Here is a picture of the president of the United States in front of a massive monument to Che Guevara, aka the right wing’s giddiest nightmare brought to life.
It is especially eerie given Barack Obama’s own attempts to become the Che Guevara t-shirt of presidents. He is probably wearing such a t-shirt underneath his dress shirt, with his all-time favorite Che slogan—I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man—inscribed across his heart.
Okay. But this is a honest report about Che from the New Republic in 2005
It is customary for followers of a cult not to know the real life story of their hero. It is not surprising that Guevara’s contemporary followers, his new post-communist admirers, also delude themselves by clinging to a myth.
No man is without some redeeming qualities. In the case of Che Guevara, those qualities may help us to measure the gulf that separates reality from myth. His honesty (well, partial honesty) meant that he left written testimony of his cruelties, including the really ugly (though not the ugliest) stuff. And thanks to those testimonials to his thoughts and his deeds, we may know exactly how deluded so many of our contemporaries are about so much.
In April, 1967, speaking from experience, Guevara summed up his homicidal idea of justice in his “Message to the Tricontinental”: “hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective and cold-blooded killing machine.” . . .
Guevara’s disposition when he travelled with Castro from Mexico to Cuba aboard the Granma is captured in a phrase in a letter to his wife that he penned on Jan. 28, 1957: “Here in the Cuban jungle, alive and bloodthirsty.” This mentality had been reinforced by his conviction that Arbenz had lost power because he had failed to execute his potential enemies. It is hardly a surprise that during the armed struggle against Batista, and then after the triumphant entry into Havana, Guevara murdered or oversaw the executions in summary trials of scores of people—proven enemies, suspected enemies and those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In January, 1957, as his diary from the Sierra Maestra indicates, Guevara shot Eutimio Guerra because he suspected him of passing on information: “I ended the problem with a .32 calibre pistol, in the right side of his brain . . . His belongings were now mine.” Later he shot Aristidio, a peasant who expressed the desire to leave whenever the rebels moved on. While he wondered whether this particular victim “was really guilty enough to deserve death,” he had no qualms about ordering the death of Echevarria, a brother of one of his comrades, because of unspecified crimes: “He had to pay the price.” At other times he would simulate executions without carrying them out, as a method of psychological torture.