His profile may be fashionable, but his politics were abominable. You’ve likely been told otherwise, convinced perhaps that Guevara was a symbol of freedom, when, in fact, he was an architect of oppression:
He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution’s first firing squads. He founded Cuba’s “labor camp” system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims.
Production is about to begin on a new Guevara film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, that is said to portray Che favorably, much like “The Motorcycle Diaries.” While they’re at it, why not make a hero out of Pinochet? The left, correctly, views him as a villain, but not Guevara. Could it have something to do with Pinochet overthrowing a democratically elected Marxist?
That hypocrisy was on view again recently in a forum sponsored by The Nation on the future of Cuba. According to The Plank, the symposium was dominated by a “dictatorship’s toady” and his American apologists:
None of this is to say that the Cuban embargo is a good idea (I think it is not), but one of the most vexing aspects of the debate is the extent to which people vilify the Miami exiles. What are their nefarious motives? The exiles (many of whom escaped from actual Cuban gulags) merely disagree about the best way to liberalize their country both politically and economically (the former goal is something about which The Nation panel seems at best indifferent; the latter, dismissive).
It is irrefutable that Fidel Castro wrought more destruction and human misery in Cuba than the once-great enemy of the international left, Augusto Pinochet (awful as he was), inflicted on Chile. But don’t expect to hear this from The Nation.
Nor from many others on the left. Makes you wonder why Soviet-empowered dictators are okay, while those installed by America are not? Both should be condemned by the left. That is, if consistency and human rights truly matter.