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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 07, 1967

COMMUNIST PARTY OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA, RECORD OF CONVERSATION WITH SECRETARY AND MEMBER OF THE POLITBORO OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF BOLIVIA, JORGE KOLLE, PRAGUE

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    PCB Politburo member Jorge Kolle Cueto asks on 7 March 1967 to inform the Czechoslovak Communist Party, "on behalf of the CC of the Bolivian CP," regarding "the situation in Bolivia… and his recent meeting with Fidel Castro." After four pages of discussion regarding the depressing internal political situation under 1964 coup leader, General René Barrientos, Kolle announced that "the party must necessarily prepare for the possibility of armed struggle in order to participate in the attempt to overthrow the current regime together with other leftist forces."
    "Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Record of Conversation with Secretary and Member of the Politboro of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bolivia, Jorge Kolle, Prague," March 07, 1967, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Inv.č. 94, ka. 74, Komunistická strana Československa, Ústřední výbor, Kancelář 1, tajemníka ÚV KSČ Antonína Novotného-II. Č, Národní archiv, Prahu. Obtained by Thomas Field with help from Vlasta Měšťánková; translated by Jiri Macek. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/123808
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7 March 1967

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[Communist Party of Czechoslovakia]

Record of Conversation with secretary and member of the Politboro of the Bolivian CP [Communist Party] CC [Central Committee] Jorge Kolle

[Prague, Czechoslovakia]

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Cde. [Comrade] Kolle passed through Prague after previously visiting Havana and Moscow.  During his stay in the ČSSR for undergoing a medical examination, he prepared for a shorter study period to deliberate on the issues related to the role and status of the parties in the implementation of a new control system.  Under this program, he visited the South Bohemian Region.  In a conversation with the international staff, he reported the following:

On behalf of the CC of the Bolivian CP, he would take advantage of his stay in the ČSSR to report on the situation in Bolivia and the situation and future prospects of the Bolivian CP.  The PCB assumes that after the break in relations between Bolivia and the ČSSR, and the possibility of direct information greatly diminished, it is necessary to inform you about some new phenomena in the political life of the country.  Cde. Kolle also reported on his recent meeting with Fidel Castro

[Four pages of discussion follows regarding the internal situation in Bolivia.]

The Situation in the PCB

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[…]Given the situation in the country, the party must necessarily prepare for the possibility of armed struggle in order to participate in the attempt to overthrow the current regime together with other leftist forces.  Training of Bolivian comrades is done both in Cuba and in the USSR.  The party has an interest in ensuring that the armed struggle in Bolivia is not controlled by the pro-Chinese oriented individuals, or people who occupy a neutral position.  Regarding the preparations for armed struggle, the party leadership acts very judiciously; the party does not want to take hasty action, and it does not under any circumstances want to repeat a similar situation as to what occurred in Venezuela and Guatemala.  It is not yet decided whether members of the CC will participate directly in leading the armed struggle, or if such tasks will be entrusted to other comrades.  Other groups are preparing for armed struggle against the Barrientos government, but cde. Kolle did not comment further on that.  He merely remarked that the initiation of armed action in Bolivia is also in line with the continental concept of the Cuban comrades, who believe that the emergence of other revolutionary outbreaks in LA would reduce the pressure on Cuba.

From the way cde. Kolle spoke about preparations for the launch of armed struggle, it can be concluded that these actions could occur during the first half of 1967.  The PCB has only informed the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] and our party of these preparations.  It seems that most of the plans have been drawn up in Cuba and that the Soviet comrades were also informed of the entire event from the outset.

Information on his meeting with Fidel Castro

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In conclusion, cde. Kolle reported on his recent meeting with Fidel Castro and about some of his views on world affairs and the situation in Latin America.

F. Castro characterized the current policy of the Chinese CP as fascistic while adding that the USSR makes mistakes as well.  In particular, he felt that in Vietnam there is some hesitation and the possibility of retreat in confronting the imperialists on the part of the USSR and certain other socialist countries.  Contradictions in the international communist movement and the Sino-Soviet controversy allows the imperialists to do what they want with impunity and attack one of the socialist countries without receiving proper retribution.  Nonetheless, Fidel Castro expressed concern that under existing conditions Cuba would also share the same fate.  Cuba must therefore continue to increase its defensive capabilities, because it must rely only on its own forces.  This is reflected in the country’s overall economic situation, its feeding of the population, etc.  While the adage goes ‘guns eat away butter’ was coined for a different situation, in Cuba today we prefer to have guns than to have butter.  F. Castro stated directly that, due to the fact that Cuba is not a member of the Warsaw Pact, it is neither under the protection of Soviet missiles nor are they sure whether the socialist camp would risk World War III over Cuba.

According to F. Castro, socialist countries prefer their own national interests to the interest of internationalism, and he provided the example of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Romania and the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany], while Cuba broke off these contacts even though it needed economic relations with the FRG for industrial development.  In another context he also mentioned that socialist countries are maintaining diplomatic relations with Latin American governments that suppress the armed revolutionary movement in their own countries (Colombia, Venezuela) or providing economic aid and loans to anti-popular bourgeois governments (Chile) thereby helping them maintain their political prestige and disorientation of the popular and revolutionary forces.  To this Kolle added that he was merely relaying Fidel’s opinions and that the foregoing makes clear that Fidel does not understand the basic tenets of peaceful coexistence.

As to the eventual meeting of Latin American Communist Parties, Fidel Castro expressed a rather dubious statement that the meeting would help to remove existing inconsistencies, but on the contrary it would only deepen them and give rise to even greater disunity.  The results of the conference of Latin American CPs in December 1964 in Cuba was said to have accomplished nothing.  Cuba is respecting the basic norms of relations between the parties in Latin America, but will continue to maintain contact with all the revolutionary forces, especially those who are led by a sincere desire to make revolution in their own countries.

x

Although it is difficult to assess the potential prospects for armed struggle in Bolivia, there are still certain circumstances which must be taken into account.  Due to Bolivia’s geographical position, it is very unlikely that under the current situation in Latin America a revolutionary movement could win before being rapidly liquidated with the help of some form of intervention by neighboring countries.  The Barrientos government maintains very close contacts with neighboring armies in Argentina and Peru, whose military assistance in the case of threats to the current regime may play an important role.

The Bolivian CP focused on the eventual possibility of launching armed struggle a few years ago.  At that time, the project was prepared in close collaboration with the Cuban comrades.  The event was discovered and liquidated by the MNR government.  At that time, the Argentine CP and the Chilean CP stood quite skeptical about the plans.  The chairman of the Argentine CP, cde. Codovilla, and the Gen. Sec. of the Chilean CP, cde. Corvalán, had personally warned cde. Monje (Gen. Sec. of the Bolivian CP) of the unreality of plans like this.

In the current situation we can assume that the PCB is able to take wider armed action on their own against the government, but it is quite unlikely that this movement would be successful, and in particular that it could stay in power.

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