Book Review: DEATH OF A REVOLUTIONARY-CHE GUEVARA'S LAST MISSION (Richard L. Harris) 切·格瓦拉之死

Updated: Jun 8

For Aleida Guevara, my first encounter with a true revolutionary (2014)

FILE PHOTO: Death of a Revolutionary: Che Guevara's Last Mission ©W. W. Norton & Company
FILE PHOTO: Death of a Revolutionary: Che Guevara's Last Mission ©W. W. Norton & Company

Author: Richard L. Harris

English: Death of a Revolutionary: Che Guevara's Last Mission

ISBN: 039333094X (978-0393330946)

Publisher: New York: W. W. Norton & Company; Updated ed. (October 17, 2007)


I am not looking for publicity. I only want to tell the truth about everything that occurred in my career as a sub-secretary and minister of government, and alert not only the present government of Bolivia, but all the governments of Latin America, as to how North American imperialism undermines their intelligence services in order to introduce errors to distort, to present a completely different picture of reality, to obstruct their economic relations with other states, and finally to keep them under its control. - Antonio Arguedas Mendieta, 1930-2000 (1)

''Revolutionaries'' And ''Alternative'' Media of Today


There are three major topics to demonise communism. One is the ''great famine'' of China (Asia) during 1959-1961; second is the failure of guerrilla warfare of Che in Bolivia (Latin America) in 1967; the last one is the collapse of Soviet Union (Eurasia) in 1991. Of course, Cultural Revolution of China during 1966 to 1976 is also broadly referred to denounce communist experiences of the 20th century. Plus, so called Holodomor of Stalin during 1932-33 in Ukraine is an anti-communist narrative device for capitalist ruling classes of the world. Unfortunately, communists of CPC and ''pro-establishment''camp of Hong Kong, China don't even investigate facts on these strategically important topics of the communist experiences in the past. On the contrary, supposed ''leftists'' firmly stand with CEOs and stakeholders of multinational companies to denounce all of them.


Furthermore, self-proclaimed ''alternative'' media of Russia like RT is just exploiting ''leftists'' for its nationalist conservative interests by Redfish and its outsourced freelance left wing influencers. Why RT is so popular? The secret is that RT and its Putinists exploit completely different ideologies like anti-imperialism of Latin America and Middle East while Putinists themselves oppose marxism and leftism of all kinds in their own country. This is critical difference between traditional state media of Stalin or Mao or VOA and Putin. Pravda, CCTV and VOA strictly exclude different ideologies from its own political operations however RT exploits completely different ideologies and even strategically give them news coverage. As a result, there are republican Trumpets, leftists and liberal influencers get opportunities to expand their fan base via RT. However "There is no such thing as a free lunch" that their anti-democrat conservative or anti-imperialist leftist views are systematically exploited to camouflage and boost Russian nationalist interests and social penetration in the targeted countries. Thus, they're neither genuine republicans nor authentic leftists but they become Russian nationalist avatars in practice. In other words, RT and its Russian nationalists exploit different ideologies as their tentacles to defend and promote Russian national interests simultaneously. It means that there must be stealth censorship to keep their paid republican Trumpet writers, liberal authors and leftist influencers (e.g. ex-Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa for RT Spanish) in their control (it's more obvious from POV of users because their censorship is mainly against users). Of course, it's as equally repressive as what Soviet Stalinists did to pro-Soviet leftists of the world during Cold War if they go wrong ideologically. Then they can see sudden and swift censorship actions from hidden hands. For instance, Tulsi Gabbard (1981-) realised this earlier before the US presidential election of 2020. Fortunately, she defended her own rights and interests from this hypocritical ''alternative'' media.


