Executioner of revolutionary ‘Che’ Guevara dies in Bolivia
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — The Bolivian soldier who pulled the trigger to execute famed revolutionary guerrilla Ernesto “Che” Guevara died on Thursday at age 80, according to his friends.
Mario Terán “simply complied with his duty as a sergeant of the army,” said retired Gen. Gary Prado, who led the group that captured Guevara in 1967 after a months-long pursuit.
Speaking to Radio Companera, he said Terán had died after a long illness. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Guevara, an Argentine physician, achieved mythic status as a leading figure in the Cuban revolution that won power in 1959 under Fidel Castro by toppling dictator Fulgencio Batista.
After serving as a senior official in Cuba’s government for several years, he set off to try to lead other insurrections — with far less success — in Africa and then in South America.
His small band was finally tracked down by Bolivian soldiers in 1967. Terán was chosen to kill him after orders to execute the already wounded Guevara, then 39, arrived from the capital.
“It was the worst moment of my life,” he told reporters later. “I saw Che large, very large. His eyes shone intensely. I felt him coming over me and when he fixed his gaze on me, it made me dizzy....
“‘Calm yourself,’ he told me, ‘and aim well! You are going to kill a man!’ Then I took a step back toward the door, close my eyes and fired.”
Guevara’s biographers said his first shots missed Guevara’s chest, but eventually hit.