Che Guevara, Murderer

Turns out the the "World’s Greatest T-Shirt Salesman" is a murderer — though anyone who puts historical fact ahead of "chic" already knew that. This, from an email from The Independent Institute:

Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-1967), the Argentina-born revolutionary who helped Castro come to power in Cuba, has long been lionized by the hard left. Guevara’s posthumous popularity has accelerated in recent years — especially since the 2004 release of "The Motorcycle Diaries," a feature film based on his early autobiographical writings — making him a crossover superstar whose likeness appears on countless T-shirts, posters and tattoos, and who has been cited as an inspiration for political dissidents from Latin America to Lebanon to Hong Kong.

Yet the reality of Che Guevara’s life is far different from the popular perception, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa explains in a new article in the July 11 & 18 issue of THE NEW REPUBLIC.

It’s safe to assume that many people now sporting radical-chic Che T-shirts oppose capital punishment, but Che Guevara served as an executioner for Castro, as Guevara himself admitted in some of his diary entries, notes Vargas Llosa, author of LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA. Guevara, for example, admitted to shooting Eutimio Guerra in January of 1957 because he suspected him of passing on information. He also admitted to having shot a peasant named Aristidio, although he wasn’t certain he could justify that execution, as well as a man named Echevarría, the brother of a comrade. On the eve of victory for the revolution, Guevara ordered the execution of a couple dozen people in the central Cuban region of Santa Clara, according to Jaime Costa Vázquez (a.k.a. "El Catalán"), a former commander in the Cuban revolutionary army whom Vargas Llosa interviewed for the article.

But Che Guevara’s killing spree didn’t reach its apex until after the corrupt Bautista regime collapsed and Castro put Guevara in charge of the San Carlos de La Cabaña prison.

José Vilasuso, a lawyer and professor in Puerto Rico who had served with the group in charge of the judicial process at La Cabaña prison, told Vargas Llosa that one night in 1959 he witnessed the execution of seven political prisoners. Another witness, Javier Arzuaga, a clergyman more inclined toward the liberation theology of Leonardo Boff than the conservatism of the former Cardinal Ratzinger, told Vargas Llosa that Che Guevara never overturned a sentence. He said he personally witnessed 55 executions, including that of a young boy named Ariel Lima. Estimates of the number of executions of political prisoners during the six months that Che Guevara was in charge of La Cabaña vary. Economist Armando Lago has compiled a list of 179 executions. Pedro Corzo, who is making a documentary about Che Guevara, puts the number at 200. Vilasuso told Vargas Llosa that 400 political prisoners were executed under Guevara’s command.

Whether Che Guevara executed 400 political prisoners or "only" 200, it’s hard to see how self-styled "progressives" can continue to justify their worship of the murderer. For those who refuse to blame the "idealistic" Che for these executions, which took place without regard for due process, Alvaro Vargas Llosa also notes Guevara’s Taliban-like rule of the city of Sancti Spiritus in 1958, his ordering of his men to rob banks during the revolution, his rationalization of the Guanahacabibes labor camp, his negotiation with Khrushchev to acquire 42 Soviet missiles, half of them armed with nuclear warheads, his destruction of the Cuban economy, and his reckless revolutionary sojourns throughout Latin America and to the Congo, spreading violence and fostering only more misery.

Those in search of a genuinely heroic Latin American reformer, Vargas Llosa notes, will find one in Juan Bautista Alberdi of 19th century Argentina. Alberdi helped depose Argentina’s tyrant of that era (Juan Manuel Rosas) and introduced his country to the ideas of constitutionalism, open trade, greater immigration, and secure property rights — which when implemented brought 70 years of prosperity to Argentina and did so without staining Alberdi’s hands with blood.

See "The Killing Machine: Che Guevara, from Communist Firebrand to Capitalist Brand," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Kyle Bennett on August 4, 2005 at 07:19

    bryan, you're pathetic. Worse than pathetic, it's people like you who allow atrocities like Nazi Germany, Che's communism, and the massacres in Africa to happen. Have a look around at what is happening in the world today, and know that you will never be capable of stopping or even slowing down any of it.

    "All that is necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing". You're not one of the good men, your only function is to try to convince good men to stand by and watch. The most generous thing that can be said about you is that you are worthless as a human being.

