I met Che Guevara’s ghost

by , under All categories, Enrique

I once visited in 1987 as a reporter the far-flung village of La Higuera in Bolivia, where the famous guerrilla icon Ernesto Che Guevara was killed at the hands of a drunk sergeant. Even if twenty years have passed since my trip and 40 years on October 9 when he was killed, I can still recall details of that journey.

There’s an odd story today in the Bolivian government-run news agency ABI about Che Guevara’s assassin, an NCO called Mario Terán. Thanks to some Cuban medics, the article reports that the NCO had recovered his eyesight.

If the NCO is the same person, I was offered by the brother of Gary Prado, the Bolivian officer that captured Che Guevara, an exclusive interview with Terán for $1,000. I didn’t accept the offer.

One of the matters that surprised me most about the journey to La Higuera was how the village of 50 inhabitants had been spoiled by journalists. My guide told me that nobody would talk to you if you didn’t flash a few greenbacks.

I was, however, able to speak for free to the teacher of the school where Che Guevara was killed. She was one of the last people to speak to him before he was killed.

“It was a big mistake killing Che Guevara,” she said. “After his death we found out that he wasn’t a bandit but a man who died for us, the poor.”

Che Guevara’s military campaign in Bolivia lasted 11 months and eight days. As one villager in nearby Pucará told me: “When the sergeant [Terán] crashed in Che Gevara’s room [drunk after drinking 6 liters of beer], he [Guevara] stood up and said: Point your machine gun well and don’t forget who you’re shooting.”

Final note: After I reached the village of La Higuera on horseback, I wanted to visit as rapidly as possible the school where Che Guevara was killed. It was a very surreal experience to walk to that school with the backdrop of the majestic Andes all around you.

It was as if his life’s journey ended at the school but didn’t end at all.

  1. paddy

    Those who killed him and helped track (who we well know) him down will continue to reap the reward.
    There ain’t no hiding place from justice- it will come.
    Y;-) Paddy

  2. suburbanlife

    A realization by the teacher, that came too late, also probably to the many villagers who helped in the hunt, almost like beaters at a fox hunt. Often when we help hurt others, we really hurt ourselves. G

  3. nemoo

    Paddy, that is correct. At least we hope that justice will come at the end of the day.

    Thank you for dropping by again, G. It’s so true and reveals what a bunch of lambs we are as humans. Are collective opinions and actions shift like with the wind. Too many take a stand that it convenient to them. That’s one reason why ideals are many times thrown out of the window. But then there are men like Che Guevara and others who have the magic ability to change history — or our perception of it.

  4. savannah

    i read this story on bbc the other day…it started me thinking about perceptions and our view of history. i think you summed it up well with this: “But then there are men like Che Guevara and others who have the magic ability to change history — or our perception of it.” the more i’ve learned the less i really know about che and his real impact on events. perhaps, he was fortunate to die while still a hero to so many and thus, securing his iconic status.