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Britain grudged admiration for Che Guevara, records show
Even Britain's stuffy Foreign Office mandarins were not immune to the appeal of iconic revolutionary Che Guevara, with officials grudgingly conceding he had both culture and charm, newly declassified historical records revealed.
"He is an able and hard-working man, who was perhaps the most competent and the clearest-headed of the inner circle," reads the "Leading Personalities in Cuba" report, which was released on Friday to Britain's National Archives.
"He can show himself cultured and soft-spoken as well as cold and contemptuous," the report says of Guevara.
"This bearded Argentinian, with his Irish charm and his inevitable military fatigue uniform, has exercised considerable fascination over many men and women," it adds.
Until 1964, Guevara "was perhaps the most influential figure (in Cuba) after Fidel Castro", it says.
Guevara -- whose first name was Ernesto but who was nicknamed Che because of his Argentine origins -- was born in the city of Rosario in 1928 to a middle-class family of Spanish-Irish descent.
He studied medicine and travelled around Latin America but later abandoned a career as a doctor to join Castro's revolutionaries.
After serving in the communist government in Havana he left Cuba to participate in other revolutionary conflicts in Africa and Latin America. He was eventually executed in late 1967 in Bolivia, where he had been taking part in a guerrilla war.
Although the British diplomats' report from 1968 was compiled shortly after his death, it admits confusion as to Guevara's fate.
"There have been rumours that he is dead, though Castro has assured the world that he is alive and active," it states.