October 9, 1967: Che Guevara is killed.

At the time of his capture, he had been attempting to organize a Marxist takeover of Bolivia with his joint Cuban-Bolivian group, the National Liberation Army of Bolivia, but nearby Bolivian special forces were alerted of Guevara’s location, and he was taken prisoner on October 8, 1967. Outnumbered, Guevara was wounded in the gunfight that preceded his capture; he surrendered and told his captors: “I am worth more to you alive than dead”. 

He was taken prisoner and held in a small town called La Higuera until, on October 9, the soldiers received orders from the Bolivian President to carry out Guevara’s execution (a decision American officials later called “stupid”). His last words are disputed - he either declared “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, you are only going to kill a man”, or he said, according to General Ovando of the Bolivian Armed Forces: “I am Che Guevara and I have failed”. Guevara was shot multiple times, and his body was put on display briefly so that soldiers and locals could look upon the remains of the almost mythic revolutionary (some locals reportedly cut off locks of his hair for good luck). His hands were amputated and preserved in formaldehyde, and his hand-less body was moved to a different location. In Cuba, Fidel Castro declared three days of mourning and personally delivered a eulogy in Havana, in which he declared Guevara to be “the model of a man… who does not belong to our times but to the future”. 

Other links: a timeline/compilation of documents on Guevara’s death.

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