BBC News on the Cult of Che

The BBC News website has a long-ish piece on the genealogy of Alberto Korba's iconic image of freelance Argentinian imperialist Che Guevera. It, of course, neglects to mention that, in the words of Paul Berman (two mentions in one day, I know), Guevara "was a totalitarian. 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." But boy was he good-looking:

It's now 40 years since the Argentine-born rebel was shot dead, so any young radicals who cheered on his revolutionary struggles in Cuba and Bolivia are well into middle age.

Many of those who "cheered" Che, of course, ultimately found themselves on the wrong end of his firing squads. But why quibble?

"There is no other image like it. What other image has been sustained in this way?" asks Trisha Ziff, the curator of a touring exhibition on the iconography of Che.

"Che Guevara has become a brand. And the brand's logo is the image, which represents change. It has becomes the icon of the outside thinker, at whatever level - whether it is anti-war, pro-green or anti-globalisation," she says. "[The image] has become a corporation, an empire, at this point." The unchecked proliferation of the picture - based on a photograph by Alberto Korda in 1960 - is partly due to a political choice by Korda and others not to demand payment for non-commercial use of the image.

...

"The way they killed him, there was to be no memorial, no place of pilgrimage, nothing. I was determined that the image should receive the broadest possible circulation," he adds.

"His image will never die, his name will never die."

Unfortunately true. The author neglects to point out that, as far as I can tell, there is no memorial, no place of pilgrimage for the countless lives extinguished by Guevara; those accused of being "counterrevolutionary traitors," for instance. Take this diary entry from 1957, in which Che explains how he dealt with someone suspected of being a spy in the rebel's Sierra Maestra camp: "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain.... His belongings were now mine."

In 2002, Cynthia Grenier read through Che's Congo diaries and found that "the beloved revolutionary icon sounds pretty much like an old-fashioned racist..."

Above image: An absurd 2005 Der Spiegel cover which reads: "The Heirs of Ghandi and Guevara: Europe's Peaceful Revolutionaries."

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  • ||

    Ghandi's cool, Che's a dick, but good goddamn those girls in the ads to the right are smokin!

    Almost as hot as the reason pillow girl.

  • ||

    Separated at birth?
    Che
    Charlie

  • Paul||

    "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain.... His belongings were now mine."

    So Che believed in private ownership of the fruits of one's own labor?

  • ||

    Above image: An absurd 2005 Der Spiegel cover which reads: "The Heirs of Ghandi and Guevara: Europe's Peaceful Revolutionaries."



    Every time Der Spiegel prints an issue, God kills a kitten. Think of the kitten!

  • Pre-Emptive Dan T.||

    BUT AMERICA KILLED PEOPLE TOO AND YOU DONT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE FLAG!

  • ||

  • ||

    Heirs of Gandhi and Che? What about the heirs of Mother Teresa and Idi Amin? Cause those all go together so well when you're talking about peace.

    I'm just guessing here, but I don't think Gandhi ever ended a problem with a pistol shot to the brain.

  • Andrew||

    Actually, there IS a memorial for Che's victims -- and millions of others who died under communism. It's called the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. It's brand new (dedicated in June) and it's a few blocks north of the Capitol. Check it out next time you're in DC -- or my blog, where I took a few pics.

  • ||

    And weren't the 1989 peaceful European revolutionaries anti-Communist? I think this is one of the most stupid covers I've seen for a magazine in a long time.

  • ||

    Che's image always reminded me of General Maximus on the Planet of the Apes

  • ||

    I met a kid in Bend, Or. who had a Che tattoo on his forearm. It was big. He caught me looking at it, and asked if I was a fan of Che. I waffled. As wrong as I find Che, I still can't bring myself to insult someone's stupid tattoo. At least to his face. Them's fightin' words, and I'm a man of peace :) Unlike Che.

  • ||

    Why don't all the Che fans get an Ernst Roehm t-shirt, too? He was a champion of the little guy, who fought the establishment and died as a result of his beliefs. He was also a homosexual and was persecuted for his sexual orientation. Another hero for the common man!

