How Che Murdered:
Published in
El Nuevo Herald
December 28, 1997

By Pierre San Martin

It was during the last days of December 1959; in the dark, cold cell that 16 prisoners slept on the floor while the other 16 were standing so they could lay down, but nobody was thinking about that, our only thought was that we were alive and that was the important thing; we lived hour to hour, minute to minute, second to second without knowing what the next would bring.

It was about an hour before it would be time us to change shifts when the sound of the iron door opening was heard as they threw another person into the already crowded cell.  For a moment in the darkness we couldn't tell that it was a boy some 12 to 14 years old at most who had just become our newest cellmate.  And what did you do? We all asked almost in unison.  With his bloody and beaten face he stared at us and responded “I defended my father so they wouldn't kill him, I couldn't stop it.  Those sons of bitches murdered him.”

We all looked at each other as if to find the right words to console the boy but we couldn't find them.  We had enough of our own problems.  It had been two or three days since they had executed anyone and each day we had more hope that this would all be over. The executions are unmerciful, they take life when you need it most for you and yours, without listening to your protests or yearnings for life.

Our happiness didn't last much longer, when the door opened they called out 10, among them the boy who had been the last one in.  We had been wrong because those they called, we never again saw.

How could it be possible to take a child's life in this way?  Could it be that we were wrong and that we were to be released?  Near the wall where they conducted the executions, with his hands on his waist, paced from side to side the abominable Che Guevera.

He gave the order to bring the boy first and he ordered him to kneel in front of the wall.  We all screamed for them not to commit this crime and we offered ourselves in his place.  The boy disobeyed the order with a courage that words can't express and responded to this infamous character:  “If you're going to kill me you're going to have to do it the way you kill a man, standing, not like a coward, kneeling.

Walking behind the boy, the Che said “whereupon you are a brave lad...”  He unholstered his pistol and shot him in the nape of the neck so that he almost decapitated him.

We all shouted “assassins, miserable cowards” and so many other things.  He turned around towards us and emptied the pistol's magazine. I do not know how many of us were killed or injured.  From this horrible nightmare, from which never we managed to wake up, we realized that although wounded and in the student clinic of the Calixto Garcia hospital, one thing was clear, the only card we could play was to escape, it was our only hope of survival.