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Archive for May 15th, 2011|Daily archive page

A TALE OF TWO KILLINGS – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

They both had beards. They both saw military action. They both passionately hated the United States. They both died in a hail of bullets.

And immediately after their deaths, both of them seemed to disappear from the face of the earth.

Ernesto “Che” Guevera and Osama bin Laden. The former Cuban revolutionary died on October 9, 1967, at the hands of a CIA-directed operation run by the Bolivian army.

The latter mastermind of Al Qaeda met his end on May 1, 2011, during a raid by U.S. Navy SEALS on his compound in Pakistan.

One man–Guevera–has since attained secular sainthood in the eyes of millions of Communists and their sympathizers.

The other–bin Laden–has attained instant “martyr” status in the eyes of untold numbers of Islamic terrArabists and their sympathizers throughout the world.

Both men plotted constantly against the United States and eagerly sought its destruction.

In November, 1962, during an interview with the London Daily Worker, Guevera raged against the Soviet Union’s recent withdraal of nuclear missiles from Cuba. Those “thirteen days” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that October had brought the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust.

“If the missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of the United States, including New York,” said Guevera. “We must never establish peaceful coexistence. We must walk the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims.”

Similarly, until the end of his life, bin Laden demanded more 9/11-style attacks against the American heartland. This brought him into conflict with other Al Qaeda members who wanted to launch assaults on more vulnerable targets outside the United States.

Guevera met his fate as follows:

On November 3, 1966, he secretly arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, intent on re-staging the Cuban revolution among the Bolivian peasantry. But the peasants showed no interest in his aims and in fact reported his movements to the army.

The army, in turn, was being advised by Green Berets under the direction of the CIA. On October 7, 1967, an informant apprised the Bolivian Special Forces of the location of Guevara’s guerrilla encampment in the Yuro ravine.

On October 8, they encircled the area with 1,800 soldiers, and Guevara was wounded and taken prisoner while leading a detachment. His rifle broken by a lucky shot, a twice-wounded Guevara shouted: “Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.”

Quickly informed of Guevera’s capture, officials of the Bolivian government debated his fate: Should he be immediately executed or placed on trial?

On the morning of October 9, Bolivian President René Barrientos ordered that Guevara be killed. Placing Guevera on trial would create an international media circus and/or render Bolivia vulnerable to efforts to free him.

Since the Bolivian government planned to state that Guevera had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army, special instructions were issued. These came from Félix Rodríguez, a CIA agent acting as advisor to the Bolivians.

The executioner would be Mario Terán, a Bolivian army sergeant who had lost three of his friends in an earlier firefight with Guevara’s band of guerrillas.

Rodríguez ordered Terán to aim carefully to make it appear that Guevara had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army.

To his surprise, Rodriguez found himself personally impressed with Guevera’s courage. When Rodriguez informed him of his imminent execution, Guevera blanched, then quickly got control of himself: “It is better like this. I should never have been captured alive.”

Rodriguez asked if he had any messages for his family, and Che replied: “Tell Fidel that he will soon see a triumphant revolution in America. And tell my wife to remarry and try to be happy.”

When Sergeant Terán entered the hut, Che Guevara told his executioner, “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward! You are only going to kill a man!”

Terán hesitated, then opened fire with his semiautomatic rifle, hitting Guevara in the arms and legs. Guevara writhed on the ground, apparently biting one of his wrists to avoid crying out. Terán then fired several times again, wounding him fatally in the chest.

In all, Guevara was shot nine times: five times in the legs, once in the right shoulder and arm, once in the chest, and once in the throat.

But killing Guevera was not enough for the Bolivian government. He had to seem to disappear from the face of the earth.

On October 10, 1967, Guevara’s body was flown to nearby Vallegrande, where photographs were taken of him lying on a concrete slab in the laundry room of the Nuestra Señora de Malta. Several witnesses were called to confirm that it was Guevara.

As hundreds of local residents filed past the body, many of them considered Guevara’s corpse to represent a “Christ-like” visage. Some of them even surreptitiously clipped locks of his hair as divine relics.

After a military doctor amputated his hands, Bolivian army officers transferred Guevara’s body to an undisclosed location and refused to reveal whether his remains had been buried or cremated.

The hands were preserved in formaldehyde to be sent to Buenos Aires for fingerprint identification. (His fingerprints were on file with the Argentine police.) They were later sent to Cuba.

On October 15, Fidel Castro acknowledged that Guevara was dead and proclaimed three days of public mourning throughout Cuba. Addressing a crowd of one million mourners in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución on October 18, Castro eulogized Che’s character as a revolutionary:

“If we wish to express what we want the men of future generations to be, we must say: Let them be like Che! If we wish to say how we want our children to be educated, we must say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che’s spirit!

“If we want the model of a man, who does not belong to our times but to the future, I say from the depths of my heart that such a model, without a single stain on his conduct, without a single stain on his action, is Che!”

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