Therefore, it's nothing ''alternative'' at all because they themselves are doing the same things (e.g. political censorship without any logical explanation and evidences ; mass surveillance ; brutal police crackdown on different voices; ousting persona non grata; banning non-Russian speakers on their social media etc.) against others with US imperialists while denouncing allegations, xenophobic oppressions and sanctions of US-Ukraine-the Baltics-Poland etc.. As I correctly analysed that RT will be gradually transformed into another Fox News by infiltrators (I can name some of them but it's not a topic here). As a result, there is only a matter of ethics and morality that which one is more hypocritical (''skilful'') or less hypocritical. Inevitably, facts are selectively buried by their editorial censorship (their ''output editors'' must know that moderation and editing are censorship) and broad narrative control which are ultimately based on their ''pro-oligarchic'' political correctness. Of course, it's same for Chinese state media in general but Chinese or US state media are really honest due to its strict discipline for maintaining political line publicly without exploiting different ideologies and influencers.


For instance,


CCTV (Chinese nationalism; CPC) is straightforwardly represented by Chinese nationalist narrative and influencers.


Fox News (American republican conservatism; Republican Party) is directly represented by American republican narrative and influencers.


CNN (American democrat liberalism; Democratic Party) is simply represented by American democrat narrative and influencers.


RT (Russian nationalism; United Russia) is indirectly and remotely represented by different ideological narratives and paid influencers of targeted countries. (e. g. their major targets are American republicans thus they hired so many republican Trumpets to infiltrate US society by exploiting paid Republican influencers and their native fan base. The point is that republican conservatism is not RT's own ideology) Exploitation of different ideologies (for Russian nationalist interests) is its major weapon to penetrate target audience without directly promote Russian nationalism. Even Pompeo couldn't understand this during the Trump regime.


Stealth influencer marketing of RT (Putinists) is to infiltrate targeted audience and media market by exploiting (''supporting'') politically oppressed opinion leaders or stars (e.g. Hulk Hogan, Steven Seagal, Jesse Ventura etc.) and their fan base. And then, those paid influencers who have quite different ideologies from ominous Russian nationalism will automatically become dasein of Russian influence without directly promoting apparent Russian nationalism. The most important thing for them is social penetration not direct propaganda campaigns.


In this sense, traditional mainstream media like CCTV, VOA, CNN, BBC, FoxNews and CBS are more politically sincere to their own political belief and ideologies than RT or related Russian state media because they simply and directly promote their own political lines without insincerely exploiting different ideologies and their fan base for social penetration.


It seems that RT and Russian intelligence agencies misinterpreted what Deng Xiaoping (1904-97) said in 1960s. "Black cat or white cat, if it can catch mice, it's a good cat." For journalists, it means that a good journalist is to tell the truth. And it is totally meaningless to label others for trivial matters.


Thus it shouldn't mean that we can use different ideological colours ''untraditionally'' to achieve our national interests even though those ideologies don't actually represent our own ideology. It's deception! Insincerity! In fact, what Deng Xiaoping (1904-97) said was all about fundamental duty of politicians not anything pragmatic or opportunistic. It actually means philosophical opposition to dualist controversies.


I found not only ''leftists'' but also so called ''alternative'' media are serious threats to our freedom of opinions today. And I totally got fed up with their hypocrisy. The truth is that Russian nationalists (Putinists) exploit republicans and anti-imperialist influencers to strategically camouflage their own ideology, infiltrate targeted audience and ultimately serve their own national interests (it can be called stealth imperialism which Putinists learned from US, and they even further advanced it technically). It's not really ''alternative'' but it must be called political insincerity because they themselves are neither Trumpets nor marxists. I realised that China was and still is perfectly right to prohibit this toxic chameleons (chimeras) from Russia. On the contrary, what we should admire is moral standard and ideological sincerity of Che Guevara.


