Gary Prado Salmón, the Bolivian general who captured revolutionary leader Che Guevara, died on May 9, 2023, at the age of 84. Prado Salmón had been hospitalized in La Paz, Bolivia, after contracting COVID-19.
Prado Salmón played a crucial role in the capture of Guevara in October 1967, which led to the Argentine revolutionary’s execution the following day. At the time, Prado Salmón was a captain in the Bolivian army and was in charge of the unit that captured Guevara.
Prado Salmón’s role in the capture of Guevara earned him national and international recognition, but also made him a target of left-wing groups in Bolivia. In 1970, he was kidnapped by a left-wing guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), and held captive for 11 months.
Despite his capture, Prado Salmón continued to serve in the Bolivian army and was later promoted to the rank of general. He also had a career in politics, serving as a senator and running for president in 1985.
In recent years, Prado Salmón had been involved in efforts to locate Guevara’s remains. In 1997, his memoir “The Decapitation of Che Guevara: A Bolivian Soldier’s Story” was published, detailing his role in the capture of Guevara.
Prado Salmón’s death has sparked reactions from both supporters and critics of his role in Guevara’s capture. Some have praised him as a hero for his service to Bolivia, while others have criticized him for his involvement in the execution of Guevara and the wider repression of left-wing movements in Bolivia.
Regardless of one’s view of his legacy, Prado Salmón played a significant role in Bolivian history and his death marks the passing of a key figure in the country’s military and political spheres.