ROME -- Former Cuban guerrilla Daniel Alarcon Ramirez accused the communist island's leader, Fidel Castro, of "betraying" Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the orders of Moscow, which considered him "a very dangerous personality for their imperialist strategies."
Alarcon Ramirez, known as "Benigno," told Corriere della Sera that Che's death "was due to a machination for which Fidel Castro and the Soviet Union are responsible."
Benigno is one of the three guerrillas in Che's band who after their leader's execution on Oct. 8, 1967, in Bolivia managed to elude pursuit by Bolivian troops and escape to Chile.
"The Soviets considered Che to be a very dangerous personality for their imperialist strategies and Fidel yielded for reasons of state, given that Cuba's survival depended on the help of Moscow. And he eliminated a comrade ... Che was the leader most loved by the people," he said.
Benigno said that Che and his outfit of guerrillas wanted to export the Cuban Revolution to other nations, but they were abandoned in the Bolivian jungle.
"Che went to meet his death knowing that he had been betrayed," Benigno said.
The former guerrilla joined commander Camilo Cienfuegos' group at age 17 after the troops of dictator Fulgencio Batista burned his farm in Sierra Maestra and killed his 15-year-old wife Noemi, who was eight months pregnant.
He said that he could shoot better than anyone else, but he did not know what socialism was and that Che "taught (me) everything."
"It wasn't easy to gain his confidence, but he was an honorable and good man. He was the only one among the leaders who paid out of his own pocket for the car he used," Benigno, who lives in Paris, said.
The nearly 70-year-old former guerrillas said that Cienfuegos and Che "overshadowed Fidel" and that there were differences within the group of leaders.
"Cienfuegos died in a mysterious accident and I was with Guevara in the Congo when Fidel made public a letter in which Che renounced any (government) post and Cuban nationality. Che began to kick the radio, shouting: 'Look at where the cult of personality leads,'" Benigno said.
When they returned to Havana, Castro proposed that they go fight in Bolivia after guaranteeing them the support of the communists there, coverage by secret agents and the training of new guerrilla columns, but when they arrived "we discovered that the Bolivian Communist Party didn't support us maybe on Moscow's order."
Che was captured and killed, while Benigno and his comrades Leonardo "Urbano" Tamayo and Harry "Pombo" Villegas managed to escape "with the help of Salvador Allende, the president of the Chilean Senate, and get to Chile."
From that moment forward, Benigno began to become disillusioned seeing as how Urbano was arrested and Pombo was made a general.
"I began a double life" that lasted, he said, until he fled to Paris in 1996.