Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Che Was a Monster pt 10 Execution


Capture and execution
The hunt for Guevara in Bolivia was headed by Félix Rodríguez, a CIA agent, who previously had infiltrated Cuba to prepare contacts with the rebels in the Escambray Mountains and the anti-Castro underground in Havana prior to the Bay of Pigs invasion, and had been successfully extracted from Cuba afterwards. The Bolivian Special Forces were notified of the location of Guevara's guerrilla encampment by an informant. On 8 October, the encampment was encircled, and Guevara was captured while leading a detachment with Simeón Cuba Sarabia in the Quebrada del Yuro ravine. According to some soldiers present at the capture, during the skirmish as they approached Guevara, he allegedly shouted, "Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead." Upon hearing of Guevara's capture, Rodríguez relayed the information to CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, via CIA stations in various South American nations.
Barrientos promptly ordered his execution upon being informed of his capture. Guevara was taken to a dilapidated schoolhouse in the nearby village of La Higuera where he was held overnight. Early the next afternoon he was executed. The executioner was Mario Terán, a Sergeant in the Bolivian army who had drawn a short straw after arguments over who got the honor of killing Guevara broke out among the soldiers. To make the bullet wounds appear consistent with the official story sold to the public, Felix Rodriguez, the CIA asset, ordered the soldier who pulled the trigger to aim carefully to make it appear that Che had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army, and thus to help cover up the official secret assassination. Guevara received multiple shots to the legs, so as to avoid maiming his face for identification purposes and simulate combat wounds in an attempt to conceal his extrajudicial execution.
Che Guevara had some last words before his death; he allegedly said to his executioner, "I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man". Another alleged comment was "Do you know Who I am? Do you know what I'm worth?" His body was lashed to the landing skids of a helicopter and flown to neighboring Vallegrande where it was laid out on a laundry tub in the local hospital and displayed to the press.
After the execution, Rodríguez took several personal items of Guevara's including a Rolex watch, often proudly showing them to reporters during the ensuing years. Today, some of these belongings, including his flashlight, are on display at the CIA. After a military doctor surgically amputated his hands, Bolivian army officers transferred Guevara's cadaver to an undisclosed location and refused to reveal whether his remains had been buried or cremated.
On October 15, Castro acknowledged that Guevara was dead and proclaimed three days of public mourning throughout Cuba. The death of Guevara was regarded as a severe blow to the socialist revolutionary movements in Latin America and the rest of the third world.
Photographs taken at that time gave rise to legends such as those of San Ernesto de La Higuera and El Cristo de Vallegrande. Local people came to refer to Guevara as a saint, "San Ernesto de La Higuera", whom they ask for favors. Others claim his ghost walks the area.
In 1997, the skeletal remains of a handless body were exhumed from beneath an air strip near Vallegrande, identified as those of Guevara by a Cuban forensic team working at the scene, and returned to Cuba. On 17 October 1997, his remains, along with those of six of his fellow combatants killed during the guerrilla campaign in Bolivia, were laid to rest with full military honors in a specially built mausoleum in the city of Santa Clara, where he had won the decisive battle of the Cuban Revolution.
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