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On this day in 1967, socialist revolutionary and guerilla leader Che Guevara, age 39, is killed by the Bolivian army. The U.S.-military-backed Bolivian forces captured Guevara on October 8 while battling his band of guerillas in Bolivia and assassinated him the following day. His hands were cut off as proof of death and his body was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1997, Guevara’s remains were found and sent back to Cuba, where they were reburied in a ceremony attended by President Fidel Castro and thousands of Cubans.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967), commonly known as El Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat, military theorist, and major figure of the Cuban Revolution. Since his death, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol and global insignia within popular culture.
As a medical student, Guevara traveled throughout Latin America and was transformed by the endemic poverty he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region’s ingrained economic inequalities were an intrinsic result of capitalism, monopolism, neocolonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution. This belief prompted his involvement in Guatemala’s social reforms under President Jacobo Arbenz, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow solidified Guevara’s radical ideology. Later, while living in Mexico City, he met Raul and Fidel Castro, joined their 26th of July Movement, and travelled to Cuba aboard the yacht, Granma, with the intention of overthrowing U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara soon rose to prominence among the insurgents, was promoted to second-in-command, and played a pivotal role in the successful two year guerrilla campaign that deposed the Batista regime.
Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara performed a number of key roles in the new government. These included instituting agrarian reform as minister of industries, serving as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba’s armed forces, reviewing the appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals, and traversing the globe as a diplomat on behalf of Cuban socialism. Such positions allowed him to play a central role in training the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion and bringing to Cuba the Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles which precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Additionally, he was a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on guerrilla warfare, along with a best-selling memoir about his youthful motorcycle journey across South America. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution abroad, first unsuccessfully in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia, where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and executed.
Guevara remains both a revered and reviled historical figure, polarized in the collective imagination in a multitude of biographies, memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs, and films. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, while an Alberto Korda photograph of him entitled “Guerrillero Heroico”, was declared “the most famous photograph in the world.”
768 – Carloman I and Charlemagne are crowned Kings of The Franks.
1238 – James I of Aragon conquers Valencia and founds the Kingdom of Valencia.
1264 – The Kingdom of Castile conquers the city of Jerez that was under Muslim occupation since 711.
1446 – The hangul alphabet is published in Korea.
1514 – Marriage of Louis XII of France and Mary Tudor.
1558 – Merida is founded in Venezuela.
1582 – Because of the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
1595 – The Spanish army captures Cambrai.
1604 – Supernova 1604, the most recent supernova to be observed in the Milky Way.
1635 – Founder of Rhode Island Roger Williams is banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a religious dissident after he speaks out against punishments for religious offenses and giving away Native American land.
1701 – The Collegiate School of Connecticut (later renamed Yale University) is chartered in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
1760 – Seven Years’ War: Russian forces occupy Berlin.
1771 – The Dutch merchant ship Vrouw Maria sinks near the coast of Finland.
1776 – Father Francisco Palou founds Mission San Francisco de Asis in what is now San Francisco, California.
1804 – Hobart, capital of Tasmania, is founded.
1806 – Prussia declares war on France.
1812 – War of 1812: In a naval engagement on Lake Erie, American forces capture two British ships: HMS Detroit and HMS Caledonia.
1820 – Guayaquil declares independence from Spain.
1824 – Slavery is abolished in Costa Rica.
1835 – The Royal College, Colombo in Sri Lanka is established with the name Hillstreet Academy.
1837 – A meeting at the U.S. Naval Academy establishes the U.S. Naval Institute.
1845 – The eminent and controversial Anglican, John Henry Newman, is received into the Roman Catholic Church.
1854 – Crimean War: The siege of Sebastopol begins.
1861 – American Civil War: Battle of Santa Rosa Island – Union troops repel a Confederate attempt to capture Fort Pickens.
1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Tom’s Brook – Union cavalrymen in the Shenandoah Valley defeat Confederate forces at Tom’s Brook, Virginia.
1874 – General Postal Union is created as a result of the Treaty of Berne.
1888 – The Washington Monument officially opens to the general public.
1907 – Las Cruces, New Mexico is incorporated.
1911 – An accidental bomb explosion in Hankou, Wuhan, China leads to the ultimate fall of the Qing Empire
1913 – Steamship SS Volturno catches fire in the mid-Atlantic.
1914 – World War I: Siege of Antwerp – Antwerp, Belgium falls to German troops.
1919 – Black Sox scandal: The Cincinnati Reds win the World Series.
1934 – Regicide at Marseille: The assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and Louis Barthou, Foreign Minister of France.
1936 – Generators at Boulder Dam (later renamed to Hoover Dam) begin to generate electricity from the Colorado River and transmit it 266 miles to Los Angeles, California.
1940 – World War II: Battle of Britain – During a night-time air raid by the German Luftwaffe, St. Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, England is hit by a bomb.
1941 – A coup in Panama declares Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia Arango the new president.
1942 – Statute of Westminster 1931 formalises Australian autonomy.
1942 – The last day of the October Matanikau action on Guadalcanal as United States Marine Corps forces withdraw back across the Matanikau River after destroying most of the Imperial Japanese Army’s 4th Infantry Regiment.
1945 – Parade in NYC for Fleet Admiral Nimitz and 13 USN/USMC Medal of Honor recipients
1962 – Uganda becomes an independent Commonwealth realm.
1963 – In northeast Italy, over 2,000 people are killed when a large landslide behind the Vajont Dam causes a giant wave of water to overtop it.
1967 – A day after being captured, Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara is executed for attempting to incite a revolution in Bolivia.
1969 – In Chicago, the United States National Guard is called in for crowd control as demonstrations continue in connection with the trial of the “Chicago Eight” that began on September 24.
1970 – The Khmer Republic is proclaimed in Cambodia.
1981 – Abolition of capital punishment in France.
1983 – Rangoon bombing: attempted assassination of South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan during an official visit to Rangoon, Burma. Chun survives but the blast kills 17 of his entourage, including four cabinet ministers, and injures 17 others. Four Burmese officials also die in the blast.
1986 – The musical The Phantom of the Opera has its first performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.
1989 – An official news agency in the Soviet Union reports the landing of a UFO in Voronezh.
1989 – In Leipzig, East Germany, 70,000 protesters demand the legalisation of opposition groups and democratic reforms.
1991 – Ecuador becomes a member of the Berne Convention copyright treaty.
1992 – A 13 kilogram (est.) fragment of the Peekskill meteorite lands in the driveway of the Knapp residence in Peekskill, New York, destroying the family’s 1980 Chevrolet Malibu
1995 – An Amtrak Sunset Limited train is derailed by saboteurs near Palo Verde, Arizona.
1999 – The last flight of the SR-71.
2001 – Second mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the 2001 anthrax attack.
2006 – North Korea allegedly tests its first nuclear device.
2009 – First lunar impact of the Centaur and LCROSS spacecrafts as part of NASA’s Lunar Precursor Robotic Program.