guevara, I have failed,” then lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered.)
2. The battle took place in hilly country, with the key action occurring with the combatants only fifty meters apart. The guerrillas had an automatic weapon that caused the army considerable difficulty, but they finally assaulted and wiped out the guerrilla position.
3. We have taken the fingerprints of Guevara and they are identical with those taken when he left Argentina as a medical doctor, proving that the body in the morgue at Vallegrande is that of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The facial features are the same as those on file with Army Intelligence, and also the personal papers and diary that he was carrying with him provide further documentation.
4. The diary, in Guevara’s own handwriting, begins in the Nancahuazu area on November 7, 1966 and ends on October 7, 1967. It is in two parts, the longest section commencing on January 1 of this year. The diary reveals that there were many disagreements among the Cubans, the most serious being Marcos’ indiscretion and lack of discipline, leading to his reduction in rank from second in command to a common soldier.
5. The diary contains many alleged references to Debray. The principal one is that Debray was on a guerrilla mission when he left Nancahuazu. The text reads: “Dalton (Debray’s guerrilla name) is an element of great intellectual capacity, but a little deficient for the battle. He leaves to complete a guerrilla mission.” The diary also contains the following comment on Debray’s arrival at the guerrilla camp: “Finally, Dalton brought me the expected money.” The documents and diary will be retained for use at the trial of Debray.
6. The 50,000 pesos reward for Guevara will surely be distributed among the members of the combat battalion (BAF source have informed DefAtt that the reward will be divided among campesino civilian guides who have assisted the Army in recent weeks, as well as the members of the combat unit).
7. In reply to a question whether the CIA is assisting in the investigation of the recovered documents. Col. Zenteno replied,”Up to this moment exclusively national elements have acted to help us (the Army). I am ignorant of the presence of any others.”
8. It is not possible to say how much longer the campaign will continue, but it will last until the rest of the guerrillas are liquidated. It is difficult to say how many are left, but there are liquidated. It is difficult to say how are many are left, but there are relatively few, presumably less than a dozen. It is possible that “Inti” Peredo is with the remaining group.
9. Instructions have not yet been received concerning the disposition of Che Guevara’s remains. (A radio report today, October 11, quoted General Ovando as saying that Guevara has been buried in Vallegrande.)
DOCUMENT NUMBER 145
SUBJECT: GOB ATTEMPTS STILL FOREIGN DOUBTS ON GUEVARA DEATH
1. TO PUT REST DOUBTS EXPRESSED IN FOREIGN PRESS REGARDING IDENTITY GUERRILLA CHIEFTAIN KILLED LAST WEEK WHICH GOB QTE VERIFIED UNQTE AS CHE GUEVARA, PRESIDENT BARRIENTOS ANNOUNCED OCT. 13 HIS GOVERNMENT PREPARED PUT AT DISPOSITION INVESTIGATIORS THUMB AMPUTATED FROM BODY PRIOR TO CREMATION.
2. JUGING FROM FOREIGN PRESS COMMENT APPEARING IN LA PAZ DAILIES, SKEPTICS APPEAR TO BASE DOUBTS ON GROWING INCONSTENCIES BETWEEN FACRS SURROUNDING DEATH AND ORIGINAL GOVERNMENT ACCOUNT, CHOOSING TO DISCOUNT GOB FINGERPRINT ANALYSIS, POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION BY AT LEAST ONE ENGLISH JOURNALIST WHO KNEW GUEVARA PREVIOSLY, AND FACT THAT JOURNALISTS OBSERVING CADAVER WERE INVITED (AND AT LEAST TWO ACCEPTED) TO TAKE FINGERPRINTS FROM CORPSE AND COMPARE AT THEIR LEISURE WITH COPIES GUEVARAS PRINTS PRESUMABLY AVAILABLE IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES.
3. SKEPTICS POINT TO SUSPICIOUS CREMATION OF BODY BEFORE IT COULD BE VIEWED AND IDENTIFIED BY ROBERTO GUEVARA, BROTHER OF DECEASED, WHO MADE BRIEF AND UNSUCCESSFUL VISIT VALLEGRANDE OCT. 13: CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS BETWEEN BOLIVIAN DOCTOR PERFORMING AUTOPSY AND GOVERNMENT ON MANNER AND TIMING OF DEATH: THE RESERVED MANNER IN WHICH BOLIVIAN ARMED FORCES ARE HANDLING GUEVARA’S QTE WAR DIARY UNQTE APPARENTLY LEADING TO SUSPICION OF FORGERY: AND DESTRUCTION OF FIGERPRINTS WITH CREMATION.
4. EVIDENCE OF THUMB SHOULD STILL REMAINING DOUBTS. WITH MINIMUM OF ENTERPRISING INVESTIAGTION, JOURNALISTS MAY ALSO COME TO SATISFY THEMSELVES THAT GUERRILLA CHIEFTAIN REPORTEDLY CAPTURED OCT. 8 WITH MINOR LEG WOUND IS SAME MAN WHO DOCTOR CLAIMED SUFFERED SEVEN WOUND, DYING ON OCT. 9,. AND THAT THIS QUESTION IS REALLY IRRELEVANT TO IDENTIFICATION OF BODY. SUDDEN CREMATION OF BODY MAY BE EFFORT TO CONCEAL EXTENT OF WOUNDS (BELATED AND OBVIOUSLY UNSUCCESSFUL) AND, AS THE PRESIDENT TOLD AMBASSADOR, TO AVOID POSSIBILITY OF CREATION FUTURE GUERRILLA SHIRINES.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 146
SUBJECT: GUERRILLA CONTACT
1. DELIVER 0800 OCTOBER 16.
2. ARMED FORCES COMMUNIQUE REPORTS FOUR GUERRILLAS KILLED AND CASUALTIES IN ACTION AT CONFLUENCE OF RIO GRANDE AND RIO MISQUE (ABOUT 25 KILOMETERS SW OF VALLEGRANDE). BODIES BEING MOVED VALLEGRANDE FOR POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION ALTHOUGH COMMUNIQUE STATES FALLEN WERE MOGAMBO, CUBAN: ESTAQUIO, PERUVIAN: CHAPACO, BOLIVIAN: AND PABLO, BOLIVIAN.
3. SUPPLEMENTAL ACCOUNT IN PRESENCIA STATES ACTION TOOK PLACE EARLY HOURS OCTOBER 14. ACCORDING PRESS, GUERRILLA GROUP WAS PREPARING EXFILTRATE WHEN CAUGHT BY RANGER ELEMENT. ARMY SAID IN PURSUIT OF WHAT BELIEVED BE REMAINING SIX MEMBERS OF GUERRILLA FORCE UNDER COMMAND INTI PEREDO. HENDERSON
DOCUMENT NUMBER 147
SUBJECT: CHE GUEVARA
1. UPI REGIONAL RESPRESENTATIVE CARLOS VILLABORDA, WHO HAS BEEN COVERING CHE GUECARA STORY IN BOLIVIA, CONFIDENTIALLY INFORMED PAO OCTOBER 15 AS FOLLOWS:
2. VILLABORDA HAS LEARNED FROM CBS TV CREW DIRECTOR IN BOLIVIA THAT CBS HAS ON FILM WHAT IT IS CLAIMING TO BE QUOTE EXPOSE OF CIA INVOLVEMENT IN CAPTURE AND EXECUTION OF CHE GUEVARA UNQUOTE, FURTHER CLAIMING TO HAVE PICTURES AND NAMES OF CIA AGENTS CONCERNED WHICH ARE SUPPOSED TO INCLUDE TWO AMERICANS AND AT LEAST ONE CUBAN.
3. VILLABORDA SAID THAT HE AND OTHER S NEWSMEN IN BOLIVIA ARE PRETTY WELL CONVINCED THAT CIA AGENT OR AGENTS, PROBABLY CUBAN ORIGIN, WERE ON HAND DURING PERIOD BETWEEN GUEVARA’S CAPETURE AND ARRIVAL HIS BODY AT VILLAGRANDE, BUT THAT SO FAR AS HE KNOWS, ONLY CBS IS DISSEMINATING VERSION OF THIS STORY.
4. VILLABORDA ALSO SAID THAT BOLIVIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICER HECTOR MEJIA HAD TOLD HIM THAT U.S. INTELLIGENCE EXPERTS HAD COLLECTED VISUAL MATERIAL, LATER PROCESSED IN WASHINGTON, WHICH WAS USED IN OAS MEETING IN WASHINGTON AND SIMULTANEOUS PRESS CONFERENCE IN LA PAZ SEPTEMBER 22 TO DEMONSTRATE PRESENCE IN BOLIVIA OF CHE GUEVARA.
5. PROCTECT SOURCE.
6. WE INTEND TO STONEWALL THIS AS IN RECENT PAST WITH “NO COMMENT” UNLESS OTHERWISE INSTRUCTED. BELIEVE IMPOSSIBLE IDENTIFY PERSONS WHO LEAVING BOLIVIA MORNING OCTOBER 16 VIA US MILITARY AIRCRAFT. HENDERSON
DOCUMENT NUMBER 148
SUBJECT: Che Guevara
1. Dept planning make, on if asked basis, following statement: QUOTE The Bolivian Government has furnished us with a set of fingerprints from the body of one of the guerrillas killed in Bolivia which it has identified as Ernesto Guevara. We have compared these fingerprints with fingerprints of Ernesto Guevara which U.S. agencies have had for several years. We are satisfied that the fingerprints are identical. UNQUOTE.
2. Embassy authorized utilize same statement further questions asked re U.S. attitude on Guevara identification.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 149
SUBJ: REACTION IN CHILE TO GUEVARA DEVELOPMENTS
1. PRESS REACTION: GUEVARA DEATH DOMINANT THEME NEWS STORIES, EDITORIAL SANTIAGO PRESS ALL WEEK. LEFTIST PRESS INITIALLY DOUBTFUL VERACITY WIRE SERVICE STORIES-DOUBT THEN SPREADS TO OTHER DAILIES UNTIL DEATH CONFIRMED OVER WEEKEND. NON-COMMUNIST PRESS STRESSED IN EDITORIAL COMMENTARY INAPPLICABILITY CUBAN EXPERIENCE TO OTHER LATIN AMERICAN COUNTIIES. INFLUENTIAL EL MERCURIO SAYS GUEVARA DEATH SYMBOLIZES FAILURE OF GUEVARA FORMULA ARMED VIOLENCE. ALL PAPERS EXCEPT COMMUNIST PRESS NOTE INDIFFERENCE OF BOLIVIAN PEASANTRY TO GUERRILLA OVERTURES. AFTER CASTRO SPEECH, COMMUNIST, SOCIALIST DAILEIS FINALLY ACCEPTED FACT OF DEATH-TREATING GUEVARA AS MARTYR, EMPHASIZING ALLEGED ROLE OF CIA, US ADISORS IN BOLIVIAN ARMY TRIUMP.
2. OTHER REACTION: EMBASSY OFFICERS WERE OFTEN SOUGHT OUT DURING PAST WEEK FOR CONFIRMATION OF GUEVARA’S DEATH AND ASSESSMENT ITS SIGNIFICANCE. AT AMBASSADOR KORRY’S FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY HE WAS QUESTIONED ABOUT GUEVARA MORE THAN ANY OTHER SUBJECT. HOWEVER NO HOSTILE QUESTIONS OR ATTEMPTS A ATTRIBUTE TO US ASSISTANCE DEFEATS OF BOLIVIAN GUERRILLAS.
3. MOST GROTESQUE REACTION WAS THAT OF PRO-CUBA SOCIALIST SENATE PRESIDENT ALLENDE. WHO LAST WEEK REQUESTED BOLIVIAN AUTHORITIES TO DELIVER GUEVARA REMAINS TO HIM. ALLENDE IS CURRENTLY LAUGHING STOCK FOR THIS ONE. ANTI-ALLENDE POPULAR SOCIALIST PAID RINGING TRIBUTE TO GUEVARA AT THEIR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY, DESPITE FACT THEY HAVE BEEN HIGHLY CRITICAL OF “ADVENTURISM” AND VERBAL GUERRILLA FIGHTERS” IN REGULAR SOCIALIST PARTY. COMMUNISTS, WHILE DEPLORING GUEVARA DEATH AS GREAT LOSS REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT, HAVE EMPHASIZED DEFFERENCES IN GUEVARA APPROACH FROM THEIRS. CONSTRAINED SOME MONTHS BACK TO SOLIDARIZE WITH BOLIVIAN GUERRILLA MOVEMENT, COMMUNISTS NOW SILENT ON WHETHER CONDITIONS WERE REALLY RIPE.
4. THERE HAVE BEEN TRIBUTES OF VARIOUS HUES TO GUEVARA FROM LEFTIST YOUTH OUTSIDE MARXIST PARTIES, AND THERE IS PROBABLY WIDESPREAD ADMIRATION OF GUEVARA AS COURAGEOUS FIGHTER EVEN ON PART OF THOSE CHILEAN MOST HOTILE TO HIS PURPOSES. RADICAL PARTY YOUTH ORGANIZATION (JR) ISSUED STATEMENT EXPRESSING GRIEF AT PASSING OF “HONEST AND IDEALISTIC MAN WHO DESERVES REPECT OF ALLLATIN AMERICAN YOUTH.” STATEMENT SAID THAT WHILE JR FAVORS PEACEFUL “SOCIALIST TRANSFORMATIONS” IN GHILE, GUEVARA TOOK ONLY ROAD POSSIBLE IN DICTATORSHIP LIKE BOLIVIA’S.
5. FOREIGN MINISTER VALDES TOLD PRESS OCTOBER 13 THAT GUEVARA DEATH INDICATES GUERRILLAS HAVE NO POSSIBLE LIFE IN LATIN AMERICA. SAID THAT GUERRILLA WERFARE IS FORM OF ACTION” WHICH WE CONDEMN AND MOREOVER HAS FAILED.” VALDES PRIVATELY REPEATED THESE VIEWS ABOUT FAILURE OF GUERRILAS TO AMBASSDOR TODAY DURING CREDENTIALS CEREMONY, WITHOUT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONING GUEVARA. KORRY.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 150
SUBJECT: Death of “Che” Guevara
This morning we ace about 99% sure that “Che” Guevara is dead.
Those should arrive in Washington today or tomorrow.
