A tribute to the Guerrilla Hero
“Better to die standing, than to live on your knees.”
Ernesto Che Guevara
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Ernesto Che Guevara and those who hate him. Previously, the ubiquitous Korda image was just another piece to adorn my notebooks and t-shirts, but my fascination for this rebel took the plunge after writing the script for a documentary film on his life a few years ago. He belonged to a school of thought that the opressed can overcome the oppressors, conforming to the leftist ideologies and armed struggle – and he died for the ideals he believed in. Apart from the craze to get the Motorcycle Diaries DVD when it was released in 2004, it was the essence of his undefined philosophy to fight against inequality and injustice that attracts attention.
People who adore Che, glorifies him; whilst his detractors liken him to a mere ruthless executioner. I'd say he was an intelligent man, with inflexible guts to serve the downtrodden people. He was a rough revolutionary, a voracious reader, and was adept in diplomatic manouvres in as much as he was in guerrilla strategies. What's more, he is the ideal rebel whose life was fueled by selfless socio-political impetus rather than by material gains. Any rebellious individual loves to hear his story that started off with a motorcycle journey across South America.
But how did he transform himself from a medical student to an insurgent and later to an international icon? Che observed that Latin America was a hunting ground for the US with its free-market fanaticism and that it was the substructure of the widespread starvation and misery in the continent. His environment, and what he thought was best to remedy the malaise created the man we know today.
With hindsight, his life history is a testimony to the ideals of social revolution. However, one of his critics pour scorn on him, in Guevara's Lamentable Legacy by John Suarez, stating: "They (Guevara and his 'co-conspirators') had imprisoned tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience, attempted to indoctrinate an entire generation, made Cubans second-class citizens in their own country. They had divided families, made political ideology a litmus test for patriotism, and executed thousands".
Yet most of these gadflies are hardline capitalists or Americans, whose brickbats are often tinged with political overtones. No wonder, there are only few takers amongst the commanders of democracy. They have gone to such an extent that Che was intoxicated with Maoist thoughts; that he was hell-bent on using nuclear weapons (against the US, of course); that he was a member of the firing squad set up by his mentor, Fidel Castro; and what not.
Love him or hate him, the cult of Che Guevara will persist until there is no inequality between man and man.
¬✓ 'Revolution in the Revolution' by Regis Débray [I have a copy!]
¬✓ 'Che Guevara - A Revolutionary Life' by Jon Lee Anderson