National Book Award winner Carlos Eire, who I had the honor of having as my podcast guest has an op-ed in Spanish in El Diario La Presa, La nostalgia del Che (also posted at Babalu), and I posted it in English at Real Clear World Blog:
Unmasking Che the Idol
The real Che was a hypocrite who lived very comfortably in a mansion while he preached revolution and imprisoned, tortured, and murdered thousands of my fellow countrymen. Some of his victims were my relatives. This Che dismissed human rights as “archaic bourgeois details.” He also herded tens of thousands of Cubans into concentration camps. To top it all off, he didn’t really help the poor and oppressed: instead he impoverished everyone, and set himself up as lord of all.
Che the idol is a totally different man: a noble crusader for justice, a sensitive idealist, even a martyr and saint. Ironically, Che the idol generates lots of cash for capitalists who imprint his image on all sorts of merchandise or make films about him.
Go read the whole thing.
While you read Carlos’s article bear in mind, please, that Carlos speaks from experience. When he was a child living in Cuba, Che Guevara appropriated for himself and lived in a mansion a few houses down from Carlos’s family home (which they lost thanks to the “revolución”).
So as you sit in the darkened theater, listening to Soderbergh’s Che murmur dreamily that the true revolutionary is guided by “love,” you might want to consider how that love was manifested in a man who used to lay on his side on top of a wall, chomping a cigar even as he urged on the firing squads he commanded.
Or you might consider Che in his own words.
Here is Che, for example, recounting the execution of Eutimio Guerra for betraying the Cuban revolution: “I fired a .32 caliber bullet into the right hemisphere of his brain which came out through his left temple. He moaned for a few moments, then died.”
And here’s Che philosophizing on the rule of law: “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.”
Oh, and here’s Che lamenting the outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis: “If the missiles had remained, we would have used them against the very heart of America including New York. We must never establish peaceful coexistence. In this struggle to the death between two systems we must gain the ultimate victory. We must walk the path of liberation even if it costs millions of atomic victims.”
Finally, here’s Che on his commitment to his cause: “In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm.”
Unrelated to Che,
I mentioned in this morning’s podcast that I was going to post at RCW on Sarko’s visit to Brazil. That post will be at RCW, probably tomorrow morning.
Thank you for your patience.