1967: The end of Che and start of the myth
Che Guevarra was captured and executed 48 years ago.
As Humberto Fontova wrote, Che's revolution had been floundering down in Bolivia. He was a beaten man by the time that they caught up with him:
Had Ernesto Guevara not linked up with Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city that fateful summer of 1955 – had he not linked up with a Cuban exile named Nico Lopez in Guatemala the year before who later introduced him to Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city – everything points to Ernesto continuing his life of a traveling hobo, panhandling, mooching off women, staying in flophouses and scribbling unreadable poetry.
Although a fixture on modern college campuses, Che was no hero. It is thus fitting that when death came for him, on Oct. 8 1967, Che went not with a bang but with a whimper. "Don't shoot!" I'm Che! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!" he pleaded when approached by two Bolivian soldiers, dropping the fully loaded weapons he had not hesitated to discharge against unarmed victims. To the very end, Che Guevara remained a coward.
We will never know for sure why Che ended up in Bolivia. Maybe someday Fidel and Raul Castro will clear it up in a memoir.
We do know that he disappeared from Cuba's political stage around 1964. He traveled to the Third World and then he was gone again. During this overseas time, he made some rather bizarre statements, as we hear from Rep Ross-Lehtinen of Florida:
In New York in December 1964, while attending a meeting at the United Nations, he famously declared: “We have executed, we are executing and we will continue to execute.”
During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, Guevara expressed support for unleashing nuclear war with the United States and was reportedly furious when the Soviet Union withdrew the offensive weapons later that autumn after the crisis was defused.
Some believe that Che wanted his own revolution rather than stand behind Fidel. Others say that Fidel and Che had ego problems and forced to leave the island or get executed for treason. Others say that Che got tired of governing.Che made a huge mistake in Bolivia, or the nation that he chose to start his revolution. He tried to do in Bolivia what they did in Cuba, or overthrow a government.
They did not count on the Bolivian government fighting back, or something that Batista never really did. Also, the Johnson administration was not in the mood for another Bay of Pigs and supported the effort to track down Che.
Bolivia did not have Cuba's middle class, newspapers, radio and TV infrastructure to spread their message. We forget that Batista lost Cuba's middle class, such as my parents and thousands like them who got tired of the corruption. Also, Fidel, Raul, and Che never said that they were communists; and,Che never enjoyed support from the locals, who were very skeptical of a white guy from Argentina coming to save them. In his diary, he lamented that the natives did not support him: "The peasant masses don’t help us at all” was Guevara’s melancholy conclusion in his Bolivian diary.
So Che's mission failed miserably. Unfortunately, his life as a Jim Morrison look alike began today. He became a symbol, a poster and T-shirt. He is now used to peddle capitalism, or the same system that he wanted to shut down. The man who failed at revolution is now seen as a revolutionary icon!
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