Che Guevara at the Bay of Pigs

Forty-nine years ago this week, 1,512 Cuban men and boys landed on a Cuban beach with weapons in hand. All volunteers, they were putting their lives and limbs on the line to free Cuba from the Stalinism imposed upon it at Soviet gunpoint by Soviet proxies Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. The doomed (by the Best and Brightest) exploit would come to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.

"Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands!" snarls Ernesto "Che" Guevara in his diaries. "My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!"

Alas, the "acrid odor of gunpowder and blood" very rarely reached Guevara's nostrils from actual combat. It always came from the close-range murder of bound, gagged, and blindfolded men and boys. "He went into convulsions for a while and was finally still," gloats Che Guevara in his diaries, describing the death agonies of a bound Cuban peasant he had just shot in the temple with his pistol. "Now his belongings were mine." (Unwittingly, here Che Guevara gives us communism in a nutshell: cowardly murder and theft.)

Che made Alice in Wonderland's Red Queen look like Oliver Wendell Holmes. His models were Lenin, Dzerzhinsky, and Stalin. The Cheka came to Cuba with Guevara.

But in actual combat, his imbecilities defy belief. Compared to Che "The Lionhearted" Guevara's defense of Cuba, Rufus T. Firefly's defense of Freedonia in Duck Soup comes across like Anthony McAuliffe's of Bastogne.

The Bay of Pigs, we're led to believe by Castro and his dutiful media/academic minions, was Fidel and Che's crowning glory. "Imperialism's First Defeat!" as the Castroite press crows to high heavens. Yet in their recent movie, so closely mentored by Castro's propaganda ministry, Steven Soderbergh and Benicio del Toro somehow "overlooked" Che's glorious role in the epic victory. Hummmm...?

Odd, perhaps -- until you realize that a historically accurate depiction of Che Guevara's military exploits would be impossible to direct and cast without the members of Monty Python's Flying Circus. To wit: The Bay of Pigs invasion plan included a CIA squad dispatching three rowboats off the coast of western Cuba (350 miles from the true invasion site) loaded with time-release Roman candles, bottle rockets, mirrors, and a tape recording of battle.

The wily Comandante Che immediately deciphered the Yankee-Imperialist scheme! That little feint three hundred miles away at the Bay of Pigs was a transparent ruse! The real invasion was coming here in Pinar Del Rio! Che stormed over with several thousand troops, dug in, locked, loaded, and waited for the "Yankee/mercenary" attack. They braced themselves as the sparklers, smoke bombs, and mirrors did their stuff just offshore.

Three days later, the (literal) smoke-and-mirror show expended itself, so Che and his troops marched back eastward, where Che could taunt the (safely captured and disarmed) freedom-fighters. Freedom-fighter Manel Menendez parachuted into the inferno of Soviet firepower known as the Bay of Pigs and ripped into the Communists to his very last bullet, like his entire band of freedom-fighting brothers who inflicted casualties of 20-1 against their Soviet-led and -armed enemies.

Castro rules today primarily for one reason: The Knights of Camelot cut off the bullet supply to Manel and his freedom-fighting Band of Brothers. During dinner with your humble servant here many years later, Manel described Che's visit. "We'd all run out of ammo and been captured and herded into an enclosure," he recalls. "And so here comes Che, strutting and sneering as usual. He strutted up and looked around with that famous sneer of his. Then he started snickering. Many of us were wounded, but one of our guys faced him down and said, "Well I guess you'll send us all to the paredón (firing squad) now, right, Che?"

"No," Che snapped. "No paredón. We're gonna hang all of you, slowly! The firing squad's too good for you."

"I was standing close to Che at the time," recalls Señor Menendez, "and got a close-up of his face when he was talking. It was plain from the way his eyes lit up that the man was sick, mentally ill, a bona-fide sadist. Sure, most military commanders or wartime leaders -- Patton, Chesty Puller, Winston Churchill, whatever -- bad-mouth and taunt enemy soldiers. But that's during combat, to get the troops fired up for the kill, etc. Here, the combat was over. We were uniformed adversaries, but completely disarmed. So look, don't even ask me what I think when I see him on a T-shirt, or when I see him presented as some kinda military genius!"

Not surprisingly, in his heated battle with a tape recorder and roman candles, the masterful Comandante had managed to wound himself. The bullet pierced Che's chin and excited above his temple, just missing his brain. The scar is visible in all post-April '61 pictures of the gallant Che (the picture we see on posters and T-shirts was shot a year earlier).

Che's hagiographers and their Castro regime mentors are mostly mum on the details leading to this wound. But we can read between the lines and speculate. Apparently, the sight of the bottle rocket's red glare and the sound of tape-recorded bombs bursting in air roused Che to a Pattonesque fury. He drew his pistol and prepared to lead the charge against the Yankee juggernaut. "¡Arriba muchachos!" he bellowed, as his men sprung from their trenches with bayonets gleaming, and charged a tape recorder. With the amplified soundtrack from The Sands of Iwo Jima blaring in the background, Che stood atop a tank turret and turned to his men. "Let's wipe 'em out!" he yelled, while waving his pistol overhead in the manner of Clevon Little in Blazing Saddles.

Then he managed to shoot himself through the chin.

Humberto Fontova is the author of four books, including Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant and Exposing the Real Che Guevara. Visit