Saturday, July 23, 2005

Che Guevara isn’t cool

Via the excellent German blog Davids Medienkritik:

Jeffrey Gedmin: Che Guevara isn’t cool

Have you taken note of all those Che Guevara faces you see cropping up everywhere? You see them at soccer matches, book stores, Prenzlauerberg cafes, McDonalds and Hartz IV demonstrations. I am indebted to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, who in the current issue of the center-left "New Republic" magazine, explains a bit about who Che Guevara was. Of course, Che is famous for helping Fidel Castro shape the Cuban revolution. Later, he was in charge of La Cabana prison. It was here that Che oversaw a military tribunal, which condemned hundreds, by some accounts a couple thousand counterrevolutionaries to death without trial in those early, heady days. Javier Arzuaga, the prison’s chaplain, recalls in a recent conversation with Vargas Llosa how strict Che could be, including when it came to the execution of children. “Hatred,” Che once said, is important. It makes you, he reflected, "into an effective, violent, selective and cold-blooded killing machine." Che certainly loved to kill. He once killed a comrade, who he suspected of being disloyal. “I ended the problem,” he boasted, “with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain.” During the glorious revolution days he once wrote to his wife, “Here in the Cuban jungle, alive and blood thirsty.” Che loved doing what was best for the people. He once experimented with imposing a kind of sharia law, regulating relations between men and women and the use of alcohol. He helped set up a police state in Cuba and created on the tiny island labour camps for dangerous counterrevolutionaries. These camps were the precursor for the camps that would be later used to confine homosexuals, aids sufferers and other undesirable elements. Che loved Soviet communism. He helped negotiate the stationing of Soviet nuclear weapons on Cuba in 1962, and later became furious when Moscow negotiated their removal with the Americans. “If the rockets had remained, we would have used them all...” He spoke of “unimaginable destructiveness to defend a principle.”


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