At the prodding of The Dad, I have done a little more research on Che Guevara, the controversial and now “chic” character whose image (see left) has become a bit of an icon in recent years. The truth, as I’ve researched it thus far:
Ernesto Guevara (“Che”) was a Argentinian born physician and communist revolutionary. After traveling northward from Argentina (during which time he worked in a leper colony), he witnessed the American CIA operation in Guatemala before becoming a compatriot of Fidel Castro, who overthrew the US-backed Batista regime in Cuba in 1959. He went on to aid Communist revolutions in Angola and Bolivia before being killed in the latter in 1967.
From here, interpretation angrily rages.
Che’s apologists call him a “freedom fighter” who never gave up against the imperial United States and the injustices of unbridled capitalism. His detractors, including democratic counter-revolutionaries still in Cuban prisons, compare his love for firing squads to Hitler’s and Stalin’s Holocaust and Siberian massacres.
So then, why is Che on my bulletin board? Herein lies to the apology and the defense: my image of Che is only that which I have from the (controversial) Motorcycle Diaries movie directed by Robert Redford. The movie is a masterpiece – any discussion here about my favorite scenes, such as Che’s crossing of the river to the leper colony or his removal of the ceremonial gloves, would unpack the movie’s punch. It is that Che, who gave away his lover’s money to a poor couple to prevent them from being torn apart by the only jobs they could find, that I have up on my wall. Unfortunately, it is also this Che which is a particularly dangerous historical reconstruction of a despot of a man.
Main source: Jay Nordlinger’s “Che Chic” in The National Review, 31 Dec 2004.