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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Che!



THE revolutionaries of Cuba, Latin America and the rest of the world hold Ernesto Che Guevara in great esteem. Soon after he came to Cuba, stories of his military exploits in the Sierra Maestra mountains — and later on in Las Villas, Zaire and Bolivia — were passed by word of mouth, turning into a living legend, despite the young hero's early death.


After the downfall of the dictatorship, Che served for us as an example of a builder of socialism. Later, when he went to Bolivia to bring liberation to the peoples of the continent, we loved him even more. On the 20th anniversary of the death of the fearless fighter, Fidel Castro expressed the feelings of many men and women in the world, stressing justly that his example is still with us as "an eternal and invincible symbol for all the oppressed, for all the exploited, for all the democrats and for all the revolutionaries".


Everybody now has a clear idea of the criterion by which the relative role of an individual in history is assessed, and that ideas, if they are just, go on living, even though the great people who have embodied them may perish in struggle. Mankind's progress cannot be stopped. That is why we feel special responsibility and reverence towards the ideological heritage of Che Guevara and pay tribute to his exploits. As never before, we share his boundless belief in man, ideals and personal example.


He loved life, which he devoted unreservedly to the cause of liberating people. He did not look for death but neither did he try to avoid it by renouncing his convictions and principles. By his profound belief in revolution, his high sense of internationalism, extraordinary revolutionary stoicism, readiness for self-sacrifice, fighting spirit and his fresh, pure and revolutionary interpretation of Marxism-Leninism, Che Guevara exemplified the patriot and revolutionary for all the peoples of our continent.


Constant concern for the people around him, desire to understand them, personal modesty and tactfulness, profound sense of justice, absolute bravery and loyalty to his duty were the Che Guevara characteristics that embodied socialist humanism. When speaking of Guevara's merits, Fidel Castro said that mention should also be made of his exceptional sensitivity that came from his heart rather than his head.


A son of his century, who sought to transplant the seed of justice and love from the Sierra Maestra mountains of Cuba to the highlands of Bolivia, he was, of course, bound to stay in popular memory. But few could suppose that barely twenty years after his death his ideas and example would win so many minds and hearts. Years passed but his image, far from losing its appeal, stirs people even more, be it in Buenos Aires or his native Cordoba, La Paz or Valle Grande where he perished, Havana or Santiago de Cuba, which witnessed his early efforts in building socialism. He is also remembered in Paris, London and Frankfurt where the young people, sick and tired of the 'boons' of capitalism, see Che Guevara, although remote in time, as a bright beacon calling to the future.


The reality of our continent, as never before, makes topical Che Guevara's call for Latin American unity in the struggle for national and social emancipation. The victorious Sandinist revolution, Salvadoran patriots' exploits, growing revolutionary self-consciousness in Central America, the downfall of fascist regimes in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Haiti, vigorous actions by Chilean and Paraguayan patriots against their murderous dictatorships, a more independent stance taken by some Latin American governments under pressure by the mass of the people, resistance to the sway of the International Monetary Fund, combating unpayable foreign debts and other actions by the peoples who are eager to put an end to dependence, colonialism and exploitation are all in one way or another associated with the heroic life of the glorious comandante. This is borne out by the fact that thousands upon thousands of people in Latin America remember his behests and have made them their creed. For that matter now, as never before, Che Guevara is a graphic embodiment of Castro's well-known thesis that "internationalism is the most beautiful characteristic and essence of Marxism-Leninism and its ideals of solidarity and brotherhood" for the old continent and the Asian and African countries fighting against imperialist monopolies, hunger and poverty and for equality and development.


The life-giving winds of renovation sweeping through socialist countries fully accord with the fresh, profound and purely human vision of socialism characteristic of Che Guevara and with his heroic spirit of a builder of a new society. His conception of the socialist economy contains profound and daring ideas, which make it possible to avoid beaten paths.


Twenty years have elapsed since the heroic guerilla perished but his thoughts and deeds will remain engraved forever in the minds of the coming generations. -- Antonio Diaz Ruiz, Cuban Communist Party, in World Marxist Review 1987


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