Che Guevara, a controversial legacy - The360 PlayBuzz

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  • Friday, November 29, 2019

    Che Guevara, a controversial legacy

    Che Guevara, a controversial legacy

    October 9, 1967 precisely - Che Guevara was executed by the Bolivian army. It was the death of the cantor of anti-capitalism, of Fidel Castro's fellow-traveler, of the Third World defender, of the symbol of the internationalist revolution. Four decades later, his ideas are hardly recipe, but the character still seduces. The revolutionary has become a myth to eternal youth, a myth exploited commercially. 


    Born on 14 June 1928 in Argentina to a middle-class family, Che Guevara - whose real name is Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna - embodies the revolutionary struggle in Latin America, the struggle against imperialism and the desire for solidarity for the oppressed peoples. Fragile and asthmatic child, little Ernesto is a mediocre student, but who reads a lot and imposes the practice of the sport to overcome his illness.

    His first contacts with politics are the work of a communist uncle who takes part in the Spanish war. Her mother is a feminist and anticlerical activist, which was rare in Argentina at the time. But the real political revelation for the man who has since become a medical student is the journey he made in the early 1950s across Latin America. He then discovers misery, social inequalities and lack of rights for the poorest. Influenced by his Marxist readings, Che Guevara considers that only the revolution can change this situation.

    In 1954, he met Fidel Castro in Mexico City. An encounter that will turn the young humanist adventurer into a hero of the revolution. He joins Líder Maximo's troops in their fight against the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, and imposes himself as a fierce fighter. At the fall of Batista in 1959, Che Guevara became prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court, then governor of the Central Bank and Minister of Industry of Cuba. But power and bureaucracy bother him; he criticizes the omnipresence of the USSR; Fidel Castro is wary of his popularity. In 1965, Che Guevara resumed his pilgrim's staff of the revolution, going to defend his internationalist ideas - sometimes weapons in hand - first in the Congo, then in Bolivia from where he hoped to generalize the guerrillas to all the Andean countries. Poorly prepared, the operation is a disaster. Che Guevara was captured and executed on October 9, 1967, by the Bolivian army, then trained by the CIA. Whoever was a hero of the revolution then becomes an icon for Marxist movements and young people in search of revolutionary ideals.

    His charisma transcends the failure of communist regimes

    Like any myth, that of Ernesto Guevara has an irrational dimension. Forty years after his death, the man is known and popular around the world. He embodies the ideal of a pure revolution without compromise. Died at 39, he still appears young, when he would be almost 80 years old today. Numerous books, documentaries and exhibitions have been dedicated to him, as well as a film - Carnets de voyage - which traces his first journey in Latin America. Songs to his glory have even been composed. The American weekly Times Magazine ranked him among the 100 most important personalities of the twentieth century. His charisma transcends the failure of communist regimes around the world, even that of Cuba.

    One year after his death, the thousands of American demonstrators against the Vietnam war wear a t-shirt with his effigy. During the May 68 events in France, students chant "Ho-Ho-Ho Chi Minh! Che-Che-Guevara! The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre proclaims: "Che Guevara is the most complete human being of our time. The call by the Argentine revolutionary - "Create two, three ..., many Vietnam" - for the liberation of the occupied countries meets a very strong echo among Western youth. In his book Che Guevara, the itinerary of a revolutionary, Loïc Abrassart writes: "Che offers the model of a renewed communism, freed from the shackles of the real socialism of the Eastern countries. It is the sun of Cuba against the Soviet greyness. It remains a powerful symbol of rebellion and social justice.

    Even today, Che posters adorn teenagers' rooms in search of ideal. Teenagers yet born 25 years after his death. In Cuba, the subject is subject to a quasi-religious veneration. The mausoleum where he resides in Santa Clara attracts thousands of visitors every year, including many foreigners. His statue decorates several public places and factories. Every morning, school children sing: "Pioneros por el comunismo, Seremos como el Che" (pioneers of communism, we will be like Che).

    Beer and condoms

    It is undeniable that, in part, the myth has been developed by the commercial dimension that it assumes; the image of this cantor of anti-capitalism - and Che's opponents do not fail to joke about the phenomenon - generates millions of dollars. T-shirt, watches, caps, coffee mugs ... the image of Che Guevara is found on all media. In 2003, the Luxembourg merchant bank Dexia chose it as the emblem of an advertising campaign with the slogan "Fight the received ideas". The image of the revolutionary star beret was used to sell beers and condoms, ice cream and insurance contracts, bicycles and Internet subscriptions.

    Certainly he is not alone in this case. The hijacking of contentious figures - like Lenin or Gandhi - is an ingrained advertising strategy. "In forty years, no image has been so much used, adapted, manipulated, recycled, mythified or emptied of all meaning as that of Che. Everyone is appropriate: political activists, artists like Andy Warhol and his pop-art, journalists, fashion designers, merchants of all kinds ", explained in the magazine Vanity Fair, the director of a London art gallery.