CIA tells us that the latest information is that Guevara was taken alive. After a short interrogation to establiah his identity, General Ovando – Chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces – ordered him shot. I regard this as stupid, but is understandable from a Bolivian standpoint, given problems which the sparing of French communist and Castro courier Regis Debray has caused them.
The death of Guevara carries these significant implications:
— It marks the passing of other of the aggressive;romantic revolutionaries like Sukarno, Nkrumah, Ben Bella — and reinforces this trend.
— In the Latin American context, it will have a strong impact in discouraging would-be guerrillas.
— It shows the soundness out our “preventive medicine” assistance to countries facing incipient insurgency — it was the Bolivian 2nd Ranger, Battalion. Trained by our Green Berets from June-September or this year, that cornered him and got him.
We have put these points across to several newsmen.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 151
SUBJECT: Official Confirmation of Death of Che Guevara
BEGIN UNCLASSIFIED: On October 16, 1927, the High Command of the Bolivian Armed Forces released the following communique, together with three annexes, on the death of Che Guevara:
“1. In accordance with information provided for national and international opinion, based on documents released by the Military High Command on October 9 subsequently, concerning the combat that took place at La Higuera between units of the Armed Forces and the red group commanded by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, as a result of which he, among others, lost his life, the following is established:
a) Ernesto Guevara fell into the hands of our troops gravely wounded and in full use of his faculties. After the combat ended, he was transferred to the town of La Higuera, more or less at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, where he died as a result of his wounds. His body was transferred to the city of Vallegrande at 4 p.m. on Monday, October 9, in a helicopter of the Bolivian Air Force.
b) Two medical doctors, Dr. Moises Abraham Baptista and Dr. Jose Maria Cazo, director and intern respectively of the
1. Annex 1 (Death Certificate)
2. Annex 2 (Autopsy Report)
3. Annex 3 (Argentine Police Report)
4. Communique of Argentine Embassy
5. Spanish tests of above (clippings)
Kinights of Malta hospital, certified the death (Annex No. 1) and recorded the autopsy order by the military authorities of Vallegrande (Annex No. 2).
c) With regard to the identification of the deceased and the authentication of the diary that belonged to him, the government requested the cooperation of Argentine technical organizations, which sent three experts, one handwriting specialist and two fingerprint specialists, who verified the identity of the remains and certified that the handwriting of the campaign diary, captured by our troops, coincides with that of Ernesto Guevara (Annex No.3).
d) The campaign diary and the book of doctrine (libro de conceptuaciones) are documents that contain an account of activities, from the date of his entry (into the guerrilla area) until October 7, and (justify) the judgments that this chief of subversion, the members of the guerrilla bands, and the people, both in this country and abroad, who collaborated with them, deserved. As a consequence, they are documents exclusively for the use of the military.
2. By this means the Military High Command considers complete all information relating to the death of Che Guevara. La Paz. October 16, 1967.” END UNCLASSIFIED
BEGIN CLASSIFIED. Comment: The reports provide further documentary proof that the guerrilla chieftain, who was reportedly fatally injured in battle against the Bolivian Armed Forces on October 8, was indeed Ernesto Che Guevara. The documents do little, however, to resolve public speculation on the timing and manner of death. It will be widely noted that neither the death certificate nor the autopsy report state a time of death (the examining physicians are said to have told journalists that Guevara died a few hours before their examination late in the afternoon of October 9). Moreover, the communiqué also leaves unsaid the time of death, indicating simply that occurred sometime between 8 p.m. October 8, and the transfer of the body to Vallegrande at 4 p.m. the following afternoon. This would appear to be an attempt to bridge the difference between a series of earlier divergent statements form Armed sources, ranging from assertions that he died during or shortly after battle to those suggesting he survived at least twenty-four hours. Some early reports last week also indicated that Guevara was captured with minor injuries while later statements, including the attached autopsy report, affirm that he suffered multiple and serious bullet wounds. We doubt that the communiqué will satisfactorily answer these questions and are inclined to agree with the comment by Presencia columnist Politicus that these discrepancies, now that the identity of the body is generally accepted, are “going to be the new focus of polemics in the coming days, especially abroad.” END CLASSIFIED.
Annex No. 1 – Death Certificate
The death certificate signed October 10, 1967, by Drs. Moises ABRAHAM Baptista and Jose MARTINEZ Cazo, Hospital Knights of Malta, Vallegrande, Bolivia, indicates that on October 9 at 5:30 p.m., there arrived DOA an individual who military authorities said was Ernesto GUEVARA Lynch, approximately 40 years of age, the cause of death being multiple bullet wounds in the thorax and extremities. Preservative was applied to the body.
Annex No. 2 – Autopsy Report
The autopsy report signed October 10, 1967 by Drs. ABRAHAM Baptista and MARTINEZ Cazo, indicates that the body recognized as that of Ernesto Guevara was 40 years of age, white race, approximately 1.73 meters in height, brown curly hair, heavy curly beard and mustache, heavy eyebrows, straight nose, thin lips, mouth open, teeth in good order with nicotine stains, lower left pre-molar floating, light blue eyes, regular physique, scar along almost whole left side of back. A general examination showed the following wounds:
1. Bullet wound in left clavicular region egressing through shoulder blade.
2. Bullet wound in right clavicular region fracturing same, without agress.
3. Bullet wound in right side, without aggress.
4. Two bullet wounds in left side, with through back.
5. Bullet wound in left pectoral between 9th and 10th ribs, with agress on left side.
6. Bullet wound in lower third part of right thigh.
7. Bullet wound in lower third part of left thigh in seton.
8. Bullet wound in lower right forearm with fractured ulva.
The thorax cavity opened showed that the first wound lightly injured the apex of the left lung.
The second injured the sub-clavic vessel, the bullet lodging itself in the second vertebra.
The third transversed the right lung lodging itself in the 9th rib.
The left lung slightly damaged by bullet no. 4.
Wound no. 5 transversed the left lung in a tangential trajectory.
Thorax cavities, especially the right, presented abundant blood collection.
The opened abdomen showed no traumatic lesion, only expansion due to gases and citric liquid.
The cause of death was the thorax wounds and consequent hemorrhaging.
Annex No. 3 – Argentine Police Report
On Saturday, October 14, 1967, three officials of the Argentine Federal Police (Investigations), one a handwriting expert and the other two fingerprint experts, at the request of the Bolivian Government, visited Bolivian military headquarters in La Paz to collaborate in a matter of identification. They were shown a metal container in which were two amputated hands in a liquid solution, apparently formaldehyde.
The fingerprint experts tried the “Juan Vucetich” system used in Argentina of making papillary sketches of the fingers, but the liquid caused the fingertips to wrinkle tracing impossible. They then proceeded to take fingerprint impressions on polyethelene sheets and in some cases on pieces of latex, these to be sent to the Identification Department of the Argentine Police for further e examination.
The experts then compared the fingerprints with the copy of the prints made from Guevara’s Argentine identity record No. 3.524.272, establishing beyond doubt that both prints were from the same person. Also checked were prints taken from Guevara at Vallegrande on October 9, with the same result.
The handwriting expert then examined two notebooks in good condition. The title page of one read “1967” and its reverse “Carl
Klippel – Kaisestrasca 75 – Frankfurt a.M¹¹ and “Harstellung Baier & Schosider – Neibreum A.N.” This book shows hand-writing beginning under the date of January 1, 1967 and continuing until October 7, 1967. Considering the period of the writing, the writing itself, and the “signatures,” the expert decided they were suitable for formal extrinsic and intrinsic comparisons in the handwriting identification system. The expert also examined statistically the handwriting characteristics of the notebook enscribed “Elba 66509” containing 44 pages of handwriting. There was sufficient regularity of characteristics to determine that they were the same as those reproduced in Guevara’s Argentine Identity record. Copies of the material will be forwarded to the Argentine Police for further study.
Signed by Esteban Belzhauser and Juan Carlos Delgado.
Enclosure No. 4
COMMUNIQUE OF THE ARGENTINE EMBASSY AT LA PAZ
The technical commission detailed by the Argentine Government at the request of the Bolivian Government to prove the identity of the remains of Ernesto Guevara has proceeded to make a comparison of the items that were provided by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces with those that were in the hands of Argentine police authorities. From the fingerprint and hand-writing skill practiced by the technicians, in accordance with scientific procedures currently in use, it develops that the items compared correspond in an irrefutable manner to Ernesto Guevara, thereby agreeing with the report issued by the Bolivian authorites.
La Paz, October 16. 1967.
Las FF. AA cierran el caso Guevara
El Che cayó gravamente
Herido y em pleno uso
De facultades mentales
El Comando em Jefe de las
Fuerzas Armadas há entraga-
Do anoche um comunicado y
cuales considera cerrado el ca-
so de Ernesto Che Guevara.
Dice asi e communicado:
“1— Conforme fue informa-
Da la opinión nacional y ex-
tranjera, con los documentos
Emitidos por el Alto Mando Mi-
Litar, en fecha 9 de octubre y
Posteriores, sobre el combate
Sostengo en La Higuera entre
Unidades de lãs FF. AA. Y la
Agrupación roja comandada
Por Ernesto “Che” Guevara a
Consecuencia del cual, entre o-
Tros perdió la vida este último,
Se establece lo siguiente:
a) Ernesto Guevara cavó en
poder de nuestras tropas grã-
vemente herido y en ple-
no de sus facultades mentales,
— Después de haber cesado
El combate fue trasladado a
la población de La Higuera,
más o menos a horas 20.000 de
dia domingo 8 de octubre don-
de falleció a consecuencia de
— El traslado del cadáver a
La cuidad de Vallegrande se e
-factuó a horas 16:00 del dia lu-
nes 9, en un helicóptero de la
Fuerza Aérea Boliviana.
b) Los médicos, Drs. Moisés
Abraham Baptista y José Ma-
ria Cazo en su calidad de di-
Rector e interno del hospital
“Señor de Malta”, respectiva-
Mente certificaron la defun-
ción (anexo 1) y protocoliza-
Ron la autopsia, ordenada por
Las autoridades militares de
Vallegrande, en el documento
N° 2 que se anexa.
c) Com relación a la identi-
ficación del occiso y la auten-
ticidad del diário que le per-
feneciera, el Supremo Gobier-
no de la Nación solicitó la co-
operación de organismos téc-
nicos argentinos que se hicie-
ron presentes con tres peritos,
uno scopométrico y dos dacti-
loscópos, quientes ratificaron
la identidad del muerto y cer-
tificaron que la caligrafia del
diario de campaña capturado
por nuestras tropas, coincide
con la de Ernesto Che Guevara. El
anexo N° 3 muestra el acta
d)El diario de campafia y
el libro de conceptuaciones
son documentos que contienen
la relación de actividades, des-
de la fecha de su ingresso has-
ta el dia 7 de octubre y los
jucios que merecieron, a este
jefe subvertor, los miembros
de las bandas constituídas y
los elementos que les colabo-
raron tanto en el país como
en el exterior. En consecuen-
cia, son documentos de uso ex –
2. – De esta manera, el Al-Ernesto Guevara,
To Mando Militar, da por ter-
Minada toda infrmación re-
Lacionada com la muerte de 1967”.
Protocolo de autopsia y
Certificado de defunción
Los siguientes son los certifica-
dos de defución y el protocolo de
la autopsia del cadáver de Gue-
Certificado de Defución —–
Los médicos que suscriben, Direc-
tor del Hospital “Señor de Mal-
Ta” y Médico Interno, certifican:
que el dia lunes 9 del presente
mes, a horas 5:30, fue traido el
cadáver de un indivíduo que las
autoridades militares dijeron per-
tencer a Ernesto Che Guevara Lynch
de aproximadamente 40 años de
edad, habiéndose constatado que
su fallecimiento se debió a múlti-
ples heridas de bala, en Torax y
extremidades.—– Se procedió
luego a la formolización de di-
cho cadáver.—– Vallegrande,
10 de octubre de 1967,—- Fdo.
Dr. Moisés Abraham Baptista.—
Fdo. Dr. José Martinez Caso”.—
um sello con la siguiente leyenda:
“Hospital Señor de Malta”.—–
dirécción.—— Vallegrande —-
Es Copia Fiel del Original que
En su caso me remito.
Hugo Peláez Martinez, Secreta-
rio del Departamento I Organiza-
ción del Estado Mayor General.
La Paz, 16 de octubre de 1967”.
“Protocolo de autopsia, el dia 10
de octubre del presidente año, por
disposiciones militares, se proce-
dio a la autopsia del cadáver que
fue reconcido como el de Ernesto
Endad: aproximadamente cuaren
Estatura: 1,73 aproximadamen-
Cabellos castaños rizados: bigo-
te y barba crecidos, igualmente
rizados: cejas pobiadas, nariz rec-
ta, lábios delgados, boca entrea-
bierta, dentadura em buen estado
com huellas de nicotina, flotando
el premolar inferior isquierdo;
ojos ligeramente azules. Consti-
Extremidades: Pies y manos
bien conservados: cicatriz que a-
barca casi todo el dorso de la ma-
Al examen general, presenta las
1. Herida de bala en región cla-
vicular izaquierda, con salida en
escapular del mismo lado.
2. Herida de bala en región cla-
vicular derecha, con fractura de
lamisca, sin salida.
3. Herida de bala en región cos-
tal derecha, sin salida.
4. Dos heridas de bala en re-
gión costal lateral izquierda, con
saloda en región dorsal.
5. Herida de bala en región pec-
toral izquierda, entre las costillas
novena y décima, con saída en
región lateral del mismo lado.
6. Herida de bala en tercio me-
dio de pierna derechar.
7.Herida de bala el terceio me-
dio de muslo izquierdo, en sedal
9. Herida de bala en tercio in-
ferior de antebrazo derecho,
fractura de cúbito.
Abierta la cavidad torácica, se
evidenció que la primera herida
lesionó ligeramente el vértice del
La segunda lesionó los vasos
sugclavios, incrustándose el pro-
yectil el cuerpo de la segunda
La tercera atravesó el pulmón
derecho, incrustándose en la ar-
ticulacion costo-vertebral de la
Las heridas señaladas en el pun-
to 4 lesionaron ligeramente el pul-
La herida señalada en el punto
5 atravesó el pulmón izquierdo en
una trayectoria tangencial.
Las cavidades torácicas, sobre
todo la derecha, presentaban a-
bundante colección sanguinea.
