Gen. Gary Prado Salmon, captain of the Bolivian army who led the operation to capture Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, a key ally of Fidel Castro in the 1967 Cuban Revolution, died on May 6 in a hospital in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Went. He was 84 years old.
His son, Gary Prado Arauz, announced the death on Facebook but did not give a cause.
After leaving Cuba in 1965, Mr. Guevara tried and failed to spark a communist revolution movement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and then he and other guerrillas moved to Bolivia the next year in hopes of overthrowing the government of President René Barrientos. Ortuno, a general who seized control of the country in a coup d’état.
Captain Prado and his men – part of a CIA-backed special forces unit – had been hunting the guerrillas for months when they received a tip from an old friend from school, Farmer, who said he had seen them in a deep ravine. The small village of La Higuera.
At about 1 a.m. on October 8, 1967, Captain Prado heard shouts from the ravine: his troops had captured two guerrillas.
As one of them surrendered, later General Prado told the New York TimesHe called out, “I am Che Guevara, and I am more alive than dead for you.”
Mr. Guevara was wounded in battle, his gun was broken.
“They presented a pathetic, dirty, smelly and run-down,” General Prado said in a 2017 interview with FT Magazine. “He was on the run for months. His hair was long, messy and tangled, and his beard was bushy. And, General Prado said, “he had no shoes, just pieces of animal skin on his feet.”
Mr. Guevara was lodged in a room in a small school in the nearby village of La Higuera, where he spoke several times with Captain Prado. When asked why he was fighting in Bolivia, Mr. Guevara said, “The revolution knows no boundaries.” Captain Prado tells him that he has arrived in the wrong country, which he says has had its own revolution through agrarian reform and the nationalization of its mines.
“Then he had concerns about his future,” General Prado told the publication CE Noticias Financieras Ingres this year. “‘What’s going to happen to me?'” I told him he was going to trial.
But the next day, when Captain Prado went off to pursue other guerrillas, he said, Mr. Guevara was killed by an army sergeant on the orders of President Barrientos. Captain Prado returned in time to help tie Mr. Guevara’s body to the runners of a helicopter, which took it to nearby Vallegrande.
“He was then laid out on a concrete slab in the small laundry at the back of the hospital, and around 30 press photographers from around the world were invited to shoot images of the body,” General Prado told FT Magazine. “It was important for the government and the military to show Che dead as a lesson to anyone who would in future invade or threaten the Bolivian way of life.”
General Prado eventually wrote two books, “How I Captured Che” (1987) and “The Defeat of Che Guevara: Military Response to Guerrilla Challenge in Bolivia” (1990).
Gary Augusto Prado Salmon was born in Rome on November 15, 1938, to Julio Prado Montaño, a Bolivian Army officer who was on assignment in the city, and Adela Salmon Tapia. At the age of 15, after the family returned to Bolivia, Gary enrolled in the Military College, and graduated in 1958 as a second lieutenant. He became an instructor in college.
In 1974, seven years after Mr. Guevara’s capture made Captain Prado a military hero, he was arrested as one of the leaders of an insurgency against the military dictatorship of President Hugo Banerjee Suárez. A year later, however, he was reinstated.
In 1981, a colonel now commanding the Army’s Eighth Division led the re-occupation of an Occidental Petroleum natural gas plant in Santa Cruz that was held by ultra-rightists, who threatened to blow it up. until the Bolivian military junta resigned.
But this would be Colonel Prado’s last active-duty operation: he was paralyzed by a bullet fired by one of his own men. Citing a witness statement, The Miami Herald reported that in what Colonel Prado said was an accident, he was shot by a second lieutenant.
Colonel Prado was eventually promoted to the rank of general, but the injury, which left him in a wheelchair, blocked his path to becoming the army commander he had once hoped for. He retired from the army in the late 1980s, and then served as Bolivian ambassador to Britain and later to Mexico.
Information about his survivors was not immediately available.
Some Mexican admirers of Mr. Guevara opposed the appointment of General Prado as ambassador. During a reception at a Mexican cultural center in 2001, Alberto Hijar, an art critic, threw a glass of wine at General Prado and shouted, “For the health of Che!” mr hijar told the Chicago Tribune“He’s a war criminal.”
But General Prado told The Tribune: “I have acted correctly throughout my life, not only in this episode. I don’t need to be ashamed or hide.” He tried to downplay the importance of Mr. Guevara’s capture. of, and added, “That whole incident is hardly four lines in the history of Bolivia.”