Sunday, December 21, 2008

The other side of Che

The transmogrification of Che Guevara from brutal revolutionary to chic icon is one of the most amazing displays of historical ignorance of the last half century. And now the cinema is bringing us one more deification of this thug. Grant Rollins writes in the British paper, The Sun, to remind us of who was the real Che Guevara.
Guevara is reported to have been responsible for the deaths of between 180 and “thousands” of prisoners. While the exact figures might be disputed, there is no doubt about his involvement.

He admitted he did not feel a need for a fair trial for anyone who opposed Castro’s Cuban revolution.

Guevara wrote: “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.”
In 1964 Guevara addressed the UN’s General Assembly. When he was questioned about Cuba’s firing squads, he said: “Executions? Certainly we execute. And we will continue executing as long as it is necessary.

“This is a war to the death against the revolution’s enemies.”

For five months Guevara was the commander of the La Cabana Fortress prison. His role was to bring justice to “traitors” and war criminals. He relished it, often acting as judge, jury and executioner.

Some of those put to death had taken part in Batista’s regime of death and torture. Bastista’s supporters are believed to have murdered 20,000 Cubans.

But Guevara’s victims also included a 14-year-old boy — and anyone whose revolutionary ideas differed from his own.

The Argentinian-born revolutionary, who had been made a Cuban citizen due to his vital role in the defeat of Batista, followed the political model favoured by Russia’s Communist dictator Joseph Stalin.

He imprisoned supporters of rival Marxist philosophies such as Trotskyism.

He played a role in organising Cuba’s new secret police force and the network of citizens who spied on their neighbours.

Guevara ruled his troops with an iron fist. In Cuba he demanded the death penalty for “informers, insubordinates, malingerers and deserters”.
Like the useful idiots who used to proudly wear their Mao jackets, now we have uncounted millions buying the Che T Shirts, putting up the poster, getting a Che tattoo, and buying tickets to see movies that portray Guevara as simply an idealistic revolutionary out to help the underclass. Actor Benicio del Toro who portrays him in the current film compares Che to Jesus except without that whole turn-the-other-cheek nonsense. It's a depressing commentary on the delusions of idealism that have led so many to idolize this guy and turn their own cheek to the reality of history.