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Posted December 06, 2004 by publisher in Cuban History

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Human rights group lists Che victims as retailers profit

As U.S. retailers continue to profit from Christmas sales of merchandise emblazoned with the image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a human-rights group has listed hundreds of documented victims of the one-time official of Fidel Castro’s Cuban regime.

The Free Society Project cites the work of Armando M. Lago, author of a upcoming book, “Cuba: The Human Cost of Social Revolutions,” who provides details on the summary executions of hundreds of Cubans under the direction of Guevara.

“The exact number of Che’s Cuban victims has not been independently verified,” he writes. “The number of deaths attributed to Che varies and includes executions he committed personally as well as death warrants he ordered and/or issued. In his book ‘Yo Soy El Che!’ journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che, reports that he sent 1,897 men to the firing squad. Daniel James, in turn, writes in ‘Che Guevara: A Biography’ that Che acknowledged ordering ‘several thousand’ executions in the first few years of the Castro regime. Dr. Lago has documented over 4,000 deaths in Cuba, mostly firing squad executions, during the first three years after Fidel Castro’s takeover (1959-1962), [a] period during which Che Guevara is known to have been one of the Castro government’s chief executioners. In addition, combat deaths or killings perpetrated in other countries where Che led guerrilla operations such as Bolivia and Congo have not been tallied.

Lago lists by name 14 executed by Che in the Sierra Maestra during the guerrilla struggle between 1957-1958. He lists 10 executed in Santa Clara at Guevara’s orders in only two days in January 1959. And he lists 156 executed at La Cabaa Fortress prison on Guevara’s orders.

Meanwhile, retailers in the U.S., profiting from brisk sales of Che Guevara memorabilia, such as T-shirts, caps and berets, continue to peddle the merchandise to teen-agers, many of whom have no understanding of the real Guevara.

T-shirts emblazoned with the image of Guevara, Castro’s partner in crime, are an increasingly hot item reaching a kind of fashion tipping point.

Shoppers who don’t get to the mall much might be in for a little culture shock when they see shirts, caps, posters and berets commemorating Che at stores like Anchor Blue, Hot Topic and Mainland Skate and Surf.

The Che trend has only been heightened by the release of “The Motorcycle Diaries,” a movie depicting the 23-year-old medical student adventuring through South America by motorcycle. Another film, focusing more on Guevara’s revolutionary years, is scheduled to hit theaters in 2005.

There’s even a website where you can buy lots of Che Guevara memorabilia. It was started by John Trigiani, a man who has traveled to Cuba frequently and admits Guevara is probably rolling over in his grave at the thought of a Che Store.

Exclusive rights of the haunting, 1960-era, black-and-white line image of Guevara’s face were purchased by David McWilliams, corporate executive officer of Fashion Victim. A substantial portion of Fashion Victim’s $4 million to $5 million in sales last year came from Che merchandise.

Guevara was born in Argentina in 1928 and originally trained to become a doctor at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1952, he embarked on the trip dramatized in “The Motorcycle Diaries” across South America. After returning to Buenos Aires to complete his medical degree, Guevara set off again to travel through the Americas. He participated in leftist movements in Guatemala and Mexico and became acquainted with Cuban expatriates in those countries. He joined Castro’s revolutionary Cuban army in 1956 as a top commander and Castro’s personal physician. He helped Castro topple the regime in Havana in 1959.

As Castro’s right-hand man in the new regime, Guevara ordered the execution of hundreds of people while in charge of the notorious La Cabaa prison in Havana. He was unapologetic about the mass killings of innocent people, explaining, “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.”

Pure hate. It wasn’t the first time Guevara used the expression, nor the last. He explained how it must be a tool in the arsenal of revolutionary terrorists permitting them to do things they would otherwise never be able to accomplish.

“Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine this is what our soldiers must become,” Guevara said.

During the Cuban missile crisis, Guevara was in favor of a nuclear war with the U.S. because he believed that a better world could be built from the ashes, regardless of the cost in millions of lives. He was overruled by cooler heads in the Kremlin and in Cuba. The nuclear missiles headed for Cuba, 90 miles from the U.S., were returned to Russia.

Disgraced by the slight, Guevara went to create new revolutionary movements and wage armed struggle in Africa and Latin America. He was killed in the jungles of Bolivia in 1967.

Guevara was proud of the fact that he personally put bullets in the backs of the heads of many he considered counter-revolutionary.

Once again, in rallying his guerrillas in Angola, he wrote: “Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.”

“Che was a Marxist soldier who aided the Cuban revolution,” says Darrow. “He advocated the philosophy of communism, which is responsible for over 100 million murders, and he personally supervised the executions of scores of people himself.”

  1. Follow up post #1 added on December 06, 2004 by Jesus Perez

    Where do these people get these numbers from? 4000 executions in the first three years of the revolution? I do not think so, I was there and very much involved in what was going on. I never heard of Che personally executing anyone.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on December 07, 2004 by Ziona with 40 total posts

    I was also there and involved and do repeat what Jesus wrote.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on December 07, 2004 by Dana Garrett with 252 total posts

    There have been so many lies told, no one knows what the truth is any more.  I read one source that claimed 30,000 were executed during the trials after Castro came to power.  Then I did a little research and discovered that the 30,000 figure was actually the number of people who Batista had murdered and whose bodies were dug up, mostly from unmarked graves, after the revolution.  So it seemed that the 30,000 figure was attributed to Castro in order to hide the sins of Batista.

    I read that all these trials were open to the public and press and the sentences were announced in public.  It seems to me, therefore, that the actual numbers ought to be known and recorded somewhere.  I wouldnít think that a new government that wanted to commit mass murder would hold its trials openly for all to see. 

  4. Follow up post #4 added on January 07, 2006 by G

    I am not surprised to see Che supporters playing the numbers game here.  The fact is he was directly involved in thousands of murders.  In my opinion, the worst part about Che Guevara is the clear fact that he preached a hate doctrine which should be unacceptable to any reasonable person.  In his letter “a mis hijos” directed to his children, he finished by counseling them to always be revolutionaries.  How could that advice be tolerated?  Some people think that fighting for peace is wrong, but what about fighting to fight more?  Che Guevara is famous because of his “stylish” picture (which looks nothing like most photos) but is a latin american nazi.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 19, 2006 by Stkilfa football club 2 win priemiership

    che rocks leave him alone Go CHEEEEE

  6. Follow up post #6 added on September 24, 2006 by Chris Meoli

    Regardless of how many, and in which way, shape or form civilians and political opponents were executed as a DIRECT result of Che Guevara´s principles and actions, he was responsible for the slaughtering of human beings with the excuse of being a “revolutionary.”  He preached and practiced hate-based violent aggression and encouraged his fellow executioners to be “cold blooded killing machines.”  Imagine if we were all “cold blooded killing machines” swiftly eliminating anyone and everyone whom we have been told by a dictator or military commander to hate.  And the thought that Che acted in this way as a means to oust one dictator in order to support another one, who, to this day, strips basic human rights from his own people, is quite disturbing.

    And, If you truly still support Che Guevara and what he stood for, i.e. anti-capitalism, anti-Americanism and the loathing of people and/or companies, who make profits at the expense of social welfare, the ABSOLUTE LAST THING you would do, is go out and buy a $20 t-shirt made by underpaid and exploited Chinese, Pakistani or Indonesian laborers; consequently helping to turn record profits for some huge American corporation.

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