The Death of Che Guevara

On 9 October 1967, Marxist revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was killed in Bolivia. Felix Rodriguez, a Cuban-born CIA agent, helped the Bolivian army track him down:

‘The last picture of Che alive. You see a man who was so powerful at one point in Cuba and to see the way he was in that point in time, like a beggar who was in rags, he was filthy and he was a completely different image of what people perceived of him in the world.’

‘In 1967 there was an interest to provide the Bolivian government with capabilities against the guerrillas that arrived in the area. My mission was to provide intelligence against Che Guevara and advise them of who to proceed to be able to capture or kill him. Che Guevara was in Bolivia to be able to take over the country. He was to be able to export the revolution to fight different neighbouring countries that they had to fight with. The instructions we got from the CIA was if Che Guevara was captured alive, was to keep him alive at all costs.’

‘We would receive information from the field that Che Guevara had been captured. I was anxious to meet this individual, so the following day we arrive at the area where he was. We all came into the room. He was tied down to the left side of the floor. In front of him were the bodies of a couple of Cuban officers who were killed during the operation.’

‘Later on I came back alone to the room, I stood in-front of him and I said to him Che I have come to talk to you. And he looked at me very arrogant from the floor and said no body talk to me, nobody interrogate me.  So at that point in time I looked at him and said Commander I admire you, you used to believe in what you believe though I think your ideas are mistaken. I just came here to talk to you not to interrogate you.’

‘Every time I tried to ask him questions that were of tactical interest to us, he would smile and say you know I cannot answer that.’

‘There were times he was talking and I really wasn’t paying attention, and my mind was the man that I did remember from the news, that arrogant man in a big coat in red China. And now to see this guy who was in really, really, poor shape, that impacted on me tremendously.’

‘There was a phone call. it was form the high Bolivian command and the order was five hundred, six hundred. We had a very simple code: five hundred: Che Guevara, six hundred: kill him, seven hundred: keep him alive. I asked them to repeat it and they said five hundred, six hundred.’

‘I went to the room. I stood in front of him. I said Commander I am sorry I tried my best. He turned white like a piece of paper he said it is better this way, I should never have been captured alive. And I told him, anything you want to pass to your family, I can pass the message. And then his expression changes and he says tell my wife to remarry and try to be happy. That was his last words. He approached me, we shook hands, we embraced. He stood back and stood to attention thinking I was going to be the one to shoot him. And I left the room. About 1:10, 1:20 I heard the burst and that was when Che Guevara was dead.’

‘People don’t know who Che Guevara really was. A lot of people saw the picture of Che in t-shirts they like and they have no idea who Che really was. To me Che Guevara was an assassin and an adventurer. He really had no respect whatsoever for human life.’

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