December 29, 1998

Cuba honors guerrilla hero ``Tania'' before burial

                  SANTA CLARA, Cuba (Reuters) -- Thousands of Cubans paid their last
                  respects on Tuesday to "Tania the Guerrilla," the only woman to fight with
                  legendary leftist rebel Ernesto "Che" Guevara on his last, fateful revolutionary
                  mission in 1967.

                  The remains of "Tania," whose real name was Haydee Tamara Bunke Bider,
                  were flown in an urn from Havana early on Tuesday to the central city of
                  Santa Clara.

                  Along with the remains of nine other slain rebels, including Cubans and
                  Bolivians, they were displayed to the public, decked in national flags, in a
                  civic building. Crowds lined the streets and filed past the remains.

                  "Tania"'s bones were uncovered in September in the remote corner of
                  Bolivia where Guevara's band was hunted down and killed by soldiers
                  during an abortive attempt to export Cuban-style revolution to South

                  The guerrillas' remains were to be buried on Wednesday with state honors at
                  a mausoleum in Santa Clara already holding the remains of Guevara and
                  other members of his band in Bolivia.

                  The Argentine-born Guevara-- a medical doctor who was Fidel Castro's
                  right-hand man in Cuba's Jan. 1, 1959, revolution-- was killed in October
                  1967 in Bolivia. His remains were recovered last year and returned to Cuba.

                  "Tania" was born in Argentina of German parents but moved to Cuba in
                  1961. She died in Bolivia when her group was ambushed by soldiers on
                  Aug. 31, 1967. Cuban specialists found her bones about two-thirds of a
                  mile (1 km) away from where they unearthed Guevara's remains.

                  The ceremony in Santa Clara, a city dedicated to Guevara, was timed to
                  coincide with this week's official celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the
                  Cuban Revolution.

                  On Dec. 29, 1958, Guevara's rebel column was attacking Santa Clara in the
                  last, decisive rebel victory before dictator Fulgencio Batista fled and Castro
                  took power.

                   Copyright 1998 Reuters.