Abierto el abdómen, no se cons-
tató ninguna lesión traumática,
encontrádose únicamente disten-
sión por gases y liquido cítrino.
La causa de la muerte fueron
Las heridas del tórax y la hemo-
Vallegrande, 10 de octubre de
Es copia fiel del original.
(Fdo.) Dr. Abraham Baptista
(Fdo.) Dr. Martinez Caso”.
Parte de policías
De la Argentina
En la ciudad de La Paz,
República de Bolivia, hoy dia sá-
bado catorce del mes de octubre
del año mil novecientos sesenta y
siete, y siendo las diez y seis horas
los funcionarios que suscriben el
presente, Oficiales Inspector Este-
ban Reizhauzer, en su calidad de
perito scopométrico, Subinspecto-
res Nicolás Pellicari y Juan Car-
los Delgado, peritos dactilóscopos,
de la Dirección de Investigaciones
de la Policía Federal Argentina,
a los fines a que hubiere lugar
hacen constar: que cumpliendo ex –
presas órdenes del señor Jefe de
la Policia Federal Argentina, Ge-
peral de División Mario A. Fon-
seca con motivo de una solicitud
de colaboración interpuesta por
el Ministerio de Relaciones Exte-
riores y Culto, se trasladaron a
ésta y colocarse a disposición de
la Embajada Argentina en esta
ciudad quien facilitará las directi-
vas para cumplir. A tales efec-
tos fueron informados que debia
procederse a un examen dactilos-
cópicos y documentos de eleven-
tos que se les entregaria, (Con la
compañía de los señores Capitán
de Navio Carlos Mayer. Agregado
Naval a la Embajada Argentina),
Secretario de Embajada Jorge
cremona y el Cónsul adjunto a
cargo del Consulado General en
La Paz, Miguel A. Storppello, se
dirigieron a dependencias del Cuar
tel General Boliviano de Miraflo-
res, donde fueron atendidos por
el señor Teniente de Navio Oscar
Pamo Rodríguez. Ayudante del
General Alfredo Ovando Candia,
Comandante en Jefe de las Fuer-
zas Armadas y el señor Mayor Ro-
berto Quintanilla, del Ministerio
de Gobierno. Estos últimos pre-
sentan a los peritos y presentes an
tes mencionados un recipiente ci-
líndrico de metal cerrado, el que
es abierto, contiene dos manos su-
mergidas en un líquido incoloro,
de olor similar al formol, fuerte
desinfectante utilizado para pre-
servar las condiciones de los ele-
mentos oferecidos. A tales fines,
los peritos dactiloscópicos ya ci-
tados, Oficiales Subinspectores Ni-
colás Pellcari y Juan Carols Del-
gado proceden a efectuar las ope-
raciones técnicas correspondientes
a fin de llegar a la identificación
mediante el sistema dactiloscópico
“Juan Vucetich” en uso en la Po-
lícia Federal, de los dibujos papi-
lares que presentan los dedos de
las manos amputadas que en este
acto se les exhibe. Siguen la téc-
nica que a continuación transcri-
ben para la correcta información
del proceso y el resultado a que
El tejido papilar por razones de
la larga acción del formol, en el
cual se hallaban sumergidas las
manos para su preservación, pre-
sentaba arrugas profundas en la
región correspondiente a los pul-
pejos, circunstancia tal que difi-
cultó el entintado y posterior ob-
tención de calcos. No dando re-
sultado favorable los procedimien-
tos técnicos aconsejables en estos
casos, se procedió a la obtención
de las impresiones digitales en
hojas de polietileno y an algunos
casos en trozos de látex, los cua-
les fueron clasificados serán tras
ladados al Gabinete de la Sección
identificaciones de la Policia Fe-
deral Argentina, a dfin de ser so-
metidos a los trabajos de prática.
obtenidos que fueron los calcos en
la forma indicada, de las manos
Mencionadas se procedió a efec-
tuar el cotejo con las individuales
dactiloscópias de la fotocopia de
la ficha (de los diez dedos), corres
pendientes a la original obrante en
el Prontuario de la Cédula deIden
tidad otorgada por la Policía Fe-
deral Argentina número 3.524.272
a nombre de Ernesto Guevara, es-
tableciéndose en forma indubitá-
ble y de acuerdo a los postulados
del Sistema Dactiloscópico Argen-
tino, su perfecta identidad, es de-
cir que corresponden a una sola y
única persona. Se deja consatancia
que en este acto se hace entrega
al señor Mayor Roberto Quintani-
lla, Ayudante General del Minis-
tro de Gobierno, Justicia e Inmi-
gración, de uma copia fotográfica
de la ficha dactiloscópica decadac
tilar correspondiente al original
que obra en el protuatio ya men-
cionado de Ernesto Guevara. A
simismo, se recibe del mismo fun-
cionario una ficha dactiloscópi-
ca decadactilar obtenida el dia
nueve del corriente mes en el pue
bio Vallegrande, del Departamen-
to Santa Cruz, de un cadáver del
sexo masculino M/N que en es-
te acto se estabelece pertence al
mencionado Ernesto Guevara. En
una segunda instancia, el perito
scopométrico, Oficial Inspector
Esteban Rolzhauzer, de la Sección
Gabinete Scompomático de la Poli-
cia Federal Argentina, recebe a
los fines de su examen dos cuader-
nos: uno de ellos de notas ma-
inscritas tamaño Standard de 20
cm. por 14,5 cm..con cubierta de
plástico, color borravino, con uns
inscripición en la carátula que dice
“1967 en bajo relieve y sobre el
borde inferior y a 5 cm., a la de-
recha del lomo del citado eleven-
to de análisis presenta una mues-
ca de una marca por acción pro
bable de calor. El mencionado cua
derno se halia en buen estado de
conservación, sin manchas o ro-
turas evidentes de las fojas. En su
interior (reverso de la carátula)
tiene en el ángulo inferior isquier-
do un pequeño sello adherido, color
rojo, que dice: “Carl Klippel –
Kaisertrasca 75—Frankfurt a.
M”. Su piá de imprenta dice:
“Harstellung Baier & Schisider”
(Neibreum A. N/” todo lo cual
confirma el origen alemán de di-
cho elemento. Las fojas son de pa-
pel liso, blanco, impresos con las
fechas diarias del año 1967, e in-
dividualmente con descripción del
horario. Está doblemente indica-
En cada una de las págindas
observadas se advierte la pre-
sencia de textos manuscritos
que corresponden a anotacio-
nes efectuadas describiendo
operaciones y movimientos de
las personas que se citan. Di-
cho ciclo comienza el 1° de e-
nero del corriente año y fina-
liza el siete de octubre, a par-
tir de donde las fojas siguien-
tes están en blanco. Aplican-
do la técnica de identificación
de manuscritos que se deno-
mina “estudio scopometrico de
los documentos” y tentendo a
la vista elementos de compa-
ración indubitables pertene-
cientes al prontuario Cedula
de Identidad número 3.524.272
de la Policía Federal Argen-
tina, extendido a nombre de
Ernestoo Guevara, en forma de
firmas manuscritas y escritu-
ra producidas en ocasión del
pedido de documentos por
parte del mencionado Gueva-
ra ante las autoridades argen-
tinas, elementos estos últimos
que se trasladaron hasta este
lugar como copias fotostáti-
cas del original, se han cote-
jado los mismos. En tal estu-
dio se tienen en cuenta: la fe-
cha de producción de los es-
critos auténticos mencionados,
la circunstancia de que se tra-
tan de firmas por una parte
y de escrituras (sólo las pala-
bras “Guatemala – Panamá
— Chile y Colombia), frente
a la existencia de escrituras
solamente y que las firmas au-
bénticas presentan los rasgos y
la estructura típica de formas
literales puras con alguna ten-
dencia a la simplificación que
no afectan el examen general,
y son por lo tanto indóneas pa-
ra realizar el cotejo formal ex
trinseco e intrinseco base de la
Identificación scopométrica; si-
multáneamente se emplea ele-
mento óptico adecuado. En las
condiciones mencionadas, los
elementos auténticos constitu-
yen uns parte infima del ma-
ternal que se le presenta al pe-
rito para su investigación y es-
to ha exigido uns examen es-
tadístico de las características
de la escritura del Libro de no-
tas presentado y la carpeta con
tapa de plástico marrón con la
Inscripción “Elba 66509” que
Contiene 44 fojas de mauscri-
Tos. Por la técnica ya referida
Y a través de sus principios se
Estabelece en comun una signi-
Ficativa regularidad escritural,
Estructura, cultura gráfica y
Existencia de formaciones ca-
Racterísticas que autorizan a
estabelecer una relación de los
cuadernos presentados repro-
ducen las mismas característi-
cas gráficas de las obrantes
halladas en el prontuario de
Ernesto Guevara. Se deja cons-
tancia que no se obtien co-
pias de las planas de escritu-
ra analisadas en este acto, pe-
ro que las mismas serán remi-
tidas posteriormente a la Po-
lícia Federal a los efectos de
una mejor documentación de
la investigación.—Con lo que
se da por terminado el acto. Se
dá lectura a los presentes, los
que firman al pie a los fines
correspondientes y en el orden
en que fueran mencionados
precedentemente, de conformi-
dad. Certifico. –
(Fdo.) Esteban Belzhauser.
(Fdo.) Juan Delgado”.
Comunicado de la
La embajada argentina entregó el siguiente comunicado:
“La comisión de técnicos destacados por el gobierno
Argentino a pedido del gobierno boliviano para comprobar
la identidad de los restos de Ernesto Guevara, ha procedido
al cotejo de los elementos que le fueron proporcionados por
el comando en jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas con aquellos
que obran en poder de autoridades policiales argentinas.
De la pericia dactiloscópica y caligráfica practicada por
los técnicos, de acuerdo con los procedimientos científicos en
uso, surge que los elementos cotejados corresponden en for-
a Ernesto Guevara, haciéndolo constar así el
as autoridades bolivianas.
Octubre de 1967”.
Document number 152
Subject: Guevara’s Death Evokes Tributes, Denunciations, Warnings
in Latin America
“Even if his methods to attain his goals were wrongs, he was not an ordinary person, nor did he lack the brand of a great idealist.” This comment by a Colombian reporter was typical of the mixture of tribute and denunciation of Ernesto “Che” Guevara which characterized press and public reaction in Latin America to his death. Coverage of the event was prominent and spectacular almost everywhere. People who expressed greatest disdain for Guevara’s violent career and his communist ideology still admitted to feeling some admiration for a person of extraordinary abilities, undeniable courage, and romantic inspiration. Opinions differed more widely on the likely effects of his demise: would the passing of the revolutionary lead to the passing of the revolution he sought to bring about?
Whither the revolution? Commentators of moderate to conservative persuasion were almost unanimous in declaring that Che’s death marked the virtual end of the Bolivian guerrilla movement. The Bolivian press trumpeted the triumph of the nation’s armed forces over foreign interventors. The newspaper Clarin of Buenos Aires, which follows the thinking of ex- President Frondizi, took the occasion to credit the Bolivian army with demonstrating the lack of need for an Inter-American Peace Force. The failure of a guerrilla band in Bolivia led by the hemisphere’s greatest theoretician and practicioner of guerrilla warfare bodes ill for groups with leaders elsewhere, noted Prensa Grafica of San Salvador. Santo Domingo’s government-owned radio station pointed out the failure of peasants to rally to Guevara’s cause, citing this as evidence that peasants realize that guerrilla warfare brings more destruction than solutions. Guevara’s death, the station continued, is another “signpost of the fate awaiting violent outbursts attempted against the will of the popular majorities.” Numerous government officials, among them the Foreign Minister of Chile and the Defense Minister of Venezuela, declared that Che’s demise showed that guerrilla movements and Cuban intervention in the hemisphere are doomed to failure. La Republica of San Jose warned that the sponsor of such anti-national insurrections would some day come to a similarly ignominious end himself.
But a note of caution was sounded by many commentators. Castro, with firm support from other communist countries, will undoubtedly persist in his ominous subversive efforts, noted Prensa Grafica, if not in the mountains then elsewhere. The views of Brazil’s Foreign Minister were widely echoed. Magalhaes warned “The death of myths is a dash of cold water for the guerrillas, but we must not allow this to slacken our efforts.” Only by proceeding with development and apreading prosperity to all would the threat of insurrection be eliminated, he concluded. The likely effect of Che’s death on future tactics of leftists and would-be revolutionaries was also the subject of some searching appraisals. El Comercio of Quito and El Mercurio of Santiago felt that the Bolivian experience would have to be accepted as proof of the inapplicability of Castro’s revolutionary theories outside of Cuba. But others indicated their belief that Guevara’s heroic martyrdom would inspire others to follow his course. A respected Colombian commentator stated, “For those who are devoted to revolution. Guevara’s memory will continue to be a stimulation… [it] will cause more rebellion, more peasant violence…and create more extremist fanatics.” Presencia of La Paz expressed the view that Guevara would prove to be much more valuable to Castro as a dead symbol than as a live rival.
Leftists mourn, but reserve analysis and prognostications. Most Latin American communists and other extreme leftists were reluctant to concede publicly the veracity of news reports emanating from Bolivia concerning Guevara’s allege death until they were confirmed by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro in a two hour radio and television speech October 15. Castro told the Cuban people that “we have reached the conclusion that these news reports, that is the news reports concerning the death of Major Ernesto Guevara, are sadly true.” In his doleful and somewhat disjointed speech, Castro reviewed the evidence of Che’s death—the photographs and the diary—and concluded that it was convincing. He praised Guevara highly, announced several measures decreed by the Council of Ministers in mourning for Guevara, and indicated the Cuban regime’s probable future approach on insurgency by promising to promote “every activity…conducive to perpetuating Guevara’s…life and…example.” Castro apparently was reserving policy pronouncements for speech to be delivered at a commemorative ceremony on October 18. On October 16, the Havana-based and directed Latin American Continental Students’ Organization (OCLAE) sent messages to student groups in several countries calling for a closing of Latin American universities until October 25 as an expression of “profound revolutionary grief” over the death of “El Che”. The students were also urged to “follow Guevara’s example by redoubling the anti-imperialist struggle”.
