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companero che .com - the truth about Ernesto Che Guevara
  Intelligence Reports

CIA - Debriefing of Flix Rodrguez

June 3, 1975 When Che Guevara was executed in La Higuera, one CIA official was present--a Cuban-American operative named Flix Rodrguez. Rodrguez, who used the codename "Flix Ramos" in Bolivia and posed as a Bolivian military officer, was secretly debriefed on his role by the CIA's office of the Inspector General in June, 1975. (At the time the CIA was the focus of a major Congressional investigation into its assassination operations against foreign leaders.) In this debriefing--discovered in a declassified file marked 'Flix Rodrguez' by journalist David Corn--Rodrguez recounts the details of his mission to Bolivia where the CIA sent him, and another Cuban-American agent, Gustavo Villoldo, to assist the capture of Guevara and destruction of his guerrilla band. Rodrguez and Villoldo became part of a CIA task force in Bolivia that included the case officer for the operation, "Jim", another Cuban American, Mario Osiris Riveron, and two agents in charge of communications in Santa Clara. Rodrguez emerged as the most important member of the group; after a lengthy interrogation of one captured guerrilla, he was instrumental in focusing the efforts to the 2nd Ranger Battalion focus on the Villagrande region where he believed Guevara's rebels were operating. Although he apparently was under CIA instructions to "do everything possible to keep him alive," Rodrguez transmitted the order to execute Guevara from the Bolivian High Command to the soldiers at La Higueras--he also directed them not to shoot Guevara in the face so that his wounds would appear to be combat-related--and personally informed Che that he would be killed. After the execution, Rodrguez took Che's Rolex watch, often proudly showing it to reporters during the ensuing years.

Untitled Document
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3 June 1975


MEMORANDUM FOR:           Deputy Inspector General


SUBJECT:                                              Statement by [MARKED OUT FOR SECURITY REASONS] concerning his assignment Bolivia in 1967 and his role in the capture of Ernesto ?Che? GUEVARA de la Serna.


REFERENCE:                                         Memo dated 29 May 1975.



1. The undersigned met with [MARKED OUT] contract employee, on 2 and 3 June to

obtain his story about his assignment to Bolivia in 1967. This query is based upon ref interview during which [MARKED OUT] mentioned that he had re-transmitted an order from Colonel [MARKED OUT] Commander of the 8th Division of the Bolivian Army, to a Bolivian sergeant, which resulted in the execution of Ernesto ?Che? GUEVARA de la Serna, Cuban leader of the guerrillas then operating in Bolivia.


2. [MARKED OUT] said that his assignment came about after an interview held in Miami in June or July of 1967, at which time he was a case officer working for the Miami office. He had been selected for the job interview because of his paramilitary training and experience. He was asked if he would agree to serve with [MARKED OUT] a fellow Cuban. He accepted. He was told that he was to go to Bolivia with [MARKED OUT] where they would be engaged in training intelligence teams for the 2nd Ranger Battalion of the Eighth Division of the Bolivian Army. He was also told that he and [MARKED OUT] would be assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion as advisors and would be based in the town of Esperanza. While in Miami, he and [MARKED OUT] were given briefings about the political and guerrilla situation in Bolivia, and he was given a refresher course in communication. [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] were told that there were strong indications that Guevara was leading the guerrillas. Among the instructions given them was a clear one that in the event that the Bolivian Army captured Guevara, they should do everything possible ?to keep him alive.?


3. They were introduced to their future case officer in Washington, who was to be in liaison with the Bolivian forces in Santa Cruz.


4. Prior to their departure, both [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] were issued false U.S. re-entry permits in the names of [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] respectively. These were received in New York City just prior to their departure on 30 July for La Paz on a Braniff Airline flight. Their case officer had preceded them and met them on 31 July at 7 a.m. at the La Paz airport. [MARKED OUT] believes that Bolivian visas were stamped in their re-entry permits.


5. The case officer and another American took them to meet [MARKED OUT] to whom they were introduced as experts on guerrilla warfare. He issued each a personal card in which were handwritten his instruction to all civilian and military officials that they be given full support. At ten that morning, they met [MARKED OUT] Commander-in-Chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces. (It wasn?t until about a month later that [MARKED OUT] met [MARKED OUT] in Santa Cruz.) While in La Paz, no new instructions were issued to them about their mission. After about a week there, they were flown to Santa Cruz de la Sierra for a few days and introduced to Colonel [MARKED OUT], Commander of the Eighth Division. After 3 or 4 days in Santa Cruz, [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] went to La Esperanza, where they were quartered at the Bolivian officers? compound. In La Esperanza they met [MARKED OUT] the Commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and Captain [MARKED OUT].


