“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” ~ Che Guevara
Yesterday was the anniversary of Che Guevara’s execution in Bolivia for trying to start a revolution, but did you know he had asthma? Time Magazine’s article yesterday, How Che Guevara Didn’t Let Asthma Affect His Ambitions, seems to extol his “rugged revolutionary road to Cuba”, focusing on how asthma slowed him down.
His anger was absurdly misplaced and there was no mention of the thousands of his own people that he slaughtered.
Maybe Time’s next article could be, How did Joseph Stalin handle colds when he slaughtered millions? of How did Hitler handle the challenge of his throat polyps?
Time magazine put him on the cover in August 1960 when it extolled the Cuban revolution’s division of labor with a cover story featuring Che Guevara as the “brain” and Fidel Castro as the “heart” and Raúl Castro as the “fist.” It showed Guevara’s crucial role in turning Cuba into a model of totalitarianism.
The Atlantic-Journal Constitution wrote yesterday that "Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna, Che to the millions he influenced, is the freedom-fighter you want on your T-shirt -- even if most people likely don't know why." People need to know why.
Alvaro Vargas Liosa has some of the best researched information on the life of Che Guevara in his book, The Killing Machine, which we've summarized briefly here.
The “cold-blooded killing machine” came into his own as a murderer immediately after the collapse of the Batista regime when Castro put him in charge of La Cabaña prison.
Che was in charge of the Comisión Depuradora. Che’s guidelines were that they were all murderers and the revolutionary way to proceed was to be implacable. The fact that they were brought to trial meant they were guilty. He killed or imprisoned everyone, evidence was irrelevant, age was irrelevant.
“In 1958, after taking the city of Sancti Spiritus, Guevara unsuccessfully tried to impose a kind of sharia, regulating relations between men and women, the use of alcohol, and informal gambling—a puritanism that did not exactly characterize his own way of life. He also ordered his men to rob banks,” Alvara Liosa reported in the Independent.
His land reform was to steal property, take it from the rich and give it to the bureaucrats, not to the peasants. He called it diversification. It destroyed their harvests.
Che was obsessively collectivist and formed a security apparatus to subjugate six and a half million Cubans. In early 1959, a series of secret meetings took place at the Guevara mansion where the top leaders, including Castro, designed the Cuban police state.
Guevara himself took charge of G-6, the body tasked with the ideological indoctrination of the armed forces. The U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 became the perfect occasion to consolidate the new police state, with the rounding up of tens of thousands of Cubans and a new series of executions. As Guevara himself told the Soviet ambassador Sergei Kudriavtsev, counterrevolutionaries were never “to raise their head again,” Liosa reported.
By 1960, Che set up the first forced labor camp Guanahacabibes. He only sent those who “committed crimes against revolutionary morals,” he said.
Starting in 1965, undesirables were systematically imprisoned and that included dissidents, homosexuals, AIDS victims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests. They were herded into buses and trucks, the “unfit” would be transported at gunpoint into concentration camps organized on the Guanahacabibes mold. Liosa wrote that “Some would never return; others would be raped, beaten, or mutilated; and most of those who live would be traumatized for life.”
He sovietized Cuba but later moved away from them until he had to live off their subsidies, something which continued for decades.
During the trip to further Soviet-Cuban negotiations during a visit to Moscow in late 1960, he traveled to Kim Il Sung’s North Korea and said it was the country that impressed him “the most.” During his next trip to Russia, he agreed to turn Cuba into a Soviet nuclear beachhead.
After the Cuban missile crisis ended, Guevara told a British communist daily: “If the rockets had remained, we would have used them all and directed them against the very heart of the United States, including New York, in our defense against aggression.” And a couple of years later, at the United Nations, he was true to form: “As Marxists we have maintained that peaceful coexistence among nations does not include coexistence between exploiters and the exploited.”
That’s social justice for you. Cuba had been one of the four most successful Latin American countries prior to this.
So celebrate his birthday, bemoan his trials and tribulations with asthma, wear his t-shirt, and have his face tattooed on your navel, but know that he was one of the most proficient mass killers and one of the most destructive societal forces of the 20th century.