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companero che .com - the truth about Ernesto Che Guevara
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      - Algeria  
          - Congo  


Che?s decision to join the rebel groups in Congo was made some months before he actually arrived there. At that time (1965) he was definitely disappointed with USSR policy toward Cuba and Africa, astonished with his cold reception in China in March 1965, there was even some rough time in his friendship with Fidel. Che realized that he was more man of action then politician and his return to an active revolutionary was triggered again in Congo.


On 1st April 1965 with another personal image, in order to avoid being recognized, and with a passport in the name of Ramn Bentez, Che leaves Cuba for Congo to give his contribution to the revolutionary struggle in this African country. He arrives first at Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, and prepares his clandestine entry into Congo Lopoldville (Kinshasa).


"To be frank, I was afraid that my offer of support might cause extreme reactions, and that some of the Congolese or the friendly government of Tanzania might ask me to stay away."


On 24th April 1965 after sailing across Lake Tanganyika, he arrives at Kibamba, in Congolese territory. Almost as soon as he had arrived, he was felled by an acute tropical fever which damaged his fragile health even more than expected. Due to the climate, he suffered constant asthma attacks coupled with loss of body weight. He was surprised and annoyed with organisational structure of the armed struggle, but he was unable to change anything. The Congolese fighters unearthed drunkenness, dissipation and laziness; and absolutely no disposition to fight or even resist.

The attack on the town of Bendera in south Congo in July 1965 was a military disaster, it also exposed Cuban then secret involvement in the fight. After that defeat, Che held a meeting with Laurent Kabila, head of the rebels, and tried to present the problem of the military tactics. The situation improved slightly, but still quite a few disappointed Cubans from Che?s camp wanted to leave.


Che was gradually losing his self-control; his outbursts became more frequent. By September, his involvement in armed struggle was definitely confirmed by CIA and South African, causing a diplomatic embarrassment for Cuba. Che was persistent in his attempts to restructure the Congolese combatants, but was slowly getting disenchanted with the efforts. By October it was evident that the rebel groups were disintegrating anyway.


Che?s state of mind was also affected by his health, which was deteriorating day by day. He also had a problems with low morale which was affecting Cuban camp as the time passed. In October, it was obvious that the Cubans would leave ? situation was deteriorating daily, not even Che could have denied it. On the diplomatic front, Fidel Castro made a few moves suggesting that Cuban involvement was nearing the end. But Che was adamant, not ready yet to capitulate. He wanted to stay behind and help the struggle.


After a couple of weeks he left Congo for good. The real reason for his departure is not fully known, although it is suspected that his friends, Fidel and Ben Bella, managed to persuade the stubborn revolutionary to see the sense.

<- Che in Algeria Che arrives in Bolivia ->

A detailed chronology of Che's life you can find
in this book "A Brave Man" on Cuba Directo website


©2008 Nigel Hunt - All Rights Reserved.

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