In several countries communist and other extreme leftist student and youth groups reacted with sporadic violence to Guevara’s death: a coffin laden with explosives blasted a public square in Buenos Aires, a bombing of the Bolivian Embassy in Mexico was attempted; in Ecuador and Mexico, students made plans to stone the Bolivian and US Embassies; the Bolivian Consul in Caracas was threatened with reprisals for Guevara’s death. On the other hand, the Moscow-line communist parties, while sincerely lamenting Guevara’s loss and extclling his revolutionary contributions, by and large have emphasized the difference between his policies and theirs. The Mexican Communist Party (PCM).at a meeting of a plenum of the central committee, reportedly asserted that Guevara’s death was a result of the fallaciousness of his concept of violent revolution. Chilean Senate President, Socialist Salvador Allende, whose views on revolution are closer to Castro’s than are those of the Chilean Communist Party, added to his tribute to Che’s virtues the bizarre request that Bolivian President Barrientos entrust Guevara’s body to him. Castroite groups have notably abstained from comment. Also notable for its absence is blame of the US for Che’s demise: only some general criticism of US support and training of Bolivian troops has yet appeared. The leftist press in Latin America has begun to canonize Guevara; among those in whose company it has been asserted Che belongs are Bolivar, El Cid, and Spartacus.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 153
Subject: Castro Builds Up a Hero
The death of Ernesto “Che” Guevara was “a tremendous for the revolutionary forces.” Castro confessed at a mass rally in Havana on October 18. He also, to be sure, reasserted his faith in the inevitable triumph of the “liberation movement” in Latin America. Nonetheless, his latest speech together with his public acknowledgment of Guevara’s death on October 15 showed both deep emotional shock over the death his former comrade-in-arms and discouragement over the quick demise of the Bolivian insurgency.
In both speeches, Castro carefully avoided giving OAS members additional proof of Cuba’s hemispheric intervention by remaining silent on the connection between Che’s activities in Bolivia and the Cuban government. He repeatedly quoted press dispatches referring to Che as an Argentine and called his band of soldiers an “Internationalist army.” In addition, Castro repeatedly referred to the assistance given the Bolivian by the United States.
Castro looks for a scapegoat. A good portion of his speech attempted to explain how the Revolution’s “most experienced and capable chief” could have been defeated by a Latin American army not celebrated for its military prowess. Castro obviously is not conceding that his revolutionary theories have been disproven by Guevara’s failure. He continues to view the Cuban experience as a peasant-based revolution in which the effort of the urban-based middle class to help overthrow a tyrannical caudillo was a relatively insignificant contributing factor, and he applies this pattern to the Bolivian situation. Instead of questioning Cuban revolutionary theory, he tried in his speech to show how “luck” was with the Bolivian army, that a weakened “Che” was forces into fighting in difficult guerrilla terrain in contravention of good guerrilla doctrine, and how the insurgents were betrayed by government spies. He referred to the presence of American “Green Berets” and 1,500 Bolivian soldiers who pursued Guevara. In an unusual aside, Castro even indirectly blamed Che’s “impetuousness” and “excessive aggressiveness.”
Implications for revolutionaries. It is apparent that the Cubans are concerned lest their followers in Venezuela, Guatemala, and elsewhere lose heart and accept the Soviet thesis of not resorting to armed insurgency until the necessary “objective conditions” are present. Castro cited those who “attempt to deny the veracity or worth of his [Guevara’s] guerrilla concepts and ideas.” In effect, Castro is saying that those who reject Che’s theories must reject Fidel’s, and his statement reflects the principal question at issue in the recent Latin American Solidarity Conference—whether the Latin American communist parties should follow Castro’s via armada or Moscow’s via pacifica.
The October 18 rally was an obvious attempt by Castro to immortalize “Che” Guevara and thereby preserve and enhance the mystique and momentum of the Latin American revolutionary movement.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 154
1. Wire service dispatch datelined Havana October 18 quotes afternoon daily “Juventud Rebelde” (official organ Communist youth movement) to effect that Ché Guevara will be avenged and “the deserts who him punished”. Cites case of individual who abandoned Sierra Maestra guerrillas in Cuba and subsequently “paid with his life”. Also cites Castro reference, during October 15 speech confirming Guevara death, to role of Bolivian guerrilla deserters in effecting same. Piece concludes by citing names of Bolivian ex-guerrillas Antonio Rodriguez Flores and Vicente Rocabal, specifically naming them “deserters” and, in effect, sentencing them to death.
2. Given Castro’s obviously strong, emotional reaction to Guevara’s death official character of newspaper source and its own citation of Castro speech, appears more than likely attempt will be made to render “revolutionary justice” to ex-guerrillas.
3. Possibility of such reprisals has undoubtedly occurred to Embasssy and GOB. Nevertheless, above appears to confirm this as Cuban policy, determined at highest possible level. In view of this, Embassy may wish take early opportunity to bring above informally to attention GOB.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 155
SUBJECT: “CHE” GUEVARA’S DEATH
IN HANDLING GUEVARA’S DEATH, SOVIETS APPARENTLY WISH AVOIN (A) ANTAGONIZING LATIN AMERICAN GOVERNMENTS BY APPEARING SUPPORT HIS BOLIVIAN ACTIVITIES AND (B) LOSING GROUND WITH LA AND OTHER RADICALS BY IGNORING HIS DEMISE. THEY THUS LIMITED PRESS COVERAGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES HIS DEATH TO QUATATIONS FROM CUBAN SOURCES, WHILE SEEKING MAINTAIN THEIR SELF-PROCLAIMED POSITION AS LEADER “ PROGRESSIVES” BY SENDING CASTRO CONDOLENCE MESSAGE FROM CPSU CC AND PUBLISHING SEPARATE OBIOJARY SIGNED BY ALL POLITBURO MEMBERS. BOTH MESSAGE AND OBITUARY PRAISED CHE’S HUMAN QUALITIES AS “FIGHTER FOR FREEDOM FROM EXPLOITATION AND OPPRESSION.”
DOCUMENT NUMBER 156
1. CHILEAN COMMUNIST DAILY EL SIGLO BEGAN SERIES OF ARTICLES YESTERDAY ON GUEVARA AND BOLIVIAN GUERRILLAS BY ITS REPORTER EDUARDO LABARCA WHO RECENTLY VISITED BOLIVIA. HE SAYS HIGH BOLIVIAN OFFICIAL SOURCE REVEALED TO HIM THAT CIA PARTICIPATED IN EXECUTION OF GUEVARA. FELIX RAMOS OF CUBAN BIRTH FINGERED AS CIA AGENT ON THE SCENE. LABARCA ALSO SAYS CREMATION STORY WAS COVER-UP AND BODY ACTUALLY BURIED IN VALLE GRANDE MORGUE. SECOND ARTICLE DESCRIBES COUNTER-GUERRITIA TRAINING BY US GREEN BERETS BASED ON INTERVIEW LABARCA HAD WITH US PERSONNEL AT LA ESPERANZA CAMP. (MAJ. RALPH SHELTON, SGT. E.W. DUFFIELD, CAPT. LEROY MITCHELL AND SGT. HARLOD CARPENTER)
2. EL SIGLO HAD EARLIER CARRIED INTERVIEW WITH BRITISH PROFESSOR RICHARD GOTT, RESIDENT SANTIAGO IN WHICH GOTT ALLEGEDLY REPORTED SEEING CIA AGENT OF CUBAN EXTRACTION DIRECTING ACTIVITIES ON ARRIVAL OF CORPSE AT VALLE GRANDE. GOTT INTERVIEW ALSO CARRIED IN GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER LA NACION WITH NO MENTION OF CIA, AND IN EXTREME LEFT JOURNAL PUNTO FINAL WITH MENTION OF CIA. IN RADIO DISCUSSION HERE LAST SUNDAY GOTT SPECIFICALLY ASKED ABOUT CIA, REPLIED PERSON HE SAW WAS PROBABLE MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL, NOT CIA.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 157
Subject: Bolivia and the Guerrilla Experience
For almost a year Bolivia has been the target of one of Latin America’s seemingly most professional communist guerrilla movements under the leadership of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The initial success and final defeat of the insurrection provides a test history of the Castro-Debray-Guevara thesis of rural revolution. This memorandum describes and analyzes the history of the movement, the reasons for its failure and the effect of the experience on Bolivia.
For geographical, sociological, and political reasons, Bolivia would appear to offer an ideal setting for a communist guerrilla movement. A very low standard of living, a tradition of political instability, and a potential as a base of operations against neighboring countries, made Bolivia a particularly tempting target for Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his Cuban and Bolivian followers.
The guerrillas settled in the sparsely populated southeastern part of the country to begin training and reconnaissance in late 1966, but hard evidence of their existence and potential threat did not appear until March, when a Bolivian army patrol stumbled upon the group and was quickly defeated. In the following few months, other clashes between the ill-trained, ill-equipped Bolivian army and the guerrillas proved disastrous for the government forces. Concern within the Bolivian Government and among Bolivia’s neighbors grow, and the Bolivian Government requested US training and material assistance. The insurrection gained international attention with the capture of French Marxist Jules Regis Debray and the growing evidence that Guevara was leading the band.
By July, however, the situation had begun to improve as the Bolivian soldiers help their group instead of fleeing in the face of guerrillas. Captured documents and other evidence strengthened Bolivia’s contention, later to be presented at the Twelfth Organization of American States Meeting of Consultation on Foreign Ministers, that the insurrection was inspired by Cuba. In late August and again in late September, the guerrillas suffered significant defeats and lost several of their principal foreign and Bolivian leaders. The final blow came shortly after the US-trained 2nd Ranger Battalion was committed to the guerilla zone when, on October 8, “Che” Guevara and several other guerrillas fell in battle. The remnants of the band are now reportedly trying to break out of the area escape.
These are several reasons for the guerrilla’s defeat. They apparently were wedded to the thesis outlined in Debray’s Revolution Within the Revolution? that the movement must be rural based, that formal association with the local communist parties is to be avoided, and that the cooperation of the local campesinos must be won. The failure of the campesinos, conservative by nature, to support the movement actively was critical. The lack of meaningful coordination with the communist parties or other dissident elements (e.g., the miners, the students, the urban labor unions) precluded the possibility of opening other rural or urban fronts which could have seriously strained the government’s limited capabilities to deal with the situation. And the fact that the group was foreign-led not only created resentment among the Bolivian communist parties but allowed the Barrientos regime to play on Bolivian nationalism and picture the movement as an aggressive adventure by the Cuban Government. Isolated and without campesino support, the movement was doomed to defeat at the hands of the inferior in quality but numerically superior Bolivian army.
The Bolivian Government and military are currently enjoying a rare period of self-confidence and pride—even were surprised at their success. Barrientos’ domestic position has been strengthened, although the revitalized military, proud of its first major military success in memory, may be somewhat less subject to presidential control. Still, the basic economic, political and social problems that make communist-led insurrection possible continue to exist. A new movement, perhaps under the banner of a martyred “Che” Guevara, but adopting tactics more suitable to the Bolivian situation, cannot be ruled out.
As the battleground for a rural guerrilla movement. Bolivia appears to be an ideal setting. Geographically, the country is split by rangers of the Andes mountains into sharply different areas of varying altitudes and topography which make land communications specially difficult for conventional security forces. The southeastern part of the country in which the guerrillas chose to operate is sparsely populated, roads are few and far between, and the terrain, with its narrow, shrub-shrouded stream and river beds as the main travel routs, is ideal for ambushes. Bolivia would also be an excellent base for international guerrilla operations since it borders relatively uninhabited areas of five other Latin American nations: Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina and Chile.
Socially and economically Bolivia also seems to satisfy the conditions for a communist insurgency effort. It has one of the lowest levels of per capita income in Latin America. The social and economic standards of Bolivian miners and peasants—campesionos—remain miserably low despite the radical economic and social changes brought about by the 1952 Revolution. The growing discontent of the miners has resulted in recurring clashes with government forces in the past few years. And much of the Aymara and Quechua speaking peasant population remain generally in the same isolated state of poverty that they have occupied for centuries.
Perhaps most important from the point of view of those favoring revolutions is the fragility and instability of the Bolivian political system with its violent conflicting forces, its tendency toward violent change of government, and its highly transitory political support patterns. Any regime in power is thus particularly vulnerable to the efforts of a relatively small group of dedicated insurrectionists. Even before the emergence of a guerrilla movement in early 1967, the military-oriented regime of President Barrientos was already unpopular with the miners and various other labor groups due to its efforts to stabilize the economy and restrict the power of the leftist labor unions. The regime was obviously heavily dependent for its support on the ill-trained, ill-equipped and generally ill-regarded military forces. Thus the defeat humiliation of the military at the hands of a small group of guerrillas could have a devastating effect upon the stability of the government.
In this setting of a backward isolated country beret by deep-rooted economic and social problems and ruled by a somewhat shaky government, the guerrillas, under the leadership of Latin America’s leading guerrilla tactician, Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, began developing their base of operations in late 1966.
The Guerrilla Victories
The hard core of the guerrilla band consisted of Guevara and, at their peak strength, some 15 Cuban and other foreign revolutionaries, several veterans of Cuba’s Sierra Maestra campaign, as well as Cuban-trained Bolivian communists. The first of the group moved into an area north of the town of Camiri in southeastern Bolivia in November 1966. Their initial purpose apparently was to develop a well-trained and well-disciplined force that would be capable of harassing or engaging elements of the Bolivian army perhaps by September or October 1967. Purchasing a far as a logistical base, they moved north into the rugged, virtually unpopulated region of brush, stream beds, and canyons to familiarize themselves with the terrain. They were well equipped with automatic weapons, communications equipment (including short wave facilities for contact with Cuba) and medical supplies. They divided their force into vanguard, center, and rearguard; established various base camps, guard posts, and hidden arms and supplies caches; and set off on reconnaissance patrols.
The first real indication of the movement’s existence came in early March when two Bolivians who had briefly joined the guerrillas deserted and were arrested by authorities whey theytried to sell a rifle stolen from guerrilla camp. Still, their tale about the band and its Cuban leadership was viewed with considerable skepticism by many. However, on March 23, a patrol of Bolivian soldiers stumbled upon a section of the guerrilla force and were quickly beaten in a sharp firefight that left seven Bolivian soldiers dead and many more wounded and captured.
