Che’s proposal for Bolivia
(too old to reply)
Sid Shniad
2014-10-12 22:06:18 UTC
Raw Message
on the Left October 09, 2014Che’s proposal for Bolivia47 years after
his murder: his draft program, for the first time in Englishby Richard

[image: image]



Forty-seven years ago today Ernesto “Che” Guevara was murdered in cold
blood along with two other guerrillas by the Bolivian military after being
captured, wounded, the previous day. We now know that the army was acting
on orders from the White House and Pentagon.[1]

The event is marked each year in Vallegrande, the town in Santa Cruz
department where Che’s body was buried for three decades in a common grave
with other guerrillas alongside an aircraft landing strip. (His remains
were later transferred to Cuba to be placed in a monument in Santa Clara.)

[image: image]

This year a novel aspect of the commemoration was the participation of an
official Argentine delegation from Che’s country of birth and the placing
of a plaque sent by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The two-day
ceremonies were shorter than usual because many of the Bolivians normally
involved are actively campaigning for the MAS (Movement Toward Socialism)
government in Sunday’s election, according to Oswaldo Chato Peredo, a
survivor of the 1967 guerrilla force. Peredo told *La Razón* that many of
the MAS candidates in Santa Cruz “are people who have been formed in Che’s
school of thinking

Appropriately, October 8, celebrated in Bolivia as the “Day of the Heroic
Guerrilla,” was the day of the MAS closing campaign rally, held in El Alto.

In Argentina, the Telam news agency reports, a Spanish translation of the
Smith and Ratner book (see note 1, below) is being launched.

The Bolivian government newspaper *Cambio* published today a special
four-page supplement
on “Che: Bolivian,” from which I have translated the following article,
first published two years ago in *La Razón* and on the web site
<http://www.chebolivia.org/> of the author Carlos Soria Galvarro.[3] The
article quotes the text of a previously unpublished programmatic document
drafted by Che in the opening stages of his Bolivian guerrilla struggle but
never completed before his capture and death.

Of particular interest is what the text (and the crossed-out words)
indicate of Che’s evolving and tentative thinking about the immediate tasks
facing the Bolivian revolution that he hoped to spark: calling for
nationalization of foreign capital and its local allied firms, construction
of a “new,” not yet necessarily “socialist” society, the need to involve
the original peoples in their own languages, etc.

I have translated the text as published in *Cambio*, which differs from the
original article mainly in the final paragraph with its reference to Evo

*– Richard Fidler*

** * **

*Che’s proposal for Bolivia*

*by Carlos Soria Galvarro*

On the day of his arrival at the Ñacahuasu river, Che began his diary
entries with the familiar sentence “Today a new stage begins.” He had
arrived clandestinely after spending two nights in the Hotel Copacabana in
La Paz, travelling by jeep to the Lagunillas region in southeastern

Left behind were other stages in his footloose life as a revolutionary: his
frustrated incursion in Africa (Congo), which in turn had ended the phase
of his outstanding presence in the Cuban revolution.

What, then, was the “new stage” initiated on November 7, 1966?

His initial preoccupation with incorporating Peruvian and Argentine
recruits seems to indicate that his project was continental. Fighters
trained with experience here would return to fight in their own countries
and — who knows? — he might himself return to his native Argentina, an
ambitious dream he never abandoned.

But as the struggle unfolded in Bolivia a proposal that would justify it
was inescapable, although this country might be the last to liberate itself
given its landlocked status, as he himself hinted.

The best known documentation of Che’s presence in Bolivia does not contain
any more or less explicit programmatic proposal as such. There is none in
his famous *Diary*, a detailed chronicle of the guerrilla group’s
day-to-day activity.[4] Nor is there any indication in the public
communiqués numbered 1 to 5, which are more military in nature except to
some degree in No. 5, addressed to the miners. Or in the communications
between Havana and La Paz or the “instructions to cadres assigned to urban

*The missing piece*

In April 1998 the bilingual La Paz periodical *The Bolivian Times* (now
disappeared) published for the first time a handwritten document contained
in a small notebook that the retired general Jaime Niño de Guzmán, a
helicopter pilot operating in the anti-guerrilla campaign, said Che had
given to him after his capture.

*The Bolivian Times* did not publish the complete facsimile, only two pages
of the notebook, which also bore the fingerprints of the former soldier and
a photograph of Che’s dead body. So it is impossible to verify the accuracy
of the transcript, given the acknowledged difficulty in reading Che’s
“doctor’s script.”

But from what can be seen, in the form and content as well as the
circumstances, this is a document of significant historical value. For the
first time the outline of a programmatic plan of the Ñacahuasu guerrillas
is revealed, and what’s more, in the handwriting of their principal

It is not a “final” proclamation of Che, as *The Bolivian Times *presented
it, but rather a first draft that he had not managed to finish writing, or
still less intended to publish.
From the first line it is apparent that it was written before the outbreak
of armed actions on March 23, 1967, since Che leaves blank the name of his
armed group. As we know, it was on March 25, immediately after that first
clash, that his column adopted the name Ejército de Liberación Nacional de
Bolivia [ELN – National Liberation Army of Bolivia].[5]

In its first section the document attempts to justify the armed uprising in
the following words (we retain the crossed-out corrections as published in *The
Bolivian Times*).

