Artifact: Che Pasa

Forget Sgt. Pepper — the commemorative soldier of the year was clearly Dr. Ernesto Che Guevara, the comandante who secured Castros triumph against Batista. Government soldiers killed Guevara in 1967 while he was attempting a revolution in Bolivia.

The 30th anniversary of Che's death occasioned a fistful of adulatory reminiscences here and abroad. Cuba recovered his remains and declared a holiday during a near-religious (and very Communist) funeral procession from Havana to Santa Clara, the site of Che's most important military victory (and, now, his incorruptible bones). Much of Che's lingering mystique can be attributed to his unerring sense of style--in the '60s, Che's beret-and-fatigues combo provided the uniform for radical chic. And, as with an athlete who dies young, his death at age 39 saved him the indignity of transmogrifying into an aged Commander McBragg.

Unsurprisingly, the legends surrounding Che--including the inevitable one that he escaped death--shroud a mundane legacy of failure. As Castro's one-time top economic planner, he helped preside over the demise of the Cuban economy. And his subsequent attempts to foment revolution in Africa and South America failed miserably. That history may explain why, in eulogizing her father, Guevara's 36-year-old daughter could only sum up his life thusly: "In this moment, the entire world remembers a man who was very much alive."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.