Che Guevara’s Final Days 16:00, 1998 (Ref: SA9824)


His name is forever linked to words like liberation and revolution. In 1968 Che Guevara was executed by Bolivian troops, his body dumped in a secret location. In 1998 investigators found his grave and his bones were sent back to Cuba to an heroic welcome and state burial. This film looks at the life and death of Che Guevara – one of the greatest revolutionary folk heroes of the Twentieth Century. We travelled to Bolivia – to the village where he was executed – and spoke with the people who still live there and knew Che in the days before his death. We also speak with the Bolivian general who captured Che and his comrades and carried out the orders of the Bolivian president to execute him. Ernesto Guevara, the young Argentine doctor, idealist to the extreme, joined Fidel Castro who launched the Cuban revolution in the Sierra Maistra. All his life, Che Guevara suffered from asthma. As if to overcome it, he imposed upon himself an iron discipline to combat. He was made commandante, became Fidel’s right arm. After the revolution, Che became head of Cuba’s National Bank, then minister of industry, but it soon became apparent that he didn’t fit well with the new Cuban regime. Too pure a communist, too much of a hard-liner, he embarrassed the new Cuban elite. He was sent abroad and seduced by communist China. His criticism of the Soviet system, which he found corrupt and cynical, upset his friend Fidel Castro. The Cuban Missile Crisis sealed Cuba’s alliance with Moscow. For Fidel, Che Guevara had become an embarrassment. He disappeared, went underground. It was here that the mystery of Che began. Cleverly disguised, Che was sent to Congo to watch guerrilla warfare and to open, in his words, “new Vietnams on every continent.” It’s hard to measure the gap that was to exist from then on between Che and Fidel. It’s clear that he was more useful far away from Cuba. The Congo operation was a complete failure. Che returned clandestinely to Cuba. In Havana, Che Guevara left only a farewell letter to his children, asking them to be good revolutionaries. Five children by two marriages, whom he hardly knew. And he left, once again, for Bolivia from where he would never return.

NOTE: Transcript of film included – on request – with an Education License