Nov 17, 2010

Che Guevara Death and life

October 9, 1967, 40 years ago today, Che Guevara was assassinated in Bolivia by his CIA-assisted and -directed captors
He told the frightened soldier who was sent to execute him in the small room where Che lay, seriously wounded: “I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man." The Bolivian had been told not to shoot Che in the head, because they wanted to be sure to get identifiable photos of him dead. After he was killed, and photos taken, Che's hands were chopped off and sent to Cuba as further proof that the world-famous revolutionary was dead

Che and his comrades were buried in secret graves, which were only found in 1997 by an international team of forensic anthropologists. Their remains were returned to Cuba and buried in a mausoleum in Santa Clara, the city in central Cuba which Che liberated in the 1959 revolution.
Today in Bolivia, 40 years later, Che's life is being celebrated not just by the indigenous campesinos he worked with but by the Government and the country's President Evo Morales, the first indigenous President of Bolivia.
One of the CIA-paid Cuban exiles who were with the military group that hunted Che down was Felix Rodriquez, a Cuban counterrevolutionary whowas later implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, during which hehelped the CIA train and infiltrate terrorists into Nicaragua.
Rodriquez lives freely in Miami, pardoned by the first President Bushof his many terrorist crimes (including those in the US). He still hasChe's wristwatch, which he proudly displays to reporters.
Later this month at a gallery in Texas, another ofthe counterrevolutionary Cuban CIA hirelings who were on the hunt forChe will be auctioning off a lock of his hair, a copy of Che's fingerprints, a map and other trophies of that day
Meanwhile, two years ago that frightened Bolivian sergeant who was sent to shoot Che, now an old man, was going blind from cataracts. He can now see again, thanks to the free surgery he received, from Cuban doctors, part of the Venezuelan-Cuban program to provide free ophthalmic care called "Operation Miracle."

Che's Life and Work
Che Guevara was a Latin American revolutionary leader who rejected both capitalism and orthodox Soviet communism. Like T.E. Lawrence, Guevara lived an adventurous life. His tragic early death in Bolivia when he was 39 created a legend that still lives. He once said that "the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love," but he also wrote influential works on guerrilla warfare:
"The guerrilla band is an armed nucleus, the fighting vanguard of the
people. It draws its great force from the mass of the people themselves. The guerrilla band is not to be considered inferior to the army against which it fights simply because it is inferior in fire power. Guerrilla warfare is used by the side which is supported by a majority but which possesses a much smaller number of arms for use in defense against oppression." (from "Guerrilla Warfare," 1960)
In the brief period of 8 years between the 1959 revolutionary victory in Cuba and his assassination in 1967, the scope of Che's accomplishments is truly astonishing. His legacy includes intellectual writings on radical politics and social theory, military/guerrilla warfare strategy and tactics, diplomatic memos, books, speeches, magazine articles,
letters, poetry and diaries, as well as official documents preserved in government archives. Che's practical and theoretical work had a profound political impact around the globe during the second half of the 20th century, especially in the developing world, where revolutionary organizing and anti-colonial struggles were inspired by
his thought and example. His writings have been translated into hundreds of languages; in English much is available from the Australian publishing house Ocean Press (see Sources).
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born on June 14, 1928 in Rosario, Argentina into a middle-class family of Spanish-Irish descent. Celia de la Serna y Llosa, his mother, had lost her parents while she was still a child. Celia was raised by her religious aunt and her older sister, Carmen de la Serna, who married in 1928 the Communist poet Cayetano
Córdova Itúrburu. Guevara's family was liberal, anti-Nazi and anti-Peronist, and not very religious. With Celia's fortune (modest by today's standards of wealth), the family lived comfortably, although Ernesto Guevara Lynch, Ernesto's father, managed to spend much of it in his unlucky business ventures. In his youth Guevara read widely and among his reading list in the 1940s were Sartre, Pablo Neruda, Ciro
Alegría, and Karl Marx's Das Kapital. He also kept a philosophical diary and in Africa during his 1965 Congo campaign, Guevara planned to write a biography of Marx. In 1953 Guevara graduated from the University of Buenos Aires, where he
was trained as a doctor. During these years Guevara read Stalin and Mussolini but did not join radical student organizations. He made long travels in Argentina and in other Latin America countries. At the same time his critical views about the expanding economic influence of the United States deepened. In 1952 he made a journey on his motor bike, an old Norton 500 single, around South America. The journey opened his
eyes about the situation of the indigenous people and was crucial for the awakening of his social conscience. Like Jack Kerouac later in his book On the Road (1957), Guevara recorded his impressions in The Motorcycle Diaries. "The person who wrote these notes died the day he stepped back on Argentine soil," Guevara wrote in his diary. "Wandering around our 'America with a capital A' has changed me more than I
After witnessing first hand American intervention during the 1954 CIA-instigated coup in Guatemala, Guevara was radicalized and became convinced that the only way to bring about change was by violent revolution. He wrote in a letter home: "Along the way, I had the opportunity to pass through the dominions of the United Fruit Cpmpany, convincing me once again of just how terrible these capitalist octopuses are. I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won’t rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated." In Guatemala Guevara met Hilda Gadea. They married in 1955 and had one child. Guevara was arrested with Fidel Castro in Mexico for a short time. He had joined Castro's revolutionaries to overthrow the US-supported Batista dictatorship in Cuba. In 1956 they loaded the
38-foot motor yacht Granma full of guerrillas and weapons and sailed to Cuba, landing near Cabo Cruz on December 2.The rebels made their base in the mountains of Sierra Maestra, attacking garrisons and recruiting peasants to the revolutionary army. In the areas controlled by the guerrillas, Guevara started land reform and
socialist organizing and education. In spite of his chronic asthma, Guevara enjoyed the hard conditions and war.
His nickname "Che" derived from Guevara's habit of punctuating his speech with the interjection "che," a common Argentine expression for "friend." Land reform became the slogan, the "banner and primary spearhead of our movement," as Guevara described it in an interview, that eventually won the peasants over to participate in the armed struggle. Guevara was respected by his men, although considered violent -- he shot Eutimio
Guerra who had cooperated with dictator Fulgencio Batista's army.

