By Ayesha Bashir
“I am not a Christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am on the contrary of a Christ… I fight for things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or some other place.”- Che
Wooaahh! That’s gotta hurt on so many levels. No, wait, we’re Indians we can tolerate this. Anyway as harsh as that may sound this is exactly something Che Guevara stood for and proudly so, he was a revolutionary in every sense and believed in making things happen, he did not trust negotiations and was strict and disciplined (No, don’t compare him to Modi) this is one of the many reasons that critics have started referring to him as a totalitarian, someone who took pleasure in killing.
There are a number of conflicting viewpoints as to what Che stood for and debates have not ceased to exist. His critics despise him on the basis of him being a racist, and a mass murderer along with being a hater of LGBT community and someone who banned jazz and rock n roll. I’ll be trying to focus on the claims of him being a racist and a murder in a proper context.
On account of him being a racist the certain quotes by him are cited like this one-
Though this is in fact a very racist statement, the context needs to be taken into account. When Guevara wrote this he was 24 years old Argentinian and not a revolutionary. However with time after his further experiences and contact with Marxism he became a committed anti-racist and anti-imperialist.
While addressing UN in 1964 he said-
Cut the guy some slack, he was naïve and immature when he made those statements.
There is no concrete evidence of him being a racist after becoming a revolutionary if again we ignore the wrongly cited statements picked out of context by his critics to generate unnecessary hate.
Can someone who worked for the most backward people take pleasure in killing?
It’s more about perception here, if you consider killing a soldier in a battle or a government agent you’re at war with a murder, then it might be appropriate to call him a murderer.
In Cuba, Congo and Bolivia he was responsible for the deaths of soldiers, police and government agents since as a Marxist-Leninist he was a strong believer in violent struggle but this didn’t come naturally to him.
When he was in Guatemala he witnessed the war between the popularly elected President JacoboArbenz with US to out in place a dictatorship, over the land reforms issue.
Guevara realized that the workers resisting the coup were highly unarmed and un-prepared, hence he understood the importance of being militarily prepared in order to ensure progress of the lower classes.
He did not emerge one day from Argentina convinced that violence was the only way, he saw a leader being overthrown and being replaced by a repressive regime of the owning classes and concluded that violence was needed for a bigger change.
After the Cuban triumph Che was assigned to oversee the prison at La Cabana, where he earned the nickname ‘Butcher of La Cabana’ and was in charge of execution of war criminals in the prison, he was to review verdicts, offer pardons set execution dates.
A number of rumours exist stating that many of those executed were of innocents and that Che carried it out because he enjoyed it, but someone needs to tell these numb-nuts, that if he enjoyed seeing people suffer he wouldn’t have devoted his life to the cause of ensuring exactly the opposite of that for those who couldn’t help themselves.
Che continues to be an extremely loved revolutionary leader in Cuba where his land reforms and the literacy campaign have benefitted it in a number of ways and even today in many schools the kids are made to take an oath to become like him, there has to be a catch here, you don’t tell your kids to be like a murderer now do you?
Why has he become a youth icon?
Guevara was young and ruggedly handsome and a revolutionary leader, so when his image first exploded the global scene, that enough secured him lasting fame.
He sought to use force in overthrowing capitalism which oppressed the peoples of the world and replace it with Marxist states that would transition from socialism to communism. He did not seek to kill innocents but he had no problem in violently overthrowing oppressors and all that represented them.
Whatever said and done, no other communist leader has been idolised in a manner similar to Guevara’s and those who criticise him are just US propagandists desperate for bashing anyone who remotely deviates from sharing their views.
You might also have your opinions so feel free to share what you think or maybe you can bless us with your criticism.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.