Nearly half a century after his death following a skirmish with Bolivian soldiers, a newspaper in the Andean nation published earlier this week a slew of previously unseen photographs and personal letters from the Argentine-born, Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Hidden away in a military complex basement since Guevara’s death in 1967, the Bolivian newspaper La Razón gained access to the revolutionary’s long-hidden journal, photos and letters. Among the findings published in a 20-page supplement in the newspaper were black-and-white photographs, including one striking image of Argentine-born German guerrilla Haydee Tamara Bunke, known by the nom de guerre Tania, with her head shaved.
Accompanying the photo was a letter sent from Tania during her time in Bolivia to her Cuban comrade Damaso Lescaille. The letter never made it to Lescaille as it was intercepted by Bolivian soldiers surrounding the insurgents’ position.
"All of this is just to show you, if you haven't figure it out yet, that I am studying at last! Of course, as you know, I like big challenges; I overcome obstacles," Tania wrote.
Guevara was killed on October 8, 1967 during a skirmish with Bolivian forces, more or less ending the ill-fated attempt to incite a Cuban-style revolution in the South American nation.
The Argentinean doctor-turned-revolutionary gained international fame as one of Fidel Castro’s rebel soldiers during the Cuban revolution. He became known both for his famed beret as for his strict Marxist ideology, which helped lead Cuba toward close ties with the Soviet Union and the exportation of attempted Cuba-style revolutions in places such as Angola and Bolivia.
The Bolivian campaign didn’t go smoothly for Guevara, who suffered greatly from his debilitating asthma in the Andean climate and had to deal with low morale among his troops as well as a constant threat of ambush by Bolivian soldiers.
He was buried in an unmarked grave before being disinterred in 1997 and placed in the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba.
His 1967 death stopped the Bolivia’s revolution but, thanks in large part to Castro and a number of iconic images, he has become a potent symbol for the Latin American Left and for struggles against capitalism.