Thus, independence of individuals from both mainstream and ''independent'', ''alternative'' media establishment is critically important to protect our lives, truly independent thought, freedom, knowledge and truth. In this sense, the famous Japanese thinker, founder of Keio University, Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901) was right (importance of personal independence for independence of one country). Self-proclaimed ''alternative'' media like RT who funded by one state and run by nationalists is nothing really ''alternative'' for others. It's always an ''alternative'' in question. ''Censorship-free''platform or channel? It's a joke. While secretly banning influential users who have leftist tendencies with foreign nationalities? There is no such ''censorship-free'' social media or its certain page while there are censorship laws in their headquartered country, corporate censorship teams and moderators. They must know that so called ''moderation'' itself is censorship. Therefore, it's sheer hypocrisy logically. And their virtue signalling is another deception in practice. This is the truth of ''alternative'' media.


Furthermore, the most important thing is that so called ''alternative viewpoint'' is neither republican nor democrat one. The true alternative is always different from dualism while the world's most dominant news narratives are either a republican or democrat view. Thus, the republican Trumpet view is not alternative to dualism. It's just one side of the same coin. Indeed, they are ideological charlatans like stalinists of Soviet Union. That's all.


In short, like Bolivia in 1967, leftists of today are still totally divided into warring camps in various countries. Even sectarianism within the same leftist organisation is severe due to the pursuit of personal benefits and hegemony in the leftist market. As a result, Workers' Revolution is not their aim at all in practice. During Cold War (1945-1991), the Sino-Soviet split fatally divided leftists of the world. As a result, leftists were used for developing national interests of either Soviet Russia or China. After the collapse of Soviet Union, and emerging woke imperialist democrats further split traditional leftist parties and the working class people into pieces.


Such as, Japanese Communist Party (it's an ex-''stalinist'' revisionist political party; JCP) totally denies both Soviet and Chinese communist experiences, one-party dictatorship and their bureaucratised socialism. Simultaneously, they also strictly denounce Che, Cuban communists and especially their armed struggles. Instead, they now stick to parliamentarian policy as part of ruling classes of Japan. In fact, their foreign policy (anti-China; anti-Russia) is same with ruling bourgeois ''pro-US'' parties, The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and Komeito. Moreover, JCP closely works with anti-Communist parties like The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan who can be seen as a Japanese branch of American Democrats.


For Hong Kong, unlike opposition narrative, there is no actual leftist party at all. Even political parties of Hong Kong are limited companies to just boost business profits of their own member companies in guise of ''political parties'' due to lack of the political party law and professionalism. In other words, there is no real party politics in Hong Kong. Speaking of Che, we must refer to the opposition figure Leung Kwok-hung (an ex-Trotskyist; 1956-) who always wears the Che T-shirt while he himself is an infamous US agent and staunch anti-communist. Their aim is to divide both China and Japan, Hong Kong and mainland China for causing troubles for East Asians in context. Recently, local media exposed that Leung Kwok-hung received money from one of masterminds of the anti-extradition bill amendment movement, EASTERN AMERICAN, a Belizean Henley Lee. There is no such ''leftist'' who works for anti-communist imperialists. However this is leftist ''business'' of today. Awful truth. Thus we almost can't find a true and real leftist like Che Guevara (39 years old at the time of his death; 1928-1967). And we must know that socialism of the 21st century in Latin America, like Hugo Chávez (succeeded by Nicholas Maduro) , Eva Morales (now succeeded by Luis Arce after the defeat of the coup regime of Jeanine Áñez) are synthesis of alternative political lines of both Castro-Che and Allende. Their political lines were and still are practical alternatives to both defunct stalinism of Soviet Russia (1991) and revisionism of China (1979-).