  • ||

    I had a shirt made in time for Bumbershoot in Seattle to satirize the Che shirts that are all to common in that city. I found a similar image of a similar iconic revolutionary, one that represented an ideal a little different than Che's:

    Thomas Jefferson.


    I doubt anyone ever noticed (or ever will) what I was doing (it's not similar enough to evoke parody), but walking through the crowds of strongly leftist/fascist/communist slogans on the festival-goers clothes, I attained my self-righteous satisfaction.

  • ||

    What an odd thing to spend one's time and energy being angry about.

  • ||

    As wrong as I find Che, I still can't bring myself to insult someone's stupid tattoo. At least to his face.

    The kid had some muscles on him, eh?

  • thoreau||

    I prefer to wear t-shirts with the molecular structure of caffeine.

  • highnumber||

    ProGLib,
    You're slipping! Why haven't you pimped Jimmy's shirts?

    Best Che parody shirt you will ever see

  • ||

    I think she's hotter than pillow girl, but that "I Survived Roe v. Wade" T-shirt creeps me out. Her flat stomach under that slogan induces a bit of cognitive dissonance.

  • ||

    "The kid had some muscles on him, eh?"

    lol...naah. He was pretty small, and I am not. Sometimes I just feel embarassed for people who have bad tattoos. Fighting him would not only go against my nature, but would be like kicking a special olympics competitor in the crotch, just for the hell of it. Funny, sure...but what an asshole move?

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Pro Libertate,

    Not everyone is pleased with the work, etc. of Mother Teresa.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    To be rather blunt, this is the market at work and I'm not going to be terribly upset by it.

  • ||

    BTW, those hot-ass chicks sporting the conservative shirts fill me with the perverse desire to impregnate them, and then watch as they run screaming to the abortion clinic to rid themselves of the hellspawned love-child of a mohawk sporting doped out freak.

    I know...asshole move. But still.

  • ||

    Maybe Michael should start lecturing the Mongols about their Genghis Khan imagery.

  • ||

    "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain.... His belongings were now mine."

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his ability to confiscate (and murder) in the name of the collective.

  • cgee||

    You forgot about this shirt.

  • ||

    I wonder if i can get a shirt with the face of the drunk Bolivian Sargent who shot Che on it.

  • Li\'l Urkobold™||

    LI'L URKOBOLD NOT GET ANGRY! LI'L URKOBOLD GET STEAMY LIKE TEAPOT PRIOR TO TIPPING!

  • ||

    Hear the cult of Che
    And you`ll be enlightened.
    Or maybe not.

    (Damn, that's soooo close to being a haiku.)

  • ||

    Pro Lib - I checked, but it looks like National Lamppon's (Doug Kenney) "Che's Bolivian Diary" is still not on the web.

  • ||

    What an odd thing to spend one's time and energy being angry about.

    You mean a US based global news agency actively distributing communist propaganda and apologist rhedoric to help prop up a couple of thuggish tyrants all in living history....ya nothing to really be angry about here.

  • ||

    Both ends of a firing squad are the "wrong end".

  • ||

    BP,

    I looked, too. Nada. I still have the paperback, with the pages falling out. I think it might also be in one of The National Lampoon's greatest hits books. Should be on the web.

    Sorry, highnumber, I was overwhelmed by hypocritical irony.

    S of S,

    Yes, I know, but I needed an example on the fly.

    joe,

    You can keep wearing your Che shirt, but I am sending you an Ernst Roehm shirt as well :)

  • ||

    I like this Che parody the best:
    http://www.bustedtees.com/shirt/vivalaevolucion/male

  • che forever||

    Che was a man of violence; he advocated the dispossession of the American continent from the Indians. Wait, I'm sorry, that was Ayn Rand who said that, whose sculpted visage oft graces the right side of the reason blog.

  • ||

    Andrew G,
    LOL, Thanks..

  • ||

    I don't think Ayn Rand ever was responsible for several hundred extra-judicial executions.

  • ||

    re Ayn Rand -- so endorsing a morally wrong position 50 years after it ceased to mean anything, is the same as being a murderous thug who attempts to overthrow governments in pursuit of personal power and models his actions on those who slaughtered tens of millions.

