The Final Resting Place for a Book about Che in Miami

By Vicente Morin Aguado

HAVANA TIMES – Dr. Maria Werlau is a meticulous researcher of the crimes committed by Latin American dictatorships. Cuba, her bleeding Homeland, is at the heart of her concern for 67 consecutive years of dictatorships, first Fulgencio Batista, followed by Fidel Castro and those who continued in his footsteps. Finding a book that glorified Che Guevara standing in plain sight in the entrance of a Barnes & Noble bookstore, in Coral Gables, Miami, touched a nerve.

Writing about what happened that fateful September 8th for digital newspaper 14ymedio:

“I walked straight up to the book “Che, revolutionary icon, New York: Charwell Books, 2018”. Page after page, there was a selective and glorified history about Guevara with headings such as “The legend is born”, “The messenger of love”, “A revolutionary adventurer”, “The price of glory”, “Che lives forever”. I couldn’t find headings such as “Killing machine”, “The butcher of La Cabana”, “terrorist”, “aristocratic racist” or other less praiseworthy terms that are also used to describe him. There were only a few brief lines about his command at the La Cabana prison and none of the human beings who were executed there on his orders were named; there weren’t even any photos of the “firing line”.

Archivo Cuba, an NGO run by our leading lady, archives 10,771 cases of crimes committed between 1952 up until the present day, from falling into oblivion. 7,437 of these bloody crimes were committed in the past 60 years. Hundreds of these deaths took place after the Castro-led revolution, at the La Cabana military fortress located at the entrance of Havana’s bay, under the direct command of Che Guevara.

Barnes and Noble store in Miami.

Educated outside of Cuba within a democracy, the researcher continues with restraint:

“I asked to see the manager and when Andy came, I politely explained to him that there was a large Cuban-American community living in Miami who are particularly sensitive about the ill-informed cult surrounding the figure of Che. I told him that I wasn’t in favor of censorship, but that I personally knew children and siblings of men who were executed on Guevara’s orders, who were living in Miami. Plus, I explained that it would be as upsetting as finding a book glorifying Osama Bin Laden put up on show in a B&N bookstore in my city, New Jersey, which lost 10 people in the 9/11 attacks.”

According to her account, the offensive book was still out on the “reference” table the following day. They didn’t pay heed to her words, at least up until then. However, 14ymedio newspaper clarifies that “Maria Werlau, the director of the NGO “Archivo Cuba” dedicated to Cuban historic memory, has launched an online petition to denounce the glorification of Che Guevara.”

I went to this bookstore on September 11th, accompanied by former political prisoner Fernando Pruna Bertot, who rose up against Fidel Castro in 1959, and who tells us his close perspective of Che when he was locked away at La Cabana in his magnificent biography “Habana 505”.

We looked around for the reported book, we rummaged about shelves and didn’t find it. In the end, a Cuban couple had taken an interest in our quest, finding the only book about Ernesto Guevara on exhibit, it was “Los Ojos del Che”, written by fellow Cuban Marcos Gorban.

The only Che book we found.

This isn’t the time to talk about this discovery, our mission looking for the book was accomplished: sensitivity won out in the end at Barnes&Noble, or maybe the manager Andy foresaw the rightful rage of the victims’ relatives which could cause problems for him. A later digital search at the customer service desk came up negative when we introduced the abovementioned book, both by the author’s name and the book title.

There’s one question that millions of the heroic guerrilla fighter’s admirers still ask: Was he really a killing machine?

Journalist Pedro Corzo leads the Institute of the Cuban people’s historic memory against totalitarianism. In his twenty years compiling testimonies about Cuba, he stresses:

“Guevara’s own writings prove his passion for random violence. In his books, we find phrases that are in keeping with many of his criminal acts like, for example, “The intransigent hatred for the enemy that takes one beyond the natural limitations of a human being and converts one into an effective, violent, selective, cold killing machine.”

The interviewee adds: “There are many books that can help us to know this Che, including the book by Humberto Fontova, “Exposing the real Che Guevara” and another one by Argentinian intellectual, Nicolas Marquez, “La Maquina de Matar”, which is an appropriate title for this man.”

I’d also like to add the book “Este Soy yo”, a self-portrait of the Argentinian-born Comandante, which was written by Pedro Corzo.

 Che Guevara never hid his historic responsibility, appearing before old channel “6” cameras for Cuban TV in February 1959, when he admitted that: “All of the executions at La Cabana are carried out under my explicit orders.” Back then, he told Jose Pardo Llada, which appears in his book “Fidel y el Che”: “you don’t need a trial to send men to the firing line. These procedures are a detail of the old bourgeoisie. This is a revolution!”

Vicente Morin Aguado:


10 thoughts on “The Final Resting Place for a Book about Che in Miami

  • What about the still mysterious death of Camilo Cienfuegos in 1959?
    I think that there’s a fairly strong case for Fidel to also have wanted to get Cienfuegos out of the picture completely!

  • Well, Che was sent abroad in ’67, because he had by then become a serious embarrassment to Fidel, at a time when the Soviets were starting to order Cuba to fall in line with the rest of the Communist bloc!

    Had San Fidel not complied, it is believed that the Russians warned him that they would cut off all support for Cuba, remove the Russian troops, and leave Cuba’s fate to the USA!

  • Personally speaking, I am against the Death Penalty. Regardless. Countries that still practice this are a stain on their own existence.
    It should be outlawed across the planet. But unfortunately some of the most powerful and most backwardly minded nations continue this type of barbarism…
    If the human race lives long enough, this type of barbaric activity will be buried in the past.
    Errol Flynn:
    Proper Legend. The like of which we will not see again. The Golden era of Hollywood was a once only……
    And anyone who instinctively backs the oppressed against the the tyrant is fine with me……

  • Having personally known agents who were subsequently executed by the USSR without trial Nick I find nothing in favour of the practice even if it is only a few hundred which Sandra appeared to excuse in the instance of Guevara. In writing that Errol Flynn played the role of Robin Hood, I was factual and to explain, it was relevant to describing the view of many regarding Guevara. I was not endeavoring to write a biography of Flynn’s career, I leave that in your capable hands to wield the pen do further research and complete his history.

  • A curious article which seems to advocate censorship or suppression of books that one disapproves of.
    Then Mr MacD seems to suggest that certain executions are definitely wrong whereas difining other executions as wrong is a question of opinion.
    Mr MacD, you also mention the legendary Errol Flynn. I find it amazing, given your breadth of knowledge on all matters relating to Cuba, that you don’t mention the fact that Errol’s last ever movie was a self written propaganda piece in favour of Fidel and his Revolution.

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