How many unarmed did Che Guevara execute kill or by his order?

I've seen numbers that range from 180 to 14,000 yet nothing official.

  • Could you explain what you mean by the term "execute"? The dictionary definition is to carry out a sentence of death on a legally condemned person. Since Guevara never had the right to condemn anyone, the number is 0.
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 10:48

1 Answer 1


It is extremely hard to put an estimate on this.
Firstly it's impossible to know how many civilians he killed (probably unwillingly) during battle, so I will just ignore that.
Then your wording implies that you consider all civilians in-guilty or undeserving of the death penalty; Some states of the US have a different opinion. It is generally agreed upon that Che had an ulitarian view - If it helped the revolution the death penalty is correct (Anderson 1997, p. 375, Castañeda 1998) ("The situation was uncomfortable for the people and for Eutimio so I ended the problem giving him a shot with a .32 pistol ..." as described in "Death of a Traitor")

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_Guevara#cite_note-114 gives an first estimate over his death-toll during his bureaucratic days.
He ordered 105 or 144 (Discrepancy is explained in the link given, IMO 144 counts) over complete Cuba, of which 104 were in the prison he oversaw.
From January 59 to June when Guevara left Cuba as "Diplomat" (and thus gave away his administrative powers) 200-700 people were killed all over Cuba, many not by order of Che.
However you question was how many of those were civilians - prisoner during that time included officals of the old Batista goverment/regime and traitors (to the revolution).
Some of the civilian officials were corrupt and tortured or killed the opposition. The army did only defend itself against terrorist seeking to overthrow the goverment and establishing the Ley de la Sierra which had the death penalty as a cornerstone.

Then there was the time during the actual rebellion - the rebells established the Ley de la Sierra which had the Death Penalty as a cornerstone. A famous example is Eutímio Guerra.
Records from that time do exist in the cubaarchive.org (from all times actually); To get an estimate I did an advanced search with "Batista Regime" and "Death atttributed to: Castro Rebel Army" - that gave 371 more cases. It isn't clear how many of those are attributable to Che himself. (I guess one could automate looking up the case id and if "Che Guevara" appears in the Case description would count as one more confirmed kill)

However it think it is quite clear that 14000 is just plain wrong and a reasonable amount would be around 200.

  • 1
    Ooh, Wikipedia uses the word "execution"!!! Better not let Mark C. Wallace see that! ;) Thanks for some data, but I could care less about the justification, and I didn't ask for any. I'll have to edit the question again for that "civilian" part. It's now "unarmed". Also, one Wikipedia note does not a confirmation make, but thank you for the effort!
    – user4560
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 14:54
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    I don't think your change affects my conclusions. Firstly I guess that you mean unarmed-at-all times (Obviously the prisoners will be unarmed) which you mean as a proxy for "Never put Che Guevara or his fellows in physical danger". (I suspect that you actually want to ask how many people he killed unlawfully or morally wrong) Well for a period of time he was a government official and thus simply in charge of deciding penalties. Some of his "kills" there were over violent crimes - opinions whether death is right for those vary. Other were against the old goverment -
    – user45891
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 17:24
  • supposedly the decision process for those were modeled after the Nürnberg Processes (Which was a similar situation). Those trials found that even though the accused were acting in complicance with the state law they were guilty of crimes - in some cases punishable by death @Cincinnatus (forgot the mention in the first post)
    – user45891
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 17:25
  • @user4560 Of coarse you didn't ask for any justifications, and why should you? Your interested in crafting propaganda, not learning history. Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 12:41

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