In the mountains Guevara met Aleida March in 1958, a 24-year-old revolutionary fighter, and she became Guevara's second wife in 1959. He continued to write his diary and also composed articles for El Cubano Libre. A selection of Gurvara's articles, which he wrote between 1959 and 1964, was published in 1963 [sic] as PASAJES DE LA GUERRA
REVOLUCIONARIA. For the world media, Cuba was a hot subject - The New
York Times, Paris Match and Latin American papers sent reporters to the mountains to write stories of the revolutionaries. At the same time Guevara was in the mountains, his uncle was serving as Argentina's Ambassador to Cuba.
Guevara rose to the rank of major and led one of the forces that invaded central Cuba in late 1958, liberating the city of Santa Clara.
After the Revolutionary victory in January 1959 Guevara gained fame as a leading figure in Castro's government. He attracted much attention with his speeches against imperialism and US policy in the Third World.
He argued strongly for centralized planning, and emphasized creation of the 'new socialist man.' In his famous article, 'Notes on Man and Socialism,' he argued that "to build communism, you must build new men as well as the new economic base." The basis of revolutionary struggle is "the happiness of people," the goal of socialism is the creation of more complete and more devoped human beings. In a discussion on September 14, 1961 Guevara opposed the right of dissidents to make their views known even within the Communist Party itself. However, privately Guevara was critical of the Soviet bloc, but so was also Nikita Khruschev. When the executions of war criminals started Guevara acted as the highest prosecuting authority. The condemned were soldiers found guilty of murder, torture and other serious crimes. Because Guevara was a doctor, one of his friends once asked how he could work in such a position. Guevara's answer was like something from Western movies: "Look, in this thing you have to kill before they kill you." In 1959 Guevara formally adopted the nickname Che and was granted honorary Cuban citizenship. He was visited by such intellectuals as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre, who saw in him the "most complete human being of our age."
The most famous picture of Guevara was taken by Alberto Diaz Gutiérrez, known professionally as Korda, at a memorial rally held for more than 100 Cubans killed when the French ship La Coubre exploded as it was being unloaded in Havana Harbor -- it is generally agreed as the result of counterrevolutionary sabotage against the ship, which carried munitions as part of its cargo. Korda declined to demand royalty payments when the picture became a worldwide icon. But when a British advertising agency appropriated the image for a vodka ad, Korda was incensed and went to court to stop this commercial use of his famous photo. "[Che] never drank himself," said the photographer, "and drink should not be associated with his immortal memory."
From 1961 to 1965 Guevara was minister for industries, and director of the national bank, signing the bank notes simply 'Che.' He traveled widely, representing Cuba at the Organization of American States and speaking at the United Nations, as well as making extended trips to the USSR, India and Africa, meeting the leading figures of the world, among others Jawaharel Nehru and Nikita Khruschev. Guevara was also the architect of the close relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union. Although good a relationship with Moscow became the cornerstone of Castro's foreign policy, Guevara followed with interest the development of the Maoist model in China. In 1965 Guevara made public his disappointments in Algieria and described the Kremlin as "an accomplice of imperialism."
Guevara's departure from the Cuban government followed his return from Algiers. To test his revolutionary theories he resigned from his official government posts. He had published the highly influential manuals "Guerrilla Warfare" (1960) and "Guerrilla Warfare: A Method" (1963), which were based on his own experiences and partly on
chairman Mao Zedong's writings. President John F. Kennedy had "Guerrilla Warfare" rapidly translated for him by the CIA. Guevara stated that revolution in Latin America must come through insurgent forces developed in rural areas with peasant support. There is no need for the right preconditions for revolution, he wrote; guerrilla warfare
can begin the activities. In his last article, "Vietnam and World Struggle," Guevara outlined his global perspective for revolutionary struggle, and stressed the dual role of hate and love. "And he did have a saving element of humor. I possess a tape of his
appearance on an early episode of 'Meet the Press' in December 1964, where he confronts a solemn panel of network pundits. When they address him about the 'conditions' that Cuba must meet in order to be permitted the sunshine of American approval, he smiles as he proposes that there need be no preconditions: 'After all, we do not demand that you abolish racial discrimination....' A person as professionally skeptical as I.F.
Stone so far forgot himself as to write: 'He was the first man I ever met who I thought not just handsome but beautiful. With his curly reddish beard, he looked like a cross between a faun and a Sunday-school print of Jesus.... He spoke with that utter sobriety which sometimes masks immense apocalyptic visions." (Christopher Hitchens in