The government now took the threat of a communist guerrilla movement more seriously. Additional army patrols were sent into the area—with disastrous results. The untrained, poorly-equipped conscripts were consistently routed by the seemingly invincible guerrillas. Taunting voices called from the brush and the Bolivian troops often dropped their antiquated weapons and fled. The low morale of the Bolivian army, undermined by its purge following the 1952 Revolution and almost traditionally low because of its rather dismal of defeats which had cost Bolivia large portions of its territory, fell even further, particularly among the enlisted men. The guerrillas meanwhile appeared to grow in confidence and strength. In July, they boldly occupied the town of Samaipata for a day and disarmed the military unit stationed there.
The guerrillas attempted to build popular support for their cause. Now called the National Liberation Army (at least by Radio Havana), they went to considering effort to win the backing of the campesios in the area. When commandeering food or supplies from local residents, they paid more than the market price for the goods. Several of the guerrillas were doctors, and they treated the children of the villages in an effort to win over the populace.
In late April, French Marxist theoretician Jules Regis Debray was captured after he had visited the guerrilla camp for several weeks and the guerrilla effort attracted significant international attention. Debray’s statements that the guerrilla band was led and supported by Cubans and other professional Latin American guerrillas and might be under the direction of “Che” Guevara underscored the seriousness of the threat. In the eyes of many who believed Guevara was really leading the guerrillas, “Che” vc. The Bolivian army seemed to be more than an equal contest.
Increasingly alarmed, the Bolivian Government sought help from the US and some of its neighbors—Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. In response, the US provided a counter-insurgency training program for the Bolivian Second Ranger Battalion, which moved into the guerrilla zone in September 1967. The US also supplied some relatively modern automatic weapons and other equipment to the Bolivian army.
As the guerrilla movement continued to rack up successes in its encounters with the Bolivian army, other dissident elements in Bolivia agitated against the government. Opposition parties criticized the Barrientos’ regime for its inept handling of the insurgency problem. In June, miners of the Catavi-Siglo XX tin mine urged solidarity with the guerrilla force. When the government sent in troops to put down miners’ revolt, at least 16 miners were killed. The government outlawed the various Bolivian communist parties (pro-Soviet, pro-Chinese, and Trotskyite).
The importance or potential of the guerrilla movement was not lost on Bolivia1s neighbors. Argentine, Paraguay, Peru and to a lesser degree Brazil began to consider what steps they might take to prevent a communist takeover in Bolivia which would threaten their borders. Patrols in areas of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay contigous to the Bolivian guerrilla zone were increased and Argentina and Peru discussed the possibility of sending troops to assist the Bolivian Army in putting down the insurgency. Paraguay and Argentina planned anti-guerrilla maneuvers near the Bolivian border and Bolivia received some material assistance from Argentina and Brazil.
The Guerrilla Defeat
By July, however, the situation began to improve. Some guerrillas were killed or captured as the Bolivian forces began to hold their ground in clashes with the insurgents. The Bolivian army discovered one of the base camps of the guerrillas and captured many documents, including photographs of an individual among the guerrillas who bore a striking resemblance to “Che” Guevara. Two falsified passports were which carried the thumb prints of Guevara. These documents helped build the government’s case for charges of Cuban intervention in Bolivian affairs, which it effectively presented at the Twelfth Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OAS in September.
The government’s first major military victory against the guerrillas occurred on August 31, when the rear guard section was ambushed by a Bolivian army unit while trying to cross the Rio Grande. Nine of the 10 guerrillas were killed, including three Cubans, a Peruvian, and several Bolivians, among them militant Bolivian communist Moises Guevara. The Bolivian troops suffered no casualties in the ambush, which resulted from a combination of good luck and good planning. The success buoyed the morale of the troops considerably. During September, a guerrilla support ring was broken up by the authorities in La Paz on the basis of captured guerrilla documents. And on September 26, another clash with the guerrillas left several dead, including prominent Cuban and Bolivian guerrilla leaders.
In late September, the US-trained Second Ranger Battalion was committed to the guerrilla zone. Its first victory was the most spectacular of the campaign and probably marked the end of the present guerrilla movement in Bolivia. On October. On October 8 the Rangers clashed with the main body of the guerrilla band. Some seven guerrillas including “Che” Guevara, fell in the battle.
Latest reports indicate that only a handful of guerrillas—perhaps fewer than a dozen—now remain, and these are trying to escape from the guerrilla zone. They have reportedly forced local residents to accompany them as guides in an effort to break out of the area.
The Cause of Defeat
In retrospect, several errors on the part of the guerrillas become evident. The guerrillas seemed wedded to the thesis of rural guerrilla revolution as described in Debray’s book, Revolution Within the Revolution?, a romanticized and greatly over-simplified synthesis of the Castro success story. In this thesis, the revolution must have ots main thrust and authority in the rural guerrilla movement, to which will be drawn an increasing number of patriotic followers. Formal association with the traditional communist parties is to be avoided as the guerrilla revolutionary process will produce its own political leaders. The local campesino population will be won over and will support the guerrillas as the liberators from government (imperialist) oppression.
The failure of the campesino to support the movement was critical. Conservative, wary of outsiders, many owning their own land, they were not openly hostile toward the guerrilla, but they did not support the guerrilla cause. Moreover, they frequently reported the presence of guerrillas to the authorities and sometimes acted as guides for the army. In Guevara’s diary, captured in the October 8 clash, he reportedly comments on the difficulty he had in reaching the compesinos with his revolutionary message.
From the beginning, a lack of coordination between the guerrillas and the city-based communist parties was evident. Both pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese communist parties publicly endorsed the guerrilla effort, but there were splits within the party as to the degree of actual support that should be rendered the guerrillas. There was also some resentment that the movement was Cuban rather than Bolivian-led and directed. Talk of urban terrorism or the opening of other guerrilla fronts—moves which would have seriously strained the government’s ability to contend with the insurrection—came to naught. Nor was it ever evident that the guerrillas in fact desired such cooperation, committed as they were to the thesis that they themselves were the only force from which the revolution could evolve. The same lack of coordination was evident with respect to other dissident elements on whom the guerrillas might have called for assistance if they had wanted to—the miners, the students, the urban employed. Of course the quick and surprisingly effective crack-down on the miners in June may have tended to discourage efforts by either the guerrillas or their prospective allies in this direction.
Another error, recognized as a weakness by “Che” himself, lay in the dominant role assumed by the Cubans in the movement. Not only did this breed some resentment among Bolivian communists but it made efforts to win the support and confidence of the campesinos all the more difficult. It also provided the Bolivian Government with ammunition to undermine the guerrilla cause by playing on the Bolivians’ extreme sense of nationalism. Even those Bolivian dissidents who might have been prone to join the movement in its more successful days were probably resentful of the foreign coloration of the band. President Barrientos repeated this theme constantly during the anti-guerrilla campaign—Cuba. Itself a puppet of a foreign power (the USSR) was now seeking to extend its control over Bolivians. Thus the movement, to Bolivians and outsiders as well, appeared loss and less homegrown, less the product of injustice and poverty than an aggressive adventure set upon by foreign government. As this point was driven home, much the romantic mystique of the guerrillas was lost.
Without the help of the peasants to protect and support them (particularly with food which was always in short supply) and limited to a single force in a single area, the movement was doomed. Even the lackluster Bolivian army forces stationed in the area could eventually contain and destroy the band since, after all, they outnumbered the guerrillas twenty or thirty to one.
The Effect on Bolivia
With the destruction of the present guerrilla movement and the demise of “Che” Guevara, the Bolivians and particularly their military forces are currently enjoy a rare sense of self confidence and pride. Bolivian leaders have themselves publicly displayed surprise over their victory. In the past few months, during the period of various successful encounters with the guerrillas, President Barrientos has been spared some of the criticism and plotting of the non-communist opposition. However these traditional internal problems can be expected to resume as the bloom of the victory fades. Still, there is no doubt that the bloom of the victory faces. Still, there is no doubt is no doubt that Barrientos’ domestic position and popularity has been greatly strengthened, and he is now pictured not only as a defender of the southern nation against external threat but as defender of the southern hemisphere as well. To emphasize this point, Barrientos is now talking about the need for military action to rid the hemisphere of the Castro threat. The success will also strengthen Barrientos’ key element of support, the armed forces. But a revitalized, newly self-confident military force may also be less subject to tight presidential control. Also it will probably deal more harshly with other dissident groups who might actively threaten the government, particularly the miners. Some of the officers who were directly involved in the anti-guerrilla operations reportedly see themselves as the true saviors of the nation, rather than those who sat on high in La Paz and issued orders. They are comparing themselves to the Chaco War (1932-35) veterans who were to subsequently pave the way for the Bolivian revolution. There are, for example rumors that Colonel Zentene, Commander of the Eight Army Division which participated in the anti-guerrilla campaign, may be named Minister, partly as a reward for his services.
The failure of the guerrillas and the death of Guevara are of course serious blows to the extreme left. These defeats will probably strengthen the position of the more “moderate” elements of the communist parties which opposed the guerrilla movement as rash adventurism or opposed its foreign leadership.
However, the basic problems that make Bolivia a target for communist insurgency efforts, be it rural or urban based, have not really changed. Poverty, backwardness, unemployment and inherent political instability may have been momentarily forgotten, but they are still there. The miners are still a potential source of agitation, the students remain volatile, and the political plotters and opportunists continue to seek power by any means. The defeat of a communist insurgency effort does not alter this, and new movement, perhaps under the banner of the “martyred” Guevara but adopting tactics more suitable to the Bolivian situation, cannot be ruled out.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 158
1. RECENT ARTICLES IN SOVIET PRESSOMDOCATE SOVIETS, AFTER GIVING CHE GUEVARA HIS DUE AS CHARMATIC REVOLUTIONARY LEADER, NOW PREPARED USE HIS DEATH IN SUPPORT THEIR POSITION THAT CONDITIONS NOT RIPE FOR ARMED REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVITY IN MOST OF LATIN AMERICA.
2. VENEZUELAN RODOLFO KINTERO, IN ARTICLE WRITTEN ESPECIALLY FOR ZA RUBERZHOM (NO 44), CLEARLY HAS CHE IN MIND WHEN HE CRITICIZES “ADVENTURES” WHICH INVOLVE “USELESS LOSS OF PRICELESS LIVES OF REVOLUTIONARIES AND SETBACK FOR LIBERATION MOVEMENT. “ARTICLE IN NOVOYE VREMYA (NO 44) QUOTES JOURNALIST LOUIS SUAREZ AS CONFIRMING CHE WAS IN BOLIVIA “TO IN PRACTICE CORRECTNESS OF HIS CONCEPTS”, AND THEN DESCIBES HOW GUEVARA WAS HUNTED DOWN AND KILLED, LETTING READERS DRAW THEIR OWN CONCLUSIONS ABOUT USEFULNESS HIS EFFOR. HOWEVER, TO PRESS POINT OF PRESENT FUTILITY ARMED REVOLUTION IN WESTERN HEMISPHERE, ARTICLE LISTS GUERRILLA LEADERS FROM OTHER LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES (COLOMBIA, VENEZUELA, GUATEMALA, PERU), WHO HAVE FAILED AND FALLEN.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 159
Subject: Revolutionary Martyrs “Che” and Debray: Soviet and East European Views
Although officially the Soviets and East Europeans reacted with sympathy to the of “Che” Guevara, this public sorrow can have reflected their true feelings about “Che”. This memorandum examines Soviet and East European statements on Guevara and also on his disciple Regis Debray.
Although they not shown it in public, the Soviets and their East European allies were gratified by the demise of “Che” Guevara amid the collapse of the Bolivian guerrilla operation and the continuing trial of Regis Debray for activities with the same guerrillas. Guevara was the chief practitioner of the notion violent revolution on a continental scale, which the Soviets and their allies strongly oppose, and Debray had become one of its main theoretical champions. The Soviets would probably be happy to have both removed from the political arena in such a way as to compromise their philosophies, but they are not saying so, because this might further inflame their already difficult relations with Cuba.
For the record, the Soviets and East Europeans condoled with the Cubans over the loss of “Che” Guevara, and Moscow even permitted a group of some 150 students from Lumumba University to demonstrate in front of the US Embassy, accusing the United States of complicity in Guevara’s death, but they were careful not to let this antagonize the governments of Latin America, with they are striving to foster better relations.
Czech Epitaph for Guevara, Four Months Early.
In the past the news media of the USSR and Eastern Europe (excluding Yugoslavia and Albania) have shunned the subjects of “Che” and Debray, viewing this as the safest way to avoid trouble from any quarter. A notable exception to this general picture was an article entitled, “Two, Three…Other Vietnams?” which appeared around June in the biweekly publication of the Czechoslovack Journalists’ Union, Reporter.¹ It was written by an editor of reporter, Stanislav Budin.
Budin’s piece is a point-for-point of Guevara’s Tricontinental article of last April, the main thrust of which was that “Che’s” contentions were neither theoretically nor tactically sound, and have, in fact “very little in common with revolutionary Marxism”. Budin argued that the idea that mere will, “enthusiasm and fervor, indignation and impatience, and all noble efforts,” can substitute for the discipline, purpose, and organizing capabilities of the Marxist-Leninist communist parties “reminds one very much anarchism and of Bakunin.” The reference to Mikhail A. Bakunin, the nineteenth-century Russian anarchist famous for his battles with Karl Marx in the First International and elsewhere, suggested that in Budin’s mind Guevarismo is not merely a disagreeable deviation from true Marxism-Leninism but is actually opposed to it. ²
Self-Righteousness on Vietnam
Budin devoted a good deal space to refuting Guevara’s charge that the “socialist countries” have not done enough to further the war effort of North Vietnam and that they are not fully committed to the Vietnamese struggle, and his indignant protestations indicate that this issue, the criticism of the revolutionary elan of the Soviets and East Europeans, is a sensitive one. “How is it that Vietnam is alone?” asked Budin. “Are not the representatives of the solidarity of all the progressive forces of the wourld can they continue the struggle in
1. A Spanish translation of the article appeared in the Montevideo leftist weekly Marcha on July 28.
2. Where Bakunin stands in relation to the saints of Marxism-Leninism may be educed from the following descriptions of his career found in the Bolshaya Sovetskkaya Entsyklopediya: Bakunin was an “ideologist of anarchism and a violent foe of Marxism.” “Bakunin violently fought against Marxism.” “Bakunin tried to overthrow the First International created by Marx and Engels.”
Which they surely triumph?….And have the other socialist countries not stated that when some other form of help is requested, for example, sending volunteers, it will be done?”
