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Cuba Lays to Rest Dispute Over Remains of Che Guevara


HAVANA -- The remains of Che Guevara brought here from Bolivia 10 years ago provided "conclusive" forensic evidence they belonged to the revolutionary leader, state media said Saturday.

0715 01In a lengthy article, the official Granma daily newspaper addressed claims made by an ex-CIA agent who earlier this year claimed to have buried Guevara in a secret grave after he was killed in 1967, offering a clump of his hair for a DNA test to prove it.

Granma said several features of the remains of Guevara "left no room for doubt" they were authentic, including the pronounced bridge over the eyes and prominent frontal lobe of the skull that "characterized" Guevara.

The Cuban government in 1995 announced it had located Che's remains and returned them to Cuba in 1997 for a pomp- and parade-filled extravaganza, ending in their interment at a mausoleum in Cuba honoring Guevara.

In March, former Central Intelligence Agent and Miami Cuban emigre Gustavo Villoldo, 71, a veteran of the failed US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion, said he buried Guevara and two colleagues in October 1967 in a pit in Vallegrande, Bolivia, after cutting a lock of the hair.

Villoldo said he would give the exact coordinates of the grave only to the Guevara family if they requested them.

As additional proof of Guevara's identity, Granma said the remains brought back from Bolivia were missing both hands, which Argentine coroners in 1967 had amputated to send back to their laboratories for fingerprint identification.

"But the determining factors were a mold taken of his teeth for a masking job done for his protection when he left Cuba in the mid 1960s, which together with dental X-rays taken in the 1950s in Mexico ... were conclusive," the daily said.

The medic-turned-guerrilla fighter was killed in October 1967 in Bolivia, where he had gone to foment a leftist uprising.

US Central Intelligence Agency operatives and special forces advisers helped organize a Bolivian military operation, as a result of which he was captured and executed, according to documents made available later.

But much to the dismay of the Cuban exile community, Guevara's death turned him into a cultural icon.

A world-famous 1960 photograph of Guevara taken by Alberto Korda captured the restless spirit of the long-haired revolutionary after he had helped Fidel Castro topple a pro-US regime in Cuba.

Guevara appears in painter Andy Warhol's artwork, is the subject of countless books, articles and the popular 2004 movie, "The Motorcycle Diaries."

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