People of Bolivia, Peoples of America

We, the members of the [blank space], make our voice heard for the first
time. We want to reach every corner of this continent with the echo of our
cry of rebellion.

Today, having exhausted all the possibilities for peaceful struggle, we are
rising to show by our example the road to follow. We know the internal and
external enemy; we know are aware of the enormous forces that can be placed
at the service of local reaction by North American imperialism. We can
measure the danger and magnitude of the undertaking: our thinking is not
unpremeditated or superficial; our lives are will be [*sic*] testimonies of
the seriousness of the struggle undertaken, which will end only with
victory or death.

We have no doubt about the support that we will get from our people, but
our situation as a land-locked country surrounded by reactionary
governments hostile to our cause impels us to call, from the very moment of
initiating the struggle, for effective solidarity from all honest
individuals men and women of this continent.

*A great united country, not a fragmented giant*

The document has a clear programmatic content when it proposes total
independence of Bolivia, breaking through the possible imperialist
encirclement with the support of revolutionaries from neighbouring
countries in the seizure of power, control of the means of production,
nationalizations, and the militant support of workers and peasants in the
creation of a new society. This is what it says:

Our cause is synthesized in these simple programmatic statements.

1. We are fighting for the real and democratic total independence of

2. That independence cannot be secured achieved without the collaboration
of friendly countries that present us with the possibility of breaking the
imperialist encirclement. Accordingly, while we ask for their solidarity,
we offer our own to any authentically revolutionary movement in the
neighbouring countries that is determined to take political power.

3. An unavoidable indispensable condition of any authentic sovereignty is
to have control over the means of production. Accordingly, we propose the
nationalization of all imperialist property as well as major national
industry linked to monopoly capital foreign monopoly, as steps toward the
construction of a socialist new society.

4. That society cannot be created without the militant support of peasants
and workers to those we call on to join in the struggle under the following

Here, in the section that Che calls “slogans,” is where there are proposed
significant aspects of definite importance for today such as participation
of the ethnic populations in the various levels of power, of workers and
peasants in planning, and development of communications to strengthen the
internal unity of Bolivia.

(a) Democratization of the life of the country with active participation of
the larger ethnic populations in the major government decisions;

(b) Education in culture and technical capabilities of the Bolivian people
using literacy the vernacular languages in the initial stage;

(c) Development of society, liberating our people from scourges now
eliminated in advanced countries;

(d) Participation of workers and peasants in the tasks of planning the new
economy with the right of authentic owners of the means of production land
and factories fundamentally;

(e) Formulation of a development program that includes the use of our
mineral resources and fertility over an extended area;

(f) Development of communications to make Bolivia a great united country
and not a fragmented giant with its departments and provinces mutual

The fifth and final point of this draft programmatic document repeats Che’s
well-known position that a revolutionary triumph in Bolivia, even taking
power in the country, was not sustainable without the disappearance of the
imperialist system, a way of reaffirming his continental focus in the

(5) We know, from the bitter experience of sister peoples in the world and
from our own, that we will not be able to peacefully confront this great work
as long as task (even though we take power in our country) while the
imperialist enemy has not disappeared, as a social system, from the face of
the earth. Accordingly, we declare ourselves as anti fighters decisively
anti-imperialists, we offer our small measure of valour and sacrifice to
the great arsenal of the peoples of the world immersed engaged in this
fight struggle [*sic*] to the death.

*Victory or death*

Close to a half-century since his fall, this document reminds us that Che’s
strength was not only military so much as it was essentially political and
moral. That is the quality of his programmatic proposals concerning
Bolivia. He did not have the time or the conditions in which to develop
them in his brief and eventful final sojourn on this soil. They remain only
indications of a political contour of great actuality, worthy of analysis
in light of the profound transformations that Bolivia is experiencing since
Evo Morales came to power.

[1] See *Who Killed Che? How the CIA got away with murder*, by Michael
Ratner and Michael Steven Smith (OR Books, 2011). For an extract, see this
<https://www.guernicamag.com/features/ratner_smith_10_15_11/>. For a
review, see this

[2] La Razón, “Argentina protagoniza homenaje al Che Guevara

[3] Soria Galvarro’s web site is probably the most comprehensive source in
Spanish of documentation on Che’s experience in Bolivia. Highly
recommended. He is the author of many articles and books, most
recently *Andares
del Che en Bolivia* (Che’s involvement in Bolivia), published in Argentina.

[4] *The Bolivian Diary of **Ernesto Che Guevara* (Pathfinder, 1994).

[5] The Pathfinder edition of Che’s Diary (supra note 4) also includes the
text of a book by Inti Peredo, “My campaign with Che,” that appears to
refer to this draft program on pages 398-399. However, a footnote by the
Pathfinder editors (p. 399) apparently confuses this with communiqué No. 1
of the ELN. As Inti Peredo indicates, that communiqué was written and
published several days later.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Sid-l" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to sid-l+***@googlegroups.com.
For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.