Latin America Not Ready for Violence
On Latin America Budin used a number of themes which have recurred in Soviet and Fast European statements on the area to assail Guevara’s revolutionary effusions. He scored Guevara for failing to recognize the need to vary revolutionary tactics to fit varying local conditions in Latin America and for ignoring the “anti-imperialist” tendencies of elements of the “national bourgeoisie,” especially in Mexico, Chile, and Venezuela. He refuted Guevara’s criticism of “socialist countries’” trading with the government of Latin America, saying that “the development of commercial relations constitutes an important step in braking the monopolistic exploitation of the continent by the American monopolies and that commercial relations are the first important step in the development of another type of collaboration, above all political and peaceful, with the socialist world.”
The emphasis on peaceful methods was strong throughout Budin’s discussion of Latin America. For himthe key question was: are the masses “aroused to the point that they are ready to fight, and to the death, conscious of what is awaiting them, and do they prefer this to the existing order?” His answer was no, and he warned that a continuation of “Che’s” “revolutionary romanticism which walks in the clouds and ignores reality “will lead to a disaster akin to the tragic case of the working vanguard in Indonesia.”
Short Shrift for Debray.
Another Czech article, this time in the authoritative communist party daily, Rude Pravo, on August 18, made a rather strong attack on Debray’s conception of the primacy of guerrilla action. The pice was written by Rude Pravo’s Latin American correspondent, Victor Perez. According to Perez, Debray’s view that armed struggle should be ignited at once by guerrilla “foci” in many countries, “without the party or a clearcut ideology,” is a “militaristic interpretation of the revolutionary process.” “This conception of ‘focil,‘” said Perez, “ignores the masses and their role, denies the proletariat and its and argues the decadence of Marxism-Leninsim in all that is related to the revolutionary situation.” Enchoing Budin, he added that “It considers all Latin America as ripe for the period of ‘foci,’ as if the Latin American revolution could be parallel and identical.”
The most interesting point about these two Czech articles is that they take Guevara and Debray head on and identify their ideas with heretical or near-heretical theories. Neither piece mentions Fidel Castro, but such open criticism of his two most renowned champions was certainly not intended to please him. At this point, however, they remain isolated instances, and the Soviets and East Europeans have otherwise continued to couch their criticisms of Cuba in carefully circumspect language.
Pravda Publishes Latin American Party Leaders.
Pravda on October 25 and 27 printed articles written by Rodolfo Ghioldi, member of the Executive Committee of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Argentina, and Luis Corvalan, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Chile, which fitted in with the Soviet preference for indirect dialogue. The articles were part of a series of essays on the October Revolution written by foreign communists. They made the same criticisms contained in the Budin and Perez pieces, but without linking them directly to the Cubans. Ghioldi used the divice of blaming everything on Maoism, but he was clearly aiming his shafts at Cuba also.
As befitted their individual approaches to communist problems, the essays of Ghioldi and Corvalan differed in languages and emphasis, Ghioldi’s being the strong piece. Both contained defenses of “socialist” economic relations with the governments of Latin America—since the LASO meeting this has appeared more frequently in Soviet propaganda. Perhaps the most interesting part of either piece is Ghioldi’s accusation that “Maoism and similar tendencies” disregard local conditions in different countries and try to force revolution on a country from outside. “Adventurist, subjectivist tactics,” Ghioldi wrote, usually lead to an extremely melancholy result, such as occurred in Indonesia.” The parallel here with Budin’s discussion of “Che” Guevara’s link with Bakunin, even down to the allusion to Indonesia, is striking.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 160
SUBJECT: Che Guevara Kin Accept Death Report as Fact
1. We enclose a translation of a statement released by the family of Che Guevara in which the report of his death is acknowledged as fact. Several Buenos Aires newspapers carried the statement.
2. Earlier statements attributed to Guevara’s father and his brother Roberto (who unsuccessfully tried to see the body) had cast doubt on the report. Since then most Argentine skeptics have become convinced of the death.
Translation of Article from Crónica, November 17, 1967
Crónica, November 17, 1967
In view of tendentious reports attributed to relatives of Ernesto Guevara and even taking into the different trends of opinion, we feel morally bound to state that our son and brother Ernesto Guevara, know throughout the world as “Che” Guevara, lost his life in a manner unknown to us between October 8 and 9, 1967, at the head of guerrillas operating in the eastern region of Bolivia.
Although the attitude of the Bolivian Government may have perplexed us, the trip to Cuba of Roberto Guevara, and the examination of different documents and photographed material, have given us the sad certain of Che’s death in the circumstances referred to. We wish this to be our final statement to the press, and any other which may be published, or may have been published, is false and has not been given out by us.
(Arch.) Ernesto Guevara Lynch
Celia Guevara de la Serna
Roberto Guevara de la Serna
Juan Martín Guevara de la Serna
(Sra.) Ana María Guevara de Chávez
DOCUMENT NUMBER 161
On a October, 21T Perez of Company A reiceived information that there was a band of 17 guerrillas in the Churro Ravine. As Perez did not have mortars, he communicated to Opt Prado the information and ask for support. Cpt Prado sent the 3rd Platoon and 2 mortars to Higueras to support it Perez. Cpt Prado accompanied the unit and commanded the mortar section.
The combined units of Company A and this supporting unit from Company B moved into the area of Churro Ravine using two squads of Company A as a blocking force a few north of the small Caino Ravine. Cpt Prado set up his mortar section east of the Churro Ravine, with 3rd Platoon of Company B to his rear in support, under the commend of Sgt Huauca. 1st Platoon of Company A under the command of Lt Perez entered the Churro Ravins to the north at the confluence of two small streams. It Perez initiated the pursuit and began driving the guerrilla force south while Cpt Predo’s mortars shelled the ravine. At this point a machine gun was brought up to also cover the ravine and hold left flank of Prado’s mortar section and supporting troops. As the 1st Platoon of Company A pushed south they came under fire and lost 3 soldiers immediately. Cpt Prado then ordered Sgt Huanca to move down the small Tuscal Ravine and waist at the entrances of the Churro Ravine. The 3rd Platoon of Company B carried out this order and after finding nothing, was ordered to enter the Churro Ravine and begin pursuit in the direction of it Perez’s platoon. Sgt Huauca immediately encountered a group of 6 to B guerrillas and opened fire. At this point they killed “Antonio” and “Orturo”, two Cubans, Sgt Huauca lost one soldier here and another was wounded. “Ramon” (Guevara) and “Willy” tried to break out in the direction of the mortar section. They were sighted by the machine gun crew which took them fire. “Ramon” (Guevara) was hit in the lower calf and was helped by “Willy” toward the Tuscal Ravine where apparently they rested for a few minutes. They then moved north, directly in front of Cpt Prado who ordered several soldiers to chase them. Soldiers Encinos, Choque, and Balboa were the first Bolivians to lay handson Guevara. “Willy” and “Ramon” (Guevara” were later transported back to Ia Higueras with Cpt Prado and the elements of Companies A and B. The Bolivians did not remain in position after nightfall. From 1900 hrs until-0400 hrs on 9th, there were no significant Bolivian troops in the area of the fire fight. This gave the guerrilla force ample time to escape the area, but either due, to confusion after the battle or poor evaluation of the situation by their leaders, the guerrilla force remainde in the Churro Ravine.
On 30 October 67, at a small pavilion in La Esperanza, Bolivia, Lt Ral Espinosa Lord, Company B, 2nd Ranger Pn, stated the following in regards to the handling of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Guevara and “Willy” were transported back to la Higueras on the afternoon of the 8th, after the battle at the Churro Ravine. Buevars had a slight wound in the lower calf, which was treated upon returning to La Higueras. It Espinoza talked at length with Guevara, though Guevara did not ay pertinent information. Espinoza felt regard for Guevara as a soldier and a men, and was anxious to know more of this “Legendary figure”. Guevara answered all of his questions with remarks such as “perhaps” or “possibly”. Early in the morning of the 9th of October, the unit received the order to execute Guevara and the other captives. Previously, Col Santana, Commander of the first 8th Division, had given express orders to keep the prisoners alive. The Officers involved did not know where the order originated, but felt that it came from the highest echelons. Cpt Prado gave the order to execute Guevara to Lt Perez, but he was unable to carry out the order and in turn gave it to Sgt Terran, Company B. At this time Perez asked Guevara if there was anything he wished before his execution. Guevara replied that he only whished to “die with a full stomach”. Perez then asked him if he was “materialist”, by having requested only food, Guevara returned too his previous tranquil manner and answer only “perhaps”. Perez then called him “poor shit” and left the room. By this time, Sgt Terran had fortified his courage with several beers and returned to the room where Guevara was being help prisoner. When Terran entered the room, Guevara stood up, hands tied in front, and stated, “I know what you have come for I am ready”. Terran looked at him for a few minutes and then said, “No you are mistaken be seated.” Sgt Terran then left the room for a few moments.
“Willy”, the prisoner taken with Guevara, was being held in a small house a few meters away. While Terran was waiting outside to get his nerve back, Sgt Huacka entered and ahot “Willy” “Willy” was a Cuban and according to the source had been an instigator of the riots among the miners time appeared to be frightened. Sgt Terran returned to the room where Guevara was being help. When he entered, Guevara stood and faced him. Sgt Terran told Guevara to be seated but he refused to sit down and stated, “I will remain standing for this.” The Sgt began to get angry and told him to be seated again, but Guevara would eay nothing. Finally Guevara told him. “Know this now, you are killing a man.” Terran then fired a burst from his M2 Carbine, knocking Guevara back into the wall of the small house.
Interviews with a doctor that had examined Guevara’s cadaver and evaluation of available photos indicate that Guevara did have one found in the lower calf, that appeared to the doctor to have been received at a different time than the other wounds that were received at short range and directlu from the front.
During the evening of the 8th and the morning of the 9th, It Espeniza had on his person a pipe that he said Guevara had given him during their right together at La Higueras. He showed this pipe to source at the pavilion in La Esperanza and again at the 8th Division Headquerters in Santa Crus on the morning of the 31st. The pipe was of an “Air Cooling design” with a part of the stem exposed and made of silver colored metal. The bowl was black and appeared to have been smoked for some time. This pipe form agress with the descriptions of the pipe “Ramon” had been using during earlier developments of the guerrilla operations.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 162
SUBJECT: Bolivia’s Army Commander Visits Montevideo
1. Bolivian Army Officer General Alfredo OVANDO Candia arrived in Montevideo from Rio de Janeiro December 8 for a five day stay. He was accompanied by his wife and two sons, Marcelo, 17, and Alfredo, 11. Ovando told the press he was on the first vacation he had had in 18 years and, although he was on an unofficial visit, he might pay some courtesy calls Uruguayan civil and military private residence but did grant one lengthy press conference.
2. During his encounter with the press, Ovando was questioned most about the death of guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” GUEVARA. He described Guevara as a “brave and determined soldier, perhaps a visionary” who made many mistakes. Guevara’s principal error, according to Ovando, was his misjudgment of the Bolivian campesino who “supported us totally.” Ovando also said Guevara picked the wrong area in Bolivia for his operations and committed many strategic errors.
3. Ovando denied that Guevara had been shot after his captured and said he died of his wounds, the most serious being a perforated lung. He also denied that Guevara’s fingers had been cut off for further identification. He said that the body had been cremated and the ashes buried in a secret place, the location of which he refused to discuss. Ovando also said that Guevara’s brother, Roberto arrived too late but, otherwise, would have been permitted to view his brother’s corpse.
4. According to Ovando, Guevara’s diary contained harsh and “vulgar” criticism of the Communist party and also described the Bolivian exhortations with impassive faces and mocking eyes.
5. Ovando told the press the guerrilla war had cost Bolivia between one and two million dollars and 50 dead. The guerrillas had lost 64 dead and 10 captured and were “finished”. He said only four fugitives remained at large, “Inti PAREDI (sic), another Bolivian and two Cubans.”
6. During the counter insurgency campaign, Ovando said, the role of the United States military strictly advisory. He said it had been a policy for U.S. personnel to be prohibited from approaching places of know guerrilla concentration and that U.S. civil aircraft had been forbidden to overfly these areas.
7. Replying to questions on other subjects, Ovando said he opposed the creation of an Inter-American Peace Forces. He also denied that Bolivia was attempting to re-establish diplomatic relations with Chile. The only basis for that would be a port on the Pacific, said.
8. Ovando’ s visit here was greeted with hostility by the Communist daily newspaper El Popular which labeled him a “golpista gorila, a political assassin a liar.” Etc. El Popular also printed a resolution passed by a group of school teachers repudiating the presence on Uruguay soil of “this assassin at the service of imperialism.”
DOCUMENT NUMBER 164
It has already become part of history that the Cuban Castro-Communists have tried for several years to change the internal order of the countries of the Latin-American Continent by exporting their Communist ideology to them and to convert these countries into new Communist states. Fidel Castro, encouraged by the initial success this had bad in his own country and having enhanced his image on the international level through a very skillful propaganda, was the first to be taken in by his own work, believing that the guerrillas who were trained and organized in Cuba would be invincible anywhere they would appear on the Latin American Continent. He believed that his slogan “IT IS THE DUTY EVERY REVOLUTIONARY TO MAKE REVOLUTION” would be a panacea for converting, from one day to the a-x’, the peasants, workers, and middle-class people into legendary of Communist subversion in Latin America.
The direct or indirect support this has received by the so-called Democratic press e the continent has, in the even of public opinion, lent the figures of Castro, Che Guevara, and other Communist leaders a great prestige and importance, presenting then in many cases as the representatives of a new generation who interpret more realistically the desires of the people and of the majorities of the Continent.
Acting as journalists and correspondents, many activists has free access to all the countries on the Continent, and thereby became a threat to the internal security of our countries; however, when remained un […] the honor to die near his leader. To the international press, however, which is being influenced skillfully by the international Communism, this is meaningless; the press still insists that the Frenchman is innocent and calls him a victim of Bolivia injustice.
The economic plight of all the windows, orphans, and old men who now feel the absence of those who were sacrificed by the guerrillas, is meaningless to the international press, because they only want the merchandise of the news, which enables many of them enjoy a happy, comfortable life thousands of miles away from this country Bolivia which threatened and blodied by Communists fighting under the premise that the capture of Bolivia would serve Communism as a very good jumping board to leap over onto other countries on the Continent.
