May 1, 1998

                Guevara felt 'betrayed' by Castro

                 LA PAZ, Bolivia - Cuban revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara
                 spoke bitterly of comrade-in-arms Fidel Castro in his final hours,
                 according to a never-before-revealed account of the eve of his
                 execution. "Fidel betrayed me," he told his captors.

                 Guevara, caught and executed by Bolivian army troops in 1967 as he
                 tried to export Cuba's revolution, also surrendered a diary to Bolivian
                 officer Jaime Niño de Guzman in which he rendered a fiery communist
                 manifesto for all of South America.

                 "We make our voices heard for the first time," one entry in the
                 handwritten journal declared. "We have to reach all the corners of this
                 continent with the echo of our cry for rebellion.

                 "We rise today having exhausted all possibilities of a peaceful fight to
                 show through our example the road to follow."

                 Niño de Guzman, a retired air force general newly named Bolivia's
                 ambassador to Austria, spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday.

                 While he has talked publicly previously about his role in Guevara's last
                 days, the interview marked the first revelation of some of the
                 revolutionary's final words - and of an exchange of gifts between the
                 two men, captor and captive.

                 Three decades later, Guevara is revered as a revolutionary hero in
                 Cuba and remains a mythic figure across Latin America, where his
                 bearded likeness can be seen on everything from T-shirts to truck

                 Niño de Guzman met the Argentina-born Guevara on Oct. 9, 1967,
                 after the guerrilla leader had been injured and captured by Bolivian
                 troops at Quebrada Vado del Yeso, 435 miles southeast of La Paz.

                 Then a helicopter pilot, Niño de Guzman was sent to the village where
                 Guevara and other survivors of the guerrilla band were being held.

                 He met the guerrilla in a small room, surrounded by Bolivian soldiers.
                 He lit Guevara's pipe for him, and the two struck up a conversation.

                 According to Niño de Guzman, Guevara told his captors he had
                 favored starting a guerrilla front in Peru instead of Bolivia - but came to
                 Bolivia on Castro's insistence.

                 Guevara also complained that support from Cuba and from the Bolivian
                 Communist Party broke down early in his ill-fated guerrilla campaign

                 More than once, the defeated revolutionary declared: "'Fidel betrayed

                 "Nearly all of Guevara's actions and words amounted to a wish to die,"
                 Niño de Guzman recalled. He quoted Guevara as telling him: "I'm worth
                 more dead than alive to you and Fidel."

                 A Cuban-born CIA agent also tried to talk to Guevara, Niño de
                 Guzman said.

                 Guevara spat at the man, saying, "I don't talk to traitors."

                 Niño de Guzman said he gave Guevara some tobacco, and the
                 wounded guerrilla took a brown-covered booklet out of his boot and
                 gave it to him.

                 When Guevara's skeleton was exhumed last year from its unmarked
                 grave in Bolivia for a hero's burial in Cuba, with Castro presiding,
                 scraps of the tobacco were still in his jacket pocket.

                 The booklet was Guevara's proclamation to Latin Americans, and Niño
                 de Guzman disclosed its existence for the first time. He said he hadn't
                 wanted to release it until now.

                 After Guevara was shot by order of the army high command, Niño de
                 Guzman flew the body to its first burial site. He showed the AP photos
                 of the bloodied corpse, many of which had been published before.

                 In the diary, Guevara acknowledged the risk of his work: "Our lives will
                 be the witnesses of the seriousness of the struggle we have taken on
                 that will only end with victory or death."

                 "We declare ourselves anti-imperialist fighters," he wrote, and repeated:
                 "Victory or death."

                 By The Associated Press