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Arrival to Bolivia (1966)
Che Guevara arrived in the capital of Bolivia "La Paz" disguised with the help of the Cuban secret services as a middle aged businessman who worked for the "Organisation of American States". Shaving off his beard and apart of his head, as well as dying some of his hair white. A few days later he meets up with some fellow Cuban comrades and they travel to Nachazu, a vast, harsh rain forest were life is extremely difficult. Nevertheless Guevara is able to set up a strong base camp there, and with more arrivals of Cuban and Bolivians to the camp, his plans are immediately being executed.
National Liberation Army
The leader of the Bolivian Communist Party Mario Monje wanted to assume command of the armed struggle, however Che in his experience did not see best fit for a non-guerrilla to take leadership of an armed struggle. Therefore there is a split between the party and the guerrilla, despite this more and more Marxists and leftists continue to arrive and join the Guerrillas, as well as 20 additional Cuban-trained Bolivian soldiers arriving to the base camp, soon adding the rebel army up to 70.
Between January and February of 1967 the guerrillas scored several victories against Bolivian army regulars who were no match to the skill and tactics of the Bolivian-Cuban force despite being superior in numbers. It was after these early spring of successes that the Bolivian army began to question the true size of the guerrilla force, despite its defeat the President ordered the increase of troops into the harsh rain forests to destroy the rebels.
The Battle of hearts and minds
The US government persuades President René Barrientos to initiate a propaganda war against the guerrillas, despite the attempts the guerrillas were able to win over many peasants by setting up health clinics, giving food and money to them. In return many peasants and aided and even joined the rebels, setting up networks throughout the Ñancahuazú region.
Che Guevara having split with the Communist Party of Bolivia now needed to count of foreign aid in order to fuel the Bolivian Revolution he did this with the help of Tania Bunke the East German spy as well as French Communist Regie Dubray he sends important messages and needs for the guerrillas, raising international funds for weapons, food and clothing. In March Fidel Castro is able to send 15 more Cuban soldiers as well as Tania moblising a strong much needed force of over 45 men made up of Bolivians, Peruvians and Chileans straight to the Guerrilla bases in Nancahuazu. The rebels now had a large size of 130 soldiers, well armed and well trained.
Time and time again the Bolivian regulars were crushed, no match for Guevara's guerrillas. Mutiny and defections in the army became rumpt, where at one point an entire platoon made of 60 men marched into hostile territory just to surrender to the guerrilla forces.
The much needed help of the US to Bolivia was growing impatient, the loss of nearly 100 men to the guerrillas convinced the United States that special trained forces needed to take on the rebel army, they began to train Bolivian commandos in rain forest warfare and tactics. A massive force of 600 rangers was mustered, fortunate for the rebels though Tania was able to send firsthand information about the foot mobiles, and strategy giving time for Che to prepare for a huge encounter with the Bolivian rangers.
In Peru the Communist party had become very influential and influenced by Che Guevara and guerrilla warfare, revolution soon spread across the country and hundreds of Communists spilled into Bolivia to assist the guerrilla.
Spring Offensive (1967)
The increasing serious of the situation baffled Guevara, it would mean his small force of 300 facing the full brunt of 600 Bolivian rangers, and it was during this weeks Che doubled his efforts in finding more men and supplies. He made traps and strengthened defences and positions, increased morale in his men and promised them victory. The Bolivian offensive was initiated, Guevara allowed the rangers to venture deeper into the rain forests cutting several battalions off from the command post and violently picking them off, with the repetition of these tactics of separation and ambush as well as psychological warfare, within ten days both sides had suffered casualties. It was during the zenith of the battle that 50 Peruvian guerrillas began to flood into the battle inflicting heavy losses on the Bolivian commandos. By the end of April the Bolivian rangers pulled out having 400 soldiers dead another 100 wounded, the guerrillas had suffered the death of 150 and 40 more wounded.
Second Spring Offensive
The major defeat of the CIA-trained Bolivian rangers came as a shock not only to the President of Bolivia but the United States as it damaged the reputation of the organisation of the CIA and American intelligence as a whole. Despite the incredible losses of the rangers President Barrientos thought he had the rebels suffocating and decided to launch another offensive four weeks later. This time 1500 men were sent, the plan was to surround the entire region and starve the rebels out. But this too proved to be a great loss due to the local peasants aiding and supplying the guerrillas with all essentials. The soldiers were constantly harassed by the rebels and moral was completely low, 34 rangers defected to the side of the rebels. Only skirmishes took place as the government forces could not even find the well hid rebels. The offensive ended after only two weeks.
Guerrilla Summer Offensive (1967)
The twin defeats by the revolutionaries now although still greatly outnumbered encouraged Che to launch a rebel offensive against governmental forces. The guerrillas were now made up of 800 strong, Bolivians and Peruvians made up the bulk of the army, Ernesto wished to march on La Paz and not take any risks of mass blood shed. Before doing this he needed to instruct the local people in Marxist ideology and foco tactics.
Che Guevara wished to spread pure Marxist ideology among the poor peasant population and also win recruits to his guerrilla forces. Teaching them how to read and write were key like he did in Cuba during the revolution. He set up schools and free health clinics, winning the majority of the peasants in rural Bolivia. His promotion of revolution in the rain forests of Bolivia were now reaching a wide scale in the international community as well as Latin America.
The near destruction of the entire CIA trained Bolivian commandos was a complete embarrassment and serious danger to the United States government. The US had no choice but to send in their own forces, combining Delta force with Navy seals, sending them into rural Bolivia. Che was about to come face to face with humanity's enemy.
American Special Forces enter Bolivia (1968)
The humiliating defeat of the special trained Bolivian rangers came to a shock to the United States and caused them to begin sending in additional direct forces. This included the CIA, who also sent in Cuban-American agents to help fight the hispanic Communists.
Latin American Tet Offensive
Guevara was extremely impressed by the Vietnamese tactics in the Tet offensive and decided to launch his very own. He summed up a huge force consisting of Bolivians, Cubans and Peruvians numbering up to 20, 000 strong, initiating an attack all around Bolivia's major cities.