    Right.

  • ||

    joshua,

    You mean a US based global news agency actively distributing communist propaganda and apologist rhedoric to help prop up a couple of thuggish tyrants all in living history....ya nothing to really be angry about here.

    Yes, the T-shirt of doom. Totally worth gnashing your teeth over.

    Pro Lib,

    I don't have a Che t-shirt. Those people are immensely silly as well.

  • ||

    Not everyone is pleased with the work, etc. of Mother Teresa.

    The only thing I ever was interested in reading about the lady was the take down by Christopher Hitchens.

    She was really a bitch.

  • ||

    For a good attack on the Che cult from a leftist, see "The Resurrection of Che Guevara" by Samuel Farber at http://www.wpunj.edu/newpol/issue25/farber25.htm

    "By the time he left Guatemala in 1954 in the aftermath of the overthrow of the constitutional government of Jacobo Arbenz orchestrated by U.S. imperialism, Guevara was thoroughly politicized, accepting a Stalinist view of the world. This was true in both the generic sense that he had become a staunch supporter of the political model represented by the USSR of a repressive one-party state owning and controlling the economy without any democratic popular controls, independent unions, workers' or civil liberties, as well as in the narrow literal sense of his great admiration for Joseph Stalin."

    It's probably true that the repressive right-wing governments in Central America from the 1950's through the 1980's killed more people than Che did. But not many people wear Roberto D'Aubuisson t-shirts...

  • ||

    I was just kidding, joe, I don't think you're a Che-wearing kind of a guy.

  • highnumber||

    I don't think Ayn Rand ever was responsible for several hundred extra-judicial executions.

    FFF,
    That's exactly what the Objectivists want you to believe.
    Read my revisionist history:
    That Crazy Fucking Bitch: How Ayn Rand Turns Thousands of Impressionable Young Adults Into Insufferable Jerks and Bores Millions More Nearly to Death Every Year


    Apologies to everyone.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Guevara was a fucking asshat. Too bad it would be a cool image otherwise.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    .....and your TEE Shirt is NOT cool....

    High, so you're shilling for Big Urk?

    Yes, the girls in the ads are smoking hot. Doubly interesting to me in that all the hotties were in love with Che and Communism when I was thinner.

  • SIV||

    not many people wear Roberto D'Aubuisson t-shirts...


    Where can I get one?

  • ||

    Whenever I think I might get lucky, I wear my Torquemada thong.

    "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition ...!"

  • ||

    Maybe Michael should start lecturing the Mongols about their Genghis Khan imagery.

    Or maybe he could troll their blogs and stick it to them with some witless one liners. Boy, that'll get em.

  • Jerry||

    Talking about the Che cult, this picture of Che was given to one leftish Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, who clumsily killed himself in 1972 when he though he could be a terrorist as well. Feltrinelli created his own cult of followers, of whom many found a home in the Brigate Rosse.

  • ||

    I've been reading these boards for a while and joe is one of the best trolls I've ever seen.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Reason should create a thread on "oddest communist moments, campaigns, etc." I would nominate, amongst other things, the campaign against sparrows.

  • ||

    Is Che that popular? A few threads ago people spoke of college students running around in Che or Hammer and Sickle shirts. What college was that? At my college everybody wore shirts acclaiming that great revolutionary Tommy Hilfiger...

    I do think that people have mentioned that since we fought and defeated fascism everyone knew they were bad. Before that hard right people would have pictures of "questionable" folks like Mussolini and Franco in their houses (Pat Buchanan in his autobiography mentions that his dad had a pic of Franco). That became very discredited. But for some reason the leftist monsters stayed in vogue...I think Hollywood can get some blame: how many anti-Soviet films have you seen relative to anti-Nazi?

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    Well, there have been a lot of great anti-Soviet films which have come out of Europe.

  • ||

    "that 'I Survived Roe v. Wade' T-shirt creeps me out."

    If ya can't sell the message, sell tha ho.

