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Thirty years ago on October 8 1967 gunfire echoed through a steep ravine of the Andes Mountains in southern Bolivia The guerrilla band led by Ernesto Che Guevara a chief lieutenant in the Sierra Maestra author of a book on guerilla tactics one-time president of Cubas National Bank and later Minister of Industries under Castro and who renounced his Cuban citizenship and set off to devote his services to the revolutionary cause in other lands was pinned down and surrounded by US-trained Bolivian Army Rangers Less than a year earlier Guevara and a team of cadres had secretly traveled from Cuba to Bolivia to launch a guerrilla war hoping to topple Bolivias pro-US military government Guevara had gone up into the mountains with about 50 supporters Within months they were discovered by Bolivian troops and an intense pursuit started Trying to escape the government forces Guevara divided his supporters into two groups and was never able to reunite them His diary records that by late August his group was exhausted demoralized and down to 22 men On August 31 the other group was ambushed and wiped out crossing a river On September 26 Bolivian army units ambushed Ches remaining forces near the isolated mountain huts of La Higuera The guerrillas found no way out of the encirclement Several died in the shooting Guevara himself was wounded in the leg He and two other fighters were captured on October 8 and taken to an old one-room schoolhouse in La Higuera The next day October 9 a helicopter flew in a man called Felix Ramos who wore the uniform of a Bolivian officer Ramos took charge of the prisoner Two hours later Che Guevara and both other guerrillas were executed The weapons and equipment of the killers were American-made The Bolivian officer who took Guevara prisoner had been trained at Fort Bragg at a US school for army coups murder and counterinsurgency And the man in charge
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