Monday, May 26, 2008

Of Interest to Historians

The diary of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s revolutionary activities in Bolivia has been available for many years now; however, there were a number of fragments from the diary that were only recently discovered and identified, and which have come into my possession. It might be of interest to readers to learn something of the history of these documents.

When Che was finally captured by the Bolivian army and executed, his minor personal belongings were parceled out among the burial detail. Private Jaime Zuazo, the newest member of the unit, and a figure of fun among the veterans – a sort of Bolivian Sad Sack – was fobbed off with a small, dirty canvas pouch which appeared to be filled with old issues of Granma, the Cuban newspaper (employed by Che and his guerillas primarily as toilet paper during the Bolivian campaign). Private Zuazo was not particularly thrilled with his prize, for he had seen his fellows make off with fountain pens, spare berets and a stag-horn cigar-clipper. But it was better than nothing, so when he was granted leave, he returned home to his small village and gave the pouch to his wife, Maria. Maria, who specialized in manufacturing native crafts for sale to the tourist trade, sewed sequins onto the outside of the bag, using traditional Indian designs and enhancing them with her own artistic flights of fancy. She included the bag in her inventory of goods which she offered for sale in the arts and crafts market, held every Saturday in the plaza of a near-by town, and quickly sold it as a purse to an elderly American woman, Mrs. Elvira Noggle, who was traveling in Bolivia with a tourist group. Mrs. Noggle went back home to Greenville, North Carolina and hung the bag on her wall as a decoration, and when she died some ten years later, her children sold off her possessions, including the bag, at a yard sale. The bag was acquired by a neighbor, Mr. Roy Smoot, who, having just remembered that it was his 20th wedding anniversary, bought the bag and pawned the thing off on his wife as a gift. The bag wound up being included in his share of the property settlement shortly after their divorce six months later, and he sold it at a flea market. Like the Maltese Falcon, the bag continued to pass from hand to hand over the years, its owners unaware of the treasure it contained in a hidden, zippered compartment, since no one had ever actually used the bag qua purse (except once, briefly, when Mrs. Smoot hit her husband over the head with it).

I eventually picked up the bag, myself; quite literally so, having seen it discarded by Goodwill employees who were loading items from a drop-off box into their truck, and who had apparently found the thing to be too worthless even for a thrift shop. On a whim, I scooped the bag up, took it home, and poked about inside of it. The old Granmá newspapers were yellow and brittle with age, and I disposed of them immediately. At the bottom of the pouch, however, I ultimately discovered a zipper beneath a long flap of cloth. The zipper had become rusty, but a liberal application of WD-40 fixed the problem and I finally got it open. In a shallow compartment, I found a few torn scraps of lined notebook paper, along with several complete sheets, rolled up and squashed flat. I gently opened them up and spread them out on a table. They were covered in a small, cramped, cursive script, and they were written in Spanish. From the context, it became clear that these were diary entries that had been made by Che during the ill-fated Bolivian campaign. I was somewhat baffled, at first, as to why these particular entries would have been separated from the rest of the diary; however, even a cursory glance at the contents is sufficient to demonstrate the likelihood that Che was probably intending to suppress or eventually destroy them – for reasons that will be obvious to the attentive reader.

It is my pleasure to present to you, for the first time outside of the initial peer review conducted at the Blair Academy in Australia, my translation into English of: Che’s Bolivian Diary – the Lost Episodes (to be continued).

10 comments:

El Cid said...

Well...I mean are we talkin' soon or soooooon?

carpefraise said...

That's what I love about erudition - it can pop out of any source at any time.

Will you notify the Smithsonian about this?

Anonymous said...

You had me going Paco. It was only when I saw the name Elvira Noggle did the penny drop. Not even in Australia would Mr and Mrs Noggle call their daughter Elvira. But I had recovered by the end of the story. Do the diaries come with a Tshirt?

Mehaul

Pogria said...

Paco,

CAMDEN COUNCIL SAID NO!!!!!!

YEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

RebeccaH said...

Can't wait for the diary excerpts, and can't stop grinning in anticipation.

kc said...

If anticipation is half the fun, THIS is gonna be FUN!!! Waiting (somewhat) patiently, Paco...

Anonymous said...

Oh Goody,this will be fun.

Please continue......

Deadparrot.

Paco said...

Easy does it, folks. I hate to deflate your expectations, but the Che diaries are just slightly rewritten and reformatted reruns of the stuff I posted at Tim’s some months ago. I wanted …( hooks thumbs in vest and swells up like a pompous bullfrog) … I wanted to make the Che diary available to the larger world outside of Tim’s blog, which I estimate would include at least three additional people – perhaps four – who may not have seen it yet. It is my fond hope that you all have forgotten them entirely, so that you can enjoy them anew.

New stuff on the horizon, though, including one or two original short-stories that possess the distinction of having failed utterly to entrance the judges at several writing competitions, and (I have it on good authority) caused the publishers of several obscure literary quarterlies to turn their faces to the wall.

kc said...

Glad to hear that, Paco - I didn't have time to keep up at Blair's old site, since about...oh, early February, I guess (when Beeootiful Kaylee moved to her own place, taking her parents with her, & I began my new job as Daycare Grandma) so this is all new for me.

Minicapt said...

"New stuff on the horizon ..." that's what Chris told the crew; look what happened!

Cheers