Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Che Guevara: A Fighter Against Freedom and Democracy

I just re-started my subscription to The Economist, arguably the best political and economics publication on planet Earth. While reading, I came across a good article on the cult of Che Guevara and its complete separation from reality. I like this part:

The wider the cult spreads, the further it strays from the man. Rather than a Christian romantic, Guevara was a ruthless and dogmatic Marxist, who stood not for liberation but for a new tyranny. In the Sierra Maestra, he shot those suspected of treachery; in victory, Mr Castro placed him in charge of the firing squads that executed “counter-revolutionaries”; as minister of industries, Guevara advocated expropriation down to the last farm and shop. His exhortation to guerrilla warfare, irrespective of political circumstance, lured thousands of idealistic Latin Americans to their deaths, helped to create brutal dictatorships and delayed the achievement of democracy.

Sadly, Guevara's example is invoked not just by teenagers but by some Latin American governments. In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez wants to create the guevarista “new man”, just when Cuba is having second thoughts. As Jorge Castañeda, one of Guevara's biographers, notes, Che's lingering influence has retarded the emergence of a modern, democratic left in parts of Latin America. Sadly, most of those who buy the T-shirt neither know nor care.

I wonder if Soderbergh's new film will mention any part of the reality of Guevara. Judging by past movies on his life, I doubt it.
That's the circle of political freedom for you, the truest freedoms are in the political center. There's a lot of blood on the far Left AND Right. Paraphrasing a wise man, Democracy is one of the worst forms of government; the only worse form is every other kind.
Exactly as you'd expect:

"There is a lot, however, that the audience will not learn from this
big movie, which has some big problems as well as major virtues. In
between the two periods covered in "Che," Guevara was an important
player in the Castro government, but his brutal role in turning a
revolutionary movement into a dictatorship goes virtually unmentioned.
This, along with Benicio Del Toro's soulful and charismatic
performance, allows Mr. Soderbergh to preserve the romantic notion of
Guevara as a martyr and an iconic figure, an idealistic champion of
the poor and oppressed. By now, though, this image seems at best naïve
and incomplete, at worst sentimental and dishonest. More to the point,
perhaps, it is not very interesting."
Can't say I'm an expert in Guevara, but I'd say his iconography is based more on his early death than on his life (yeah, I know, not exactly treading unknown paths there). However, I find it hilarious for the Economist to argue that Guevara had anything to do with the rise of right-wing military dictatorships -- unless of course you want to argue that women give rise to rape.
Bollocks. Che is an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom.
His body is lying in a Mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba. The guards want bribes to see him but well worth it. I've seen Lenin, Uncle Ho and Che now. A nice hatrick of stiffs.
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