  2. Richard Nikoley on August 4, 2005 at 09:01

    bryan, aside from what Kyle said, which I agree with, you should know that your argument is so logically flawed as to be hysterical.

    I'd expected perhaps a comment or two denying the veracity of the claims of his killings. But no, you go ahead and acknowledge it. But even if we accept your premise (that historical figures should be judged by the standards of their day), it still fails. Murder was wrong in Che's day too. It's always been wrong.

    Guavara craved political power and influence, and he killed to get it and keep it. That simple.

    True idealists persuade, inspire, lead, and _trade_ in order to pursue their ideal values. Guavara was no idealist.

  3. Richard Nikoley on August 4, 2005 at 10:01


    You're making a whole lot of shit up. I've never championed murder in any context at any time. Nor am I a fan of the US government (I’m an American, how could I?), though I have no problem preemptively killing radical Muslims who have vowed to continue their aggression.

    I know you. You're one of those guys who fails to make distinctions when you should, and then makes invalid distinctions when you shouldn't (Che is a hero because Columbus killed people, and other such lunacy).

  4. bryan on August 4, 2005 at 06:11

    It is clear that one shouldn't judge an historical person by the standards of today, but by their contemporary standards. He is an icon because he was an idealist, and we appreciate what he stood for rather than his specific actions. It is the same with someone like John Lennon: an immature man, and (if you look at his "Imagine" lyrics closely) a bit confused. But he too is an amazing (and deserved) icon.

    We all have good/evil and light/dark natures. A good person tends to appreciate the good in everyone else and not get hung up on the bad.

    • Larry Daley on June 7, 2010 at 17:08

      Humbug Bryan

      That was not so long ago.

      In Cuba we held to more’s similar to those of today and

      I was a rebel, and we all disliked him “se le arranca la cabeza a cualquiera”

      He killed out of fear, out of envy, out of ideology

      it meant nothing to him

      unless it was his own life held in the balance.

      See my book in progress “Love and War in Cuba”

      Larry Daley

  5. Rudicus on August 4, 2005 at 09:36

    In addition to what everyone else said, I find it particularly amusing that you make this post without pointing out that Columbus, they guy who "disovered" your country and whom you have dedicated a national holiday, slaughtered or had slaughtered thousands of native americans as well as completely wiping out the Arawaks. If that guy can be a hero, so can Che. Besides, can you really sit in judgement of a revolutionary while the U.S. government is torturing, killing, misleading and oppressing people both inside the country and out?

    Hypocrisy is a bitch, ain't it.

  6. EKENYERENGOZI MICHAEL CHIMA on August 4, 2005 at 10:38

    I have learnt of Che Guevara since I was 17 when some marxists wanted to convert me to communism, but being a highly spiritual Christian, my spirit did not embrace their cult hero of left wing revolutionaries.I rather saw a role model in Steve Biko the South African martyr of the anti-apartheid struggle.

    Fools worship idols.
    As Osama bin Laden has millions of Islamic heretics and lunatics hero-worshipping him, so similar fringe elements can also idolize a mass murderer and a rogue revolutionary.

    I am a revolutionary, but my own role model is my Lord and my master, our Messiah Jesus Christ who never raised any army of suicide bombers for a jihad and who never seduced an older woman or assaulted a nine year old girl all in the guise of a prophet of a religion that turns youths into self-destructive suicide terrorists.

    I look unto only Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. So I don't need to be fooled by any lunatic Che Guevara or demonic Osama bin Laden.

  7. Kyle Bennett on August 6, 2005 at 11:31

    No, bryan, I've made no mistake. The evil of Che's tactics, aside from the fact that they are not even remotely "questionable", pale in comparison to the evil of his principles. If I've misjudged you, it has only been in ascribing to ignorance and evasion what might actually be the result of malice and hatred. I failed to give proper weight to your "appreciation of what he stood for". For that, I apologize, not to you, but to anyone reading my previous comment.

  8. bryan on August 6, 2005 at 09:57

    Kyle and Richard, you have missed my point and furthermore you are making all kinds of (wrong) assumptions about me.

    Che's strategy and tactics are questionable but not his principles.

  9. Richard Nikoley on August 7, 2005 at 07:17

    Oh, I get it, now, bryan. The old "communism is good in theory" line.


