By late 1965, Che realizes that his mission to the Congo is headed nowhere, due largely to the lack of support on the part of the ineffectual Congolese leadership, particularly that of Laurent Kabila. He decides to leave the country, and to make his way back to Argentina to initiate his long-held vision of continental revolution. After a brief stay in Dar-es-Salaam, he relocates to Prague, Czechoslovakia to recuperate and to strategize. While in Prague, Che's plans for his new venture begin to crystallize. Through his emissaries, his plans are made known to officials of the Bolivian Communist Party (PCB), although the role that Bolivia is to play in the struggle is vague. The Bolivians assent, in the belief that Bolivia is merely the staging ground for further guerrilla activity that will take place in both Peru and Argentina. After a four-month stay in the Czech capital, and at the urging of Fidel Castro, Che returns, in secrecy, to Cuba to commence preparations and training for his proposed expedition

Back in Cuba, he meets with Fidel and apprises him of his plans. Fidel tells Che that he is welcome to stay in Cuba and resume his official duties, but Che declines stating his intention to go to Argentina or Peru. During the meeting, it is decided that proper conditions exist in Bolivia, making it the ideal staging ground and catalyst for continent-wide guerrilla warfare. Without informing the Bolivians of their intention to make Bolivia the actual focus of the guerrilla war itself, preparations to launch the new campaign commence. Che and his men begin training at a secluded camp in Western Cuba, while his agents in Bolivia purchase a farm in the southeastern part of the country. The whole process up to this point has been marked by deception, and an increase in strain, between the the Cubans and the PCB, who rightfully suspect that something is amiss.

Che arrives in La Paz on November 3, 1996, disguised as a pudgy, balding Uruguayan businessman, named Adolfo Mena González. Two days later he leaves the bright chill of the Bolivian altiplano, and descends into the sweltering, dusty heat of the chaco. Acompanied by a few of his associates, he sets out on the three-day drive to Ñacahuazú. On the 7th of November, he begins his famous diary with the following entry..."A new stage begins today."

The next month sees the arrival of more guerrillas, including Chino, Alejandro, Moro, and Benigno. Training classes are held for the growing camp, and the construction of defenses and facilities continues, as do the reconnaissance patrols. The curiosity of the local landowner Algarañaz, is of growing concern to the guerrillas. In December, Che meets with Bolivian Communist Party chief Mario Monje; the two reach an impasse over the immediate aims of the guerrilla movement, and its leadership. This rift will have grave consequences in the months ahead.

Che is beset by a whole host of problems in the next few months. He is often ill, there are minor disciplinary problems among the men, and increasing friction between Cubans and Bolivians. He also encounters serious language problems as many of the peasants speak Indian dialects unfamiliar even to most of his Bolivian guerrillas. Additionally, the peasants show little or no interest in supporting, or enlisting in the insurrection. Che is disappointed by the slow recruitment of Bolivians. He desperately wants and needs Bolivian guerrillas to validate his insurrection, and to give it a nationalist character. His problems are further exacerbated by a disitnct lack of support by Monje and the PCB, who purposely work in opposition to the guerrillas, undermining Che at every turn. He is forced to turn to lesser and competing Communist factions for support.

Che is missing the vital urban network, which made all the difference during the Cuban Revolution, and is so necessary for logistical and communications support. Futhermore, reports of suspicious activity and repeated sightings of the guerrilas soon attract the attention of the authorites, forcing the Bolivian Government to issue a statement denying the existence of guerrilla groups in the country. Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, Border military forces are placed under a state of alert.

On March 17, Bolivian Army units search the farm at Ñacahuazú and discover Braulio's dairy, Bustos' portraits of Che and the other guerrillas, as well as other photos and documents. Two guerrillas deserters are captured by the Army, and one of them confirms Che's earlier presence in Bolivia. On March 23, Che's group experiences their first battle of the Bolivian campaign--the successful ambush of bolivian troops at Ñacahuazú. President Barrientos appeals to the nation "to join in the fight against the foreign and local anarchists with arms and money from Castro-communists."


April sees the more encounters between Che's group and the Army. On the 17th the guerrillas accidentally split into two groups under Che and Joaquín. To further exacerbate conditions, the French journalist, Régis Debray, George Andrew Roth, and Ciro Roberto Bustos are captured by the Bolivian Army. Also, ominously, Che loses radio contact with Havana for the duration of the campaign; he is able to receive messages, but is unable to transmit. In May, sixteen U.S. Special forces troops arrive in Bolivia to train an elite Bolivian Rangers battalion. Increasing encounters between the guerrillas and the Army result in mounting casaulties on both sides. In June, the Army announces that to date 17 Cubans, 14 Brazilians, 4 Argentines and 3 Peruvians have been identified amiong the guerrillas. In a press conference held on July 1st, President Barrientos states conclusively that Che Guevara is in Bolivia and leading an armed insurrection. The Army steps up its operations to capture the guerrillas.

On August 31st, the Army finally destroys the guerrilla group led by Joaquín, at a place called Vado del Yeso. This defeat signals the beginning of the end for Che's Bolivian insurrection. A second clash results in the death of three more guerrillas near La Higuera. Then, on October 8th, 1967, in a place known as Quebrada del Yuro, a group of specially-trained Bolivian Rangers engage Che's group, killing four guerrillas and capturing Che and two other guerrillas. He is taken to the nearby village of La Higuera where he is interrogated. The next day he is executed along with the two other men. His corpse is strapped to the runners of a helicopter and he is taken to the nearby town of Vallegrande. There, his corpse is exhibited to the local population, as well as journalists and photographers. When his brother, Roberto, comes to identify the body, he is informed that the corpse has been incinerated and the ashes scattered. The Bolivian authorities saw off his hands and preserve them in formaldehyde as proof of his identity. The corpse is then "made to disappear." It would remain "disappeared" for nearly three decades, until a retired Bolivian general, Gen. Mario Vargas Salinas revealed the location of the burial site.

On July 7th, 1997, a team of excavators unearthed the remains of Che Guevara along with those of three other Cuban guerrillas. The handless skeleton was thought to be that of Che Guevara and was later confirmed through a battery of forensic tests. His remains (along with those of his comrades) were retuned to Cuba three decades after he left Cuba to spread revolution throughout South America. Che's remains are to be buried in a mausoleum in the city of Santa Clara, the city that he helped liberate during the Cuban Revolution.

For more detailed information about the excavation, visit