  • highnumber||

    TWC,

    Well, duh! Always shilling for the Mighty Urkobold™!
    You knew that.

  • Gahan||

    It's high time they came out with a sequel to Red Dawn.

    WOLVERINES!!!

  • Asharak||

    The only thing I ever was interested in reading about the lady was the take down by Christopher Hitchens.

    She was really a bitch.


    Penn & Teller: Bullshit! did a pretty good expose of her as well. Incidentally, they interviewed Hitchens for it.

  • ||

    "The only thing I ever was interested in reading about the lady was the take down by Christopher Hitchens."

    Yes, and we all know that Hitch is one of the most honest journalists of our times. Why, just look at his take on the wonderful world of Iraq.

    Ditto for Pen and Teller. Their show might be more interesting if they actually attempted any sort of balanced appraisal of an issue. Okay, maybe not more interesting, but at least more honest.

    As far as the t-shirt parody of the Che goes, I think the "Milt" version is the best.

    I can understand why the Che t-shirts piss some people off. He murdered thousands of people, execution style, and contributed towards ushering in a dark age in many parts of the world. Yet, he's lionized by millions. It might sound manichean, yet, it's not too far of a stretch to say he was a force of darkness, considering the attrocities he committed and the terribly torturous political systems he helped to midwife. Turning him into a symbol is potentially dangerous, considering that symbols do have power, especially for the ideologically naive and the young (hey, new idea for a soap!).

  • M||

    that "I Survived Roe v. Wade" T-shirt creeps me out. Her flat stomach under that slogan induces a bit of cognitive dissonance.


    Vanessa, I believe the message means that the wearer of the T-shirt escaped being aborted.

  • ||

    Well, there have been a lot of great anti-Soviet films which have come out of Europe.

    Really? I can't think of any, but I don't know much about European film, either.

  • Asharak||

    It's high time they came out with a sequel to Red Dawn.

    WOLVERINES!!!


    What really cracked me up about Red Dawn (aside from its silly premise) was that while the Russians were all ruthless motherfuckers, the Cuban general was an honorable Che clone. Even a movie like this couldn't escape the romantic myth of Castro's "revolution."

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Rand is an easy target, in part, because we have such intimate knowledge of her personal life and she made several idiotic pronouncements to justify her own lifestyle choices (like smoking is rational).

    But in the end lots of those intellectual types are wacky on the junk. All you gotta do is skim through Paul Johnson's book, Intellectuals, to realize that.

    I'm not sure why that is. Mrs TWC seems to think that everybody is just fine until you get to know them pretty well. Maybe she's right and were all just hiding the stranger inside from public view. Or maybe he ain't much of a stranger just good with disguises. [shrugs]

  • ||

    RC - I can't think of too many, either, but Repentance was an indictment of neo-Stalinism. Ironically, it was made in Georgia during the Soviet era (1984) and banned until Gorbachev took over.

  • ||

    Whether this is worth getting upset over. It isn't just a tee shirt. Latin America is in perpetual poverty in part because of the lingering power of the Che myth.

  • ||

    That Spiegel cover does a good job of encapsulating the pretentious stupidity of Europe's leftist mainstream.

  • ||

    Soviet officials who were in power during the Cuban Missile Crisis tell us that Castro and Guevara were begging, literally begging, Khrushchev to launch the missiles at the US.

    Lovely, WWIII with nuclear weapons.

    I wonder if the editors of Der Spiegel knew this?

    Or even care?

    SMG

  • Les||

    Yes, and we all know that Hitch is one of the most honest journalists of our times. Why, just look at his take on the wonderful world of Iraq.

    I disagree mightily with Hitch on Iraq, but I don't know if he's been dishonest in his support of overthrowing Sadaam.

    In regards to Mother Teresa, he didn't report anything that wasn't reported in many other places. She was a sick fraud and hypocrite who took money from thieves and murderous dictators, and lied about how many people her centers "helped" while providing sub-minimal health care and pain medication to the dying (often re-using needles to save money). Ex-nuns have written first-hand accounts of her insidious methods, and there is a well reviewed book which exhaustively documents it all called, ""Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict."

