Guevara would tell his friends that this first stay in a US city served to confirm his negative vision about the United States.
By Alejandro Armengol (Cubaencuentro)
HAVANA TIMES — Very little is known about the time Che spent in Miami. There’s not very much to know anyway. An accidental and forced stop, while he was traveling back to Argentina to get his medicine degree. The delay extended further than expected and Ernesto went around and around in a foreign city, where a language was spoken that the young student hadn’t mastered and who was still waiting for his destiny.
The writer Enrique Krauze mentions this in a magazine article, saying that this was a “bitter and tough” period, where he had premonitions. “I will attack barricades and trenches, I will cover my arms in blood,” Ernesto Guevara himself said, according to Krauze.
However, during this short-lived trip, nothing happened to Guevera other than normal jobs and mishaps that any visitor experiences, who without money suddenly find themselves in a strange place. For a brief time, Che lived like an illegal immigrant in Miami.
It was after the trip that the future guerrilla leader embarked on through some Latin American countries with Alberto Granados, in 1952, which he would write a diary about. Once arriving in Venezuela, Granados accepted a job at a leper’s colony near Caracas and Guevara managed to get a seat on the next plane that transferred race horses from Buenos Aires to Miami, when this landed in the Venezuelan capital to fill up with fuel. The travel itinerary included a stop-over in Miami to leave the cargo and then to return to the starting point.
Coincidentally, it was July 26th when Che boarded the Douglas aircraft, with its equine load, and flew to Miami. However, when he landed in this city, the pilot discovered a fault with the engine, which forced him to stay what was thought initially to be a few days, for the necessary repairs to be made before returning.
In his biography about Che, Jon Lee Anderson tells us that Guevara went to Jaime “Jimmy” Roca, who was in this city finishing off his architecture studies. Roca is the cousin of Maria del Carmen Ferreyra, the daughter of one of Argentina’s richest families who Guevara had just ended a relationship with.
The architecture student was in just as tight a spot economically as the medical student, but that didn’t stop Roca from taking Che to eat out every day at a Spanish restaurant where he had a tab, on the promise that he would pay the bill when he managed to sell his car. Both youngsters spent time on the beach and walking through the city, and they even enjoyed a waiter’s generosity at a bar, who would give them free beers and fries.
When the days of waiting became weeks, Roca managed to get Che a cleaning job at a Cuban air hostess’ apartment, who after a trial run fired the Argentinian when she found that he had left the place “dirtier than it was before.” However, the woman managed to get Che a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant.
When he returned to Buenos Aires, Guevara would tell his friends that this first stay in a US city served to confirm his negative vision about the United States, as he saw prevailing racism in a place where black people were still discriminated against and where he had been interrogated about his political affiliations by the US police. However, Anderson points out that later Roca would remember that Che only spoke to him about the need for homes for the Latin American poor, that they never talked about politics and they tried to have the best time possible, in spite of not having any money.