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HAPPY AT 90 MILES » Che será, será.
Apr
29
2009

Che será, será.

He’ll have two brief appearances in “Happy at 90 Miles”, once in a historical setting, once in a dream sequence, so I did some drawings of him to get his likeness down.

guevara
Here he is, one of the most polarizing figures in Latin America. Not so much in Europe and great parts of the US, where the consensus is that “Che” was a righteous fighter for justice, a Christ-like paladin of the downtrodden and most of all genuine.

In Latin America, while he certainly has more followers than anywhere else of both the casual and impassioned kind, there is also a great many people who have been at the receiving end of the violence he either committed or inspired.

I’m not talking about dictators in shiny boots like Batista, or even the his torturers who were executed following the triumph of the Revolution. I’m talking about ordinary middle class people who were jailed and killed for their active dissent and opposition to communism, who were told they would either agree to become wards of the state or be labeled as criminals, the parents who lost sons to the armed insurgencies and terrorism he directly or indirectly exported, whether they were soldiers and police men of a bourgeois government, or had been seduced by Che’s example to take to the hills with a gun and fight his countrymen. How many lives have been ruined by the political violence that ravaged Latin America in the last 50 years?

Che means a lot of things to a lot of people. The asthmatic Argentinian physician who became the poster boy for The Cuba Revolution has long since ceased being a mortal human and has transcended into the rarified realm of legend, where he is usually only lionized or demonized. His image taken from Korda’s famous photo casually adorns the t-shirts and bedrooms of adolescents world wide. “Brand Che” has been thoroughly embraced and coopted by the very consumerist culture he despised while populating the wet dreams of rebels and radicals of all stripes who know they’ll never be as hardcore as he was.

To me, he is not Che. He is just Ernesto Guevara de La Serna. A fallible human being who had an inflated sense of self that enabled him to put an a gun to the head of anyone who opposed his worldview and feel holy when pulling the trigger. In other words, another armed extremist with a mission. In this he is more a continuation of the Spanish conquistadors than the indians they both aimed to “liberate”.

Where others see his love for the exploited poor I see this love used as a license for his tremendous capacity for hate. Only hate can put you in such a hard, fanatical position where everyone, including yourself is better off dead than “wrong”. All in the service of ideas that feed on blood and reduce human lives to the expendable debris that is the cost of failed messianic projects such as the Cuban Revolution.

I don’t think you have to be a hard-nosed conservative to see that his example is intolerant. undemocratic and ultimately futile.

One thing his admirers and I can agree with is that he was the genuine article. He was singlemindedly true to his ideals, and did not sensor the brutality of his thought process. This makes me think that a lot of the idealization that he’s the subject of is mainly casued by a lack of understanding and information. I’m sure he’d make most of his young fans cry in disbelief if he could have ten minutes with them.

An anecdote tells that when he was in charge of the more than 150 executions at La Cabaña prison after the rebels captured Havana in 1958, a woman came to plead with him for her husband’s life. He was one of Batista’s officers and was sentenced to die in three days. Guevara had all visitors cross the courtyard with its pocked wall stained with blood and brains from the victims of the firing squads. On listening to her plea, he said that there was no sense in her suffering for three more days, he’d take care to have the husband executed that same afternoon. Is it a true story? It certainly is consistent with his attitude documented in his writings and speeches.

“To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary…These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall! (El Paredón)” –Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

“Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the
enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is
heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and
cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without
hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.” Ernesto Guevara -Message to the Tricontinental,
1967

For a brilliant summary on the dark side of Che, please see Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s article HERE

Comment.

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Written by IPH in: Cuban Revolution,Updates |

2 Comments »

  • Mari says:

    It’s a shame that somebody so well educated like him, the “Che”, somebody that even worked with leprosi patients in Peru, end up acting like a cold killing machine…

  • IPH says:

    Mari, unfortunately education doesn’t inoculate against cruelty, especially when the killer thinks he possesses “the truth” or does it on behalf of some noble cause.
    This psychosis exists on both ends of the political spectrum obviously, but hopefully one day Che and the Castros will be placed in the hall of shame alongside the likes of Pinochet.

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