Friday, October 08, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Capture Of Che Guevara


On this day in 1967 Ernesto 'Che' Guevara's days as a hunted man came to an end when he was captured in Bolivia by a CIA operative named Félix Rodríguez while encamped in the jungle with a detachment of guerillas headed by Simeón Cuba Sarabia. As he was shot and wounded, Guevara called out to his assailants 'Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.' Truer words were never spoken; alas, they weren't to be heeded...

Guevara was taken prisoner, and passed that night at a makeshift hospital in the village of La Higuera, refusing to be interrogated; the following day the only person he would speak to was the local school-teacher, 2o-year-old Julia Cortez. Guevara used the opportunity to militate against the terrible conditions under which she was forced to work; he may also have been using her as a kind of witness, in case his captors tried any funny business and fudged the the time and date and means of his death.

Two days after his capture, Guevara would be shot dead by Mario Terán who'd been selected as his executioner by Bolivian president René Barrientos; his orders further stipulated that the government's story that Guevara was killed in combat should be consistent with the wounds he was to be given. In all Guevara would be shot nine times, including five times in the legs, once in the right shoulder and arm, once in the chest, and lastly in the throat. He is reported to have faced his executioner bravely, and even bitten his own wrist to keep from crying out before the fatal bullet did its work.

As the life ebbed from his body, it proceeded to flow into his legend, affording him a kind of immortality through the books he wrote, the anecdotes of those who met him, and the images taken of him - the most famous of which is Alberto Korda's Guerrillero Heroico. Within two years of his death, Che was being played by Omar Sharif (in the film Che!); he's been played twice by Gael García Bernal in recent years, and also by Benicio del Toro.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We need him now more than ever...