Sunday, August 27, 2006

We get letters

I got this email from reader of today. My response is below.


Irregardless of my political standings, I must research both sides of the truth on every matter. Every story has two sides. I have seen the Motorcycle Diaries and I have read Che's written diaries. I have seen many people wear his T-Shirts

Yet, there are many people living in Miami who hate Che AND Fidel. Why is that so? That is why I am contacting you. I want to know the "other sides" story.

I don't think Fidel and Che are the same person, meaning the crimes of one shouldn't necessarily be imputed onto the other. So each person needs to be assessed seperatley.
I appreciate your wanting to hear the other side of the Che Guevara story. I can not do it justice in a short email but I shall try to summarize why many Cubans hate Che.

Che Guevara wasn't Cuban. That's the first thing. It's not that Cubans hate non-Cubans but when a stranger, a foreigner comes to your country and commits the atrocities that Guevara committed it feels like a worse offense. What offenses am I talking about? Well, Che Guevara was an admirer of Josef Stalin. If you read his diaries and his letters this will be plain. He wrote letters, at times, signing his name as "Stalin II". Guevara believed that the ends justified the means. That any tactic, no matter how barbaric, was acceptable if the end result was a more "just" society. Of course this idea is repugnant to most western style democracies. That's why even criminals have basic protections under our laws, to avoid abuses of power. But Guevara didn't believe in fair trials. Many of those executed by firing squads under the jurisdiction of Che Guevara were given only perfunctory show trials where no rights were guaranteed to the defendants. It was a bloody spectacle similar to the beheadings during the French Revolution, except this was 1959 and Cuba was an advanced country.

If you do get to see the movie [Guevara: Anatomia de un mito], you'll notice that almost all of the people interviewed for the documentary are former comrades of Guevara. These are people that fought side by side with him and Fidel thinking that they were fighting for Cuban democracy. These are first hand witnesses of Guevara, his attitude, and his actions.

The fact is that Cuba has become a symbol for the international left despite the obvious fact that Castro communism in Cuba has been a disaster for that country. And Guevara is the symbol for the Cuban Revolution. So as much as you'd like to separate Fidel from Che it's impossible because the symbolism of Che (what we freedom loving Cubans and Cuban-Americans object to) is forever linked to Fidel. So when someone wears a Che shirt they are wearing a symbol of the Cuban revolution.

Here's an example: The swastika is actually an ancient Indian symbol. Hitler adopted it and made it a symbol of nazism. Today almost everyone sees a swastika and thinks of Hitler, World War II, the Holocaust. Hitler transformed this symbol into something despised by the world. I can get a tattoo of a swastika and explain to people till I'm blue in the face that it's an ancient Indian symbol, which is true, but people will think I'm a Nazi.

So when you wear a symbol of a revolution that destroyed so many lives, there can only be revulsion by those that experienced it.

I have read a lot material on Che and I can tell you that this what I think of him:
  1. He was a killer. He enjoyed killing and got a thrill or rush from it.
  2. He was cruel. He enjoyed making people (mainly the relatives of his victims) suffer, he laughed at their grief.
  3. He was a dim bulb. If you read his diaries and letters you'll see that the guy is a boring writer who often expounded on subjects he knew nothing of.
  4. He was a fraud as a Guerilla warrior. I document on my site, how many of the "battles" of the Cuban insurrection were either bought and paid for by the well-funded rebels or were instances where that the Cuban regular army troops simply laid down their weapons. This includes Guevara's crowning achievement, the battle of Santa Clara. All of his other escapades (The Belgian Congo, Bolivia) were disasters.
So you have this guy was a lousy human being who becomes a worldwide symbol because a very gifted photographer happened to catch an image in his viewfinder that is, to be sure, a powerful image of defiance. People then take that image and put it on T-Shirts and it represents to them whatever they want it to represent.

To some it's a symbol of anti-Americanism (a very powerful sentiment in many parts of the world), to some it represents social justice (a very seductive concept for many), for some it's just a symbol against conformity, and for some it's a symbol of anarchy. All of these interpretations have nothing to do with the reality of who the man was, what he believed in and what he actually did. It's kind of a blind worship that many of us Cubans and Cuban-Americans do not understand.

Good luck in your search for the truth.


Srcohiba said...

well said!

Alfredo said...

excellent! I am tired hearing people excuse Leche Guevera for his atrocities because of his idealism or because he had long hair!

He was also responsible for the destruction of Cuba!!!!!!!