    Defenders of Che Guevara's memory regret that this commercial use weakens his political message. But they point out that this also testifies to its popularity and that this use has never been desired by the person concerned.

    For the adversaries of Che, this glorification of man, his messianic dimension are unbearable. They recall that, far from being a humanist with generous ideas, Che Guevara has approved hundreds of executions by the revolutionary tribunal of Havana. He himself wrote: "Executions are a necessity for the people of Cuba, and also a duty imposed by this people. He is also at the origin of the work rehabilitation camps, of sinister reputation, that still exist in Cuba.
    Finally, Che Guevara was a poor Minister of Industry, persisting for ideological reasons in policies doomed to failure. On this point, however, the US embargo also explains the ruin of the Cuban economy.

    No offense to its detractors, the cult of Che remains a reality. Two photos contributed greatly. That of Che Guevara on his deathbed, eyes wide open, face calmed, a look of Christ martyr, the image of a saint of the poor and oppressed, now sacrificed. Even more famous, the photo taken by Alberto Korda of Che looking proudly off, his starry beret on his head; the most reproduced cliché in the world, immediately recognizable as can be the Mona Lisa.

    About him, the advisor Jacques Séguéla wrote in the magazine Photo: "The photograph of Korda concentrates all the virtues attributed to Che: honesty, bravery, selflessness, challenge, loyalty, pride, not to mention a dose of military manhood. Che Guevara's face expresses as much firmness (in the face of the United States) as confidence (in the future of the revolution), negligence (beard, long hair in the wind) that the seriousness of commitment (the star commander on his beret)."

    Return back to back US and USSR

    According to Ariel Dorfam, Professor of Political Science at Duke University (USA): "We are living in a time of fierce competition and fierce consumerism. The world is marked by a march forward towards money and material goods. Utopias are buried, but we are always searching for meaning. We are looking for heroic values ​​that Che Guevara embodies with her Métis culture, her nomadic appearance, her refusal to compromise, her contempt for comfort, her eternal youth, her demand for justice on a global scale. An analysis shared Loïc Abrassart: "At the beginning of the century without a collective project, characterized by neoliberal globalization, Che dreams. The absence of an alternative ideology to capitalism after the collapse of the authoritarian regimes of the East leaves a void to fill. The figure of Che is called to the rescue of a world orphaned by a contentious thought uncompromised by the dramatic balance sheets of countries claiming socialism."

    Che's strength is to have always believed in the revolution, to have always defended the colonized countries and to have ended up sending the US and the USSR back-to-back as responsible for the oppression of the third. -world. His strength is also not to be associated with power and its meanness in the collective unconscious. This is the thesis defended Christopher Hitchens, who was a fervent advocate of the Cuban revolution in the sixties before turn politically casaque: "The admiration for Che Guevara today has a romantic dimension that hides his political ideas. His personality is complex; he was at once exemplary and arrogant, provocative and thoughtful, ruthless and humanistic, idealist and extremist, communist but free-spirited, ideologue but devoid of diplomacy and political calculation. These contradictions are attractive. Che's icon status comes from the fact that he failed. His story is a story of defeat and isolation. He is a revolutionary who has neither claws nor fangs; he embodies a revolt that does not hurt anyone. Would he have lived longer, would he have been associated with power, the myth of Che would have died long ago."

    The construction of a "new man"

    The time is no longer the revolution, and the fall of the Soviet bloc in 1979 sounded the death knell of a certain communist ideology. In Cambodia, the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge has discredited the idea of ​​a revolution that makes a clean sweep of the past, the construction of a "new man", a third world that is free of yokes. Countries still claiming Marxism - North Korea, Cuba, Laos - are neither models of democracy nor examples of economic success. The very style of Che Guevara - refusal of compromise, struggle to the death, absolute ethical requirement - hardly makes recipe. Vietnam - cited as an example by Che - is certainly still officially a communist country, but largely integrated into the global economy, as is China.

    Nevertheless, "Gurarism" is not dead. In the nineties, the failure of neoliberal reforms in Latin America revived Che's political views, such as Pan-Americanism, the popular fronts, the nationalization of key industries. Likewise, the absence of strong opposition to liberal globalization everywhere is resuscitating interest in his ideas. Some see in alterglobalists the heirs of Che Guevara. In Latin America, many guerrillas are inspired by "Guévarisme". This is the case in Peru of the Shining Path, sinister reputation and today decimated; in Colombia the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), who are not only the kidnappers of Ingrid Betancourt, but also the partisans of a peasant revolution; in Mexico, finally, the Zapatista National Liberation Army, led in Chiapas by the sub-commander Marcos, refers to the Argentine revolutionary. Certainly, none of these guerrillas won his fight, or even met with widespread popular support. The fiery Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, often delivers his speeches wearing a T-shirt with the effigy of Che. As for Evo Morales, the new Bolivian head of state, he regularly pays tribute to Che Guevara in his speeches. He even had a portrait of his hero, made of coca leaves, installed in the presidential suite. Symbolic gestures that do not make politics.

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