So that the truth of what happened in Bolivia may be know and will not be forgotten, the Bolivian Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board would like to present to the Chiefs of Staff a short summary of the Bolivian Army’s experiences in its struggle with victory over the Castro-Communist guerrillas of Che Guevara, whose activities were brought to an end in less than six months.
II. MISSION AND OBJECTIVES OF THE GUERRILLAS
Che Guevara and his guerrillas had the mission to initiate a war in Bolivia as soon as possible in order to seize power and create a Communist regime in another Latin American state.
Their main objective was to break the political isolation in which Communist Cuba lives on the Continent. Once that mission was fulfilled. Cuba would no longer be alone and sooner or later the Cuban movement would also be successful in other countries bordering on Bolivia.
The succession of events has proven the above-said to be true, and in order to demonstrate this, we have summarized them briefly:
When Che Guevara disappeared from public life in Communist Cuba, he crated a political phantasy which disturbed public opinion in the Continent and also preoccupied qualified political observers who spent a great deal of time and paper on efforts to explain the fact itself and the possible implications and motives connected with Che Guevara’s disappearance.
The first version read that Che Guevara had been sacrified and killed in Cuba because of the egocentrism of Castro, who not tolerate any rivals in his power.
It was also said that he had been identified as one of the guerrillas in Guatemale and that he had died in that country.
Some time later it was confirmed that the Government of Nicaragua had plain evidence that he had been killed in that country, in yet another guerrilla effort.
Then, during the struggle of the Peruvian Army against the guerrillas in Peru, it was heard that a foreign newspaper had interviewed Che Guevara somewhere in the Andes.
The events that occurred in Bolivia demonstrated that Che Guevara, who was looked upon as the principal Communist activist on the Continent, had probably been various American countries and had entered Bolivia with a false passport under the name Pamon Benitez Gonzales or under the name Adolfo Hena Cenzales; these documents are in the hands of the Armed Forces and were presented to the Foreign Ministers of the OAS at their XIIth Consultative Meeting by the Bolivian Chancellor.
Even these facts were received with great skepticism by the conference and by the press, which noted theses incidents with disbelief and thereby manifested its lack of confidence in the government of one of the member nations of our system; the reasons were obvious. We were denouncing a small country that was not understood by its brothers in the Hemisphere.
Later events confirmed what Bolivia had stated; Che Guevara did enter Bolivia in order to organize and direct the guerrilla movement, because he consi-ered a very suitable point for his mission to Communize the entire continent.
Communist Cuba stands alone isolated in the middle of regional, Democratic organization; it is politically weak and may disappear any day as a Communist state. For this reason, other countries must be made Communist, and the one best suited for that purpose is Bolivia. According to Che Guevara and Regis Debray, who claim to know this country well there is mass poverty among the workers and the peasants, as well as among the lower middle class. They erroneously maintained that the political situation in Bolivia is characterized by constant agitation and that the difficulties the Government is facing are too great for it master. One Guevara thought that the guerrilla war would he very be very short indeed and victory would be his after only a few months. The Communists were practically celebrating their victory before the war had started.
III. TRAINING AND ORGANIZATION OF THE GUERRILLAS
A. The Guerrilla Theoreticians
Che Guevara and his collaborators, among them especially Regis Debray, committed several errors when they studied the conditions in Bolivia in order to carry out their plan of turning this country Communist through guerrilla warfare; these errors showed that they were mere theoreticians of this kind of warfare. That was only the more surprising as Che Guevara’s book “Guerrilla warfare” and Debray’s book “Revolution Within the Revolution”, works which are highly regarded in that class of literature, advocate principles of guerrilla organization and training which are just as adequate and convincing as those laid down by Castro. However, it became evident through the events in Bolivia that their books had a merely theoretical value for their authors who, once they were guerrilla leaders themselves, forgot their own principles and did not implement them, so that their struggle finally ended very tragically with the death of Che Guevara and the imprisonment of Debray.
B. The Recruiting of the Guerrillas
1. Guerrilla leaders: The candidates for guerrilla lender positions were chosen from person of proven ideological revolutionary convictions and certain aatitudes and qualifications. Yet, the selection […] It seems that the Communists tried to make up for these deficiencies by introducing foreigners into the movement, and in particular qualified members of the Cuban government: according to Castro’s experience nationality does not matter in guerrilla circles. The only thing that matters is that the guerrillas are convinced of their cause, which gives them great moral strength in itself. An additional requirement for the guerrilla leaders was that they had to have qualities and to be physically strong. In this respect, the Communists made the mistake not to investigate the moral qualities of the people, who are very patriotic and automatically reject everything foreign. This was shown by the indifference with which the guerrilla leaders were received by the people the areas they tried to incite.
2. Experience has shown that not all the leaders of the Communist parties possess the qualities necessary to be guerrilla leaders; they are better qualified to support the guerrillas through permanent agitation in the interior. For that reason no influential Communist politician in the country was involved with the guerrillas. They remained inactive, perhaps in the hope that the guerrillas would succeed in the end; but the truth was that they followed the Moscow line which favors peaceful co-existence and the taking over of power over a long period of time, as was manifested by many participants in the Latin American Solidarity Conference in Havana.
3. The guerrillas, who had been recruited with the promise of high salaries, were organized in centers which set up the future guerrilla groups. Every group contained both people from the different labor sectors who identified clearly with Castro-Communism and also people who knew the areas in which they were going to fight.
4. Other guerrilla groups were established in the villages to set up fronts who would be favorable to the development of the events. These groups would coordinate their actions to support the main guerrillas, while kecping in mind that at any moment the brunt of the guerrilla struggle might fall on them, so that the military units that were sent to fight them would have to disperse their forces, means, and attention.
C. Mistakes in the Organization of the Guerrillas
1. The Bolivian guerrilla leader was Roberto Peredo Leigue, called “COCO”, and his second was his brother Guide, called “INTI”. Both were little know in the country, and their political prestige existed only within Communist circles; neither had help any offices of importance in the Government or labor. Perhaps their only asset was that they had attended Cuban guerrilla instruction centers and had traveled to the Soviet Union and to Red China. Therefore they had very little influence on the workers and even less on the pensents of the country.
Their names became know only after the national and international press began to inform the world about the guerrilla war on Bolivian ground, and although they were probably rather brave and ideologically convinced of the time when the first of them was killed and the second escaped.
2. The lower level guerrillas who had been recruited from the mines, among the unemployed and the adventurers, as well as a few student volunteers.
3. The miners, who constitute a large proportion of the population, did not support the guerrillas because they were tired of all promises they had been made for supporting the politicians and who had been cheated time and again over the years. As a result people in the mining areas failed.
4. The peasants have not been unsatisfied since the agrarian reform was implemented; they now the land they work on, and so Communists had nothing to offer them in the way of revolutionary struggle. Quite contrary to what the Communists had hoped, the peasants asked the Government to fight the guerrillas. This was the reason for the total absence of peasants among the guerrillas.
5. The capture of Regis Debray, the “DAHTOH” of Che Guevara, who had left to organize the support of the Communist groups in the cities, professional and otherwise, constituted a serious problem for Che Guevara, who then saw his mission Bolivia fail. His intention to recruit more people was frustrated by the capture of Debray, because the people who had been lined up in the cities were beginning to fear for their own liven after they had seen how quickly the War Council was formed that tried the Frenchman.
IV. THE GUERRILLAS’ MEANS OF INTELLIGENCE
A. The “Net of Contacts”
The guerrillas’ net of Communist contacts and information agents consisted pf people who had worked for the Government in the press agencies and in some ministries, and also of independent professionals who enjoyed a high in some ministries, and also of independent professionals who enjoyed a high prestige in the major cities of the country.
Other agents were planted in the universities, especially women students who under some pretext or other traveled to Cuba, especially to the Youth Festivals, as the indoctrination courses prepared by Castro came to be called.
All these agents are know by the name of “enlaces” (contacts) and their job was to keep the guerrillas informed about Government acts that were directed against the guerrillas, as well as about the activities of the Armed Forces in the interior of the country, so that they were always aware of the exact situation and could avoid a direct confrontation with our military units.
One of the most important contacts of the guerrillas in Bolivia was Miss Loyola Guzman, a student, who managed the funds for support of the guerrillas. When she was arrested, $28,000 were found in her possession, quite considerable sun that gives us some idea of the activities carried on by these contacts.
For their contacts and messages they used a special code that had been prepared in Cuba, and was later found by the Army. This code was employed mainly for their communications with Cuba.
B. Strategic Information
This type of information includes communications to Che Guevara about the […]
The studies and information concerning the political, economic, social, and cultural conditions of the countries on the Continent, and in Bolivia in particular, were compiled in accordance with a formula that had been sent to the agents as preparation for the First Latin American Solidarity Conference: this task was not difficult or dangerous, as all the international organizations for cooperation and development aid publish regularly the results of their research and studies on each country; these reports are at the disposal of the Communist agents, who use these documents for their own ends.
C. International Traffic of “Contacts”
The intelligence agents were dispatched from Cuba, the USSR, and from other European Communist countries, using differing air routes, and avoiding passage trough Communist countries. This maneuver was made easy by the density of tourist traffic on the international lines; these agents traveled disguised as commercial and cultural agents and as artists or newsmen.
Finally the Communist intelligence system was organized – there were agents dispersed over the entire national territory of Bolivia who were capable of obtaining intelligence on all levels and sectors of the population.
V. LOGISTICAL ORGANIZATION OF THE GUERRILLAS
A. Guerrilla Deposits
In the preparatory phase of the guerrillas, their main concern in their efforts to insure the success for their operations was their logistical support plan for the various guerrilla groups.
This plan was implemented by organizing a net of deposits whose location was kept secret and was know only to the group leaders. The important thing was to disperse these deposits in such a manner as to supply the guerrillas with food and combat material while they were active in their respective areas.
The initial headquarters at Nancahuazu was a ranch purchased under the name of Roberto Peredo for the organization and training phase; there, the products of the ranch, I, e.. agricultural and meat products, were used, and in addition to that the deposits were stocked with goods purchased in nearby village and ranches at unusually high prices; this was the first indication of the presence of guerrillas in that area.
The utilization of the logistical resources in the deposits was under the direct responsibility of the group leaders; therefore, during their operations the groups made do whenever possible with local resources and with those obtained through assaults on other ranches and small village, as well as with material captured in their ambushes on the military units.
B. Medical Care
The guerrillas received medical attention from a Peruvian called “Chino” who had come into the guerrilla zone at the very beginning of the organization bringing with him a good […]
C. Arms and Ammunition
The main sources of arms and ammunition was the country itself, as many of the civilian population still possessed the weapons that the government of the so-called National Revolutionary Movement had distributed among the population to defend their revolution in 1952. In 1964, the Army carried out a general requisition in the entire country in order to recover the weapons: this action was very successful, but some unions still managed to hide part of their stocks. The Communist agents bought much of their ammunition and arms from these groups and thus were able to avoid the risk of being identified or detained by international police. However, the Cuban group that entered Bolivia did carry a considerable amount of combat material, including Czech, Russian, and even Chinese models. These weapons lent the guerrillas great combat capability at the beginning and were captured by the Army.
Apart from the arms and ammunition, the guerrillas had at their disposal great quantities of dynamite and other explosives which they used in their acts of sabotage and in the boody-traps designed to de-moralize the troops.
D. Clothing and Equipment
The typical Cuban guerrilla uniform was used on their first raids: it was made of alive-green kaky-material which did not offer any protection against the climate and especially not against the thorns Civilian clothes or else use the uniforms they captured from the soldiers they had taken prisoners; they were especially interested in their boots.
Because of the isolation of the guerrilla zone which made it difficult for their contacts to reach them continuously, there was no supply of clothing. The Army had established a complete circle around them in order to frustrate their intentions and to submit the guerrillas to total privation, which weakened their combat morale and finally resulted in the destruction of the guerrilla in less time than Che Guevara and his chiefs of staff thought possible. The Bolivian Army knew that the best method to solve the guerrilla problem was to submit them to a regime of complete privation, to pursue them constantly without giving them time to recover, and to close off all routes of escape and food supply.
In its battles against the guerrillas, the Army managed to take prisoners in order to obtain information about the location of the guerrilla deposits; on the basis of that information the Army had a certain idea about were the guerrillas would be found next and could determine the direction of their own advances.
E. Experiences of the Bolivian Army
Based on its earlier experiences, the Bolivian Army mounted two operations: the first was called “Operation Cinthya” and was carried out by the units of the 4th Division; their mission was to attack the guerrillas incessantly from south of Hancahuazu and forces them to retreat towards the north and cross the Rio Grande, thereby driving them further and further away from their deposits. In their process, the military units had to carry out intensive searches to locate the deposits […]
The second operation was called “Operation Parabano” and was carried out by units of the 8th Division. They were awaiting the guerrillas north of the Rio Grande, prepared to fight and liquidate the guerrilla groups who began to operate on unknown ground. Thus, the guerrillas arrived at Samaipata on the road from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz: this marked the end of the guerrilla initiative. Their destruction began with the ambush of Vado del Yeso, where 14 guerrillas were killed. Earlier, Che Guevara, Coco Peredo, and others had been killed in the battles at La Higuera and Quebrada de Yuro.
VI. COMBATA METHODS OF THE GUERRILLAS
A. Combat Echelons
The guerrillas were divided into three echelons:
– Assault echelon (called “advance group” by the guerrillas)
– Support echelon (called “central echelon” by the guerrillas)
– Rescue echelon (called “rear echelon” by the guerrillas).
1. The first echelon was in charge of the general mission of exploration and reconnaissance in the direction of a target fixed by the group leader. When conditions were favorable, this group performed raids that had been planned beforehand and that were well equipped with personnel and arms.
Their attacks were characterized by their suddenness; they tried to capture their targets as quickly as possible, cutting off all access routes to the targets for his purpose and usually acting in the first hours of the morning at at sundown. In order to fulfill their mission as effectively as possible, they would take the pries and the most important men of the village hostages and thereby force the people to hand over all they asked, foodstuffs, drugs, fuel, etc.
When their mission was completed, they disappeared quickly, obliterating their traces.
