As I spend my final months here in Chicago it humors me to see various non-Cuban inner-city street youth with shirts and coats portraying images of the fictional Cuban character Tony Montana (from the movie Scarface.) Now, as any Cuban-American knows, there is a copy of the movie Scarface in almost every Cuban household, and as I've debated on buying a copy, I have recently pondered the danger in this fictional image of a Cuban gangster.
At first, I thought that I would rather have someone with an image of Scarface instead of an image of ernesto guevara*, however, I got to thinking and realized that both images can be seen as two sides of the same fictional coin.
mr. guevara's image on the shirts of ignorant college students world round has little to do with the historical events of mr. guevara's life, and is more the recreation of an icon representing the idealized "revolutionary struggle" against corruption in power. Scarface's image, on most inner-city youth, is an image of this corruption in search of power. If mr. guevara is the fictional image of struggle, then Scarface's Tony Montana has become the fictional image of guevara's opponent.
Image perpetuates myth and myth distorts the truth. As every hero needs a villian, this heroic image of mr. guevara (as understood here in the US) has one in the villianous image Scarface. And though I am sure that there are many who would side with Scarface simply to spit on the image of mr. guevara, I have to warn that this would be a grave error. Tony Montana's self-destructive character is in the end this negative, and erroneous, image of the Cuban exile community, to promote his image would subsequently justify the erroneously positive image of mr. guevera.
It should also be noted that both images in the end perpetuate the LIE: that those Cuban's who fled Cuba are corrupt and that the revolution was necessary.
In lieu of this, I'll hold off on getting a copy of Scarface until I'm convinced otherwise.
*Given that ernesto guevara was called "che" by his closest friends, direct reference to him from now on will be by his real name. In respect of the fact that he never finished his medical degree, I will refer to him from now on as mr. guevara. And finally, since I hold his past actions and writings accountable for the much of the current turmoil and unrest that is persistant in most of Latin American (especially in centeral Colombia and southern parts of Mexico), his name will be written in the lower case –respect is given only when respect is due.
La verdad es más sencilla, ella no quiere adornos extranjeros, pues los suyos bastan para hacerla apreciable.
-Felix Varela (Miscelánea Filosófica, Parte II, 174)