October 10, 2013
The day my uncle had an encounter with Che
Let me add my "thumbs up" to Jorge Ponce & Humberto Fontova for reminding us, especially the younger generation, about the life and times of Che.
On this day in 1967, Che Guevara was executed in Bolivia. No one knows for sure but Che disappeared from public view in 1965. He reappeared in Bolivia in 1966 with a handful of other revolutionaries. Their goal was to take "communism" to South America's poorest country and start some movement over the continent.
It failed miserably and Che was eventually captured and executed. His diary (published after his death) reveals a beaten man who could not convince Bolivian peasants to join his movement.
Che's biggest mistake is that he confused Cuba with Bolivia. In Cuba, the communists came to power by saying that they were not communists. They betrayed the Cuban people.
In Bolivia, Che found peasants who were very skeptical of foreigners, specially white guys with an Argentine accent like Che.
My Uncle Jose, who passed away in 2008, told me about his encounter with Che in 1959.
"Tio Pepe," as we called him, was an architect in Cuba. He attended The University of Havana at about the same time that Castro was there. He was not politically active but knew many of the leaders, like the late Jose Antonio Echeverria, the student leader killed in 1957.
In the early days of what they call "la revolucion," Tio Pepe went down to Columbia, the military barracks, to see a good friend who was arrested.
He ran into Che, who was there carrying a pistol and speaking somewhat irrationally. Tio Pepe assumed that Che was drunk or under the influence of something.
Che looked at Tio Pepe and said: "Que quieres Canto"? (What do you want Canto)
Che listened to Tio Pepe's defense and walked away when someone else called his name.
Tio Pepe told me this story a few years before his death. He told me that he knew that "la revolucion" was in trouble when he had a direct encounter with this criminal.
Let me paraphrase Humberto Fontova: Justice met Che on this day in 1967.
Thank God that it did!
P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here.