Burial Lessons: From Che to bin Laden

by Jon Lee Anderson

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There are some uncanny analogies between the story of Osama bin Laden’s life and death and that of a another charismatic political outlaw, who, once upon a time, “declared war” on the United States. Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine-Cuban revolutionary and close confidante of Fidel Castro, was no terrorist, but he was a Communist ideologue who espoused violent political change, and who defied America by seeking to start guerrilla wars around the world—to create “one, two, three, many Vietnams” to draw in the U.S. military, sap its strength, and ultimately bring about a new, socialist world order. Guevara’s whereabouts had been a topic of international mystery and intrigued speculation since he had vanished from public view, in Cuba, in 1965; it had been rumored that he might be leading the fledgling guerrilla forces in Bolivia or somewhere else, but nothing was certain. When the U.S. eventually tracked Che down and helped kill him, in Bolivia, there was also a great deal of secrecy about the circumstance of his death and the disposal of his body.

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