Created: 12/15/1967

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MarufeEary Review Cac? *


Tfo Che Guevara Diary

Special Report


" SC


Succin' Reports are supplements to tin- Current Inli'lligeiieC Weeklies is.wi by^fctt Office of Current Intelligence. The Special Reports, an- pubhJlfdi^Lv to pi-'iiiiit moic euinprehensivt! treatmentubject.arc prcpatcdatthc Office of Current Intelligence, the Office of KcMrch and Reports, oi clfi^Piicctor.ite ol" and Technology. SpcciaWcportv are coordinated awbuiopi-isc amongf CL^Sut. excepr for tin- normal siihstanTfec exchange with othere working level, hnvc :iot been coOii!>nWod outside CIA miiess ipeurfically indicated.

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The diary of Ernesto "Che* Guevara is themercoire of the ill-fated guerrilla movement he led in the Bolivian bacfciands76ctober The account, which was found with Guevara after his capture, reveals that the guerrilla band suffered from the outset from dissension andthat compounded the hardships of jungle Guevara's movement ultimately failedthe Bolivian peasants received the guerrillas with fear and suspicion.

Guevara, in his diary, wrote simply, without metaphor or embellishing prose. He did not discuss ideological or substantive political matters and avoided personal ruminations and reminiscences. He said virtually nothing that can be turned intomottoes or Myths. It seens, soreover, that when the diary is published the Guevara legend will only be dulled by this account of the patheticin Bolivia.

Attempt to Export Revolution

The diary shows thatll-jsonth odysseyoncerted attempt by Cuba to open the central heartland of South America to international insurgency. Since the first Tri-Continent Conference in Havana inidel Castrc had been Insisting that "it is the duty of everyto makeules Regis Debray in his Zevoiu* zion Uithin Revolution charted the ideological fiber of Castro's militant stand, and it was left to Guevara, presumed revolutionary

consummate, to lead

It is clear from the diary that the guerrillas were carefully selected and trained, and ware well equipped by Cuba. At least three nenbers of the centralof the Cuban Communist Party, andozen or so otherfollowers of Guevara and experts in guerrillawith the band. In short, Castro and Guevara set out systematically to prove Oebray's corollary to militant Castroism; that the Latin American guerrilla movement ought to be anrural insurgencyfros the rebellion of aand oppressed peasantry.

Guevara's hopeless struggle and demise, however, proved only


the futility of the approach. The Debray strategy and the guerrilla tactics that Che compiled in his handbook Guerrilla Warfare proved to be empty theoretics. Guevara was unable to win the support of the Bolivian Communist Party (PCB-SJ and could not prevent his own group from splitting into conflicting factions. The peasant support considered essontial to the revolutionary thesis waslacking. It was, in fact, the hostility and suspicion of the Bolivian peasants that forced the band to continue its endless flight through the Jungles. after some months of counterguerrilla activity by Bolivian Army units, theRangers were assigned to the operation. The Rangers, well trained in pursuit and harassment, eventually destroyed most of the


Faikrs ot t la Thirties


A disciplined, loyal, and tightly organized revolutionary

s w mJ to the diary, he spent the first three months securing bases of operations and training and indoctrinating the guerrillas. Hie first attempt at anfamiliarization trek through the jungles, however, was plagued by inaccurate maps and the group became discouraged and weakened by heavy rains, insects, hortage of food and water. between the Bolivians and Cubans became serious in the first months, and the initialpatrols were characterized by ineptitude, flagging morale, and ooor lcadcrshic.

Inept itude

ons wi th Kavana and La Paz were lost as early as Januaryransmitter rusted because it was storedamp cave. Onebruary, the band suffered its first personnel lossember drowned attempting tourbulent stream. Onecond member was lostimilar accident. Thus, neither of Che's initialand explorations-was completed, and varioushad alreadv taken their toll.

oravery, am.ith the terrain" are thecharacteristics of theband. In Bolivia, however,of these basic concepts were violated or ignored. The band was composed of Cuban, Bolivian, and Peruvian nationals, noneorn was very familiar with the operational zone.

Guevara vainly attempted to remedy these def ic iencies. Ac-

Onarch, the guerrillasolivian patrol and killed eight of its members- econd battle on pril accounted for seven army dead and also for the first Cuban loss. Capt. Jesus suarezormer vice minister of the Ministry of Sui;ar Industries, was killed- Guevara was discouraged with the results of thesewhich showed that thewere still divided andtrained.


