Cuba honors Che Guevara, buries former comrades
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
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,
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.