Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Forty years ago Argentine revolutionary Dr. Ernesto "Che" Guevera was killed by the Bolivian military with the blessings of the CIA. He had been one of the rock star three, along with Camillo and Fidel riding triumphantly into Havana in '59, and later fought in the Congo and Bolivia, spreading "revolutionary chic" globally. In Havana he's omnipresent, emblazoned everywhere from billboards to keychains. In boutiques from Paris to NYC his famous mug is plastered across skimpy $50 t shirts worn by perky titted models, completely co-opted by capitalist pop-culture- still in style after all these years.
Last year I stopped at Milawyer's house in West Virginia on my way to Mexico City. In the bathroom was a big glossy book on Che. When I asked who was reading it, Milawyer pointed at his young son Mr. P. Seems P had become obsessed with Che. He didn't know much about Cuba or revolution, but after a few trips to the can he was an expert on Dr. G. What kid wouldn't find Che cool?
When I lectured at ISA in Havana all the students told a story of Fidel and Che playing golf after the revolution at the American golf club that even Batista was barred at (having African lineage) and vowing to turn it into an art school. ISA now sits on those links. Because Che died young he will always be remembered as that beret wearing, good looking dude. Because he remained a revolutionary, and did not become a politician like Fidel, he will always be romanticized.
The reality of Che's life may never be known. It is so steeped in myth and politically driven propaganda (on both sides), a true biography may be impossible. But there is one fact that sheds a little light on the life and death of Che. The Bolivian who pulled the trigger and put a bullet in Ernesto Guvera's body is still alive and recently had cataract surgery....... at a clinic established by Cuban doctors. That old man owes his sight to the man he killed. Vive revolution!


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