Sunday, October 14, 2007

Che - 40 Years Later

Che Guevara was a hero to many of us at UCSB and in Isla Vista in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For me, he remains one to this day.

"The Martyring of Che Guevara,
By Robert Scheer, October 9, 2007 at TruthDig

The 40th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara elicited considerable media
attention, mostly about his iconic image captured on T-shirts throughout the
world. There were the standard snarky asides that many young people wearing
those T-shirts have scant notion of who Che was, but the journalists
reporting the story seemed equally ignorant. Little was reported about Che’s
life and what led him to shun the comforts of a physician’s lifestyle in
Argentina to fight as a revolutionary in the rugged terrains of Cuba, the
Congo and, finally, Bolivia—or why someone who claimed to be obsessed with
helping the world’s poor was executed, gangland style, on the order of a CIA

One exception was the BBC, which bothered to send a reporter to Florida to
interview Felix Rodriguez, the Cuban-born CIA agent who was part of a team
of CIA operatives and Bolivian soldiers who captured Che. “Mr. Rodriguez
ordered the soldier who pulled the trigger to aim carefully, to remain
consistent with the Bolivian government’s story that Che had been killed in
action in a clash with the Bolivian army,” said the BBC report. Che’s hands
were then cut off and put in formaldehyde to preserve his fingerprints.

In his interview with the BBC, Rodriguez claimed that the order to kill Che
came from the Bolivian government, and that he went along: “I could have
tried to falsify the command to the troops, and got Che to Panama as the
U.S. government said they wanted,” he recalled, but he didn’t. Clearly, the
U.S. government was not unhappy with Rodriguez’s role in the bloody affair,
for he went on, as he boasts, to train the Nicaraguan Contras and advise the
repressive Argentine military government in the 1980s. He showed the BBC
reporter his CIA medal for exceptional service along with a picture of him
with the first President Bush in the White House. George H.W. Bush, it
should be remembered, had been the head of the CIA during some of the years
that Rodriguez worked there and was not put off by the man’s past deeds,
including his part in Che’s assassination.

So, what’s the big deal? Che was a Cuban Communist, and it’s a good thing
that folks like Bush and Rodriguez were able to defeat him before he spread
his evil message further—right? False, on every count.

First off, he was either an Argentine Trotskyite or an anarchist, but Che
was not a Communist in what we think of as the heavily entrenched,
bureaucratized Cuban mold. Che was restless in post-revolutionary Cuba
because his anarchist temperament caused him to bristle at the emerging
bureaucracy. He was, like Trotsky in his dispute with Stalin, skeptical that
the kind of socialism that truly served the poor could survive in just one
country; hence, he died attempting to internationalize the struggle.

It also turned out that killing Che was a big mistake, as his message was
spread more effectively by his execution than by his guerrilla activities,
which were, after he left Cuba, quite pathetic. This is the case in Latin
America, where political leaders he helped inspire are faring better than
those coddled by the CIA. Daniel Ortega, whom the CIA worked so doggedly to
overthrow, is the elected president of Nicaragua. Almost all of Latin
America’s leaders are leftists, some more moderate than Che (as in Brazil),
and others as fiery as the guerrilla (in Venezuela), but all determinedly
independent of yanqui control. Fortunately, they differ from Che in
preferring the ballot to the gun. But all recognize that poverty remains the
region’s No. 1 problem and that the free-market model imposed by the United
States hardly contains all the answers. Recall that the U.S. break with the
Cuban revolution came before Castro’s turn toward the Soviets, and that it
was over his nationalization of American-owned business assets in Cuba
ranging from Mafia-run casinos to the electric power grid.

These days, few politicians in the United States even seem to care about the
subversive Cuban influences in our own backyard that once haunted them. The
embargo on Cuba remains to mollify Florida’s aging Cuban community, but
what’s important to Washington today is Mideast oil, not protecting the
peasants of Bolivia from the likes of Che Guevara.

On Monday, Che’s death was marked, in the Bolivian village where he was
killed, by Bolivian President Evo Morales, who proclaimed his movement “100
percent Guevarist and socialist,” which hardly registers as a propaganda
success story for those favoring CIA assassinations. They turned a
failed—and flawed—guerrilla fighter into an enduring symbol of resistance to


A good site for links to stuff about Che:
Che: Selected Writings


  1. Ricardo MelfiNovember 12, 2007

    I just wanted to start off by saying that i am not latin. I am a portuguese/italian-australian living here in Australia. I admit the fact that up until a year ago i didn't really know who Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was but when i started to learn about him through my now ex-gf, I WAS FASCINATED. I became obsessed with him. I bought his shirts, looked up articles of him, i even have blockmounts of him in my room and have even taught my younger brothers and cousins about him. I believe you are one of the few who actually realise what he did and what he was trying to do. I've had people come up to me and curse at me for wearing his shirt. Ive had people ask me why i have a terrorist's photo on my mobile phone. I get stupid shit like that all the time, but I still show it off. Im not saying everyone hates him. There are alot of people i know that luv him. He is a legend, a hero. His stance on anti-imperialism was amazing, and yes Castro screwed up Cuba but its not Che's fault. He even left post-revolutionary Cuba to spread his word and try and help all of Latin America. You are rite though,If he hadn't been killed then he wouldn't have had such an impact even now 40 years later. America makes me sick, they are scared of everything that can grow more powerful than them. But if a country declares war on Communists then they join in and help! An example is in El Salvador, where my ex-gf is from. The army was killing innocent people for no reason and they used the excuse they were communists so that America would give them guns and train them!! The war is now over, thankfully, but there is still tension going on. Where was America on that side? Oh yeah, helping the Army kill thousands of innocent people (THEIR OWN PEOPLE!!) and the man who tried to make a difference, Monsignor Oscar Romero, was killed by the Army. And they were wasting their time on Cuba and such. Ive rambled on for too long now so i'd just like to say if you want to talk about Che or anything else, let me no. My Myspace address is Thanks for writing the truth in your page.
    Ricardo Melfi

  2. Quotes from The Motorcycle Diaries (the book):

    "The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese." --Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

    "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

    "The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations." --Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

    "The episode upset us a little because the poor man, apart from being homosexual and a first-rate bore, had been very nice to us, giving us 10 soles each, bringing our total to 479 for me and 163 1/2 to Alberto." --Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

    "The first person we hit on was the mayor, someone called Cohen; we had heard a lot about him, that he was Jewish as far as money was concerned but a good sort." --Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

    "Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary."

    Excerpt from something I wrote late at night once:

    "...Che was eventually named “Supreme Prosecutor” and sentenced to death a documented 180 'suspected' war criminals from Fulgencio's regime. In fact, there is a video of Col. Cornelio Rojas being executed. Che ordered him to be executed without the right to a trial. After he was done dishing out his fair share of capital punishment, he served in Cuba's government while writing several books about guerrilla warfare.

    During the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was Anti-American and pro Soviet. He also wanted a nuclear war so that he could rebuild the earth after cleansing it.

    He was captured by the USA in Bolivia in 1965. The Bolivian Army executed him (he was killed by a drunken Bolivian sergeant)."