Some of his remains,found in a secret Bolivian grave and returned to Cuba last July, are at the center of Havana’s current commemoration of the “30th Anniversary of the Death in Combat of the Heroic Guerrilla and His Comrades.” A country chooses its own heroes.
Yet it was not “Cuba,” in the sense of an entity representing an inarguably valid popular will, that installed CheGuevara in his adopted country’s pantheon.
It was a self-appointed Marxis telite, which first found a use for him as a guerrilla leader making and exporting revolution and then found further use for him as a fixture of state propaganda. For that latter role, he had just the right attributes, being glamorous, audacious, given to spouting idealistic slogans,self-sacrificing, young (39 when he died in 1967) and — perhaps best of all — dead and hence no threat to the ruling circles.
He was also something else: a killer who executed “traitors” in his own ranks and boasted of winning peasant support by “planned terror,” abeliever “in the revolution” who gave a gloss of intellectuality and socialjustice to the pursuit of single-party power, and a man who hated hispolitical enemies and thereby felt empowered to destroy them.
It seems a just irony that this man who claimed to be “with the people” finally was turned in to the Bolivian army by the very peasants in whose name he was attempting a revolution. All this might be no more than a historical footnote but for the fact that the Cuban regime Che Guevara served is still in power and still using him for its own anti-democratic ends.
How sad that so many can’t even start to realize it.