Monday, November 20, 2006

Ask a Cuban-American, again

Dear Cuban-American,

The viewing of films such as "The Motorcycle Diaries" and Andy Garcia's "The Lost City, has sparked a renewed interest in Cuba, the revolution and the Cuban people.

My question is; how do Cuban-Americans today, view Che Guevara, his revolutionary deeds and his present-day cult following. It appears that the La Raza crowd in the U.S. has embraced Guevara as their hero, as evidenced by the placards with his image carried by the protesting illegal immigrants and their supporters this last Spring. Do you think these folks are just ignorant of Guevara'a exploits or is it me and my lack of understanding the man. As a Cuban-American, how do you view this Che Guevara adoration.

So, if in fact, Guevara is the only hero these activists can come up with, what say you?


Dear Bewildered,

The adoration of Che Guevara has long been a frequent subject of this blog and its mother site, Most Cubans living in the US despise Che Guevara. To them he is nothing but a cold-blooded killer, a foreigner who was an adventurer. A man whose adventures turned into many-a-Cuban's nightmare. I'm not going to get too deep into who Che Guevara was or what he did. You can read all about that stuff at, but I will say that most people that worship at the altar of Che see him as a symbol of almost anything except what he really was, a stalinist totalitarian.

Now I said most Cubans in the US despise Guevara. I suppose that there is a small segment of Cuban-Americans that don't feel this way. From what I can gather, they are younger people that were born after castro took power and were indoctrinated since an early age to believe in the myths of the Revolution. Since Guevara died young, and has been built up into some sort of deity, these young Cubans believe that the problem with the Revolution is fidel and that a more ideologically "pure" Guevara is their role model. These people often argue that fidel either set Guevara up to meet his end in Bolivia or he abandoned Guevara. Either way, they see Guevara as another victim of castro's ambition like another Revolutionary hero Camilo Cienfuegos.

Now as far as the La Raza crowd goes, I don't think it's a fair generalization to say they all adore Che. I think the legitimate immigration protests over the summer were to a large degree hijacked by a small but very vocal leftist element. These are the type of people that couldn't scare up a crowd of 100 if they said they were marching for socialism/communism or anarchy. They were opportunists that went where the crowds and the cameras were.

The Cuban-American works in the field of Spanish language advertising and has met many non-Cuban Hispanics over the last 10 years. Most are not militant or anti-American. They are, in fact, socially conservative and hard-working people. Just because many of them want to "get legal" doesn't make them socialist or even liberal.

But again many of the people you did see wearing Che's image in the crowds have their own interpretations of what Che stands for. For some it's social justice, for others it's anarchy, for others it's anti-Americanism. As I said, few of them see themselves necessarily as stalinists. They are just very confused.

I created to put out an alternate vision of Che Guevara so that inquisitive people could learn the truth. I gave up on converting the "true believers" a long time ago. There are people, like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, that will never listen to reason. It's a waste of effort. Hopefully you're not bewildered anymore.

If you have a question for the resident Cubanazo, please email it to me with "Ask a Cuban-American" in the subject line. Cranks need not apply.

"Ask a Cuban-American" is a complete rip-off of Gustavo Arellano's "Ask a Mexican".

"Ask a Cuban-American artwork provided by Tony Mendoza.


Tony said...

"There are people, like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, that will never listen to reason."

I think it is people who believe, without any actual proof, that 19 amateurs (who never commited a prior terrorist attack of any kind) with box cutters could engineer and execute the largest attack ever on american soil who refuse to listen to reason.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

I'm not going to engage Tony in a debate about 9/11. But for the readers I will say this. This is the type of argument a crank makes. It's called arguing from incredulity and it's a logical fallacy. Just because he can't believe something couldn't happen that way, then it couldn't be true.

9/11 was a conspiracy in the truest sense of the word. More than one person conspired to bring off the attacks. Therefore it is a conspiracy. But that's not what people like Tony argue. They argue that the US government was somehow involved.

