16 Jul 2007
For quite sometime a controversy has been simmering about the authenticity of the remains of Che Guevara that were laid at his memorial in Santa Clara, Cuba. In a recent article published in the official Granma Newspaper, the Cuban government has laid to rest any doubts that the remains of Che are
indeed in Santa Clara.
The Che Guevara memorial, Santa Clara, Cuba. (Photo: Njei M.T. 2007)
A former CIA operative and Cuban exile that has been involved in anti Castro activities had alleged that the remains taken to Cuba from Bolivia were not those of Che Guevara. Gustavo Villoldo, now living in the US claimed he participated in burying the body of Che and two fallen compatriots after he was captured and killed in Bolivia in 1967.
The Cuban government, after an exhaustive study, has come to the conclusion that the remains brought to Cuba from Bolivia in 1997 were indeed those of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
The Cubans, whose medical expertise is unquestionable, said forensic test carried out on the remains were “conclusive” that they belonged to Che. Several facial skull features “left no room for doubt” that they “characterized” Che Guevara, said the paper. Granma also cited as proof that the remains were those of Che because hands were absent. After his death, Argentine coroners (Che was from Argentina) amputated Che’s hands and sent them to their labs for fingerprint identification. “The determining factors were a mould taken of his teeth for a masking job done for his protection when he left Cuba in the mid sixties [for Africa]”--- The paper said.
Che Guevara, the best-known revolutionary icon of recent memory met his death at the hands of the CIA and the Bolivian military while he was trying to export the Cuban style of revolution to other countries of Latin America. The Cuban government invested much in expertise and resources in searching for the remains of Guevara and his fallen comrades. When his remains were eventually brought to Cuba, there was general mobilization to ‘welcome Che home’.
An impressive memorial has been constructed in his honor at the city of Santa Clara. It was the first town liberated by troops under Che’s command during the onslaught on the Batista regime in the late 50s. The Cuban sculptor, Jose Delarra created the Che Guevara memorial. It took 500,000 volunteers working without pay to construct the monument that was started in 1982 and inaugurated in 1988. The memorial has an underground cellar containing a photographic display of Che’s history and implements used by him and a more secluded section containing his remains. On top of this is a column that is 6 metres high carrying the 6.8 metres bronze figure of Che Guevara facing South America. More than 2000 characters including Che’s farewell letter to Fidel have been chiseled into the wall of the column on which Che’s stature stands.
Che Guevara occupies a central position in Cuba’s revolution. His image is ubiquitous all over the island nation. He is a sort of Logo for Cuba. It is understandable why Cuba goes to a great length to correct any ambiguity that may affect his image
Njei Moses Timah