Neither guerrilla nor folklorist | Culture

Neither guerrilla nor folklorist | Culture

Oh, the excesses of propaganda. I read in an entry in English of the Wikipedia that the German-Argentine Tamara Bunke (1937-1967) collected "one of the most valuable collections of Bolivian music". Tamara, under the identity of Laura Gutiérrez, lived more than two years in La Paz, working as a spy sleeping at the service of Castroism; among other crafts, he pretended to be a folklorist. She was really fond of Argentine folklore, she sang acceptably, she played accordion and guitar, she even bought a Telefunken professional tape recorder. She paid the price and was accepted as a collaborator (without pay) in the Ministry of Education. But he made more social relationships than field work. Apart from being false, to attribute the merits of folklorist reeks of racism, to automatically value the white-skinned foreigner over native scholars.

You already know that Bunke has gone down in history as Tania the guerrilla, companion of Ernesto Che Guevara in his ill-fated last warrior expedition. His name was used profusely in the extinct German Democratic Republic and can still be seen on Cuban streets. It is whispered that he had a love affair with Ernesto and there is even a perverse variation: he obeyed orders from the KGB and the Stasi, to make the Guevarist adventure fail.

Everything is lies, fed by a dozen books and documentaries. Hagiographies and fanciful texts that -as well as parts of Che's extensive biographies signed by Paco Ignacio Taibo or Jon Lee Anderson- they are dismantled by a Bolivian author with much less projection. Gustavo Rodríguez Ostria He is a diplomat and historian, specialized in the indigenous question and the guerrilla in Bolivia.

Rodríguez Ostria, with access to unexplored archives and interviewing the (few) survivors, demolishes many myths in Tamara, Laura, Tania (RBA) Well educated by Cuban security, she knew how to blend in with the Bolivian bourgeoisie, pretending to be an Argentine with scarce resources and a conservative ideology. Until, excited by the imminence of the landing of Che, made mistakes. To get legal papers, he married a young tarambana who, wonderfully, immediately got a scholarship to study in Bulgaria! As if that was not extraordinary enough, he acquired a jeep Toyota, an expensive and striking vehicle. The worst: there the police found a notebook with the coordinates of their contacts, friends who suffered brutal interrogations and searches.

Its mission was to maintain urban bases but it had to be incorporated hastily into the rural guerrilla after being discovered, to the dismay of the combatants: faithful to machismo-Leninism, they did not want women in their ranks. Tania, her name of war, was relegated to the hangover, the squad of sick or unreliable men who delayed the marches. He had no right to a rifle, which was what distinguished the true guerrilla. Soon it was seen that, despite her warlike ardor, Tania could not stand the harsh conditions of life in the bush. According to Rodríguez Ostria, although he carried a Browning pistol, he did not intervene in any of the skirmishes.

He fell into an ambush while crossing a river. Her feminine condition was about to save her: some soldiers avoided firing her; was shot down by a single bullet. Then, yes, when they rescued her corpse, they took it out on her. You may remember Bolivian soldier, the poem by Nicolás Guillén. Music by Paco Ibáñez, was also interpreted by Ángel Parra or Joaquín Sabina. That's how it ended: "But you will learn Bolivian insurance / soldiers / that a brother is not killed / that a brother is not killed".

Until Rodriguez Ostria's book, nobody had inquired about the feelings of those Bolivian soldiers. They were poorly trained recruits who saw their military service extended for the sake of an undeclared war. His companions had been the first to die, riddled by strangers who, later found out, included Argentines, Peruvians and Cubans. They simply could not do anything but hate the "brothers" who shot them.


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