A Revolutionary Twist of Che's ''failed'' Bolivian Mission: Barrientos And Arguedas Became Successors of Che's Anti-Imperialist War After His Death


One of successful narrative control campaigns on the 20th century communism is burial of the revolutionary twists of Che's Bolivian episode in both mainstream and ''independent'' media, especially, it's about the René Barrientos (1919-1969) regime and his Minister of Internal Affairs Antonio Arguedas Mendieta (1930-2000). Their anti-CIA stance since 1968 led to their personal tragedies (Barrientos was killed in the same way with the Panamanian president Omar Torrijos (1929-1981) in the helicopter ''accident'' in 1969; Arguedas in his last years he fought drug cartels in Bolivia as a governmental official but falsely framed as a drug cartel leader and accused for terrorist activities without any evidence by police, ultimately he was killed by a mysterious explosion which could be seen as an assassination. DEA or CIA involvement on his death is still highly suspicious) however the unexpected episode which is totally buried in establishment publication of today is the most brilliant and revolutionary twist of Che's ''failed'' Bolivian mission. Grave reactionaries, US agents who killed Che and his FOCO in 1967 later became revolutionaries than any ''leftists'' in Bolivia at that time. This is the most exciting part of this book. It's totally impossible without Che's Bolivian guerrilla campaign (1966-67) and his famous Bolivian Diary (1968). In fact, historical meaning and revolutionary impacts of Che's Bolivian campaign are equally or more important than the ''successful'' Cuban revolution of 1959 itself. Anyway, both revolutionary campaigns proved correctness of Che's socialist theory of new mankind ''Communist New Man'' (read Che Guevara's essay "Socialism and man in Cuba" ) and methodology of guerrilla warfare. For his Bolivian campaign, Che's moral fight finally won the heart of Arguedas in 1968. The episode of Arguedas is what CIA wants to totally bury forever. As a result, the episode of Arguedas' rebellion against CIA is still totally excluded from media coverage and narrative of establishment in many countries including ''socialist'' China. The Bolivian campaign must be rediscovered in context by readers without edits. "Failure is the mother of success." (Che's Bolivian mission revolutionized Arguedas after his death)


READ MORE:

Antonio Arguedas Mendieta


The author Richard L. Harris is an American professor emeritus of Global Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay according to his public profile. Fairly speaking, he himself is not any kind of communist or marxist or agitator. His professional research on Che, his revolutionary path and his guerrilla warfare actually provides facts that rarely known or totally covered up by establishment of capitalist countries in the world. In fact, facts are alternative viewpoints to official narratives of ruling classes. Only facts can defeat narrative control. Thus we need to know facts not any ''narratives'' in lectures, articles, films, TV dramas, arts, news, books, magazines and advertisements etc..


Indeed, Richard L.Harris is like another respected American authors Chalmers Johnson (1931-2010) or William Blum (1933-2018) who still represents goodness, morality, objectiveness, profound knowledge and superiority of American intellectuals to the world. Ironically, the most powerful and leading anti-imperialist critics of the world are also Americans. Richard L.Harris did not write this book from his personal political position on this topic. On the contrary, he tried to avoid typical political bias of both republicans and democrats. Telling facts without consideration of political correctness needs courage, independence and conscience of an author. In fact, Richard L.Harris proved this quality for writing his masterpiece. Thus writing this book itself is quite revolutionary.


In fact, Che defined guerrilla war as a war of the people, led by a fighting vanguard (the nuclear guerrilla force) against the forces of the ruling oligarchies (elites) and their foreign backers (the US government and the transnational corporations with investments in the Third World). Thus, in Che's view, the guerrilla force does not seize power by itself; rather, it serves as a catalyst that inspires the masses themselves to take up arms and overthrow the established regime. (2)

Questions


Q1: Why Che's Bolivian Mission was failed militarily?


A: We shouldn't see results as causes. Shortage of foods and medicines, sabotage of pro-Soviet communists, inactiveness of other leftists, military encirclement, US military aid(sending anti-Castro Cuban advisors to Bolivia which was officially announced on April 13, 1967), no recruits and total isolation of FOCO from farmers, the urban guerrilla network and outside world by intelligence agencies, pro-Soviet communists and media were all results not causes of the failure. Reading Che's Bolivian Diary, we can only find results of the campaign and monthly conclusions written by Che. His optimist attitude had been maintained throughout the campaign. However direct answers are not in the diary and Castro's introduction. The first fatal mistake (a drastic failure of intelligence analysis on Bolivia; it had nothing to do with his failed Congo campaign) was that both Castro and Che were misinformed and even deceived by the leader of Bolivia's pro-Soviet founder Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Bolivia (Partido Comunista Boliviano, PCB), Mario Monje (1929-2019) in January 1966.