  10. Richard Nikoley on August 8, 2005 at 16:08

    We're just taking you at your own words, byan. If your point is something else, I suggest you use different words.

    I don't believe Che had a "good intention" in his body. I think his actions signal what were his actual intentions far better than anything could. Moreover, his _stated_ intentions we just as evil as his actual ones, and how the whole thing came together in actuality ought to be a clue as to what judgment his stated attentions should be afforded.

  11. bryan on August 8, 2005 at 14:34

    Richard, you missed the point again. No, you probably deliberatly mistate my argument so you can knock it down easier.

    I stated that one can appreciate the principles that Che stood for and criticise his strategies and tactics. This is what most people are capable of doing, but clearly not the author of the post above. So be it.

    I am different, I can respect people with different ideologies to my own when I see that they act with good intentions for the greater good of humanity. What I don't respect is greed and ignorance.

    Kyle, you need to take a few deep breaths. It also sounds like you could do with some help. Earlier you said it was people like me who allowed Nazi Germany to happen. Now you accuse me of malice and hatred. That's just pathetic says volumes more about you than it does about me. Thanks for the laugh! 🙂

  12. Kyle Bennett on August 8, 2005 at 22:17


    I'm glad that you understand that what a person says often says more about him than about the subject he is speaking of. I wrote in full knowledge of that. As did you, I'm sure.

  13. Kyle Bennett on August 9, 2005 at 07:51


    It is overused, which has the unfortunate effect of diluting it's meaning in those instances when it is truly warranted. I did not refer to bryan as evil, only to Che. In which case my use of that term comes not from bryans words, but from what I know about Che's principles and intentions independently of what bryan says.

  14. John on August 9, 2005 at 05:41

    It seems like evil is an overused word. How come when you read bryan's words you see things that I don't see.

  15. Jim Longo on October 16, 2005 at 12:28

    For cabrones Brian and Rudicus,
    If you think that the regime that El Pendejo Che helped to create is so wonderful, why don't you hop on a plane and go experience the wonders of socialism first hand? QUE PASA RACISTAS? Or is socialism only good for inferior races like Cubans, not for little muchachos burgueses like Rudicus (or is it Punkicus?) and Brian? That's nice that you like to find good things about everyone tonto Brian. Does that also include Der Fuehrer? After all, he was a vegetarian, didn't smoke (no fan of Big Tobacco was Adolph!), and he loved dogs. Hitler wasn't all that bad, right tonto Brian? And for you Punkicus, if it had not been for Columbus, there would have never been a Castro. Even Fidel had to admit that.

  16. MAGNUM BALA on March 19, 2006 at 18:21

    He saw politics and armed struggle as the means to improve life for ordinary people.

  17. Richard Nikoley on March 20, 2006 at 03:34

    "…ordinary people."

    Meaning, people other than those he killed and was involved in killing.

  18. Arthur Wneir on November 2, 2006 at 12:13

    How to make fun about the one whom where CHE t-shirt :


  19. Douglas on July 14, 2007 at 17:41

    Clearly, at least – all politics aside – Che was an A grade asshole.

  20. Magnum Bala on August 6, 2007 at 22:58

    In times of war, people die. he himself was murdered.

    Peace through superior fire power is what it came down to.

  21. magnum bala on August 24, 2007 at 00:03

    "Why does a guerilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerilla fighter is a social reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protests of the people against their oppressors, and that he fought to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery." – Ernesto Che Guevara

  22. Richard Nikoley on August 24, 2007 at 08:33

    "…the inevitable conclusion…"

    Inevitable to whom?

    "…he takes up arms responding to the angry protests of the people against their oppressors…"

    Oppressors according to whom, and by what standard?

    "…he fought to change the social system…"

    By what right? According to what standard? To whose benefit? At whose expense?

