Friday, 1 June 2012

Ché Guevara, a legend killed in Bolivia

On the way back to La Paz, we passed a large modern bronze statue of “Ché”, as he is simply known here.

Ernesto Ché Guevara de la Serna is commemorated here, although it is the place where he was captured and executed (by CIA-trained special forces). In 1966 he left Cuba and came to Bolivia, which was under an oppressive military dictatorship.

He was here incognito trying to ignite a revolution amongst peasants, but was caught, shot and his body displayed as evidence. His body was buried in a secret site but in 1997 one of the soldiers who had helped bury him gave up the site and he was exhumed and buried in Cuba. Now there are paintings of him on walls all around Bolivia and he is remembered with a Ché Guevara Trail, taking pilgrims around the places he had been. The closest we have got to anywhere of importance was Camiri, near the Paraguay border, where two of his comrades were tortured and gave him up.

Seeing his statue, I felt deeply emotional. Here was a man who believed that one man can make a difference to change the world. Whatever you think of his politics, it is an important lesson to remember.

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