Monday, October 15, 2007

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Not bad for a 40-year old article

The Economist examines the totemic worship of Che Guevara, 40 years after his death.

The wider the cult spreads, the further it strays from the man. Rather than a Christian romantic, Guevara was a ruthless and dogmatic Marxist, who stood not for liberation but for a new tyranny. In the Sierra Maestra, he shot those suspected of treachery; in victory, Mr Castro placed him in charge of the firing squads that executed “counter-revolutionaries”; as minister of industries, Guevara advocated expropriation down to the last farm and shop. His exhortation to guerrilla warfare, irrespective of political circumstance, lured thousands of idealistic Latin Americans to their deaths, helped to create brutal dictatorships and delayed the achievement of democracy.
What's reallly interesting, however, is that the magazine linked to its 1967 story about Guevara's death. This being the Economist, we have no idea who wrote it. Whoever it was, however, deserves props for the analysis and assessment:
This blow at the guerrilla movement in Bolivia follows on its destruction in Peru and its near-destruction in Colombia and Venezuela. It is a major strategic reverse for the “armed struggle.” But there are signs that what may happen now is that the focus of guerrilla activity will move from South America to Central America and the Caribbean. In Matagalpa province in Nicaragua insurgents have become increasingly active this year, while to the north, in Guatemala, the guerrillas, though hard pressed, are continuing to be quite a problem for the government. In Haiti the guerrilla movement is gradually co-ordinating itself, while in the Dominican Republic Dr Juan Bosch’s party this month split itself into violent and non-violent factions. Compared with the great South American dream, this is all small and fairly unimpressive fry for the guerrilla movement. But it would still be premature to say that the death of Guevara means the death of armed insurgency in Latin America.

Che Guevara’s name is already being classed with that of the Liberator, Simon Bolivar. Latin America’s marxist “liberation” has yet to look even likely, but Guevara has died with his reputation intact. From his middle-class Argentinian youth, he became a revolutionary by conviction and profession. With the two Castro brothers he invaded Cuba in the cockleshell Granma, stayed on to help run revolutionary Cuba as minister of industry, then, perhaps growing bored, took his leave of Cuba on a dedicated secret mission to set the continent alight. He failed. But many Latin Americans will go on believing that the legends that will be spun round his Pimpernel existence may one day lead to his picture being hung beside that of the Liberator in Latin American halls.

posted by Dan on 10.15.07 at 02:58 PM


This being the Economist, we have no idea who wrote it.

The Economist, the Skull and Bones of weekly news journals.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 10.15.07 at 02:58 PM [permalink]

I have no idea who "worships" Che Guevara, and I couldn't read the article because I spent 20 minutes worshipping the picture before the text.

posted by: Blurg on 10.15.07 at 02:58 PM [permalink]

Of course Che was an ass.

But one question I must pose to all those that take such joy in mocking Che is this: Who was worse for Latin America, Che or Reagan?

posted by: Rickm on 10.15.07 at 02:58 PM [permalink]

So why aren't conservative hipsters wearing Pinochet teeshirts, etc.?

posted by: ash on 10.15.07 at 02:58 PM [permalink]

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