In their ambushes on military units, the guerrillas would usually let the advance until the head had reached a point that allowed the guerrillas to control the entire column up to the rear so that it could be defeated all at once. The first step was to kill the leaders as a means of demoralizing the soldiers, to take prisoners and requisition their weapons, ammunition, uniforms, boots, and whatever could be useful to the guerrillas.
2. The support echelon was displayed only when it was obvious that the enemy unit was stronger then their own; when this was not the case, it was broken up to cover and close off the paths and escape road sand isolate the military units completely. The need to keep their own strength hidden made it necessary that the secondary echelon was never seen, neither when the prey was taken, nor when the dad and wounded of the military troops were collected, nor even in taking care of the prisoners.
3. The rear echelon had the basic mission of obliterating any trace left by the other two, wither during an advance, or after a battle. […]
B. Types of Action
1. During the organization period in their Headquarters of Nacahuazu, the guerrillas administered an accelerated training program to the personnel recruited in Bolivia, focusing on the coordination of the various missions that individual guerrilla groups would carry out, and teaching them above all to perform raids and set up ambushes, while at the same time trying of get the personnel acclimatized to the tropics in the jungle which they had chosen as their field of operations.
This training was completed by a through political indoctrination using the books of Che Guevara and Regis Debray; this mission seems to have been the responsibility of the latter.
2. Once their operations had begun, the guerrillas tried at all cost to maintain their base of operations at Nacahuazu, which they favored because of its good natural defenses. It was located on the natural obstacle of the Rio Grande and the mountain ranges that line the river. However, the constant actions of the military units, who managed to penetrate the zone, oblige them to abandon their base.
3. Forced by the circumstances, the guerrillas did not have any fixed camps; they moved on continuously, marching 18 hours a day and a-lowing only 5 minutes of rest every hour.
4. They camped only after an express order of the guerrilla commander and never stayed longer than a few hours. They set up their camps one hour after sundown, put up their hammocks, and between 11 and12 p.m. prepared their food, which consisted of a hot ration.
5. At 5 a.m. they became active again, they breakfasted and packed their rations and equipment within 30 minutes order to move on as soon as possible.
6. During the night the security service consisted of two pairs of posts at elevated places overlooking the access paths to the camp.
7. During the day, patrols of two were sent into all directions, but only a short distance, to maintain security.
8. The details such as general direction of movement and the targets to be reached were explained to the guerrillas only minutes before the beginning of the march. This secrecy was essential for the success of their operations in accordance with their doctrines.
C. System and Methods of Radio Transmission of the Guerrilla
1. Radio Equipment
At least three types of radio equipment were used:
a. Equipment for high-frequency radio for Che Guevara’s use in communicating with his contacts in Communist Cuba, from where he received the support for his activities. This equipment was managed by “Tania”, who received the messages in code and did not communicate them to anyone except Che Guevara.
2. Methods of Use of Their Equipment
a. For the use the high-frequency equipment, there was a fixed schedule appr. As follows:
First contact: 8 a.m.
Second contact: 1 p.m.
Third contact: 7 p.m.
It is certain that these contacts were used to receive information from Cuba and from the interior of the country: they lasted only a few minutes each to avoid detection and blocking. The frequently was changed constantly.
3. Other Means of Transmission
These are not known, but it is understood that there were daily bulletins which constituted another method of conveying information. The military units captured bulletins from La Paz with very recent dates, which were brought in by special envoys.
VII. SUPPORT ACTIVITIES IN THE INTERIOR ZONE
To prepare the ground for the guerrilla movement of Che Guevara, a series of subversive activities were planned in the major cities and centers of economic activity in the country. They eagerly sought the support of the miners, and above all of the teachers and students. They sought for motives to incite strikes, and weaken the influence of arranged by Communist agents with the intention to weaken the influence of the government in the entire country. However, the measures taken by the Government frustrated the effects that had been hoped for. In the end the Army and the Government were victors and law and order was reestablished in a short period of time.
The “Shadow of Doubt”, which was skillfully spread by the Communist press, was the fundamental objective pursued in order to discredit Bolivia and her Government nationally and internationally. It did have its effects at the beginning of the guerrilla war; the Communists tried to show that the Government is tyrannical and that it uses the Armed Forces only to suppress the people; they to show that it lacks public support; their audacity went as far as to create an atmosphere of distrust even among the legislators of other countries, such as the United States of America, where many legislators are asking whether the US policy of military aid to Latin America is not perhaps wrong after all; they hear that many times the arms and equipment that they send us are not used primarily to serve internal security, but rather to suppress the people; this, of course, serves, the arms of the Castro-Communists, who want to see this aid reduced or eliminated completely in order to weaken our armed forces and turn our countries into good breeding-grounds for Communist subversion and their take-over.
After the tragedy, they “show of the doubt” is still confusing international public opinion; the Communists are still trying to blind the average citizen, and to obscure the Communist danger. Therefore we Bolivians say that we had every right to fight Castro-Communism, to kill the main activist Che Guevara and his chiefs of staff, thereby eliminating a great danger for the Interamerican System; we also fight against a hostile propaganda which is skillfully directed from Cuba and which never […]
Bolivia her Government, and her Armed Forces have fulfilled their mission to defend the integrity of the Interamerican System and the principles of the Charter of the Organization of American States, in a demonstration of the high Democratic spirit.
[signed:] Carlos Hurtado Gomez
Colonel, Army of Bolivia
Delegate to the IADB.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 165
SUBJECT: Bolivian Communist Leaders Discuss Party Policy and Che Guevara
A secret press conference was help during the evening of February 2 by Jorge KOLLE Cueto, the new leader of the pro-Soviet Communist Party of Bolivia (PCB-S), at which Kolle discussed party policy and released a statement by his predecessor, Mario MONJE, describing Monje’s contact with Che Guevara at the guerrilla camp at Ñancahuazu on December 31, 1966. Reports of the press conference, which appeared in Jornada of February 3 and more extensively in El Diario’s issue of Feburary 5, confirm previous reports that Monje was ousted as First Secretary of PCB-S and replaced by Kolle at a recent series of clandestine meetings of the party’s central committee.
Kolle reportedly made the following comments to the press: He said that a new policy document was adopted by the central committee at its recent meetings. Considering the current political situation in Bolivia, he said the armed road was the most practical avenue for overthrowing the present government but that other means, including the electoral road, should not be discounted. He added that the party must be prepared to initiate all possible means of conflict and said that the conclusion of the Cubans that guerrilla action is the only road to success was an error. He called the Communist Party a fundamental factor in any responsible revolutionary movement and said his party enjoyed much greater solidarity than the guerrilla support apparatus (implying that the party could have done better).
Expressing the support of his party for the Cuban revolution, Kolle reportedly said that relations between the PCB-S and the Communist Party of Cuba “have been good and are expected to become more cordial.” Denying that his party is anti-militarist, Kolle made a bow to the Armed Forces by emphasizing that the party is opposed to the Army only when it acts “as a repressive instrument of the bourgeois state.” Declaring his party in favor of a “united front,” Kolle announced that discussions were underway between his party and the PRIN, the PDC and certain sectors of the MNR, in the hope of organizing a leftist, anti-imperialist political front that could combine in armed conflict against the government.
Kolle reportedly closed his press conference by saying that Soviet aid to the bourgeois governments of Latin America did not in any way prejudice the revolutionary battle of the Latin American people and, on the contrary, showed that the most powerful of the socialist governments is putting its foot into the Latin American preserve of the United States.
The document by ex-party leader Mario Monje, as published in El Diario, includes the following observations:
The Communist Party was ignorant of the arrival of Guevara in Bolivia, as well as his objectives, until Monje met with him at Ñancahuazu on December 31, 1966. Monje was invited to the camp by Guevara, who solicited his support and that of the PCB for the guerrilla movement. Guevara told Monje that he considered all of Latin America his fatherland and was disposed to fight anywhere on the continent to “install socialism.” After lengthy consideration he had come to the conclusion that Bolivia offered good conditions for the struggle, owing to the economic distress of the workers, the sever foreign exploitation, the fighting spirit of the people, the weakness of the reactionary forces, the incapacity of the government and the political instability. These circumstances made possible the creation of a revolutionary focus which could be extended to all countries of Latin America, leading to the explusion from the continent of “Northamerican imperialism” within a period of ten to fifteen years. Guevara invited Monje to join the battle as political chief, while he (Guevara) would be military chief and maximum leader.
Monje claims that he countered Guevara’s offer with three conditions: 1 The calling of a conference of Latin American communist parties to coordinate action in support of the insurgency; 2. the formation of a wide political front in Bolivia to support the revolutionary effort, 3. the conflict should be based on “the experience and conscience of the people” and not only on guerrilla methods. The PCB would organize and mobilize armed popular forces, coordinating action in the cities with that in the mountains and countryside. He also suggested delaying the start of hostilities that they could be coordinated with a domestic crisis. Guevara discounted the importance of Monje’s first two points but found the third interesting. In view of their different points of view, Monje and Guevara could not reach agrrement and Monje left the guerrilla camp on January 1, 1967.
Monje claims that Guevara told him that he 9guevara) had resigned from Communist Party of Cuba and all of his positions with the Castro Government in April, 1965, and that his effort in Bolivia was strictly a personal affair. Monje stressed that the PCB did not invite Guevara to Bolivia and never created for him any false illusions regarding the situation in the country. He added that Guevara took advantage of the fact the PCB had sent some young Bolivian communists to Cuba to study guerrilla techniques by recruiting them into the insurgent force. According to Monje, Guevara did not see the need believing to Monje, Guevara did not see the need to establish a strong political party as a base for armed action, believing instead that the Cuban example could be followed, with the guerrilla force eventually creating the political party. Monje replied that the Cuban case could not be copied mechanically, but that it was necessary to study the particular situation on each country. Monje also refused to submit the politica factor (himself) to military control, arguing that the party should have pre-emininence in the conduct of the revolution. According to Monje, Guevara was not concerned by his refusal to participate in the insurgency on Guevara’s terms because “Coco” Peredo already had joined the movement and was being groomed as the political leader.
At the conclusion of his statement, Monje observed that fifty men had shaken the Bolivian people, caused the government to tremble, worried the imperialists and attracted the attention of the world. He added “imagine what will occur when all the people advance on the revolutionary road.”
COMMENT: The Monje document, like all communist views of history, must be treated at least in part with skepticism. While the basic facts of the Monje-Guevara meeting appear to be essentially correct, it should be kept in mind that the paper was prepared as an apologia, to bolster Monje’s position in the PCB by casting a favorable light on his encounter with Guevara, Monje’s alleged dialogue with Guevara closely follows the party’s public explanation of its failure to support the guerrilla band, a fact which seriously damaged its revolutionary image.
The most interesting aspect of the Monje paper probably is the list of alleged reasons why Guevara chose Bolivia for his revolutionary efforts. Also interesting are the comments by Kolle, who seems be more solicitous of the Soviet lines while expressing solidarity with Cuba, perhaps hoping to avoid doctrinal fratricide in an already confused party by embracing both pro-Soviet and pro-Cuban wings and endorsing revolution by “all possible means.” The announcement of the new line at a press conference, a highly unusual procedure for the proscribed Communist Party, suggests that at least one objective was the wide dissemination of what appears to be essentially a call for party unity.
DOCUMENT NUMBER 166
1. CINCO GUERRILLEROS COMUNISTAS—TRES CUBANOS Y DOS BOLIVIANOS—QUE, SEGUN AFIRMARON, PARTENECIAN AL GRUPO QUE CAPITANEABA EN BOLIVA ERNESTO “CHE” GUEVARA, SE ENTREGARON A LAS AUTORIDADES CHILENAS AL INTERIOR DE IQUIQUE, A UNO 1600 KILOMETROS AL NORTE DE SANTIAGO, DONDE ERAN BUSCADOS DESDE VARIOS DIAS. LA POLICIA ENTREGO A LOS CINCO FUGITIVOS A LA BASE DE LA FUERZA AEREA CHILENA EN IQUIQUE, Y FUERON TRANSLADADOS DURANTE LA NOCHE EN UN AVION MILITAR A SANTIAGO, ENCONTRANDOSE EN ESTOS MOMENTOS INTERNADOS EN EL HOSPITAL DE CARABINEROS BAJO ESTRECHA VIGILANCIA, SEGÚN INFORMO HOY UNA RADIOEMISSORA DE LA CAPITAL. LOS CINCO HOMBRES, EXTENUADOSDESPUES DE UNA MARCHA DE CENTENARES DE KILOMETROS POR TERRENO ABRUPTO, NO LLEVABAN ARMAS NI DOCUMENTOS AL SER DETIDOS CERCA DE LA LOCALIDAD DE MAMINA, A UNOS 150 KILOMETROS AL ESTE DE IQUIQUE. DIHERON SER DANIEL ALARCON RAMIREZ, CUBANO, DE 19 ANOS, HARRY VILLEGAS TAMANO, CUBANO, DE 27, Y SINFORANO VILCA BOLIVIANO, DE 19. VILLEGAS DIJO QUE FUE GUARDAESPALDAS DEL “CHE” GUEVARA Y AFIRMO HABER VISTO CAER HERIDO A ESTE. ANADIO QUE CERCA DE ORURO EL GRUPO SOSTUVO UN ENCUENTRO CON TROPAS BOLIVIANAS RESULTANDO MUERTO UNO DE LOS GUERRILLEROS. DIJO TAMBIEN QUE SON LOS SOBREVIVENTES DEL GRUPO DE 17 HOMBRES QUE LUCHABA JUNTO A GUEVARA EN VALLE GRANDE, HACE UNOS TRES MESES. SEGÚN EL DIARIO EL MERCURIO, GRUPOS DE EXTREMISTAS INTENTARIN ANOCHE PENETRAR EN EL QUARTEL DE POLICIA DE IQUIQUE, DONDE ESTABAN DETENIDOS LOS CINCO GUERRILLEROS, TRATANDO DE LIBERARLOS, PERO FUERON PRONTAMENTE REPELIDIOS POR LOS CARABINEROS DE GUARDIA. RESPECTO A LA SITUACION LEGAL DELOS GUERRILLEROS, EL MINISTRO SUBROGANTE DEL INTERIOR, EDMUNDO PEREZ, DECLARO: “SON EXTRANJEROS QUE ENTRARON AL TERRITORIO CHILENO EN FORMA IRREGULAR”, DECLINANDO PRECISAR SE SE LES BRINDARA ASILODIPLOMATICO O REFUGIO POLITICO.