Devant la dépouille de «Che» Guevara: le reportage de l’AFP en 1967

Le 10 octobre 1967, le jounaliste de l’AFP Marc Hutten prend cette photo historique de Che Guevara, tué en Bolivie Photo MARC HUTTEN. AFP

Le 10 octobre 1967, le corps du guérillero argentin Ernesto «Che» Guevara, mort la veille, est présenté à la presse dans une morgue improvisée à Villa Grande, dans le sud de la Bolivie, où il a échoué à lancer une nouvelle révolution.

Marc Hutten, journaliste de l’AFP, est témoin de cette scène. Ses clichés en couleur de la dépouille du mythique frère d’armes de Fidel Castro feront le tour du monde.

L’armée bolivienne affirme alors que le «Che» a succombé à ses blessures. On saura plus tard qu’il a été exécuté.

Voici la scène historique survenue il y a 50 ans, telle que l’a décrite Marc Hutten, décédé en 2012, dans une dépêche diffusée le 11 octobre 1967:

Devant le corps de «Ramon»

VALLE GRANDE (Bolivie), 11 octobre 1967 (AFP) – J’ai vu hier après-midi le corps criblé de balles et sans vie d’un guérillero surnommé «Ramon», nom de guerre supposé de Ernesto «Che» Guevara.

Nous étions une trentaine de journalistes, parmi lesquels trois correspondants de presse étrangers seulement, à nous rendre à Valle Grande, une bourgade somnolente sous la canicule du sud est bolivien, pour y constater la mort du plus prestigieux des guérilleros.

Descendu des hauteurs brumeuses de l’aérodrome militaire de La Paz (4.100 mètres) notre «Dakota» s’est posé à Valle Grande à l’heure de la sieste. A l’autre extrémité du bourg aux rues désertes (…) se dresse, à flanc de coteau, une morgue improvisée dans une ancienne étable. De pimpants officiers et quelques soldats en armes nous y accueillent.

Le cadavre d’un homme barbu, les cheveux longs, vêtu seulement d’un pantalon vert olive, git sur un brancard posé sur un évier-table en ciment. Une odeur de formol flotte au-dessus du corps criblé de balles et exsangue, au pied duquel deux autres cadavres ont été jetés à même le sol. Les officiers chargés de lever chacune de nos objections éventuelles concernant l’identité de «Ramon» s’évertuent à signaler la ressemblance, trait par trait, du cadavre avec le guérillero. Le doute n’est plus possible, nous disent-ils : les empreintes digitales du cadavre correspondent à celles de Guevara.

«Ramon» a été mortellement blessé dans la bataille de dimanche dernier, à quelques km de La Higuera, près de Valle Grande. Il a succombé à ses blessures aux premières heures de lundi. «Il n’a pas été achevé», a précisé le colonel Arnaldo Saucedo, commandant le deuxième bataillon de «rangers» en opération dans ce secteur.

– Stupéfaction mêlée d’incrédulité –

«Je suis Che Guevara, j’ai échoué», aurait-il murmuré à l’adresse des soldats qui le faisaient prisonnier. C’est du moins ce qu’affirme le général Alfredo Ovando, commandant en chef des Forces armées boliviennes. Interrogé à ce sujet peu avant, au cours d’une conférence de presse, le colonel Saucedo nous avait pourtant déclaré que «Ramon» n’avait repris connaissance à aucun moment.

Les journalistes qui piétinent aux abords de la morgue, parmi les photographes et les cameramen, font montre d’une stupéfaction mêlée d’incrédulité. L’erreur d’identité paraît cependant impossible.

Un confrère bolivien me dit : «Valle Grande vient de s’inscrire dans l’histoire révolutionnaire de l’Amérique du Sud» …

Le colonel Saucedo, qui prononce une conférence de presse après la présentation des cadavres, affirme qu’il ne reste plus que neuf guérilleros dans tout le sud est bolivien et qu’il n’existe guère d’autres foyers insurrectionnels. Athlétique, le visage barré d’une moustache noire, il parle debout sous l’image pieuse qui orne l’un des murs de la salle d’hôtel où nous sommes réunis.

Un militaire américain assiste à cette conférence. Il ne porte aucun insigne mais sa carrure, son teint rubicond et son battle-dress trahissent sa nationalité. Je l’aborde pour l’interroger en anglais. Il se tourne vers un soldat bolivien pour lui demander, en espagnol, ce qu’on lui veut. A mon adresse, il ajoute : «no comprendo… » et quitte les lieux. Interrogé à son tour, le colonel Saucedo me dit : «Oui, c’est un militaire américain, un instructeur du centre de Santa Cruz. Il est venu ici en observateur. Aucun +béret vert+ américain ne participe aux opérations militaires en Bolivie».

– «Il a laissé un journal» –

Une liste de 33 guérilleros, parmi lesquels plus d’une dizaine de cubains, tués depuis le début des hostilités, le 23 mars dernier, est publiée à Valle Grande.

Le général Ovando ramène la guérilla bolivienne à des proportions aussi réduites qu’inattendues en affirmant que ses effectifs n’ont jamais dépassé la soixantaine d’hommes.

«L’aventure de la guérilla a pris fin, dit-il, comme toute aventure insensée doit prendre fin. Son échec est dû à l’absence de tout appui populaire et à l’aridité du terrain choisi». Il ajoute : «Nous enterrerons Guevara ici même, à Valle Grande».

Le guérillero «Ramon» aura trouvé la mort au fond d’un vallon étroit, à l’issue d’une bataille acharnée, au corps à corps ou presque : les neuf balles qui l’ont atteint ont été tirées d’une distance de 50 mètres.

Il a laissé un journal, dont l’écriture, qui remplit un agenda allemand du 7 novembre 66 au 7 octobre 67 –onze mois exactement- ne permet aucun doute, dit-on, sur l’identité de son auteur. On y trouve une phrase «accablante» pour Régis Debray : «Il a été chargé d’une mission pour le compte de la guérilla… ».

(NDLR : L’écrivain français Régis Debray a été emprisonné et jugé en Bolivie en 1967).

AFP

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