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  HOME | Ecuador (Click here for more)

Ecuador President Correa Visits "Che" Guevara's Mausoleum in Cuba

HAVANA -- Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa visited the mausoleum of guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, wrapping up his official visit to the island.

After three days packed with activities in Havana, where he met with officials, participated in a conference and took part in one of the official events marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, Correa traveled on Saturday to Santa Clara, located some 270 kilometers (167 miles) east of the capital, to visit the legendary Argentine-born guerrilla leader's mausoleum.

The Ecuadorian leader ended his visit without meeting with former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Ecuadorian officials told Efe.

"I haven't seen him. I'd love to see him, but I don't know the state of his health," Correa said Friday in response to a question from reporters about whether he would be meeting with Fidel.

Fidel Castro, who is 82 and still convalescing from a serious illness that struck him in July 2006, officially gave up Cuba's presidency in February 2008 in favor of his younger brother, Gen. Raul Castro.

Che Guevara - born June 14, 1928 - met Fidel Castro in Mexico in 1956 and joined the armed expedition that traveled to the island and started an uprising in the Sierra Maestra mountains that eventually led to the overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

During the first few years of the revolution, Che, who was granted Cuban citizenship for his efforts on behalf of the revolutionary cause, was named head of the Central Bank and later of the Industry Ministry.

His plans to spread socialist revolution throughout Latin America took him to Bolivia in 1966. It was there that he was captured by the Bolivian army on Oct. 8, 1967, and taken to a school in the town of La Higuera, where he was executed the following day.

Che's body was mutilated and buried at a site that remained secret until retired Bolivian Gen. Mario Vargas Salinas revealed in November 1995 that the remains had been buried in a mass grave in Vallegrande.

In late June 1997, the remains of Che and seven of his guerrilla comrades were found in a mass grave on the side of the old airstrip in Vallegrande.

That same year, to mark the 30th anniversary of his death, the Cuban government inaugurated a memorial to Che and his comrades in Santa Clara.

The Che Memorial, which consists of a three-meter-high (almost 10-foot) bronze statue created by Cuban sculptor Jose Delarra, has been visited by more than 1 million people since its inauguration.

The statue depicts Guevara with his arm in a sling, and it was fashioned from a photo taken in Santa Clara in December 1958, on the eve of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

The remains of Che and his comrades lie at the foot of the monument.


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