From January 3 to 15, 1966, the first conference of the Organisation of Solidarity of Asian, African, and Latin American Peoples - referred to thereafter as Tricontinental - was held in Havana. (3)
This dream was bolstered by Che's belief that Cuba would become truly independent of the Soviet Union only when additional revolutionary governments were established in Latin America that could provide support to Cuba. ......Finally, they confirmed what Che and Cuban intelligence service already knew - that the Bolivian security and military forces were perhaps the most ineffective and badly organised in Latin America. ...He minimised the fact that Bolivia's communists were badly split along pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese lines and that the leader of Bolivia's pro-Soviet communist party, Mario Monje, had told Fidel during the Tricontinental conference in 1966 that he was interested in establishing a guerrilla FOCO himself in Bolivia. (4)
It appears they (Monje and pro-Soviet communists of Bolivia) deliberately misled Fidel into believing this in order to outflank the more militant, pro-Chinese communists, who they feared were interested in doing this with Cuban help. (5)

Apparently, Che's Bolivian campaign was already doomed to death at the earliest phase when Mario Monje successfully deceived Fidel and Che about the Bolivian situation in 1966. Failure of intelligence is a failure of entire military mission apriori.


Q2: When Che's Bolivian Mission should have been cancelled after the start of their guerrilla campaign?


A: Unlike official narrative on this campaign, it was March 23, 1967 not August or September 1967 when FOCO lost their main base and everything was exposed to Bolivian regular forces at the preparatory phase. It was time for withdrawal. Militarily and tactically, they (44 FOCO guerrillas included 17 Cubans; 22 Bolivians; 3 Peruvians; 2 Argentines in March 1967) lost the war already at this moment. The most important combatant, talented Argentinian guerrilla spy Tania did her brilliant HUMINT work for Che - even his passport was prepared by Tania - but Tania is spitefully depicted as someone who made stupid mistakes and disobeyed Che's orders, which was and still is Hollywood CIA's total fabrication. This is so called narrative control not a fact.


......after a month at the guerrilla's camp, where they (informers) claimed they had been made to work as peons, they decided they were fed up with guerrilla life and would desert at the first opportunity. Rocabado and Barrera gave the army detailed information about the location of the guerrillas' camp, the number of people there, and the fact that most of the guerrilla force was away at the time on a training and reconnaissance march to the north. They also told their captors about the large number of Cubans in the guerrilla group and about the presence of Regis Debray, Ciro Bustos, and Tania at the camp. (6)
The information that Choque, the two deserters Rocabado and Barrera, and the oil worker Vargas gave the Bolivian authorities led to the discovery and subsequent annihilation of Che's guerrilla force. This information enabled the army to locate Che's main base before his men were ready to begin military operations. It also gave the army the initiative from the beginning of the conflict until its tragic termination some six months later. (7)

In August 1967, their supply caves were exposed; in September, consequently, urban guerrilla contact, Loyola Guzmán (she's still active in Bolivia; 1942-) was arrested and led to the total collapse of urban guerrilla network in La Paz. These damages were final blows to his Bolivian campaign and main aftermath of the March exposure.


Q3: Did CIA kill Che? How Che was killed?


A: Official narrative they told is that ''Che was killed by CIA in Bolivia in 1967''. That's a lie. On the contrary, CIA tried to stop execution of Che because it could have been politically more beneficial to keep Che alive as a hostage in Panama than simply killing him. Moreover, Che's possessions were robbed by Bolivian soldiers as booty and brutally shot by many not by one man who wanted to take credit for being men who shot the famous Che Guevara. These facts were far from films and novels. His death was caused by lynching and nine shots from many soldiers (two of which were fatal). Moreover, we can prove this from rarely seen images taken from immediately after the ''legally-groundless'' execution of Che in 1967.


