Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, better known as ‘Che’ said this (among many other things) and today is the 48th anniversary of his murder so I thought he was worth a spot on McRenegades.
‘Che’ is more or less the Spanish equivalent (I believe) for ‘Buddy’ so I guess it would translate into Scots as ‘pal.’ For someone who wasn’t born when Che died, I know rather more than perhaps I should about the man. I don’t generally do heroes, but if I did, he’d be one. I’d be proud to be his pal.
Che Guevara was murdered by American troops while waging guerrilla war in the Bolivian Jungle. Before that, he was one of the heroes of the Cuban Revolution. After that he was the poster boy for a generation. The man became myth. And the myth divides popular opinion. You may think you know all about him, you may not know anything. Today’s as good a day as any to start finding out.
As Nelson Mandela taught us, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. You need to read a lot to fully understand both Cuba and Che Guevara the man. I’d encourage you to do so. If you have a mind open enough to accept the challenge.
A good place to start finding out about Che through books is the Cuba Solidarity Online Shop. The books and films sold there will cost more than Amazon. I shouldn’t have to explain the reasons for that to you. I’ve given you the links for both outlets at the bottom so that you can make your own buying choices.
There is a whole Che Department on Cuba Solidarity online and you can link to it right HERE http://shop.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/departments/che-guevara/
There’s enough books about the man, plus plenty of translations of his own words, to satisfy anyone’s interest. And loads of other stuff. Of course. Even Che is subject to consumer capitalism these days.
You do have to be careful when reading about Che. It shouldn’t surprise you (if you think for just a minute) that he’s vilified by the establishment. It’s a lot easier to find bad things about him on the web than good. You need to think about why. Here’s an example of the sort of ‘Fear over Hope’ thing I’m talking about http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2004/09/the_cult_of_che.html
By contrast the Che-lives.com site tells us that Nelson Mandela referred to him as “an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom” while Jean-Paul Sartre described him as “not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age.”
You make your political affiliation and you take your choice. I'm with Mandela and Sartre and I'm not afraid to say it.
I first came to Che through movies. A short film to be precise. It was made in 1999 by Cally Phillips and you can link to it HERE on YouTube. https://youtu.be/-GoPwSvwxH8 or just watch it below. The music is ‘When you are a King’ by the Whiteplains. The tone, I’d say ironic (not of Guevara, but of just about everything else.) It packs a hell of a punch for a 3 minute video, and one day I mean to sit down and write a critique of it, because I think it’s one of the best made ‘media-mashes’ I’ve ever seen. It’s a film you have to think about, the images all speak in layers, and its well worth repeated watching. If you don’t know anything about Che it should whet your appetite to find out more and if you do know something, you’ll appreciate the narrative it tells.
I’m not going to give it a full critique here but note a couple of things:
Eg – Che smokes a Cuban cigar. JFK smokes a Cuban cigar! Think about that juxtaposition. What does it tell us about the Cuban missile crisis and the US blockade on Cuba? And the ethics of political leaders.
Eg – Che gives a talk at the UN. The lighting has his head surrounded as if by a halo. Later we see Che laid out like Christ on a post mortem slab. Man and Myth. The power of the picture.
Eg: The song tells us he’s a ‘King’ yet we see him shirt off working in a factory, humping bags – while twirling round as if in time to the hurdy gurdy music - if you are aware of Che’s views on the moral incentive for work you’ll fully appreciate this! If not, you’ll probably just think it’s a cool image.
There is depth to this short movie. It’s what filmed media can be at its best. Like a well crafted song it encapsulates a hell of a lot in a short space and nothing is wasted.
Websites can yield lots of information (but do think about the sources and appreciate bias/perspective) One thing researching Che can do for you is encourage you a) to read primary sources and b) learn to have a healthy disrespect for secondary sources – you are more or less forced to read ‘the angle.’ It's an increasingly necessary skill to be able to figure out information 'angles.' So don’t rely on Wikipedia, or indeed solely on the accounts of US sponsored sites! There’s a lot more to Guantanamo Bay than meets the eye for example. How much do you really know about it? I digress.
If you read Spanish you stand a much better chance of working your way through the 50 shades of propaganda, regarding Che.
http://www.cheguevara.com/ and www.che-lives.com can be good places to go -though the latter is often inaccessible in parts. I wonder why?
The Che films are available at the Cuba Solidarity online shop (and cheaper on Amazon of course,) It’s up to you where you want to buy your cigars!!! Might I suggest we too often don’t think about the background to our purchases. It is of course up to you who you want to benefit from your money. It’s your choice. It’s your conscience. You should be able to access the films on streaming services too (but beware of those offering you movies online which then hack into your computer.) All FREE has a price somewhere down the line.
Since it's the anniversary of his death, I thought the following short film might be worth alerting you to. Below is a short film from The Che-lives.com site on the last minutes of his life: (allow for some dramatic licence and be warned there are some 'graphic' images) https://youtu.be/z0vHvHmoioE
Still in the realms of FREE. If you want an English language biopic of Che, you’ll have to read Cally Phillips’ screenplay, ‘Fighting For Breath’ Written in 2000 it was shortlisted in 2001 by Channel 4 Film but everyone knew it would never get made. There wasn’t the budget. There wasn’t the political will. If Hollywood couldn’t do it… However, I like to imagine it filmed with say Alan Parker as director and Rufus Sewell as Che. You can’t see it on the big screen but you can read the screenplay for free simply by downloading a PDF version HERE. You can also read it as an epub ebook from Kobo free too. Here (But this means you can’t get it on Amazon free – they only allow exclusive ‘free’ deals).
If Latin America did McRenegades, Che Guevara would be right up there! So why not make today the day you get better acquainted with Che Guevara. Me, I’ll be sitting down to a marathon of watching his movies back to back. Hasta la Victoria siempre, companero!
If you're interested in purchasing films (UK) just click the links below:
Motorcycle diaries from Amazon (under a fiver) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Motorcycle-Diaries-Gael-Garc%C3%ADa-Bernal/dp/B000S399HO/
Also from Cuba solidarity online shop http://shop.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/departments/films/336/dvd:-motorcycle-diaries-(the)---film-by-walter-salles
Che Parts One and Two from Amazon for under £10
Che at Cuba solidarity shop (more expensive but you’re not feeding Amazon)