Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Saint Che

The Guardian does its bit today for the canonisation of Che Guevara, getting all excited about newly-discovered photos of the Cuban martyr 'as you've never seen him before - in colour' (!), and publishing an interview with his daughter, Aleida, which is a piece of shameless hagiography. Interviewer Libby Brooks is clearly smitten:
Guevara's legacy, she tells me, is his life. "My father knew how to love, and that was the most beautiful feature of him – his capacity to love." She touches my arm. "To be a proper revolutionary, you have to be a romantic. His capacity to give himself to the cause of others was at the centre of his beliefs – if we could only follow his example, the world would be a much more beautiful place."
The article is a slice of uncritical propaganda that could have been lifted directly from the literature of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, which is organising Aleida Guevara's trip to Britain, and whose contact details are helpfully given at the end of the article. Che comes across as an idealistic visionary and man of the people who still found time (don't they always?) to be a doting father. The only villain in the story is, of course, the United States and its 'vicious embargo' (not in quote marks in the original).

Nowhere does Brooks offer any challenge to Aleida's portrayal of her father as some kind of secular saint, or suspect that she is being used as a channel for Cuban state propaganda. You'll search in vain in the article for any reference to the darker side of Che's personality: for example,his Stalinist politics (he was a great admirer of North Korea), his persecution of homosexuals, or his cold-blooded execution of political opponents.

For a proper understanding of what life is like under the claustrophobic regime inaugurated by Guevara and Castro, and for an example of true Cuban heroism, you'd do better to follow Yoani's brave blog.

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