October 8, 1999

Cuba honors Che Guevara, buries former comrades

                  SANTA CLARA, Cuba (Reuters) -- Cuba, remembering the legendary
                  guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara killed in Bolivia 32 years ago, laid the
                  remains of seven of his former comrades to rest Friday alongside the
                  revolutionary's tomb.

                  In a solemn military ceremony watched by Armed Forces Minister General
                  Raul Castro -- brother of President Fidel Castro -- caskets holding the
                  bones of the seven Cuban and Bolivian guerrillas were placed in a
                  mausoleum monument erected to Guevara in the central city of Santa Clara.

                  Santa Clara had been the scene of some of Guevara's most famous combat
                  exploits in Cuba when the Argentine fought in the Revolution that swept
                  Castro to power in 1959.

                  After a military march-past and a series of tributes, including speeches and
                  patriotic poetry and songs, a bugle played a lone lament.

                  "Welcome, heroic combatants for the cause of the Cuban Revolution, eternal
                  glory to Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara!" said Cuban Division General
                  Rogelio Azevedo Gonzalez, who read the formal tribute for the seven.

                  Senior military figures and officials of Cuba's ruling Communist Party, along
                  with relatives of the seven fighters slain in Bolivia, attended the ceremony.

                  The remains of the three Cubans and four Bolivians were brought from
                  Vallegrande, Bolivia, where they were unearthed by Cuban forensic
                  scientists at a formerly secret burial site.

                  Killed Aug. 31, 1967, in a clash with the Bolivian army, these men had
                  formed part of Guevara's guerrilla group that had tried to launch a peasant
                  revolution in the jungles of Bolivia. Guevara was killed several weeks later,
                  in October 1967, after he was captured wounded by the Bolivian army.

                  His body was unearthed in 1997 by Cuban forensic experts from an
                  unmarked grave in Bolivia. From there it was transported to Cuba, where it
                  was enshrined in the specially built mausoleum in Santa Clara in a nationwide
                  commemoration to mark the 30th anniversary of his death.

                  The seven caskets put in the monument Friday joined the remains of 16
                  other former comrades who had previously been interred there since 1997.

                  Thousands of the inhabitants of Santa Clara paid tribute Thursday to the
                  seven by filing past their caskets.