Sun Oct 7, 6:34 PM ET
VALLEGRANDE, Bolivia (AFP) – Latin American dictators of the 1960s coordinated efforts in their attempt to track down Cuban-Argentine Marxist guerrilla Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara , killed by Bolivian forces in 1967, according to previously secret documents a researcher showed AFP.
The cooperation pre-dates Operation Condor, the secret plan hatched by South American dictators in the 1970s to eliminate their political opponents in the region.
An AFP reporter saw the copy of a document, dated October 3, 1966, of a confidential report from the head of Paraguay’s secret services informing his Brazilian counterpart of Guevara’s arrival in South America.
“It is the first time that we find the name of Che Guevara linked to the dictatorships before the elaboration of Operation Condor,” said Martin Almada, a Paraguayan researcher who in 1992 uncovered documents showing the existence of Operation Condor.
“Che Guevara left Corumba (a Brazilian town on the border with Bolivia) under the false name of Oscar Ferreira,” read the document shown AFP.
Guevara had a beard and was sailing aboard the Victoria dos Palmares, which was likely to arrive at dawn. The document warned: “he is in charge of a mission.”Almada, 70, was detained and tortured in the 1970s during the dictatorship of Paraguay’s General Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989).
He was key in uncovering the “Archives of Horror,” five tons of paperwork that Paraguay’s secret service abandoned after Stroessner was toppled in 1989 that proved the existence of Operation Condor.
Almada said he only recently discovered the Che document “because I have many documents and have not finished examining them all.”
Guevara, the iconic Argentine-born doctor-turned-guerrilla leader that fought in the Cuban revolution, was convinced that armed tactics were necessary to uproot the social and economic divide in Latin America. He led a small clutch of rebels in Bolivia for 11 months trying to spread revolution, but found little support.
The Bolivian army and two Cuban-American US Central Intelligence Agency agents captured Guevara in the village of La Higuera, and summarily executed him on October 9, 1967. Guevara was 39.
The military governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985, Bolivia 1964-1982, Uruguay 1973-1985, and Argentina 1966-1973 and again 1976-1983. Chile came under military dictatorship from 1973-1990.