Gary Prado Salmón, Bolivian basic who captured Ché Guevara, dies at 84


Gary Prado Salmón, the Bolivian military particular forces officer who captured revolutionary guerrilla fighter Ernesto “Ché” Guevara within the Bolivian jungle in 1967, died Could 6 at a hospital within the Bolivian metropolis of Santa Cruz. He was 84.

His son Gary Prado Arauz introduced the dying on Fb however didn’t present a trigger. His father, who had retired with the rank of basic in 1988, had been in a wheelchair as a paraplegic after being shot within the backbone in 1981.

There was hypothesis on the time of the capturing {that a} pro-Guevara Bolivian military officer had taken revenge. Gen. Prado described the capturing as a “thriller” however remained loyal to the Bolivian armed forces and took the matter no additional.

For capturing Guevara, and thereby blunting Bolivia’s personal left-wing insurgency towards the nation’s navy management, Gen. Prado turned a hero inside the navy and amongst its anti-communist supporters. However that was not a lot the case amongst youthful Bolivians who, together with many fellow South Individuals, had had sufficient of navy rule all through the continent.

Gen. Prado, who had undergone coaching by the U.S. Inexperienced Berets, was a captain when he pursued Guevara within the Bolivian jungle. The Argentine-born guerrilla had been instrumental in Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution and, after unsuccessfully trying to assist left-wing guerrillas in what’s now the Democratic Republic of Congo, set about exporting the Cuban revolution to different elements of Latin America.

In an interview this month with the information service CE Noticias Financieras, Gen. Prado recalled an vital tip when a peasant potato and cattle farmer, who occurred to be an old-fashioned good friend, reported to him that, in October 1967, he had seen unusual armed males within the Churo ravine the place his cattle grazed close to the village of La Higuera.

Gen. Prado additionally recalled Guevara surrendering to him on Oct. 8 within the ravine after the guerrilla had been shot within the leg, his pistol empty and his M2 carbine rifle shattered by Bolivian military gunfire. “I stated, ‘Who’re you?’” the officer recalled. “He stated, ‘I’m Ché. I’m price extra to you alive than lifeless.’”

Gen. Prado recalled Guevara asking for water and one thing to smoke. The Bolivian gave him an Astoria cigarette and, realizing his love of cigars from media studies, a Pacific cigar.

Within the latest Noticias Financieras interview, Gen. Prado recalled chatting to the wounded Guevara whereas the latter was laid out on the ground of a mud-walled hut used as a main college in La Higuera.

“I used to be left with two pictures,” Gen. Prado stated. “He appeared like a completed man. He had reached the tip of his dream; he certainly noticed that his world was coming to an finish. He was very depressed, he was unhappy, he was pitiful. At the moment, he was not the person he’s as we speak, who has turn into a fable. I requested him why he got here to Bolivia, what was he in search of right here. … He instructed me, ‘The revolution has no borders.’”

“The conclusion I’ve reached after so a few years of analysis is that they [the Cuban leadership under Fidel Castro] despatched him to Bolivia to eliminate him,” he added. “I felt pity, I couldn’t do any extra. Individuals have the picture of the parable, wow. To inform the reality, I felt sorry for the man.”

Gen. Prado subsequently left to proceed fight with the guerrilla fighter’s small group of surviving males within the jungle. When he left La Higuera for his base in Vallegrande, Guevara was nonetheless alive within the schoolhouse, however Gen. Prado quickly realized that the guerrilla has been executed in La Higuera the next day by a Bolivian military sergeant.

A Cuban American CIA agent, Félix Rodriguez, who had additionally helped observe Guevara and his males to the world, stated in later interviews that he and his superiors within the CIA would have most well-liked to maintain Guevara alive, to indicate the world how defeated he appeared — “like a beggar,” he stated — when apprehended.

However, he stated, he was overruled by Bolivian President René Barrientos and the Bolivian navy excessive command, which wished to keep away from a present trial that may win international sympathy for Guevara.

Rodriguez ordered the executioner, Sgt. Mario Terán, to shoot Guevara within the legs and arms to make it seem like the guerrilla had died in fight with the military.

Later, when the physique arrived by helicopter in Vallegrande, Gen. Prado stated he sat subsequent to the physique on a stretcher and noticed the jaw dropping. “I took out my handkerchief and tied him up as if he had a toothache,” he recalled. “I despatched him off like this in order that he would hold his physiognomy.”

Gary Prado Salmón was born Nov. 15, 1938, in Rome, the place his father was on navy project for the Bolivian military. The household quickly returned to Bolivia, the place his father rose to colonel and Gen. Prado enrolled in navy college at 15.

In his later years, he wrote books together with “How I Captured Ché” (1987) and “The Defeat of Ché Guevara” (1990). A whole record of survivors couldn’t be decided.

In 2010, Gen. Prado was positioned beneath home arrest for alleged ties with right-wing “terrorists” plotting to overthrow the left-wing, Indigenous president, Evo Morales. A Bolivian decide ordered his home arrest for allegedly conspiring to carry secession to japanese Bolivia, the primary bastion of opposition to Morales. His son Gary was additionally arrested, however each males have been later launched.

Gen. Prado spent the final two years of his navy profession, till 1988, as a Bolivian navy consultant to the Inter-American Protection Board in Washington.

In a 2017 interview with the Monetary Instances, Gen. Prado recalled Guevara giving him his Rolex Oyster Submariner — a present from Castro — after scratching a cross on the again of it. “I later despatched it to his household by way of the Cuban Embassy,” he stated.

“I used to be shocked concerning the execution” he instructed the newspaper. “I didn’t anticipate that. I believed Ché would have been tried like different prisoners. The entire thing was badly managed. The Bolivian authorities put out the misinformation that Ché had died in fight, however then got here studies that he’d been seen strolling to La Higuera, so lastly the president needed to come clear.

“I believe he made the choice to execute,” he added, “as a result of, if Ché had been taken prisoner, he’d have been placed on trial, and the trial would have been a trigger celebre.”


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