Che was particularlywith the reluctance of the Bolivians to work with the Cubans, and on pril reminded them that "the first blood drawn was Cuban." Onpril, Capt. Eliseo Reyes Rodriguez (Sanof the central committee of the Cuban Communist Party, was killed in combat. The loss of Sari Luisajor psychological blow uev&ra,the first time was unabashedly despondent. He mourned that San Luis was "the best man in the guerrilla band"omrade "since (San Luis wast hild."

The loss of San Luis was a turning point that causedto view the guerrillas' chances very critically- In his monthly surrj?.ary for April, he pessixiistically enumerated at least three major problemshis efforts. cor the first time, he discussed in seme detail the isolation of the band-He that the peasants were not responding and that there had been no en.1

According to Guevara, the arrests of Jules Regis Oebray and the Argentine journalist, Clro sustos, that month furtherthe "sand from possible sources of foreign assistance.

Finally. Che opined that "the Americans will intervene here strongly." His basicwas to provoke US military intervention ir. Latin America, but it sesms that he wasto cope with such anas early as April.


During the following months, the bandlowwhile morale continued to pluxjzet. oreas were lost in skirmishes and others, including Guevara, were weakened and incapacitated by various ailments and injuries. By the end of July, Guevara was emphasizing only the "negative aspects" of the campaign and reiterated daily complaints abcut his asthma attacks. He was weak and ill, unable at times to carry his own knapsack.

The band of as entirely on the defensive in remote and ur.plotted terrain while themilitary was slowlyits effectiveness and encircling the guerrillas. En these circumstances, Guevara was facing increasingly serious including chronic food shortages. Once,ong period on reduced rations,cf the band sufferedspells."

3y the end of August, after almost ten months oflat ion, Guevarathat it had beencubt the worst monthis illness, Che said, had "caused uncertainty in severalnd (was) reflected in our only encounter (with the army)." This was his onlythat his primacy was ever doubted.

In fact, however, Guevara had discipline problems almost from the outset. These resulted from the friction between the

Bolivians and Cubans in the band, and from the lessening of morale as the hardships and setbacks Che's leadership may also have been underlined by his own physical weakness andto engineer an effective Inonths, Che had not been able to nurture hisbeyond the most preliminary stage of Incipient insurgency.

The Guerrillas' Failure with the Peasants

In his handbook. Guerrilla Warfare. Guevara explained inhow the guerrilla must win first the sympathy and trust and then the full collaboration of the rural peasants in order to sustain the struggle- In Bolivia, however, he found this goal from the beginningof the suspicions, fears, and torpor of the Indian peasants.

In April, Guevara complained that "the peasant base has not yet been developed although it would appear that through planned terror we shall keep someIe admitted the extent of the guerrillas' isolation onpril, when he said that "of all the peasants we have seen, there is only one who appears to bebut with fear." In June, moreover, he warned that theAmy was "working on the peasants and we must be careful that they are not changedommunity of informers." Fearing betrayal by virtually everyone they encountered, Guevara and his followers wandered inthrough the sparselyJungles.

The Endegend

During September and the first week of October, thewere constantly on the run, trappedaze of jungle arroyos. During the last weeks, when he must have known that his chances were bleak, Guevarato write In the same brief style with mystic hopes for victory. Ke made his last entryctober, after exactlyonths in Bolivia. He said the day "was spentastoralut apparently iteasant woman from that area who bntrayed ths guerrillas to the Bolivian forces. The woman had been bribed to keep the guerrillas' location secret, but Che confided in his last entry that he had "little hope she would keep her word."

Guevara was wounded and captured by Bolivian Rangersctober and died the following day. Onctober, Fidel Castro admitted Guevara's defeat. Two days later, heengthy eulogy andonth of national mourning in Cuba.

In the diary, Che mentioned frequent communications with Castro. Though his transmitter was destroyed in January, Guevara communicated through couriers and was able to receive coded radio messages from Havana. There were no indications ofbetween the two men.

Guevara, his lessons, and his legend were perhapsstifled. Though Castro and other revolutionaries may insist that the struggle will endlessly continue in his name, they must now be having serious doubts about theirm^^im^mmSWNMi ,


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