October 9, 1967: Che Guevara is hurled into a hut, shot in the arms and legs with a rifle, then quickly dispatched by rounds to the chest.
The man’s face is plastered across t-shirts in universities, painted on walls in Cuba and associated with Marxist images all over the internet. He is a symbol, no doubt, but a symbol for many things ranging from an underdog revolutionary to how Marxism can be a quick path to totalitarianism. These symbols often conflict with one another, but either way his popular influence across the globe is undeniable.
Che Guevara had been in Bolivia since late 1966. He had altered his appearance and arrived in secret, built up a small guerrilla force, and began to initiate several successful skirmishes against the Bolivian government. His efforts, however, were stunted in a major defeat by the Bolivian government, as they had been receiving advisement and training from the U.S. Special Forces and the U.S. Army Rangers.
On top of this, the CIA’s Special Activities Division had installed one of their own operatives, Félix Rodríguez, to train and advise as well, but also to join in the search specifically to find Guevara. On October 7th, they learned of his location and alongside the Bolivian Special Forces, they wounded and captured Guevara.
He was taken away and interrogated for well over a day. On the morning of October 9th, the Bolivian president at the time ordered Guevara’s execution. Rodríguez informed the man of his impending doom, they walked into a hut, and a man by the name of Sgt. Terán was tasked with the killing. He was 27 years old and had lost three friends to the guerrillas under Guevara’s control. The sergeant shot him in the arms and legs, then finished him off by shooting him in the chest with a total of nine rounds. Guevara’s last words were reported to be, “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward! You are only going to kill a man!”
The man who penned his romantic diaries of his journeys across South America eventually wound up responsible for thousands of systematic executions across Cuba. He was hunted down into the depths of Bolivia and summarily executed in a cooperative effort between the Bolivians and the US.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia