Companero: The Life And Death Of Che Guevara
(Jorge G. Casteneda)
Mention Che Guevara in a room full of people and you?ll likely receive as many reactions?communist, killer, martyr, saint, political icon, guerrilla fighter. For someone the U.S., especially, would just as soon forget ever existed, this dead thorn in the side of card-carrying capitalists everywhere resists a gradual fade to black. The familiar image captured by photographer Alberto Korda on a speaking platform in Havana thirty years ago, thanks to an Italian publisher has, since Che?s death in 1968, found its way onto everything from posters to coffee mugs, from political banners to t-shirts. Fresh, young, virile, eyes ablaze with defiance, Che stares out across time, alive as ever in the minds and hearts of social and political idealists (most pretty highly educated; others generally see him as a stinking communist), loathed by the powerful still fearing his eternal sway from the grave?the Marxist theoretician, guerrilla commandante, Fidel?s right hand man calling Cuba?s then the world?s proletariat to arms. After his death in Bolivia, ostensibly at the hands of the Bolivian army, allegedly with an unofficial nod from the CIA, Guevara?s call for Latin America to cast off its U.S. imperialist bonds are only now coming to fruition in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Equador, with Mexico in the throws of serious political unrest. Countries including Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina, while playing the Yankee business card, are themselves simultaneously moving toward socialist policies derailed for years by U.S. clandestine activity. In retrospect, all this alters Castañeda?s final post-Cold War conclusion that the Che effect was probably more cultural than political. However, in the late 90s, when Compañero was published?pre-Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega?that was not an unrealistic conclusion. Communism, it seemed, had seen its day; democracy, (i.e., capitalism and economic globalization) had triumphed and appeared to be marching relentless onward. But aside from conclusions drawn regarding Guevara?s legacy, few volumes to date written either in his honor or to his detriment capture the icon as completely as product of his time and experience. Anyone sincerely interested in comprehending what the world was up to in that chaotic period should read this book. In the process of writing a scrupulously scholarly, fully cited and trustworthy work, Castañeda manages to avoid tedium common in uber-academic tomes, presenting a fast-paced and fascinating read. There is little whimsy; Che was not a whimsical guy. Readers can break with the text and refer to numerous citations, or not. Knowing the author?s taken care to qualify what?s written lends enormous credibility to content, while avoiding potential criticism from both pro- and anti-Che camps. So truthful is the end product that the former may experience a pang of nostalgia for the romantic ideal of Che dispelled, the latter must acknowledge what unbridled U.S. imperialism, interference, global bullying and political manipulation has wrought. Neither will be altogether happy, as neither should be if it?s truth their seeking. However, despite the wealth of testimony presented, when all is said and done, the true nature of relations between Guevara and Fidel Castro presents conceivably the most fascinating and perplexing unanswered question. As Che and his small band struggled to survive in Bolivia, did Castro in the end forsake his partner in revolution to please or by directive from the Soviets, who, seeking a more conciliatory relationship with the U.S., were vehemently opposed to Guevara?s hardline Marxist bent and his expanding guerrilla activities in Latin America? Castro?s recent remarks to a foreign news agency seem prophetic: ?I will die a Marxist-Leninist??a label Che wore blatantly until his death; one Castro, until recently, never formally acknowledged. A conclusion may be drawn that the relationship between Castro, the politician, and Che, the pure idealist in the end could not survive the political complexities of the Cold War. With death approaching, Castro, the old revolutionary, may know the time is nearing for him to finally greet his compañero on equal terms.
- O "che" Guevara Do Século Xxi
- The Diary·s In Bolivia
- The Motorcycle Diaries
- The Descendants Of Cain
- The Bones Of The Che