August 21, 2009—Five bodies found in Bolivia may be guerrilla soldiers killed four decades ago for their involvement with revolutionary leader Che Guevara, anthropologists claim.
© 2009 National Geographic (AP)
Anthropologists in Bolivia this month unearthed remains believed to be five guerrilla soldiers and followers of Che Guevara.
The remains were found in the town of Teoponte by a team of Argentine anthropologists.
SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Silvana Durnal, Forensic Anthropologist
"We have had very positive results thus far. These searches are very difficult, so we are happy with the results so far, which consist in the finding of the remains of five people. We have also found two burial sites here in San Antonio where apparently the remains were removed and yes we have verified that they were in fact removed."
Guevara was captured and shot to death by government soldiers in Bolivia in October, 1967 where he had been leading a guerrilla insurgency against the Bolivian government.
The search is part of a joint project with Bolivia's Justice Ministry and other human rights organizations. Theyre hoping to retrieve the remains of another 41 fighters that belonged to the so called Teoponte guerrilla, organized in 1970 based on Guevaras ideals. They were defeated that same year.
Most of its members were killed by the Bolivian army and their bodies were never returned to their relatives.
SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Celima Torrico, Bolivian Justice Minister
"It's been over 38 years since the times of the Teoponte guerrilla. As you can see, the remains of the missing are not all in one place, they are in different places, very dispersed. The anthropological team from Argentina, the Justice Ministry and Asofand (Association of the Families of the Disappeared) are in this project together to find the remains and return them to the families."
Relatives of the missing are hopeful more can be found.
SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Delia Cortes, President, Association of Relatives of the Disappeared and Martyrs for National Liberation (Asofand)
"We have fought from the beginning to find the missing people, among them the Teoponte guerrillas. Ninety percent of them have been shot to death, and not only that, after being buried it is evident they have been unearthed, so as to not leave evidence of what the army did."
Guevara was born in Argentina and gained fame when he joined with Fidel Castros Cuban revolution.
In the 40-plus years since his death, Guevara continues to be an iconic figure, particularly for leftist Latin American governments. Critics, however, saw him as a subversive agitator.