Photo: Orlando Durán Hernández/AdelantePhoto: Orlando Durán Hernández/AdelanteCAMAGÜEY.-  The doctor Jorge González Pérez, “Popi", is known in Cuba and the world, many of us who inhabit this archipelago, we remember his television program The science against the crime; but the Popi history goes further away, so he has collaborated in the clarification of several facts and identification of murdered persons, inside and outside of Cuba.

During the Operation Tribute, he was a key piece in the repatriation of numerous internationalist fighters. Nevertheless, in the year 1995 he faced, along with another group of eminent Cuban specialists, one of the missions more complicated of his life as a forensic scientist: to go to Bolivia in search of the remains of Che and his partners of the guerrillas. Two long years passed so that the Heroic Guerrilla Fighter returned to his dear Santa Clara and Jorge González transcended as the man who found Che.

 - How did the process of search of the remains of the Che begin in Bolivia?

 - The precedent of our mission in Bolivia was the Operation Tribute, where we identify and repatriate to Cuba more than 2 000 internationalist fighters who had fallen down in Africa and Latin America fundamentally, once again we were revealing the principle that the Revolution does not abandon anybody. However, we had left the debt to Che, because in that moment the Bolivian authorities did not give us permission, although we kept on investigating on the whereabouts of his remains, if some day we obtained the authorization.

 “In 1995, the retired general from the Bolivian army Mario Vargas Salina, in interview the New York Time, he said that Che was buried in the air track of Valle Grande (Big Valley). I was the director of the Institute of Legal Medicine and I received a call, of the Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés, there were 10 kilometers of thought up to his office, I imagined that it was related to the declaration of Vargas Salina. We agree to do, in only 72 hours, the identification cards - the age, sex, race and height - of each of 15 Cuban guerrilla fighters, and look for images that could serve to identify them.

 “We were speaking about a few facts that happened 28 years ago, had to look for information that lasted in the time. There were 68 hours of intense work, I remember that we come to house of Carlos Coello (Tuma) at dawn and the fright that the widow suffered was very big. Some of them did not remember how much their relatives measured, we had to compile several photos and in that way extract approximately the height.

 “It was determinant the previous investigation of Adis Cupull and Floirán González, two Cuban diplomats in Bolivia that had continued the track of the guerrillas and the remains.

Before setting off, we had 13 versions, including three that they were not in the southern nation, but in Panama, in a North American military base; another one was that they had been cremated and spread in The Ceiba; and even he was in Langley, Virginia”.

 -In Bolivia, was it already more complex?

 - The success of the Bolivian army was given in the disinformation, to the point that a few days in Bolivia and 13 versions turned into 88 and the truth was the first one. The investigation was very complex, for example, the colonel who directed the burial was already dead, other sources like his driver, they did not want to give information. In addition, we interview the woman and the lover of the colonel in search of elements that could clarify us.

 “The cultural differences also were a difficult topic, it is not the same an Indian chiriguano that an Aymara, they do not answer equally to the questions. In the same way, you could come across, for example, in the Quebrada del Yuro, to a 12-year-old child narrating a fact of 28 years ago, it was determinant to establish reliability and participation in the facts of each of the sources.

 “It is important to highlight that Che was going in the direction of the Chapare, if they had achieved it, perhaps they were still there, but they return before the possibility that one of the partners had remained alive, the human quality of this guerrilla chief again was revealed. After several studies, more historical information, we achieve a key interview, that of Sabino, the worker of the bulldozer that opened the trench where they buried the guerrillas fighters, and this way we verify that they were in the track of Valle Grande, to the fund of the old cemetery”.

- Were you close…

 - After several skills, physical, geologic studies and scanner, we could reduce the area in 80 hectares, we did more than thousand perforations in search of biological material and finally we remained in one hectare (a block) and what we were looking for were 12 square meters. When we were already just scarce meters of achieving it, the authorities came and said to us that we had left two days only.

“We readjust the plan and begin to excavate until the teeth of the spade hooked the belt that Che was wearing, then we saw the forearm and we were already sure that there was a burial. It was a historical moment for the group, we were close to returning to Cuba with the complete mission.

 “After exhuming the remains, we practice the tests of identification, in which it was determinant the over-denture that they did to him for the disguise with which he was going to enter Bolivia, the dental anthropology was essential, also the frontal development that Che had, served to confirm that was he. Those seven days that we were working at the Japanese hospital of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, a group of young people accompanied us with a poster that said, 'For you, not for your remains'. They were there because of what he means for the world youth.

 “On July 12, 1997, Ernesto Guevara returned to Cuba, making Guillén's prediction real when he said: ' Not because they should conceal you underground they are going to prevent us from finding you', and that was precisely the message that we leave there in the laundry, signed by the ‘Group of Cuban scientists that we find you'”.

Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez