http://havanajournal.com/cuban_americans/entry/why_che_a_cuban_american_writer_reflects_on_che_guevara_enduring_popularity/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuban Americans

Why Che? - A Cuban-American writer reflects on Che Guevara’s enduring popularity.

Posted October 21, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Americans.
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[url=http://www.HispanicOnline.com]http://www.HispanicOnline.com[/url] | By Teresa Dovalpage

We Pioneers want communism. We’ll be like Che!” Until I was 15 years old, that was the slogan I repeated every morning at school, before the beginning of classes. I didn’t really want to “be like Che” and now I suspect many of my classmates didn’t either, but we had to shout it at the top of our lungs.

It was expected, after all. We were in Cuba, the country where Che Guevara had bravely fought to build communism, then bravely helped destroy the country’s economy when appointed president of the National Bank, and finally—bravely too, of course—had left, to be defeated and killed in Bolivia.

He was our hero, we were told. Posters with the famous Alberto Korda photo—black beret, burning eyes, solemn face—were everywhere: in elementary and high schools, universities, hospitals, parks, cafeterias, and funeral parlors. We had to revere him, or at least give the impression that we did, in order to avoid being classified as “ideologically deviated” and consequently punished.

It was a matter of survival. Understandable, right?

In 1996, when I came to “La Yuma,” as many Cubans call the United States, the last thing I expected was to hear again about Che Guevara. I wasn’t (thank God and all the orishas!) in Cuba anymore. The guy had been dead for 37 years. He had hated the United States and fought against all that it represents. And he had beenóaccording to worldly standards, at leastóa loser.

This country loves winners. No one in “La Yuma” would care about Che Guevara, right? Wrong! In my first visit to an American campusóit was the University of California at San Diego, I believeóI happened to spot a young man wearing a T-shirt with an image that seemed oddly familiar. Taking a closer look, I discovered that it was that Korda photo againóblack beret, burning eyes and, naturally, solemn face. I was in shock. Che Guevara in “La Yuma”? How was that possible?

It was surely a coincidence, I thought. But in fact it was just the first of many subsequent meetings with Che Guevara in the United States. Endless times I have run into his Kordaesque incarnation, proudly displayed on T-shirts, caps, key rings, posters, books, murals, documentaries, films, and even on a car door here in Albuquerque. We have crossed paths in elementary and high schools, universities, hospitals, parks, cafeterias, and (alas, yes!) funeral parlors, too.

Perplexed by such ubiquity, I have asked the Che-bearers, “Why him? What makes a 37-year-dead Argentinean guerrilla so appealing to today’s Americans?” Reasons ranged from a pompous “He fought for the rights of the oppressed people” (after all, why notójust as an exampleówear a T-shirt bearing Martin Luther King’s image? Is an exotic leader more appealing than a national one?) to a curt “I just like him.” One preppy quinceañera believed he was a Star Wars character. Aged hippies, on the other hand, regard Che as a cherished token of their forgotten youth.

But frankly, I don’t get it. Maybe I’m still suffering from culture shock. Partly to exorcise the omnipresent Che ghost, I wrote a novel about a teenager’s struggle to really “be like Che” in Cuba, and my experience at a school-in-the-field camp in Cuba. During the 80s, Cuban high school kids were sent for several weeks to the tobacco fields so as to get training in regimented communist work. This often resulted in (unplanned) pregnancies, accidents, and loss of valuable tobacco crops.

All this appears in A Girl Like Che Guevara (Soho Press, April 2004), a Cuban tale of coming-of-age, sex, politics, and Santería. On the coveróbehind the main character’s portraitóthere is a photograph of Che Guevara: The burning eyes, the black beret, and, you guessed it, the solemn face.

Member Comments

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On October 21, 2004, Gregory wrote:

It strikes me that the author of this article does not understand the international appeal of Che Guevara. The State of the World, or at least for the poor majority who live in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, is characterized by poverty, exploitation, and a lack of the basic necessities of life. In other words, the global status quo is inhumane and immoral.

Che dedicated his life to rebel against this injustice and sacrificed all of his own privledge and middle class comfort to fight for his ideal of a more equitable and solidarity based society. (This is more than can be said for the typical Western politician.) Che symbolizes the rage against injustice and poverty, a rage that many youth feel and express, and which many adults have unfortunatly lost over the years, due to cynicism and moral resignation.

Some may have issue with what Che proposed as a solution (socialism), but the bedrock of his politics is a profound, humanist declaration of “NO” against poverty and suffering. Finding a solution to world poverty is a dialectic and difficult task, but rejecting indifference to the plight of others is the morally imperative first step. This is why Che is important today, to motivate people to “feel in the deepest part of your soul, any injustice committed against anyone anywhere in the world.” Once you feel this pain, you will want to make the world a better place, not think about the American Dream.

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On October 21, 2004, Dana Garrett wrote:

>>We Pioneers want communism. Weíll be like Che!” Until I was 15 years old, that was the slogan I repeated every morning at school, before the beginning of classes. I didnít really want to “be like Che” and now I suspect many of my classmates didnít either, but we had to shout it at the top of our lungs.<<

Itís hard to know what to make of statements like these from the author of this article.  The tone suggests that only nations like Cuba require such patriotic displays from their children.  The author prefers his life in the USA now.  Good for him.

Yet having been raised in the USA, I can remember the understood requirement of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance each day as I went through a series of public schools named after USA presidents.  I remember history lessons that taught that the USA never did anything wrong, how each of its wars were just and the USA won all of them, how only the USAís enemies engaged in war crimes and human rights abuses, how the USA treated everyone equally (even as I wondered why African Americans only lived, as was said at the time, “across the river in N- town”). 

It took a while, but I was finally able to see through most of it.  I realized that practices called “patriotic” in the USA, the USA calls “indoctrination” in the nations of its “enemies.” 

How can we heal our divisions with nations like Cuba when we rail against them for the very practices we engage in ourselves? 

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On October 22, 2004, Musicianwriter wrote:

Che is a symbol of rage against injustice, however, when rage becomes a cold killing machine one must realize that it becomes itself an injustice. Hate begets hate. And as Ghandi put it: “an eye for an eye makes the world blind.”

And to balance the rage that Che stood for against the liberty that the US flag stands for is ridiculous! Pledging an allegiance to a flag is not the same as claiming to be like any historical individual. US school children are not forced to go around shouting at the top of their lungs: “We Colonists want democracy. We’ll be like George!”

Both the US and Cuba have their share of patriotism and indoctrination, however, the key to healing is not by blurring the lines of what is patriotic and what is indoctrinated. Rather, it is clearly defining the boundries in which these two terms subsist, and then denouncing that which is in error and exaulting that which is right in ourselves and in others. Then, and only then, can we begin to come to a healing.

As for Che:

The secret behind Che is this: he looks good in a beret. Thats all. And so he AND HIS BERET market rather well on t-shirts, mugs and key chains (actually if you really think about… it’ amusingly ironic that the anticapitalist is now a commodity.) Now, Mrs. Dovalpage seems to be relating this paradox of what Che means and who he really was, to an experience of field training in Cuba. I’ve read her book, devoured it two nights, and it is a razor sharp glimpse at the soft, scared, and still bleeding, underbelly of the island of Cuba.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Che, and even this article, is our own ignorance.

“Non-violence or non-existence.” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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On October 22, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
To simplify the historical meaning of Che to the fact that he looks good in a beret reveals an astounding ignorance of Latin American history and the complex reasons Che has continued to be an inspiration to social activists around the world. My father-in-law, for example, is working on a voluntary basis in Venezuela as a Cuban doctor in the poverty stricken slums. His work is very arduous and he misses his family profoundly…but he is personally inspired by Che to do this work and would be insulted by your arrogant, smug and blatantly first-world simplification of Che being “a guy who looked good in a beret”. I also have dedicated my life to altruistic pursuits (I work as consultant for social development projects in Cuba), leaving behind a lucrative law career in Canada. More than anger, I feel sorry for people like you who cannot perceive the romantic utopian passion in Che which is necessary for changing the world. Just because Che does not move anything inside your heart does not mean he is simply a poster-boy. Take some time and read some biographies of Che (I recommend John Lee Anderson’ or Francisco Taibo’) and see the movie “The Motorcycle Diaries”.
On another issue, it is true that non-violence is always preferable to violence. Gandhi was one one the greatest figures in history and his example inspires milliones of social activits. But to beleive that non-violence is applicable in all contexts is to fail to understand that different contexts requir different strategies and tactics. Nelson Mandela, the symbol of freedom for blacks in South Africa, endoresed violence to overcome the evil of Aparthied. Moreover, Mandela has publically stated how Che was in inspiration to him while in prison, and it was not because he had a cool beret. Another example, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador declared, shortly before a U.S. supported death squad assasinated him, that when the people have exhausted all non-violent means at their disposal, the Church must recognize the need for violence. I have been in El Salvador and understand why the peasants finally had no choice but to take up arms against the exploitative landlords. It is easy to demand non-violence from the comfort of your life in the developed world. The perspective of a slum dweller is very different, and this is the key to your lack of understanding of Che.

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On October 23, 2004, musicianwriter wrote:

Gregorio:
My family includes a member who was a secretary of “El Partido Ortodoxo.” My family includes a member who fought in the Sierra along side Castro and Che. My family includes a member who was one of the Chief doctors and worked with Castro. My family includes one of Raul Castro’ hitmen. And my family includes a member who was in the school of the field camps that Mrs. Dovalpage writes about. I’ve not only read Che. I inherited Che. It’ in my blood.

Assumptions are a dangerous thing Gregorio, esspecially when they’re ideological. And this is the key to your lack of understanding as to what I wrote.

Tell me, was Martin Luther King comfortable? Was Ghandi comfortable? Was Romero comfortable? Were the anticommunists in Poland and Russia comfortable, and are the dissidents jailed in Cuba comfortable?
As a matter of fact, Che was very financially comfortable (since you’ve read him I need not explain). Thus, one’ comfort has nothing to do with non-violence.

The most comfortable thing is ideology, because it’ easy to dream. Che dreamt. Che died. And the product? Cuba, where freedom is to dance on the edge of a blade always smiling and agreeing with the Government, even when disagreeing. Any other product?  15 euros for a t-shirt with Che’ face on it.

I applaud your in-law’ work, and I never meant to insult your family. However, Gregorio, I can only hope that he will not become like Che to the point where he is a cold and decisive hateful killing machine.

Can one deny the irony?

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On October 23, 2004, YoungCuban wrote:

MusicianWriter,you speak of killing machines?

I know many killing machines who have been trained and ordered by our country to kill on a daily basis,only difference is that they do not publically acknowledge them as Che was acknowledged.

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On October 23, 2004, Gregory wrote:

MusicianWriter…
I have several comments to your recent riposte.
1. You claim that because of certain family members of yours from Cuba, you have inherited Che, that he is in your blood. I would remind you that we are not what are family is or was, we are only the culmination of our own actions and the ideals we defend during the duration of our lives. Che would only be in your blood if you yourself have made similar sacrifices for humanity. It is unclear that you have.
2. You focus on the issue of assumptions. Assumptions ARE dangerous things, especially if they are based on ideology instead of a rational consideration of observable facts. What strikes me is that your own insinuation of my assumptions seems to be based on an assumption of your own. Please point out the supposed ideological assumptions that are prima facie in my argument. Instead of relying of tautologies, you must be more explicit in order to make a convincing argument.
3. You are right: the level of one’ comfort has absolutely nothing to do with non-violence. They are two completely different issues and it is not apparent how or why you think they are being linked in this debate. I mentioned the fact that Che abandoned material comfort as evidence of his altruism. You attempt to make the fatuous argument that his financial comfort (whatever that means) was well known. Was Che comfortable during his trecks across Latin America? During the guerrilla struggle in the Sierra Maestra? During his protracted work days as Minister of Industry or president of the National Bank? During his renewed struggle in the jungles of the Congo or the mountains of Bolivia? Simply read any mainstream account of the life of Che and the absurdity of your argument will be apparent. Moreover, I can personally vouch for this because I know several people who worked with Che or fought by his side (including Alberto Granados and Harry Villegas, two people you must be familiar with if in fact you really have read extensively about the life of Che.)

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On October 23, 2004, Gregory wrote:

MusicialWriter…
4. Finally, and most importantly, I must take issue with your assertion that he was a “cold and decisive hateful killing machine”. Yes, he did support violence as a tool to confront the established powers and did participate in a war of liberation, as did many other admirable figures in history such as Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, George Washington, Winston Churchill, etc. But you somehow want to argue that he was a cold and hateful killing machine without putting forward any evidence. To participate in a war and to be a cold hateful killing machine are two very different things which you somehow ASSUME are the same. If you have evidence that he was a cold and hateful killing machine, please provide us with this evidence. If you do not, your argument is vacuous. Moreover, if one reads the CRITICAL biographies by John Lee Anderson, Jorge Castaneda, or Francisco Taibo II, none of them put forward the argument that he was a cold hateful killing machine. On the contrary, Che always held that love and compassion are the most important traits of a revolutionary. If you have read something different, please let all of us know the title of the books so that we can consider the evidence. Otherwise, your arguments are just another example of spurrious, ideologically motivated assumptions. This would be an irony.

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On October 26, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicialwriter…
If you have the time, several people here in Havana who were following this debate (students from the University of Havana) would be interested in your response to the four points I raised, along with the good point raised by YoungCuban.
I hope you are not one of those people who makes an argument and then refuses to back it up. Please do share your knowledge with us, we might be illuminated by your commentary… I am especially interested in knowing the title of the books you have read which show how Che was a “cold and hateful killing machine.” I dare not think you made this all up…

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On October 26, 2004, musicialwriter wrote:

Gregorio y querido participantes de la Universidad de La Habana:

Sorry for this being late. I am rather busy and do not have the luxury of constant access to the internet. Here are brief reponses to your questions.

1) No response. Sorry… but I will not surrender details of my life.

2)You may be right about my own assumptions. However, please explain this: “It is easy to demand non-violence from the comfort of your life in the developed world. The perspective of a slum dweller is very different, and this is the key to your lack of understanding of Che.” Not once have I mentioned any particular of my current life so you assume this. Moreover, not only do you call these people who are in need “slum dwellers,” but you assume to speak for them in favor of Che! I may be wrong, so please give me a detailed explaination of this!

3)Oddly, I agree with you comment… And for the record Martin Luther King was comfortable too. I guess we can only asses from your comment that the current comfort level that one exists can be changed and it has nothing to do non-violence.

4) Biographies biographies biographies… Okay, how’ this for starters: “Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.” Now, to argue in your favor, it is not fair that I quote this out of context, after all the line right before this is “They are pushing us into this struggle; there is no alternative: we must prepare it and we must decide to undertake it.” And the context of this message is against the violent neo-capital liberalism that is the US. However, WAS NON-VIOLENCE EVER AN OPTION that he vocally promoted and that he exercised?

In response to your naming of Lincoln and whatnot. Let us be frank. The clearest example of hatred today is found in the current president of the US, and does that justify him? NO!

Finally in responce to Young Cuban… meditate on that responce Greg… is that really a good thing?

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On October 27, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
1. Although you have not mentioned any particular of your life, it would be reasonable to assume that you do not live in a slum nor ever have. If you do have intimate knowledge of the perspective of Latin America’ poor, please do share it with us.
2. I have travelled throughout Latin America, my undergraduate and graduate studies being poverty and social development in Latin America, and my professional occupation being a consultant for Third World human and social development and human rights issues. This has given me a just a little bit of insight into the perspective from the Slum dwellers of our hemisphere.  Moreover, there is a plethora of excellent journalism and cultural and social writing on the plight of the poor to give anyone with an interest in Latin America’ poor a poignant view of how they see the world. Only a modicum of intelligence and empathy will allow someone to see how Che’ rebelliousness, rage, and, yes, violence, is appealing the the downtrodden masses of the Third World.

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On October 27, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
1. Although you have not mentioned any particular of your life, it would be reasonable to assume that you do not live in a slum nor ever have. If you do have intimate knowledge of the perspective of Latin America’ poor, please do share it with us.
2. I have travelled throughout Latin America, my undergraduate and graduate studies being poverty and social development in Latin America, and my professional occupation being a consultant for Third World human and social development and human rights issues. This has given me a just a little bit of insight into the perspective from the Slum dwellers of our hemisphere.  Moreover, there is a plethora of excellent journalism and cultural and social writing on the plight of the poor to give anyone with an interest in Latin America’ poor a poignant view of how they see the world. Only a modicum of intelligence and empathy will allow someone to see how Che’ rebelliousness, rage, and, yes, violence, is appealing the the downtrodden masses of the Third World.

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On October 27, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
1. Although you have not mentioned any particular of your life, it would be reasonable to assume that you do not live in a slum nor ever have. If you do have intimate knowledge of the perspective of Latin America’ poor, please do share it with us.
2. I have travelled throughout Latin America, my undergraduate and graduate studies being poverty and social development in Latin America, and my professional occupation being a consultant for Third World human and social development and human rights issues. This has given me a just a little bit of insight into the perspective from the Slum dwellers of our hemisphere.  Moreover, there is a plethora of excellent journalism and cultural and social writing on the plight of the poor to give anyone with an interest in Latin America’ poor a poignant view of how they see the world. Only a modicum of intelligence and empathy will allow someone to see how Che’ rebelliousness, rage, and, yes, violence, is appealing the the downtrodden masses of the Third World.

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On October 27, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
1. Although you have not mentioned any particular of your life, it would be reasonable to assume that you do not live in a slum nor ever have. If you do have intimate knowledge of the perspective of Latin America’ poor, please do share it with us.
2. I have travelled throughout Latin America, my undergraduate and graduate studies being poverty and social development in Latin America, and my professional occupation being a consultant for Third World human and social development and human rights issues. This has given me a just a little bit of insight into the perspective from the Slum dwellers of our hemisphere.  Moreover, there is a plethora of excellent journalism and cultural and social writing on the plight of the poor to give anyone with an interest in Latin America’ poor a poignant view of how they see the world. Only a modicum of intelligence and empathy will allow someone to see how Che’ rebelliousness, rage, and, yes, violence, is appealing to the downtrodden masses of the Third World. You do not see this?

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On October 28, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
1. Although you have not mentioned any particulars of your life, it would be reasonable to assume that you do not live in a slum nor ever have. If you do have intimate knowledge of the perspective of Latin America’ poor, please do share it with us.
2. I have travelled throughout Latin America, my undergraduate and graduate studies being poverty and social development in Latin America, and my professional occupation being a consultant for Third World human and social development and human rights issues. This has given me a just a little bit of insight into the perspective from the Slum dwellers of our hemisphere. Moreover, there is a plethora of excellent journalism and cultural and social writing on the plight of the poor to give anyone with an interest in Latin America’ poor a poignant view of how they see the world. Only a modicum of intelligence and empathy will allow someone to see how Che’ rebelliousness, rage, and, yes, violence, is appealing the the downtrodden masses of the Third World.

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On October 28, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
1. Although you have not mentioned any particulars of your life, it would be reasonable to assume that you do not live in a slum nor ever have. If you do have intimate knowledge of the perspective of Latin America’ poor, please do share it with us.
2. I have travelled throughout Latin America, my undergraduate and graduate studies being poverty and social development in Latin America, and my professional occupation being a consultant for Third World human and social development and human rights issues. This has given me a just a little bit of insight into the perspective from the Slum dwellers of our hemisphere. Moreover, there is a plethora of excellent journalism and cultural and social writing on the plight of the poor to give anyone with an interest in Latin America’ poor a poignant view of how they see the world. Only a modicum of intelligence and empathy will allow someone to see how Che’ rebelliousness, rage, and, yes, violence, is appealing the the downtrodden masses of the Third World.

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On November 04, 2004, Musicialwriter wrote:

Gregorio,

I’ve been back online recently to view the whereabouts of this topic. While proof reading my tired spelling errors, I noticed that I did not give you the source for Che’ quote. You do make it clear that you request the sources that points to my allegations and in the spirit of your request, and to avoid any obfuscation of my case, this particular quote is taken from Che’ 1967 message to the Tricontinental. Che said this -not some critical biographer.

And to my original point (which was lost through this discussion of comfort, assumptions, hate, and sources) is that it is indeed ironic that Che, who was anti-capitalist, has become a commodity via the Korda picture that is printed and SOLD on t-shirts, key-chains, lighters, etc.

The anti-capitalist’ image is a source for capital.

While you are in Cuba go to a gift shop and try to disprove the irony of Che. And then please try to see the hypocricy, which Mrs. Dovalpage (who received her bachelors from the University of Havana) unfolds in her book.

As a matter of fact, the Korda image has been reproduced so many times that it’ simulation has become it’ own simulacre. The source no longer matters. The revolution in Cuba was won by Fidel not Che. Che’ attempt in the Congo, Bolivia, and the Cuban Economy were failures, and yet this doesn’t matter. His image stands for the work ethic of your father-in-law. His image stands for the freedom of your “slum-dwellers”. Freedom that Che never won. A work ethic that crippled Cuba’ economy. Yet, his image is disconnected with his failure (let alone his hatred), and so Che is an image of ideology seprate from the actual man.

In retrospect Gregorio, if his image makes you a better person, then I won’t take that from you. However, be aware of the irony and the hypocricy that is around you, and above all please consider the actual SOURCE and RISE ABOVE it. If you settle for secondary sources, you’ll always be one step behind the truth -even if the secondary sources are his friends and “Critical Biographies.”

Unless you need some pressing response from me, I hereby give you the last word. I’m sorry I don’t have time to continue this, but as I peruse our conversation this seems more like a futile lashing of passionate ideals, and less like a relevant discussion of ideas. Being that I too am at fault, and that I honestly have little time for this, I give you the floor.

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On November 04, 2004, Musicialwriter wrote:

Gregorio,

I’ve been back online recently to view the whereabouts of this topic. While proof reading my tired spelling errors, I noticed that I did not give you the source for Che’ quote. You do make it clear that you request the sources that points to my allegations and in the spirit of your request, and to avoid any obfuscation of my case, this particular quote is taken from Che’ 1967 message to the Tricontinental. Che said this -not some critical biographer.

And to my original point (which was lost through this discussion of comfort, assumptions, hate, and sources) is that it is indeed ironic that Che, who was anti-capitalist, has become a commodity via the Korda picture that is printed and SOLD on t-shirts, key-chains, lighters, etc.

The anti-capitalist’ image is a source for capital.

While you are in Cuba go to a gift shop and try to disprove the irony of Che. And then please try to see the hypocricy, which Mrs. Dovalpage (who received her bachelors from the University of Havana) unfolds in her book.

As a matter of fact, the Korda image has been reproduced so many times that it’ simulation has become it’ own simulacre. The source no longer matters. The revolution in Cuba was won by Fidel not Che. Che’ attempt in the Congo, Bolivia, and the Cuban Economy were failures, and yet this doesn’t matter. His image stands for the work ethic of your father-in-law. His image stands for the freedom of your “slum-dwellers”. Freedom that Che never won. A work ethic that crippled Cuba’ economy. Yet, his image is disconnected with his failure (let alone his hatred), and so Che is an image of ideology seprate from the actual man.

In retrospect Gregorio, if his image makes you a better person, then I won’t take that from you. However, be aware of the irony and the hypocricy that is around you, and above all please consider the actual SOURCE and RISE ABOVE it. If you settle for secondary sources, you’ll always be one step behind the truth -even if the secondary sources are his friends and “Critical Biographies.”

Unless you need some pressing response from me, I hereby give you the last word. I’m sorry I don’t have time to continue this, but as I peruse our conversation this seems more like a futile lashing of passionate ideals, and less like a relevant discussion of ideas. Being that I too am at fault, and that I honestly have little time for this, I give you the floor.

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On November 04, 2004, Musicialwriter wrote:

Gregorio,

I’ve been back online recently to view the whereabouts of this topic. While proof reading my tired spelling errors, I noticed that I did not give you the source for Che’ quote. You do make it clear that you request the sources that points to my allegations and in the spirit of your request, and to avoid any obfuscation of my case, this particular quote is taken from Che’ 1967 message to the Tricontinental. Che said this -not some critical biographer.

And to my original point (which was lost through this discussion of comfort, assumptions, hate, and sources) is that it is indeed ironic that Che, who was anti-capitalist, has become a commodity via the Korda picture that is printed and SOLD on t-shirts, key-chains, lighters, etc.

The anti-capitalist’ image is a source for capital.

While you are in Cuba go to a gift shop and try to disprove the irony of Che. And then please try to see the hypocricy, which Mrs. Dovalpage (who received her bachelors from the University of Havana) unfolds in her book.

As a matter of fact, the Korda image has been reproduced so many times that it’ simulation has become it’ own simulacre. The source no longer matters. The revolution in Cuba was won by Fidel not Che. Che’ attempt in the Congo, Bolivia, and the Cuban Economy were failures, and yet this doesn’t matter. His image stands for the work ethic of your father-in-law. His image stands for the freedom of your “slum-dwellers”. Freedom that Che never won. A work ethic that crippled Cuba’ economy. Yet, his image is disconnected with his failure (let alone his hatred), and so Che is an image of ideology seprate from the actual man.

In retrospect Gregorio, if his image makes you a better person, then I won’t take that from you. However, be aware of the irony and the hypocricy that is around you, and above all please consider the actual SOURCE and RISE ABOVE it. If you settle for secondary sources, you’ll always be one step behind the truth -even if the secondary sources are his friends and “Critical Biographies.”

Unless you need some pressing response from me, I hereby give you the last word. I’m sorry I don’t have time to continue this, but as I peruse our conversation this seems more like a futile lashing of passionate ideals, and less like a relevant discussion of ideas. Being that I too am at fault, and that I honestly have little time for this, I give you the floor.

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On November 06, 2004, Gregory wrote:

Musicianwriter…
1. Although you have not mentioned any particular of your life, it would be reasonable to assume that you do not live in a slum nor ever have. If you do have intimate knowledge of the perspective of Latin America’ poor, please do share it with us.
2. I have travelled throughout Latin America, my undergraduate and graduate studies being poverty and social development in Latin America, and my professional occupation being a consultant for Third World human and social development and human rights issues. This has given me a just a little bit of insight into the perspective from the Slum dwellers of our hemisphere.  Moreover, there is a plethora of excellent journalism and cultural and social writing on the plight of the poor to give anyone with an interest in Latin America’ poor a poignant view of how they see the world. Only a modicum of intelligence and empathy will allow someone to see how Che’ rebelliousness, rage, and, yes, violence, is appealing the the downtrodden masses of the Third World.

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On November 13, 2004, Eric (NYC) wrote:

“¡¡¡UNO,DOS ,TRES….ME LIMPIO EL CULO CON EL CHE !!!”
  Que se vaya Fidel !!! Coño porque no te rompiste el cranio cuando te caíste en Santa Clara cabrûn caballo !!!! Acaba de morirte ya y deja a nuestro pueblo vivir !!!!!! 

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On November 13, 2004, Eric (NYC) wrote:

“¡¡uno ,dos, tres,me limpio el culo con el che!!”
  Fidel cabrûn acabe de irte y deja a nuestro pueblo abatido,destruído en paz !!¡Que lástima no te rompiste el cranio en Santa Clara !!!! Coño !!! Es verdad que yerba mala no muere !!!!

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On April 29, 2005, revolutionary wrote:

IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE FOR PEOPLE TO FEAR THE UNKNOWN. CHE WAS A MYSTERIOUS PERSON, BUT HE WAS ALSO A VERY SELFLESS ONE HE DIED FIGHTING A WAR THAT TECHNICALLY WAS NOT HIS OWN. ALSO, CHE’ GOAL WAS NOT COMMUNISM! IN HIS MANY PUBLISHED POLITICAL ESSAYS HE STATES THAT SOCIALISM IS THE IDEAL GOVERNMENT. HE WANTED TO BRING POLITICS TO THE WORKING CLASS. CHE MIGHT HAVE ACTED RASH IN MANY SITUATIONS, BUT ATLEAST HE ACTED…WHICH IS MORE THAN I CAN SAY FOR MOST. HAVE RESPECT FOR THE DEAD..HE LIVED AND DIED WITH HONOR.

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On May 08, 2005, JudgeKure wrote:

>>To anybody that said that Che Looked good in a Beret.

Im an Argentinian and I can officially say that All Argentinians look good in ANYTHING!! Ernesto was no exception.

On another note. To anybody that is arguing that Che went about it the wrong way and was coldblooded and blahblahblah.

What do you expect Under the Batista dictatorship? Did you want Fidel and Che to walk up to his house with Signs and safety pins and expect to overthrow the government?

Dont be stupid. Violence was the only answer. Dont compare Martin Luther King with “Che”. MLK, for one, was a priest. Two, he was a Black man living in a White mans world (Which, for those that dont follow, means that Violence would have been VERY stupid). And three, It was in America. Americans are so privilaged with their Rights. You can go up too the White House and Protest all you want. Do they/you REALLY think that you could do that anywhere else? NO!! you cant. Cuba is no exception.

So YES! Violence was the only way they could have done anything. If they were trying to be “Peaceful” about it then we wouldnt be talking about “Che Guevara” today because he would have been a dead man.

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On June 16, 2005, conductor@trenblindado.com wrote:

Che Guevara was a Stalinist.  He put the State ahead of individual liberties.  He’ responsible for the execution death of 159 Cubans that we know of (most with only a farce of a trial if any at all).  Most people that wear his image are against the death penalty but they don’t know that many of those executed in La Cabaña we given their coup d’grace by Che himself.  Cuba is hellhole nightmare today because of the system that Che helped create.  Anybody that thinks what he did is righteous and just has never lived in Cuba or any other totalitarian state.  Be careful what you wish for.

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On June 16, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

Conductor….I strongly support Che and his example….and, for your information, I live in Cuba. Moreover, the majority of Cubans, including those that do not necessarily support the government, guard an enormous degree of respect for Che Guevara. By the sounds of your argument, you are living in the parocial world of the United States of America. If you are not, you might as well be.

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On June 16, 2005, conductor@trenblindado.com wrote:

I’m glad you are happy to be like Che. 

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On June 16, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

I am not like Che (I wish I were), but I do live in Cuba and have reach well thought out conclusions. Moreover, I am saddened that there are people who can make the error of thinking Che was a Stalinist. It only reveals your lack of knowledge Cuba and the Cuban Revolution.

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On June 16, 2005, conductor@trenblindado.com wrote:

Oh yeah well have you read the correspondence that he had with his aunt in Argentina?  In those letters he lionizes Stalin’ clarity.  He even signed one of those letters “Stalin II”.  After the triumph of the Revolution he went to the USSR and left a flower wreath at the tomb of Stalin even though the Kruschev’ government discouraged him.  This was at a time when the USSR was trying to forget about Stalin and his murderous ways.  Believe me I have a lot more access to legitimate uncensored information abot Mr. Guevara than anybody in Cuba.  Your kidding yourself. 

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On June 16, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

Then why don’t you write a book about Che’ “Stalinist ways”. Laying flower wreaths and and writing juvenile letters does not make a Stalinist. By the way, none of the mainstream authors who have written serious biographies on Che make the ridiculous claim that Che was like Stalin. Are you saying that Jon Lee Anderson and Jorge Castaneda are so inept at research that they missed the Stalinist connection? Maybe you have access to Fox Mulder’ X-Files (that’ right, we have X-Files series on Cuban TV). If you don’t want to write a book, please tell me your sources for such information so I can see for myself. And please don’t tell me that the author is some hack from Miami.

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On June 16, 2005, conductor@trenblindado.com wrote:

Quote from Jorge Castañeda’ book “Compañero: The life and Death of Che Guevara” (page 62)

“I have sworn before a picture of our old, much lamented comrade Stalin that I will not rest until I see these capitalist octupuses annihilated.” 

Castañeda quotes from Guevara’ letter to Beatriz Guevara Lynch. December 10, 1953.

The part about him paying a tribute to Stalin in Russia comes from Jon Lee Anderson’ “Che Guevara. A Revolutionary Life.” Page 181.

We have a saying: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck…It’ a duck.

Why can’t you just admit he was a Stalinist?  Why can’t you just say that you in fact are a Stalinist.  I’ll admit what I am.  I’m not like Fidel Castro who hid his communist agenda until AFTER he acquired power.  I’m an unabashed capitalist.  Communism has been discredited.  That’ why you’re living in the stone age.  By the way, if you have unrestricted internet access you’re probably an agent of state security.  We’ve all read about the roll backs on computers and internet access.  If Castro is so right why is he so afraid of information.

Ya estoy cansado de debatir con un ñangara.  Buenas Noches.

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On June 16, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

Conductor….
The main thrust of a book is not derived from isolated sentences. Neither Castaneda’ book nor Anderson’ message is that Che was a Stalinist. Both of these books reveal a great deal of admiration for Che. Does that mean that they are Stalinists too? I repeat, you have to do much more than lay a wreath or say a couple naive words of admiration to become a Stalinist. But of course, if it is conveniente for your world to believe that Che is a Stalinist, so be it. It helps you fit in the brutal society called the United States of America (with 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed in an illegal war, hundreds held without charges in Guantanamo base, Bush is doing a good job competing for the title of Stalinist, or better still, Fascist…since he is a capitalist). Además, no solo son Oficiales de la Seguridad que tienen acceso al Internet.

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On June 16, 2005, conductor@trenblindado.com wrote:

Legt me ask you a question.  How do you define Stalinism?

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On June 16, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

Mr. Gomez,
“Stalinism” is a form of totalitarianism following the characteristics of Joseph Stalin’ rule in the Soviet Union. The saliente features are: forced collectivisation of agriculture (something that Che did not support), centralized bureaucratic State control and planning of the economy (something that Che criticized, especially the bureacracy), ruthless and massive slaughter and disappearances of political enemies (something that did not happen under Che), complete social, cultural, and political control of all aspects of a particular society. Tell me, if Che was a Stalinist, why didn’t the authors Anderson or Castaneda (whom you so readily quote) come out and say he was a Stalinist?

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On June 16, 2005, conductor@trenblindado.com wrote:

For one thing they were both very favorable to him.  Castañeda devotes exactly one paragraph to the executions at La Cabaña.  Che believed in the supremacy of the state over any rights an individual might have.  Of course that creates a problem because if you have an egomaniac running the state (as is Fidel Cagastro) anything that displeases the leader can be said to be a threat to that supremacy.  You want to split hairs about whether Che was a Stalinist.  Fine.  Enjoy your life. I just showed you how even the favorable biographers of Che had to admit that he was at least an admirer of Stalin.  Even after the Kruschev divulged the nature of his bloody purges.  Che Guevara has no excuse.  He was a guy that liked to kill unarmed men.  That was him at his best.  He was a failure in the Congo and a Failure in Bolivia.  The only reason the revolution triumphed in Cuba was because Castro and Che hid their agenda.  The army dissolved because they didn’t want to fight for Batista.  Castro and Guevara lied about bringing democracy back to Cuba and systematically destroyed all of the civil rights that were guaranteed in the Constitution of 1940.  Most Cubans that supported Castro wanted that constitution to be put back in force.  They wanted democracy.  The system Castro created will crumble like a house of cards once he’ gone.  I’d love to waste more time talking to somebody who I am not going to convince but I can’t.  I have a job.  We have a saying here that we’ll agree to diasagree.  Something that is hard to do in Cuba today.  Be well.

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On June 16, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

If there is one thing I agree with you on, it is your conclusion that we will not agree. Thus, you enjoy your life in the U.S.A., I will enjoy my life in Cuba, and may history eventually show who was right. Cuidate.

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On June 18, 2005, JudgeKure wrote:

You people type too much

History has already shown that Cuba was more right then the U.S..


And since there was no answer…Imma assume that everybody agrees that all Argentinians look good in Anything, Including Barets.

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On June 18, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

JudgeKure…It is possible that Argentinians look good in anything, especially berets…pero mi hermano, it was Cuba that enchanted the sould of Che. Here he rests….

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On October 11, 2005, Orith wrote:

How can one be cynical about CHE who fought and gave his life for all the downtrodden of Latin America?

He truly was the most pure man of Modern history of the 20th century.

His beauty was inwards and outwards.

God bless his memory.