  • atrevete||

    How is it that Che Guevara and Gandhi are EUROPEAN "voices for peace"?

  • atrevete||

    And I thought "The Lives of Others" was a pretty powerful anti-communist movie.

  • ||

    How is it that Che Guevara and Gandhi are EUROPEAN "voices for peace"?

    They weren't anti-communist in their salad days? And they were critical of the West, especially the US.

    That's sufficient.

    (and scratch that salad days for Mahatma)

  • zombyboy||

    Three things:

    1- Hitchens may be a jerk and he may be wrong, but he's a wonderful writer and I don't think you can call him dishonest.

    2- Lives of Others was an amazing--and, yes, anti-communist--movie. Brilliantly made; that final act, just before the epilogue, is heartbreaking.

    3- Fuck Che. I would say something meaningful about the bastard and his hypocrisies and brutality, but the Che cultists don't care and the rest of you have already heard it.

  • Edward||

    Libertarians hate Che because he actually did something other than yammer and whine. But what do you expect from a collection of ninnies that get excited about Yawn Paul? H&R is the greatest unintentional satire site in the world. Keep up the good work.

  • ||

    he actually did something other than yammer and whine

    Hmm, (a) putting bullets in people's heads and establishing a one party dictatorship;

    Or (b) going with the people who sit on their asses and complain?

    I'll still take (b), thanks.

    I like the current number of holes in my head thank you very much.

    Besides, I'd probably have to buy a bunch of new hats. And ya gotta admit, capitalism does produce a wide variety of hats.

    Ushankas? No wayski.

    SMG

  • Edward||

    In terms of deaths caused by their actions, let's not forget

    Alexander the Great
    Ceasar
    Napolean
    Reagan (or don't dead Nicaraguans count?)

  • ||

    In terms of deaths caused by their actions, let's not forget

    But the hats!!! Commies make lousy hats. Gotta' have a hat to cover the new holes in our heads.

    You want to go around wearing these??

    SMG

  • ||

    SteveMG - you might not hate those hats so much if you had to walk around in -40° weather five months a year.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    ... don't dead Nicaraguans count?

    Do Nickies offed by Danny Boy count?

  • ||

    SteveMG - you might not hate those hats so much if you had to walk around in -40° weather five months a year.

    That's true. I was once in -8/-10 temperatures and didn't really give a damned how I looked. Just wanted to survive.

    Hell, I would have even worn a couple pair of those Che shirts too. Pair? 10 or 12 of 'em.

    Brutal.

    SMG

  • ||

    SMG - also, some people look better in them than others.

  • ||

    TWC - 'course not. Damn reactionaries. All they did was yammer and whine, they got what they deserved.

  • ||

    Reagan (or don't dead Nicaraguans count?)

    Good joke! It was the legacy of Che that started the Nicaraguan conflict. Also, ask the Poles, the Checks and the Hungarians who there hero is Ronald Maximum Reagan or Murdering Che?

    Also lets examine the Pantheon of murderous gangster leftist despots....

    Stalin 20 million
    Mao Tse Tung 65 million
    Pol Pot 2 million
    Kim Jong IL 2 million (and counting with his son's help counting)
    Castro only 10 thousand, (small country really hard to run up the numbers)

    Yes communism, socialism. Its all about death. Che's image should be a skull.

  • ||

    But the hats!!! Commies make lousy hats. Gotta' have a hat to cover the new holes in our heads.

    You want to go around wearing these??

    --- I agree. Very objectionable I object to dog fur hats.

  • ||

    But surely capitalism has produced the most delightful mutations (27--count 'em) of Che T-shirts at:
    http://www.che-mart.com/

  • ||

    But surely capitalism has produced the most delightful mutations (27--count 'em) of Che T-shirts at:

    There you go. Hats and Che shirts.

    Is there anything that capitalism can't do?

    Well, communism can produce them too. Only one size. One color.

    You want two colors? Hole in the head.

    And it should be at this point that any defender of Che runs and screams for their Mommies. 'Cause, y'know, there just isn't any defense for these thugs.

