Ciro Bustos was Che Guevara’s Argentinian lieutenant, fighting beside El Comandante in Bolivia. Here, for the first time, Bustos tells his story.
As a young man, with plans for a career as an artist, he was inspired by the Cuban example, and in particular by the bravery and revolutionary zeal of his compatriot Che Guevara. Bustos went to Havana, was recruited to the cause, and returned to Argentina determined to foment revolution, an ambition that resulted in the disastrous Salta expedition of 1964, in which most of the guerrillas were killed or captured. Bustos’s account of the debacle finally sets the record straight; he was lucky to get out alive.
It was not until 1966 that Bustos was contacted by the Cubans once again and told, ‘Che wants to see you.’ Travelling under false papers, Bustos crossed the border into Bolivia, where Che was in hiding with his guerrilla forces. Che made Bustos his confidante, revealing to him his plans for a continental revolution. The two men shared the hardships of life in the jungle, as the Bolivian forces and the CIA closed in on their camp.
When fighting began, Bustos attempted to escape with Régis Debray only to be captured by local forces and interrogated by the CIA. In this fascinating memoir, Ciro Bustos reveals what really happened in Bolivia in 1967 and who was responsible for Che’s execution.
From scaling the very highest rooftops to political scandal through the eyes of Alexander Cockburn, we bring you our seasonal highlights for 2013.
THE CITY / URBAN EXPLORATION
Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City
Bradley L. Garrett
"Garrett perceives the city like no one else I know. Seen through his eyes, it is newly porous, full of “vanishing points”, “imperfect joinings” and portals – service hatches, padlocked doorways – that you wouldn't usually notice... The city's accessible space extends far down into the earth (sewers, bunkers, tunnels) and far up into the air (skyscrapers, cranes), with the street level only serving as a median altitude." – Robert Macfarlane, Guardian
"[Combines] erudite references (Montesquieu, Walter Benjamin) with compelling photographs of men in hoodies in strange places." – Rowan Moore, The Observer Architecture Books of the Year
Ciro Bustos was 26 and at his in-laws' house for a barbecue one spring Sunday in 1958 when he first heard the voice. It belonged to a fellow Argentinian, a doctor four years his senior who was fighting alongside Fidel Castro in the mountains of south-eastern Cuba.
As he listened to the radio, the young artist was struck by the contrast between the grandiloquence of the Cuban and the quiet, almost apologetic tones of the Argentinian.
"The way Che spoke, the way he answered questions, was totally different from Castro," says Ciro, whose recollection of the broadcast has not been blunted by the intervening half-century.
"There was no bombast, no prima donna attitude. It was like talking to your brother, so normal and so calm. That was what moved me so much."
The interview Radio El Mundo carried that Sunday proved a siren call. Che Guevara's voice – and the political struggle he embodied – would lead Bustos to Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Algeria and back to Argentina before the disastrous Bolivia expedition of 1967 that would cost Che his life and blacken Bustos's name for four decades.
Until publication of his new memoir, Che Wants to See You, Bustos had been seen by many as the man who betrayed Guevara and his brothers-in-arms by sketching their faces for his interrogators, who caught him after he marched out of the Bolivian jungle on Guevara's orders.
As neoliberal policies and monetary hegemony continue to dominate around the globe, protests for democracy and against the political elite are widespread. It is, yet again, kicking off everywhere.
With such an incredible history of grassroots protest in South America, it's no surprise that Brazilians and Chileans are the latest to take to the streets in mass demonstrations against corruption and their political leaders. In Brazil, what started out as a demonstration against bus and train fare increases turned into a much bigger protest about poor public services and the exorbitant cost of next year's World Cup. Meanwhile, in Chile's capital, mostly peaceful demonstrations erupted into battles with riot police as protesters demand education reform and wider distribution of Chile's wealth.
The following reading list from Verso suggests books to help us understand the multifaceted histories of uprising in Central and South America, as well as grasp the unfolding scenes of protest in recent weeks.
Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions
By Paul Mason
Originally published in 2012 to wide acclaim, this updated edition, Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere, includes coverage of the most recent events in the wave of revolt and revolution sweeping the planet.
BBC journalist and author Paul Mason combines the anecdotes gleaned through first-hand reportage with political, economic and historical analysis to tell the story of today’s networked revolution.
Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere not only addresses contemporary struggles, it provides insights into the future of global revolt.