Today in History: Spy Ring Established to Support Che Guevara’s Bolivia Expedition 3

November 18, 1964:  Haydee Tamara Bunke Bider, an East German-woman-turned-Cuban spy, arrived in La Paz using the alias, Laura Gutierrez Bauer. Later built into the mythical figure “Tania the Guerrilla,” her mission was to lead an intelligence network to be created in La Paz.

Indicative of the priority given to Che Guevara’s Bolivia mission, Havana assigned Juan Carretero Ibanez as her case officer. At the time, Carretero led the Latin America Department of the MININT’s Technical Vice Ministry. In Bolivia, “Tania” successfully entered into the political, cultural, and media circles of Bolivian society during the dictatorship of General Rene Barrientos.



  1. This story has a striking similarity to the infiltration in high Japanese journalistic, cultural, political and even imperial circles of Soviet military intelligence agent Aino Kuusinen, the wife of Otto Kuusinen, founder of the Finnish Communist Party and a member of the Soviet Politburo.

    Aino Kuusinen, “agent Ingrid”, spied in Japan under the assumed name Elisabeth Hansson at the same time as the famous Soviet spy Richard Sorge. However, she was not a member of his spy ring.

    ,Like Tanja, Aino Kuusinen was directed in 1935 by Soviet military intelligence chief, Semyon Uritzky, to write a favorable book about Japan which would make it easier for her to gain access to political circles and the Japanese Foreign Ministry arranged for the book to be translated from Swedish into English under the title “Smiling Japan”. As a result of the favorable publicity the book brought her, Aino Kuusinen was invited by the Japanese Emperor to a garden party where she met his brother and began a friendly relation with him.

    This similarity proves how deeply the Cuban DGI of the 1960s was penetrated and influenced by Soviet spy tradecraft, how closely Soviet advisers worked with their Cuban counterparts and supervised the whole activity of Castro’s espionage apparatus. At that time, the DGI was really a tool of Soviet espionage and subversion worldwide, especially in the US where thanks to the growing community of Cuban exiles it was much easier to infiltrate as a Cuban than as a person of any other nationality.

    Sergio Klein
    Nov 19, 2012

  2. Tamara Bunke was borned in Argentina on September of 1937,her father was an East German communist named Erick Bunke and her mother was born in Poland but resided in Argentina.Tamara Bunke was educated East Germany at the Humbold University,the place where she was recruited by the KGB and she began to work for this Agency through the East Germany Stassi.She was attached to Che Guevara as a medium of collection for the Russian KGB,her mission was to gather intelligence on Che.Tania arrived in Bolivia to Organize a Guerrilla movement,Che arrived in Bolivia via zchecoslovakia and he re-united with Tania,they contacted the Bolivian Communist Party through its leader Mario Monje who was previously trained in Cuba.The Soviets were concerned about the Spread of Che and Castro’s image in Latino america and were concerned that the public support towards communism will turn in favor of Che and Castro instead of the Kremlin,The KGB using Tania as a tool set Che for failure in Bolivia.The Cuban Government as usual played an important role in the subversion of Bolivia,they failed to understand that Bolivia’s farmers were owners of their land due to an agrarian reform crated by the Bolivian Government.Che had a total lack peasant support for his cause which from its beginning was doomed to failure.

  3. The Soviets used the Cuban DGI to infiltrate Cuban exile Organizations and to spy on American bases and personnel in the US and also they used the Cuban blacks to infiltrate them in Africa,Congo,Angola,etc.

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