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."
May 30, 1967
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPCz), Record of Conversation between Head of the International Department of the CPCz Central Committee and Member of the Central Committee of the Bolivian Communist Party, Aldo Flores, Prague
30 May 1967
[Communist Party of Czechoslovakia]
Record of Conversation of the Head of the International Department of the CC CPCz [Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia] with Member of the CC [Central Committee of the] Bolivian CP, Aldo Flores.
Comrade Flores participated as a Bolivian CP delegate to the SED [Socialist Unity Party of (East) Germany] congress in Berlin and then visited the USSR. He wanted to take advantage of this transit through Prague to inform the CC CPCz about recent events in Bolivia and some problems that exist between the Bolivian CP and the Cuban CP. In a meeting with cde. [comrade] Kaderkou, he claimed the following
About three years ago closer cooperation began between the Bolivian CP and the Cuban CP, and this cooperation was mainly focused on preparing the conditions for the development of guerrilla warfare in the southern part of the Latin American continent. Based on the agreement of both parties, centers were established in Bolivia for the training and preparation of guerrilla groups, which would be ready to support any eventual guerrilla movement that erupted in neighboring countries such as Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, and Chile. These agreements were partly the result of negotiations by Gen. Sec. of the Bolivian CP, Mario Monje in Havana and to a large extent through was his personal contacts with Cuban leaders. From these Bolivian centers two years ago guerrilla movements were organized for Peru and Argentina. Both of these movements failed almost immediately after going into action. The relevant parties of the two countries were not informed in advance regarding the preparation and launch of these actions.
Even after this setback, Cuban officials have asked the Bolivian CP to continue to maintain the existing centers and camps and to continue progress in the preparation of guerrilla groups for their eventual need in any country. With the help of Bolivian comrades, several Cuban volunteers arrived in Bolivia to personally direct the preparation and work in the camps. According to the original agreement, the management of all these actions should be in the hands of the Bolivian CP and all actions should be prepared in close agreement between the two parties. Gradually, however, Cuban officials built their own organization in Bolivia, composed entirely of their own people. This organization gradually weakened its contacts with the leadership of the Bolivian CP and made decisions entirely on its own. Meanwhile in Cuba, certain Bolivian students were selected for a special military course for training cadres for guerrilla war. Given that the composition of the student group was very diverse, and that the Bolivian CP wanted party members to partake directly in the training, it asked the Cuban comrades to also welcome for military training two groups composed exclusively of members of the party. These groups travelled to Cuba, but as they were about to return to Bolivia they received instructions in Cuba not to establish contacts with the Bolivian CP after their arrival, but to join forces exclusively with the organization comprised of Cuban officials.
Due to such quite abnormal developments, and when it became clear that the whole thing was out of the hands of the Bolivian CP, Gen. Sec. Monje travelled to Cuba. In Cuba he met with Fidel Castro about the situation that had developed in Bolivia. Fidel Castro said in the meeting that there were Cuban officials in Bolivia who would indeed assume all management activity in their own hands, and he conceded that it could be characterized as fraud by the Cuban party toward Monje. The decision, however, was prompted by a number of factors, the most important of which is that they want to create out of Bolivia a center for Latin American revolution and of guerrilla warfare in the entire southern party of the continent. For these reasons, Bolivia will also be the last country, which is exempt at the current time.
Per the Cuban vision, the liberation of Bolivia can only occur after the liberation of all the neighboring countries. Had the management of all activities been in the hands of the Bolivian CP, and if the revolution had been victorious in Bolivia, it would lead to the Bolivian revolution necessarily acceding to a series of compromises with the USA because, due to Bolivia’s geographical position, it would be very difficult to prevent outside intervention and blockade. It would therefore have led to the Bolivian revolution making agreements with the reactionaries and would thus have slowed the Latin American revolution for many years. These are the circumstances that prompted the Cuban leadership to take control of military operations exclusively in their own hands. Fidel Castro offered Monje the maintenance of the political leadership, but said that the political leadership would be subordinate in all matters to military leadership.
Under the Cuban vision, the guerrilla movements in Latin America are to be developed according to the following scheme: from bases in Bolivia guerrilla movements are to be artificially produced in any country. After some initial skirmishes with the police and military, government reprisals will inevitably reach the cities against all progressive people. There will be mass arrests and even some people will be killed. This situation leaves no other revolutionary path other than to take up arms and head to the mountains to fight alongside the guerrillas.
Currently guerrilla groups of around 60-70 persons are operating in Bolivia. Of these, 25 are Cuban volunteers, another third are members of the Bolivian CP, and the rest are Bolivian students who have studied in Cuba, some members of the former governing party, the MNR, and the movement of former trade union leader Lechín. The Bolivian CP intends to continue to assist the guerrilla movement within its capability – supplying medicines, arms, and propaganda, but it sees in the guerrilla movement not the only possible form of struggle, but only one of the possible forms of struggle in Bolivia.
When PCB leadership was informed in early 1967 that armed action would commence in the first quarter of 1967, the PCB did not consider this a very suitable date, because most mass organizations, especially the trade unions, are still recovering from government persecution that occurred afer the military coup. That is why Jorge Kolle, a member of the Poliboro, was sent to Cuba to revisit the matter with Cuban leadership. In Cuba he was to inform Fidel Castro that the whole matter is not so tragic, but rather is likely a misunderstanding, and that it should suffice to coordinate all actions with the head of the Cuban organization operating in Bolivia once returning. This meeting never took place, and in the meantime armed hostilities commenced. PCB leadership still does not know whether military actions were launched inadvertently or intentionally. (Ed. According to English correspondents, accidental armed confrontation was reported when guerrillas ambushed a military topographic survey group, believing it to be a criminal expedition corps deployed against them.)
After the commencement of armed hostilities, the PCB issued a statement in which it expressed its solidarity with the guerrilla struggle, which the statement described as ‘one form of struggle for national liberation’. We intend to continue supporting the guerrilla group and to ensure their actions are coordinated with the overall activities of the party. In this regard we will seek to clarify the situation with the Cuban comrades, without making recourse to public controversy or accusations of meddling in internal affairs. It is interesting that the Uruguayan CP also issued a statement of support for the guerrilla struggle in Bolivia, even before the Bolivian CP. The Uruguayan statement expresses support primarily for a guerrilla movement in Bolivia, and it does not particularly emphasize the role of the PCB. The Uruguayan statement differs from the Argentine CP declaration, which expresses solidarity with whatever measures ‘the PCB deems necessary in the situation’.
The CC PCB has been fully informed on the overall situation of negotiations by representatives of the PCB in Cuba throughout the beginning of 1967. (One member of the CC, who stands completely with the Cuban position, operates with the guerrillas.) At the CC meeting, the responsibility of individual members for the situation was discussed, and Gen. Sec. Monje himself suggested his removal from office. The CC meeting rejected this proposal, and the question will be decided at the party congress, which is set to meet later this year.
Currently the PCB’s interest when informing about events in Bolivia is the disregard for the position of the party, and that reports had not been presented while completely neglecting the role of the party. According to some reports, a conference of leaders of guerrilla movements in Latin America is to take place this year, to be formally convened by the Venezuelan Douglas Bravo, and this conference is to develop an instrument that would promote various individual parties in all countries that champion the Cuban orientation, focused exclusively on the armed struggle. Detailed information regarding the date and venue of this conference is not yet known.
The head of CPCz’s international department and Aldo Flores, a member of the PCB Central Committee discuss Cuban-sponsored guerrilla warfare in Bolivia. Flores described several years of close collaboration between the Bolivian and Cuban communist parties for the training of guerrilla groups in Bolivia, which had recently gone awry as "Cuban officials built their own organization in Bolivia, composed entirely of their own people."
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