  23. Simon on December 9, 2007 at 07:03

    If a corrupt CEO is poisoning a river, killing thousands of fish and people who are drinking from this river, and there are many of these CEO's everywhere, what is the fastest way of action? What is the quickest way to save lives? Che Guevara believed in making a fairer system in the long run…the fact that he did murder people is as bad as is the fact that George Bush is ordering the deaths of innocent people in Asia, (and remember he rescued the oil before rescuing the people in New Orleans) and the fact that the only person I can think of to have truly gained independance for his country without murdering anyone personally is Gandhi… Thing is- as humans, we are not co-operating for the better good!
    You can't just go on forums like this and complain about some famous figure from 50 years ago apparently killing people in his revolutionary struggle. Let it be known that that was history, that was a figure of the past, we are the figures of the future and we can make this world really change for the better good.

    They say capitalism = global terrorism…I say global terrorism is a construct of capitalism, as a means to scapegoat certain individuals. I don't believe the media's propaganda, I believe in the unity that is so easily created within society. If we are living in oppression, and know it and don't like it, why don't we escape from it? It isn't as hard as it is made out to be, to escape.
    And just remember, this life is for living 😉 Truly live it, all, don't let anything hold you back!

  24. Richard Nikoley on December 9, 2007 at 14:53

    "You can't just go on forums like this and complain about some famous figure from 50 years ago apparently killing people in his revolutionary struggle."

    Che Guevara was a lying, murdering political opportunist. There's just no justification for it.

    Just face reality and stop lying to yourself. Jesus Christ, already.

  25. Kyle Bennett on December 9, 2007 at 09:18

    Well, Simon, I see you've mastered the tu quoque fallacy.

    I believe in the unity that is so easily created within society

    Che's method is the only one available for creating true unity, though he barely made a dent. Kill everyone until there's only one person left, and there's your unity. Short of that, capitalism is the only way to get people to live together in peaceful coexistence when millions of individuals each have their own values and resources are scarce.

    And I think Rich may have a thing or two to say about what he can and can't "go on forums like this" and do, when he created the forum.

  26. Flyingdebris on December 14, 2007 at 16:46

    Some might say that at least che fought for his beliefs, however this too would be a lie.

    The man was a coward, a sadist, a sycophant, a murderer, a theif, a hypocrite, and a fool.

    Che had no concept of strategy, tactics, or even logistics. He executed on whim alone and in great quantity. He arrested and/or had executed homosexuals, artists, hippies, rockers, and the rebelious, often on made up charges or none at all.

    He spoke at length about the ordinary man and fighting for the people, and yet lived in a lavish mansion that was stolen from its previous occupants.

    He was considered a great literary MIND and yet burned many many books during the early days of the revolution for being "COUNTER REVOLUTIONARY"

    He always pushed to execute, at all times. The bastard had literally no ounce of compassion.

    He created the cuban secret police, who terrorize cuban civilians to this day.

    During the bay of pigs, he was fooled by rowboats and fireworks. Was a horrible soldier, and got lost whenever placed in a jungle.

    In short, the great che was a horrible screw up with not an ounce of human compassion. All he had was zeolotry and a photogenic face, and a massive political movement hell bent on idealizing him with outright lies.

  27. Willie on August 5, 2009 at 14:27

    Life’s a bitch ain’t it? I thought Che was a great man after seeing the movie. I was so touched by hearing the song Fusil Contra Fusil, while the credits rolled.
    How disappointing it is to find he was a thug. What a misguided fool he was.
    Don’t wear the Shirt, and support the real cubans.

  28. Sean on January 3, 2010 at 22:06

    Morality does not exist in the realm of opinion. There is such thing as objective right and wrong. The standard of value is man’s very life and freedom.

    Che was indeed a murderer. He was also an idealist. His ideal was a society of man enslaved to other men. Bound together like animals. We have seen the result. 150 Million dead under Communism. A noble idea? I don’t think so.

    Man by his nature has no master. Not his brothers nor his President. Not the state nor the tribe. Man is a single unit. And whether there are 10 of us, or billions – each one is special, unique, wonderful or at least has that capacity.

    Marx has been polluting the minds of those interested in ideas, truth and morality for many years and will continue to do so. All we need do is look to the President of the US to see the result. Mediocrity in action.

  29. Larry Daley on June 7, 2010 at 17:16

    Guevara stole all the fame he could from others

    He apparently never went on board the exploding El Coubre

    he just self assumed the heroics of others.

    He took up Castro’s own habit of separating himself from combat … and then claimed the heroics …

    getting shot in the foot generally because of the trajectory of bullets drops usually means the wounded person was far away from the site of action …

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