To say that 19 men couldn't do exactly what they did is to refuse to look at the evidence.

The cockpit security before 9/11 was scary in retrospect. Anybody that had flown knew this to be true. I myself was in an airliner cockpit in November of 1997, invited by the pilot.

All hijacking protocol until 9/11 was to avoid confrontation with the hijackers, take them where they wanted to go and wait them out.

Confronted by 4-5 men claiming they had bombs and that almost certainly killed passengers using those box cutters, the pilots ceded control of the aircraft. It's no big stretch to believe this happened.

To deny the possibility is to is to deny the possibility of something as simple as a bus driver being removed form his seat by a lunatic who then drives it off an overpass. Not hard to imagine at all.

What's so hard to believe? That they recruited 19 people willing to kill themselves. Please!

Tony, you are banned. Bye bye.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Yes, I agree with that assessment. Had he lived he'd be another discredited marxist.

Anonymous said...

I have been pondering this whole obsession with Che Guevara. For those who know the truth, he is a murderer. However, for those who admire him, they either don't know the complete story or, at worst, they simply ignore or minimize this fact.

After looking at the different sites online that sell Che T-shirts, and memorabilia, the real draw or selling point is all about the concept of "revolutionary."

I Googled "revolutionary" and here is what seems to be the most common definition:

- markedly new or introducing radical change; "a revolutionary discovery"; "radical political views"
- rotatory: of or relating to or characteristic or causing an axial or orbital turn
- relating to or having the nature of a revolution; "revolutionary wars"; "the Revolutionary era"
- revolutionist: a radical supporter of political or social revolution

The term Revolutionary is some what vague and may be thought to be relative to the context it is used in. It is used to refer to diverse people from Che Guevara a Communist guerilla fighter to Nelson Mandela a nationalist and Gandhi a pacifist nationalist. A general definition might be any one who advocates and organises extreme change from the current status-quo i.e. a Revolution.

What caught my attention was the second part:

"The term Revolutionary is some what vague and may be thought to be relative to the context it is used in."

Herein lies the trouble. I remember back in high school when I took logic and writing classes. One of the things that got pounded into my head was: Always define your terms.

It appears our generation has lost all sense of the importance of defining their terms before they use them, or they just don’t feel the need to. Perhaps it takes too much time, or too much thought, or it’s just “not cool.” Whatever the reason, the consequences can be catastrophic.

So when it comes to Che, based on the definition above, I would agree that he was a revolutionary. However, as I pointed out earlier, that is only half the story. According to first hand accounts, and the names of his dead victims listed over at , he was also a cold-blooded killer and “an animal.”

At the risk of being obvious, let me state the following:

Murder is bad. Killing children is bad. Killing old people is bad. Killing people at random is bad.

Now I need to define my own terms.

Good = ethical, moral, honest, honoring other people, selfless, considering others before oneself, empowering to others
Bad – evil, abusive, dishonoring other people, destructive, selfish, power is stripped from others.

So I submit that there are two kinds of revolutionaries: good ones and bad ones.
Let me clarify with some examples:

Gandhi – good revolutionary
Martin Luther King – good revolutionary
Jesus – good revolutionary
Hitler – bad revolutionary
Mussolini – bad revolutionary
Osama bin Laden – bad revolutionary

And logically…

Che Guevara – bad revolutionary

I welcome your replies.

J. Joseph Rivera said...

My wife is Dominican and when we went to Santo Domingo together for the first time, she saw Dominican shops selling Che t-shirts and it infuriated her.

My wife grew up in the D.R. when Trujillo was in power and she remembered how when Che attempted to engage in guerilla warfare, Trujillo had him soundly defeated.

It makes me wonder whether or not kids will be wearing swastika t-shirts twenty or thirty years from now because they think it looks "cool".

Henry Louis Gomez said...


Your analysis is a good one. One note, I usually don't publish comments with references to Wikipedia in them because even the most basic of Wikipedia entries often have errors and falsehoods in them. It's just my personal pet peeve.