By Martin Guevara

Martin Guevara

HAVANA TIMES – I feel close to my uncle in his spiritual side, his rich character, an intellectual who takes action, a man who searches for truth within and outside of himself, the path of this misplaced stone, who fought against every obstacle when he was a child, who loved poetry, beautiful girlfriends and he wasn’t disgusted if they were extremely rich.

He was a nonconformist, who felt the pain of others, or another person’s pain as his own and believed he should intervene. When other people were in pain more than with his own.

However, I don’t share his contact and empathy with violence, because I reject outright any form of oppression, spilling of blood, killing, to reach political, economic and social objectives. I have even been more aware, recently, about how there is also violence involved in what we eat or what we wear and I need to think about this dilemma.

This leads me to also say that I find people who have only been condemning the almost 200 people executed by firing squads at La Cabana fortress under Che’s orders, suspicious, because they don’t say a single thing about the millions who have been killed in worst ways since 1959 up until the present day.

Bombing civilians, children, the elderly, whether that was in Vietnam with napalm which burned through the skin until it reached the bone, or Agent Orange which led to a variety of health effects and disturbing physical abnormalities, or in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, causing hundreds of thousands civillian deaths; nor do they condemn that army’s use of torture, be that in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, like anywhere else where people strapped with bombs kill human beings. They are lacking in all sincerity.

I can only talk about my uncle’s violence, the violence of Division 82, the Royal Navy, G2, KGB, Spain, Italy and German’s fascist genocide, Soviet and Chinese communism, and Kampuchea, of the racist police in the United States, the repressor of any Cuban or Soviet diversity, of dismemberment and stonings in Saudi Arabi, massacres in Africa between Africans; with those who, like me, condemn these forms of terror and others that exist. Not only the violence of some, while justifying the violence of others.

I don’t waste a minute on these people.

If a relative or friend of somebody who was executed at La Cabana were to come to me, I would respect them and listen to them, because I am interested in intra-history. I have always taken great care when speaking to former Cuban political prisoners; the fact they have spent 15 or 20 years in prison fills me with a certain respect for them, maybe in the memory of the years my old man spent behind bars, for thinking differently to the ideology that reigned at the time.

Especially bearing in mind the fact that what made Ernesto famous in this world that he walked, traveled, where he made his sacrifice, wasn’t his less appreciated side, known in Miami, but the exact opposite, billions of people wearing his image on T-shirts and posters, for his humanitarian acts.

Some people have talked to me about Ernesto’s speech before the UN, when he stated, in the least politically correct and most shocking way according to my life philosophy, but brutally honest nonetheless: “Yes, we have executed people; we are executing people and shall continue to execute people as long as it is necessary.”

What I have never heard, what nobody has ever heard, is a US president on the same UN podium admitting:

“Yes, we dropped Napalm and Agent Orange on millions of civilians, children, old people, women and men, we have brutally tortured soldiers and civilians in every war, we kill millions of people with bombs; yes, we did this, we do this and we will continue do this.”

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5 thoughts on “Above All Else: Consistency and Education

  • The relevant context features in the article.
    Some folks will be able to detect this.
    Some folks won’t.

  • The “relevant context” is the reality of Ernesto Guevara’s actions. Martin Guevara wrote that his uncle: “felt the pain of others, as his own and believed he should intervene.” He did! By putting them out of their misery against the wall. Was that the “spiritual side” or that of the “intellectual”?

  • Martin Guevara is clearly still critical of his uncle.
    Some folks have, or are able to acquire, the vision, the will and the reasoned objectivity to put their criticisms within the relevant context.
    Some folks don’t.

  • Martin Guevara appeared at one time, to be a critic of his Uncle Ernesto, but now has joined those who excuse the communist regime’s excesses with that oft repeated reasoning of the Castro regime sycophants that even worse excesses have occurred elsewhere. Uncle Ernesto it now appears was only a moderate as an executioner of people without trial.

    Following being appointed by Fidel Castro with effect from January 2, 1959 as Commander of the Cabana Fortress Prison with instructions to exact “revolutionary justice” Ernesto Guevara de La Serna Lynch a medical doctor (without heed of the Hippocratic Oath) followed at best, a degree of due process which at most comprised tribunals of two of his own officers loyal to himself and one civilian, and a bloodthirsty cry developed of: “To the wall”.

    By June 12, some 357 people had been executed. Having sated his blood lust, Guevara then set off on a tour to Morocco, Sudan, Eygypt, Syria, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia (where he met with Sukarno), Japan, Yugoslavia, Greece, Singapore and Hong Kong.

    Upon his return to Cuba, he was appointed Minister of Finance and President of the National Bank, hence he signed the bank notes, and a remnant of his signature ‘Che’ remains on the 3 peso note. Guevara provided his excuse for killing people by saying:

    “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is revolution, and a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate,”

    Such was Martin Guevara’s Uncle Ernesto. But, apparently others have been killed “in worse ways”, so Uncle Ernesto’s hundreds of killings motivated by “pure hate”, are excusable?

  • An excellent article.
    The author’s uncle will remain, to many, a hero who led by example. A villain to others. Some will refer to brutality. Others will say that his brutality was small in comparison to the brutality of his enemies. I recall something that Che Guevara said about continuing the struggle until death.
    Well he’s been dead over half a century now and people will debate over his good points/bad points long after he has gone from living memory.
    His nephew is correct to apply context – to put the violence of that era within the context of the wider situation. He is correct in referring to the fact that cycles of violence continue unabated.
    I had the pleasure of meeting the author’s cousin one time – Che’s youngest son who never got to meet his Dad but has seen his image on a billion T-shirts – we share a mutual friend and the three of us had a few drinks together one evening. Like the author, he is the most non violent person one could imagine which shows that not all violence is cyclical.

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