6. Prior to their departure from La Paz, [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] were issued Bolivian uniforms and credentials as captains in the Bolivian Army. Nevertheless, they did receive Bolivian Army insignia. Later, [MARKED OUT] was given by [MARKED OUT] a Bolivian tri-color cap-insignia which he wore double-action automatic pistols. During their activities as instructors and advisors they assumed the role of Bolivian officers, although they were known as foreign advisors to a number of Bolivian officers. [MARKED OUT] said that he learned later he and [MARKED OUT] from becoming involved in the anti-guerilla activities in the field.


7. Despite their apparent status as Bolivian officers, [MARKED OUT] said that they never were given orders by higher-ranking Bolivian officers (One exception to this rule was the order which Colonel [MARKED OUT] issued to [MARKED OUT] on the day Guevara?s execution, if [MARKED OUT]?s story is to be believed.)


8. [MARKED OUT] was assigned to Santa Cruz and [MARKED OUT] was assigned to La Esperanza, where the latter conducted most of the intelligence training. As time went by, [MARKED OUT] own duties gravitated to becoming basically those of an advisor. He said that his case officer was aware of and approved of this development. Among the things which [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] attempted to accomplish was the preservation of the lives of captured guerrillas, for the collection of intelligence about the guerrilla?s locations, as well as for humanitarian reasons. [MARKED OUT] said that he saved the life of Jose Castillo Chavez, traveling for that purpose to Vallegrande from Santa Cruz, where he spoke briefly to Castillo at the Nuestra Senora de Marita Hospital. At this time [MARKED OUT] learned of the intent of [MARKED OUT] of the Rangers to have the prisoner executed. [MARKED OUT] prevailed on Major [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] to take his side. The prisoner was flown to Vallegrande where [MARKED OUT] covered all medical costs and carried out a two-week interrogation. The resulting twenty-page interrogation report provided the Bolivians with a complete concept of the guerrilla strategy, which turned out to be the key to Guevara?s capture, according to [MARKED OUT]. This report was attributed by the Bolivians to be from their own people.


9. This important development was followed by an encounter in late September between a unit led by a Lt. [MARKED OUT] and the remnants of the guerrillas. During this action, a Cuban lieutenant named Miguel; the Bolivian Coco Peredo; and a Bolivian physician name Jose Gutierrez Ardaya were killed. [MARKED OUT] traveled by jeep to Pucara, where the bodies were located, and through the information he had learned from Castillo, he was able to establish that the men were from Guevara?s forward element. Upon his return to Santa Cruz, [MARKED OUT] advised [MARKED OUT] that the 2nd Ranger Battallion should be immediately deployed, with the remaining two weeks of their training cancelled. [MARKED OUT] accepted this advice and the Rangers were moved to Pucara, and the Headquarters of the Eighth Division were moved to Vallegrande. [MARKED OUT] continued in his advisory role, suggesting areas for troop deployment as well as the deployment of the intelligence teams. On the 8th of October, contact was established with Guevara?s remaining forces. (At this time [MARKED OUT] was in Vallegrande and [MARKED OUT] in Esperanza.) On the 8th, Major [MARKED OUT] reported over the radio that ?the chief? had been captured. [MARKED OUT] then flew over the area in a PT-6 carrying with him a PRC-10 radio with which he was able to communicate with the Bolivian forces. He then confirmed that Guevara was ?the chief? who had been captured. He returned to Vallegrande where he told [MARKED OUT] that Guevara had been wounded and captured.


10. That day [MARKED OUT] was sent to Higueras to interrogate the guerrilla prisoners and assembled the captured documents. Since Colonel [MARKED OUT] was planning to fly by helicopter to Higueras on the 9th, [MARKED OUT] asked him on the evening of the 8th if he could accompany him to interrogate Guevara. [MARKED OUT] consulted his staff and agreed. (The helicopter had room only for a pilot and two passengers.) [MARKED OUT] prepared a 100-word message to the [MARKED OUT] in code reporting Guevara?s capture and asking that an Embassy representative be sent to the area to prevail upon the Bolivians to spare Guevara?s life, since he did not believe that he could succeed in doing so. This message was prepared for the scheduled 10 a.m. transmission of 9 October, and was not transmitted to the relay point in Asuncion, Paraguay, until about 10:30 a.m., after [MARKED OUT] arrived in Higueras and set up his radio transmitter an RS-48.


11. [MARKED OUT], [MARKED OUT] and the pilot [MARKED OUT] set out by helicopter from Vallegrande at 7:15 a.m. on the 9th, and arrived in Higueras at about 7:40 a.m. [MARKED OUT] accompanied  [MARKED OUT] and Major [MARKED OUT] when they visited Guevara in the School room which was his improvised jail. Guevara would not answer [MARKED OUT] when spoken to. He was bound, hand and foot, and had a leg wound.


