Carlos Coello, the Tuma of Che’s guerrilla in Bolivia

June, 2024: «With him, I lost an inseparable partner of all the last years, of a faithfulness to all tests and whose absence I feel almost like a son’s»; with great pain, Comandante Ernesto Guevara wrote in his campaign diary on June 26, 1967, after knowing about the death of Carlos Coello, the Tuma of the Bolivian guerrillas.

Born in a farm near Manzanillo on December 2, 1940, he had joined the Rebel Army at the end of 1957, when he was only 16 years old, and was part of the invading column that Commander Ernesto Guevara led to Las Villas.

Of extraordinary nobility, Carlos Coello was of a cheerful and jovial character, cheerful, brave, disciplined, hardworking, supportive, honest, of a faithfulness to any test; as a rebel soldier he developed, among other values, solidarity, comradeship, honesty and courage; he participated in the combats of Fomento, Cabaiguán, Remedios and in the battle of Santa Clara.

In March 1959 he became part of the escort of Commander Guevara until his fall in combat. Together with Ché, he traveled the country visiting work and study centers, political events, mobilizations, and accompanied him in volunteer work and trips abroad. His mission and great pride was to take care of Che’s life.

From April 1965 , the Argentinean Cuban commander was installed in command of 120 Cubans to support the struggle of the Congo Liberation Council; among them was Carlos Coello; it was there where he acquired the nickname of Tuma, coming from the word tumaini, which means hope, with which the Congolese guerrillas began to call him.

Upon his arrival in Bolivia in November 1968, Tuma participated in all the activities of the detachment; he worked as a kitchen assistant, fetched firewood and water, and transported weapons, ammunition and equipment on foot to the central camp. He took part in the training and exploration march, joined the cultural classes and faced with stoicism and cheerfulness the sacrifices of the guerrilla and fulfilled his main mission.

His comrades say that after his death in combat, Che paid tribute to him by staying all night in silence near his body; his remains were found on June 16, 1996 and taken to Cuba together with those of Che and the Reinforcement Detachment, and he received from the people the well-deserved tribute of Hero of the Homeland.

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Acerca de Martha Martínez Duliet

Licenciada en Educación en la especialidad de Historia y Ciencias Sociales en la Universidad de Camagüey. Labora como periodista en Radio Florida desde el año 1993 desempeñándose actualmente como editora del sitio digital de esta emisora. Contactos: Twitter: @MDuliet Facebook: Martha Martínez Duliet Blog personal:

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