During his disappearance from public life Guevara spent some time in Africa organizing the Lumumba Battalion which took part in the Congo civil war. He was not happy with the way Laurent Kabila fought against Joseph Mobutu, although his first impression of Kabila was positive. "Africa has a long way to go before it reaches real revolutionary maturity," Guevara concluded in his diary.
In 1966 Guevara turned up incognito in Bolivia, where he trained and led a guerrilla force in the Santa Cruz region. In his manual "Guerrilla Warfare," Guevara had stressed that the guerrilla fighter needs full support of the people of the area as an indispensable condition, but Guevara failed to win the support of the peasants, and his group was surrounded near Vallegrande by American-trained Bolivian troops. "The
decisive moment in a man's life is when he decides to confront death," Guevara once said. "If he confronts it, he will be a hero whether he succeeds or not. He can be a good or a bad politician, but if he does not confront death he will never be more than a politician."
After Guevara was captured, Captain Gary Prado Salmón assigned a security detail around him to be sure that nothing happened. Guevara told him, "Don't worry, Captain, don't worry. This is the end. It's finished" (according to the documentary film 'Red Chapters,' 1999).
Guevara was assassinated in a schoolhouse in La Higuera on October 9,1967, by Warrant Officer Mario Terán of the Bolivian Rangers, under the command of Colonel Zenteno. Terán was half-drunk, celebrating his birthday. Guevara's last words were, according to some sources: "Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man."
Che was actually shot with the connivance of the CIA's the mercenary Cuban counterrevolutionaries who were deployed with the US-trained Bolivian military. One of these, Felix Rodriguez, later living in Miami, bragged for years afterward that he had taken Che's wristwatch and would eagerly display it to any reporter who seemed
In order to make a positive fingerprint comparison with records in Argentina, Guevara's hands were amputated and put into a flask of formaldehyde. They were later returned to Cuba. Guevara's corpse was buried in a ditch at the end of the runway site of Vallegrande's new airport. "Che considered himself a soldier of this revolution, with absolutely no concern about surviving it," said Fidel Castro later in "Che: A Memoir."
In the fall of 1997, a team of Cuban and international forensic archeologists finally located the hidden unmarked graves of Che and his companer@s in Bolivia. Their remains were exhumed and returned to Cuba, where they are interred in a mausoleum and memorial museum in the central city of Santa Clara, which Che liberated during the 1959 revolution. October 9, 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of Che's death.
Guevara's life inspired the film Che! (1969), directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Omar Sharif (Guevara) and Jack Palance (Castro).
The fictionalized biography was criticized by James Baldwin in "The Devil Finds Work" (1976): "The intention of Ché! was to make both the man, and his Bolivian adventure, irrelevant and ridiculous; and to do this, furthermore, with such a syrup of sympathy that any incipient of Ché would think twice before leaving Mama, and the ever-ready friend at the bank."

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