Posted on Wednesday, 10.16.13
Che Guevara’s image doesn’t fit ghastly reality
BY HUMBERTO FONTOVA
Good thing the college “hipsters” who wear Che T-shirts didn’t live in
Stalinist Cuba under their idol.
“Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental
mandates!” snarled the KGB-mentored Che Guevara in 1961. “Instead they
must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service! Youth
should learn to think and act as a mass. It is criminal to think of
individuals! Individualism must disappear from Cuba!”
By the mid-’60s, the crime of a “rocker” lifestyle (blue jeans, long
hair, fondness for the Beatles and Stones) or effeminate behavior got
thousands of youths yanked out of Cuba’s streets and parks by Che’s
KGB-trained secret police and dumped in prison camps with “Work Will
Make Men Out of You” emblazoned in bold letters above the gate and with
machine-gunners posted on the watchtowers. The initials for these camps
were UMAP, not GULAG, but the conditions were quite similar.
Today, the world’s largest image of the man whom so many college
hipsters sport on their shirts adorns Cuba’s headquarters and torture
chambers for its KGB-trained secret police. Nothing could be more fitting.
The most popular version of the Che T-shirt, for instance, sports the
slogan “fight oppression” under his famous countenance. This is the face
of the second-in-command, chief executioner, and chief KGB liaison for a
regime that jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s
and murdered more people in its first five years in power than Hitler’s
murdered in its first six.
Forty-six years ago this month, Ernesto “Che” Guevara got a major dose
of his own medicine (Oct. 9 marked the 40th anniversary of his death).
Without trial he was declared a murderer, stood up against a wall and
shot. If the saying “What goes around comes around” ever fit, it was then.
“When you saw the beaming look on Che’s face as his victims were tied to
the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad,” said a former Cuban
political prisoner, to this writer, “you saw there was something
seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara.”
As commander of La Cabaña execution yard, Che often shattered the skull
of the condemned man (or boy) by firing the coup de grace himself. When
other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled
himself by viewing the slaughter. Che’s second-story office in La Cabaña
had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling
firing-squads at work.
The Spanish word vencido, by the way, translates into “defeated” or
“surrendered.” And indeed, “the “acrid odor of gunpowder and blood”
very, very rarely reached Guevara’s nostrils from anything properly
describable as combat. It mostly came from the close-range murders of
unarmed and defenseless men (and boys.) Carlos Machado was 15 years old
in 1963 when the bullets from the firing squad shattered his body. His
twin brother and father collapsed beside Carlos from the same volley.
All had resisted Castro and Che’s theft of their humble family farm, all
refused blindfolds and all died sneering at their Communist murderers,
as did thousands of their valiant countrymen.
“ Viva Cuba Libre! Viva Cristo Rey! Abajo Comunismo!”
“The defiant yells would make the walls of La Cabaña prison tremble,”
wrote eyewitness to the slaughter, Armando Valladares.
The one genuine accomplishment in Che Guevara’s life was the mass-murder
of defenseless men and boys. Under his own gun dozens died. Under his
orders thousands crumpled. At everything else Che Guevara failed
abysmally, even comically.
So for many, the question remains: How did such an incurable doofus,
sadist and epic idiot attain such iconic status?
The answer is that this psychotic and thoroughly unimposing vagrant
named Ernesto Guevara de la Serna y Lynch had the magnificent fortune of
linking up with modern history’s top press agent, Fidel Castro, who —
from the New York Times’ Herbert Matthews in 1957, through CBS’ Ed
Murrow in 1959 to CBS’ Dan Rather, to ABC’s Barbara Walters — always had
the mainstream media anxiously scurrying to his every beck and call and
eating out of his hand like trained pigeons.
Che’s image is particularly ubiquitous on college campuses. But in the
wrong places. He belongs in the marketing, PR and advertising
departments. His lessons and history are fascinating and valuable, but
only in light of P.T. Barnum. One born every minute, Mr. Barnum? If only
you’d lived to see the Che phenomenon. Actually, 10 are born every second.
His pathetic whimpering while dropping his fully-loaded weapons as two
Bolivian soldiers approached him on Oct. 8 1967 (“Don’t shoot!” I’m
Che!” I’m worth more to you alive than dead!”) proves that this
cowardly, murdering swine was unfit to carry his victims’ slop buckets.
Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including “Fidel;
Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant” and “Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the
Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him.”
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