Retired Bolivian Army non-commissioned officer Mario Terán Salazar dies Thursday, aged 80. Terán rose to worldwide notoriety for being the man who killed Argentine doctor turned Cuban guerrilla leader Ernesto Che Guevara in 1967.
Terán died Thursday at 7.15 am local time in the city of Santa Cruz, it was reported. Terán had been hospitalized in a serious condition at the Military Social Security Corporation (Cossmil).
Today at 07:15 a.m., Bolivian time, Senior Warrant Officer Mario Terán Salazar passed away in Cossmil Santa Cruz. To his wife, sons, and daughters my deepest condolences for such an irreparable loss, posted Raúl Azurduy, pastor of the evangelical church close to the family.
According to reports printed in October of 1967 by the French Paris Match magazine, the then sergeant was ordered to shoot Guevara. That was the worst moment of my life. At that moment I saw 'Che' big, very big, enormous. His eyes shone intensely. I felt that he was lying on top of me and when he stared at me, I felt dizzy. I thought that with a quick movement 'Che' could take the gun away from me. 'Be calm,' he told me, 'and aim well! You're going to kill a man!' Then I took a step back, towards the doorway, closed my eyes and fired, Terán said at the time.
Retired General Gary Prado Salmón, who headed the operation to capture 'Che' Guevara, confirmed the news of Terán's death.
He was hopeless and we accompanied his last hours. We had a good relationship, he was a responsible officer who carried out a superior order, but he lived with a low profile, said Prado, who commanded the platoon that captured Guevara alive in the jungle of southeastern Bolivia after nine months of guerrilla actions.
He simply did his duty as a non-commissioned officer in the army, Prado said in a radio interview.
Prado is one of the few survivors of that fight against the Cuban-endorsed guerrillas that lasted nine months.
Terán is survived by his wife and two children.