Vice President of Venezuela Tareck El Aissami will travel to Bolivia to honor the 50-year anniversary of the death of Argentine mass murderer Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Bolivian President Evo Morales has confirmed.
In a press conference in La Paz, Morales confirmed that El Aissami would be present at the tribute scheduled to take place next week, alongside Nicaguaran officials and Guevara’s remaining family.
However, the event has caused controversy in Bolivia with the country’s army veterans who fought against and ultimately killed Guevara, claiming they will not participate in any tribute.
“We will not attend the commemorations because we think it has become rather political. How can we pay homage to them [the Cuban guerrillas]?” said Mario Moreira, a representative for Bolivia’s veterans group. “The Bolivian state, which represents the people, has the obligation to pay homage to us, we defended the nation and 59 soldiers gave their lives.”
Despite becoming a prominent figure in popular culture, Guevara was a guerilla fighter who murdered thousands of political dissidents in his quest to impose communism on Latin America.
Morales has responded to the criticism by suggesting the event is a chance to “heal the wounds” between the two countries, adding that both Guevara and the Bolivian Armed Forces were “born anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists” and should therefore attend.
However, Moreira maintained that Guevara was “a foreigner who had caused pain and grief to Bolivian families.”
“If Che had won, our country would be different. Thanks to us we have legally constituted governments,” he said.
Since the election of Morales as president in 1998, Bolivia has ideologically moved towards the far-left, forging close allies with dictatorships in Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran.
El Aissami, who was appointed as Venezuela’s Vice President in January by socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, has been designated by United States Department of Treasury as a prominent drug trafficker under the Drug Kingpin Act with strong ties a range of terrorist organizations including the Lebanese-Iranian terror group Hezbollah, the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Mexican Zetas drug cartel, and allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.