12. [MARKED OUT] and Major [MARKED OUT] then reviewed the captured documents and [MARKED OUT] obtained permission from [MARKED OUT] to photograph all the papers, including Guevara?s diary, and also [MARKED OUT] permission to retain the original accommodation addresses found.


13. While [MARKED OUT] and all the other Bolivian officers (with the exception of a Lieutenant [MARKED OUT] were outside of the village attending to other military affairs, [MARKED OUT] remained in Higueras as the highest ranking ?Bolivian officer?. In this capacity he answered a call received on the military field telephone and answered as Captain [MARKED OUT]. He was given the code numbers 500 and 600 as orders which were to be implemented by command of ?higher authorities?. He said that the connection was not clear and he could not recognize the voice but it could have been that of Major [MARKED OUT]. In any case, [MARKED OUT] said that since it was a line only available to the military he was confident that it was order re-transmitted through military channels. He said that he knew that 500 referred to Guevara, 600 to the word execute and 700 to the preservation of Guevara?s life. These simple codes had been identified to him previously.


14. Upon [MARKED OUT] return, [MARKED OUT] told him of the message and [MARKED OUT] took it as an authentic order and made no effort to have it confirmed. [MARKED OUT] asked if Guevara?s life could be preserved since he had these instructions. [MARKED OUT] replied that his own position would be place in jeopardy if he did not comply. [MARKED OUT] asked him to make the attempt anyway. [MARKED OUT] believes that [MARKED OUT] had already resigned himself to the inevitability of Guevara?s execution. [MARKED OUT] said that it was not in his power to reverse the order. He told [MARKED OUT] that he was well aware of the treatment which Fidel had meted out to Cubans and told him to execute Guevara in any manner which he might choose. [MARKED OUT] said that he had to leave for Vallegrande at 10:00 a.m. and would send a helicopter back to pick up Guevara?s ?body? at 2 p.m., and ?as a friend?, asked that the body be ready. [MARKED OUT] reiterated his request that the order be appealed and agreed to make the attempt, and said he would advise if he were successful.


15. Failing a counter-manding of the order and as the senior ?Bolivian officer? left in Higueras, [MARKED OUT] said he was left with the implementation of the execution. After [MARKED OUT] left, [MARKED OUT] was able to talk to Guevara, who identified [MARKED OUT] either as a Puerto Rican or a Cuban working for U.S. intelligence. He said he made this judgment on the basis of the questions asked and on [MARKED OUT] accent. While [MARKED OUT] was with Guevara; shots were fired in adjoining rooms and [MARKED OUT] later determined that these involved the execution of two other prisoners. Recognizing these shot for what they were, nevertheless, Guevara blanched when [MARKED OUT] confirmed that he too would be executed; although later composing himself.


16. After leaving Guevara, [MARKED OUT] told a sergeant of the order to execute Guevara and entrusted the mission to him. He was told to fire below the head. The order was given to the sergeant at 1:00 p.m., and [MARKED OUT] heard the shots fired at Guevara at 1:20 p.m. At 2:00 p.m., the helicopter returned to Higueras. A Father [MARKED OUT] performed the last rites and Guevara?s remains were strapped on to one of the helicopter?s skids and [MARKED OUT] accompanied them to Vallegrande, where they landed at 2:30 p.m. [MARKED OUT] said that he lost himself quickly in the crowd gathered at the airport, but that [MARKED OUT] took charge of the remains and was photographed. [MARKED OUT] said that the title of the photograph, which appeared in the press gave an incorrect identification of the name [MARKED OUT] used [MARKED OUT].



17. [MARKED OUT] said he reported the executions to Major [MARKED OUT] and the Chief of Operations, [MARKED OUT], and then was taken back to identify the bodies of the three executed guerrillas. They then drove to Santa Cruz with the documents, films and equipment and then flew to La Paz, where [MARKED OUT] contacted his case officer. He was taken to a home where  [MARKED OUT] and other Americans were briefed by him. Everything which he had been able to retain was turned in then to be carried by a special courier to Washington. [MARKED OUT] then flew back to Santa Cruz where a C-130 ordered by General Porter, CINCSOUTH, was to pick him and [MARKED OUT] up for a flight to the Canal Zone. This plane arrived with a flat tire on the 10th or 11th. The U.S. Mission aircraft, a C-54, was then flown to Santa Cruz and he and [MARKED OUT] were flown back to La Paz. After overnighting there, another C-130 carried them to Panama where [MARKED OUT] was asked to relate his story to General Porter. After 2 weeks in Panama, [MARKED OUT] and [MARKED OUT] were documented as GS-16s so that they could board a over-booked military flight to Charlotte, South Carolina. After their arrival there, they journeyed to Miami, where [MARKED OUT] briefed General Cushman. [MARKED OUT] believes that in both high-level briefings he mentioned his own personal role in the execution of Guevara. 


©2008 Nigel Hunt - All Rights Reserved.

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