World: Che: A Myth Embalmed in a Matrix of Ignorance

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Comfort from the KGB. During the months of wandering, Che was comforted by perhaps the strangest and most elusive character of the entire drama. Code-named Tania, she was a dark, beautiful young woman in her mid-20s. She told Che that she was from Argentina. Actually, she was an East German girl named Tamara Bunke, who was sent to Havana in the mid-1960s by the Soviet KGB to keep tabs on Guevara.

Che, who at that time was married to his second wife, fell in love with Tania, whom he trained and sent to Bolivia as his advance agent. In La Paz she got a job in the presidential press office and helped arrange the secret arrival of Che and the other Cubans. Then, violating Che's orders, Tania, who was an amateur musicologist and collected tape recordings of Bolivian folk music, went to the hills to live with him. On August 31, 1967, Tania and nine men walked into a Bolivian army ambush. All but one of them were killed. An autopsy showed that

Tania was then four months pregnant.

After Che finally accepted Bolivian radio reports of Tania's death, his diary entries reflected no remorse. But, St. George says, he later found a poem that Che dedicated to Tania.

To T:

There is dark silence in the jungle's

heart of darkness The people's songs are silent.

She fingers and repacks The little plastic tape rolls. They too

are silent.

What sings in her heart? Perhaps I

shall never know it.

Nor hear the music of the songs that

brought her here.

The jungle bush has yielded her no

rhythms Except the Morse code and the rapid

beating of hearts

Waiting for the answering signal. She

never sings Nor hums these tunes she loves.

And yet she hears them. They

carry her Forward, across the jungle's deathly

silence, toward A triumphal chant only she can hear.

One month after Tania died, Che's band was trapped in a ravine by pursuing Bolivian rangers, who had been trained by U.S. Special Forces experts On Oct. 8, 1967, as the guerrillas attempted to fight their way out of the encirclement, Che was hit in the left thigh by a bullet and his M-l carbine was shot out of his hands. Taken alive to a nearby village, Che was executed the next day. After his hands were cut off for further fingerprinting, Che's body was burned beyond recognition and buried in a secret grave.

The man was dead, the myth born.

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