A Glorious Anniversary: Che Guevara's Death

It was 38 years ago, when the quaking "Guerrilla hero" was prompted to say: "Don’t Shoot! I’m Che I’m worth more to you alive than dead!" (Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant)

When he held the hammer it was a much different  story.  "’Kneel Down!" Che barked at a 14 year old boy in early 1959. A Cuban gentleman named Pierre San Martin was watching from the window in his prison cell, where the gallant Che had shoved him on bogus charges.  In a December 1997, El Nuevo Herald article he recalled the horrors.

"Thirty-two of us were crammed into a cell," he recalls. "Sixteen of us would stand while the other sixteen tried to sleep on the cold filthy floor. We took shifts that way. Actually, we considered ourselves lucky. After all, we were alive. Dozens were led from the cells to the firing squad daily. The volleys kept us awake. We felt that any one of those minutes would be our last.

"One morning the horrible sound of that rusty steel door swinging open startled us awake and Che’s guards shoved a new prisoner into our cell. His face was bruised and smeared with blood. We could only gape. He was a boy, couldn’t have been much older than 12, maybe 14.

"’What did you do?’ We asked horrified. ‘I tried to defend my papa,’ gasped the bloodied boy. ‘I tried to keep these Communist sons of b**tches form murdering him! But they sent him to the firing squad.’"

Soon Che’s goons came back, the rusty steel door opened and they yanked the valiant boy out of the cell. "We all rushed to the cell’s window that faced the execution pit," recalls Mr. San Martin. "We simply couldn’t believe they’d murder him! Then we spotted him, strutting around the blood-drenched execution yard with his hands on his waist and barking orders –Che Guevara himself.

"Here Che was, finally in his element. In battle he was a sad joke, a bumbler of epic proportions [for details see "Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant"], but up against disarmed and bloodied boys he was a snarling tiger.

"’ASSASSINS!’ We screamed from our window. ‘MURDERERS!! HOW CAN YOU MURDER A LITTLE BOY!’

"’I said, KNEEL DOWN!’ Che barked again.

"The boy stared Che resolutely in the face. ‘If you’re going to kill me,’ he yelled. ‘you’ll have to do it while I’m standing! MEN die standing!’

"COWARDS! MURDERERS! Sons of B**TCHES!" The men yelled desperately from their cells. "LEAVE HIM ALONE!" HOW CAN …?!"

"And then we saw Che unholstering his pistol. It didn’t seem possible. But Che raised his pistol, put the barrel to the back of the boy’s neck and blasted. The shot almost decapitated the young boy.

"We erupted. We were enraged, hysterical, banging on the bars.’MURDERERS! ASSASSINS!’ His murder finished, Che finally looked up at us, pointed his pistol, and BLAM-BLAM-BLAM! emptied his clip in our direction. Several of us were wounded by his shots."

"Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!"

This is from Che’s famous "Motorcycle Diaries," recently made into a heartwarming movie by Robert Redford. It seems that Mr Redford omitted this passage from his touching film. The "acrid odor of gunpowder and blood" never reached Guevara’s nostril from actual combat. It always came from the close-range murder of bound, gagged and blindfolded men (and boys.)

In actual combat (puerile skirmishes, actually) his imbecilities defy belief. Compared to Che "The Lionhearted" Guevara, Groucho Marx in "Duck Soup" comes across like Hannibal. The century’s most famous guerrilla fighter in fact never fought in anything properly describable as a guerrilla war (Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant) When he finally started getting a tiny taste of one in Bolivia he was promptly routed.

"To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary," declared the Cuban Revolution’s chief executioner, Che Guevara. "These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate."

One defector claims Che signed 400 death warrants during the first month of the Cuban Revolution. Another says over 600. Cuban journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che as early as 1954, writes in his book "Yo Soy El Che!" that Guevara sent 1,897 men to the firing squad. In his book "Che Guevara: A Biography," Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering "several thousand" executions during the first few years of the Castro regime.

Viva Cuba Libre! Viva Cristo Rey! Abajo Comunismo!’Were the courageous and defiant yells of Che’s victims during their last seconds alive. "The defiant yells would make the walls of La Cabana tremble," writes eye-witness Armando Valladares. 

The scope of  Che Guevara’s mas murder is unclear. The exact number of widows and orphans is in dispute. The number of gagged and blindfolded men who Che sent, without trial, to be bound to a stake and blown apart by bullets runs from the hundreds to the thousands. And the mass executioner’s T-shirt adorns the very people who oppose capitol punishment! Is there a psychiatrist in the house?!

Che’s image is particularly ubiquitous on college campuses. But in the wrong places. He belongs in the marketing, PR, and advertising departments. His lessons and history are fascinating and valuable, but only in light of P.T. Barnum. One born every minute, Mr. Barnum? If only you’d lived to see the Che phenomenon. Actually, 10 are born every second.

His pathetic whimpering on his last day alive: "Don’t shoot!" I’m Che! I’m worth more to you alive than dead!" proves that this murdering swine was unfit to carry his victims’ slop buckets.