The diary of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s revolutionary activities in
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
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).