......since Bolivia did not have the death penalty, they feared that if Che remained alive as their prisoner, sympathisers from all over the world would converge on Bolivia in an effort to save him or carry on his fight. They (Bolivian government) decided, therefore, that Che had to be executed immediately and that officially they would announce he had died from wounds received in battle. (8)
.....while Teran's carbine was still smoking, several soldiers pushed past him into the classroom. They said that they, too, wanted to shoot Che so that they could boast that they had shot the famous Che Guevara. Sergeant Teran weakly nodded his approval, and they began firing. When the shooting was over, there were nine bullet wounds in Che's body, two of which were obviously instantaneously fatal. (9)
To be sure, the CIA was ever present during the entire episode; it certainly was determined to see that Che was defeated and, if possible, captured. However, it was not responsible for the failure of Che's guerrilla operation or his execution. In fact, the US government and CIA appear to have opposed the idea of executing Che. (10)

The former CIA agent Rodriguez later confirmed the theory that CIA ordered him to stop execution of Che and bring him to Panama. Thus official narrative of today is far from the fact.


Q4: US military assistance was a significant contribution to defeat Che's Bolivian Mission?


A: Their specific military assistance to Bolivia against Che Guevara had begun after the critical defeat of Che's guerrilla mission in March 1967. Thus a significant contribution to his capture was not the US military aid but deception of pro-Soviet communists (the aftermath of the Soviet-China split) and fatal intelligence failures of the Cuban side while the Bolivian military was actually the weakest one in entire Latin America at that time. Thus, Che's films and novels completely lost the point. History and society can't be learned from fictional works.


Why they send ''advisers''? Simply because they think local agents are ineffective and need training.


US military aid is traditionally sending non-Anglo-American ''advisors'' (e.g. for central and Latin American operations, anti-Castro-Cuban exiles, paid mercenaries as ''agents'' not case officers) and equipment like we can still see in US-backed regime change attempts, coups and colour revolutions of the world.


For Hong Kong, officially no American ''advisors'' were arrested during the defunct anti-extradition bill colour revolution (the true aim was not to topple the HK government as no-one childishly thinks that it's possible to overthrow the Beijing government from HK remotely) but mysterious anglo-europeans appeared as ''advisers'' of front-line radicals, US and its allies mainly provided training for protesters, and some of them were arrested. For instance, fake Martin Svenningsen (Benton Rendail Olmsted). Curiously, Hong Kong police completely blocked any following information on those ''foreign'' prisoners after that. As a result, no local media still track them.


A regime change op is always a military campaign, and intelligence service is just a supportive role. Furthermore, ''decision makers are not intelligence agencies'' in general. This general principle makes the most of local Hong Kong ''professional'' anti-US opinions baseless, helpless, pointless and useless. Moreover, even the fictional novel 007 reflects this reality.


What Hong Kong media and politicians still totally ignore is that the military team (actual military personnel not any para-military team of CIA) is always more significantly important than intelligence agencies and NGOs they easily find and blame for colour revolutions (such as notorious political fund machines, money-laundering devices, USAID, NED, NDI, IRI etc.). In fact, regime change ops are mainly military ops not just intelligence ones. You can't only see and blame supportive roles instead of major military roles. Moreover, the major target of CIA's infiltration is always government officials, and then use their paid agents in the government to further infiltrate media and political parties. It's ''efficient'' because agents in the government can protect their agents in both media and political parties effectively. Therefore, it's funny to see local ''opinion leaders'' to blindly hunt ''NED-CIA operatives'' without any proper concept. I believe that real CIA guys are also laughing at them. I firmly stand with CIA on this issue.


The truth is that there are US Air Force attaches in Ukraine (Brittany Stewart) and Bolivia like this case, for Hong Kong, there is a US Navy attache (John Cranston) in the consulate general.