    You want to criticize American policy? Sure, fire away. I'll probably, in part, agree with some of it.

    But please, the answer is not a one party dictatorship that completely denies human freedom.

    SMG

  • ||

    Oh, and /sarcasm for the Ortega reply, BTW.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Baked :-)

    Somebody brought me back a three peso bill from Cuba (may have been Brian Snidely). It had Che's mug right on the front. I was going to go find it but it's prolly easier to just look it up on Google.

    sure was.

    You simply cannot believe how many times I showed that to someone and had them say:

    What? Che's Gay?

  • ||

    Hitchen's style (and often substance) is hyberbolic. Is that not a kissing cousin of dishonesty?

  • ||

    Hitchen's style (and often substance) is hyberbolic

    A remnant of those old internal Trotskyite disputes? I used to cover the radical left groups in college. Quite nasty stuff. No shades of grey at all.

    Quite similar, so I've heard, to academic disputes.

    Less name-calling perhaps. Hell, stakes are lower.

    Still, a bad habit one would think a mature journalist would have shedded.

  • ||

    Libertarians hate Che because he actually did something other than yammer and whine. But what do you expect from a collection of ninnies that get excited about Yawn Paul? H&R is the greatest unintentional satire site in the world. Keep up the good work.

    Edward will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes...happily the revolution will never come thankfully in part because of the whining libertarians here at Hit and Run.

    I think reading Edward's whining how his group has lost forever is a small price to pay.

  • ||

    M,

    I understand it. It's creepy because seeing the message on a young girl, scantily clad from the waist down, creates a graphic and very unpleasant mental image for me. I assume my reaction is somewhat in keeping with the intended effect of the ad.

    V.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    V, maybe you're not into girls? :-)

    Josh, when the Night of the Long Knives comes at long last, Edward will be on the wrong side of the barricades.....

    Now back to tending the fire whilst the kids roast marshmallows on a balmy yet breezy So Cal night. If they were all like this I'd never complain about the traffic.

  • ||

    Hitchens might not be dishonest but he is hardly Fox News Fair and Balanced (not that they are either). In addition to hyperbole, his style is ad hominem and straw man driven. Religious fundamentalism is ridiculous but not all religious pursuits are fundamentalistic.

    P.S. Better to be a ninny who gets excited over Ron Paul than a knave who tattoos murderous thugs on his arms or a self-satisfied statist who rationalizes state sponspored coercion, in the guise of serving the common good, at every opportunity where his class interests are served.

  • jk||

    The Che Guevara pop-art seems to be very Warhol. It's almost exactly like his Chairman Mao wallpaper. The Wikipedia has an entry that says its a copy of his Marilyn Monroe posters, of which Warhol took some possession. I think his Moa poster pre-dated the Monroe one but I'm not sure.

    Anyway, Warhol both mocked advertising and made of living off of it. I doubt many of Che admirers get Warhol's joke.

  • ||

    "Soviet officials who were in power during the Cuban Missile Crisis tell us that Castro and Guevara were begging, literally begging, Khrushchev to launch the missiles at the US."

    I thought Che and the Ruskies were on the outs because Che was more Maoist in his approach to killing his own citizens. If Big Wiki is to be believed, even Castro criticized Che as "excessively aggressive."

  • Edward||

    Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam and Bush in Iraq have killed more people than Che ever dreamed of killing. If the number of actual victims is your criterion, Che was a piker.

  • Asharak||

    Libertarians hate Che because he actually did something other than yammer and whine. But what do you expect from a collection of ninnies that get excited about Yawn Paul? H&R is the greatest unintentional satire site in the world. Keep up the good work.

    Yeah, because only libertarians/capitalists dislike Che and communism, right? You're even more dense than Guy Montag.

  • Edward||

    During the Salvadoran civil war, death squads achieved notoriety when far-right vigilantes assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero for his social activism in March 1980 . In December 1980, three American nuns and a lay worker were raped and murdered by a military unit later found to have been acting on specific orders. Death squads were instrumental in killing hundreds of peasants and activists. Because the death squads involved were found to have been soldiers of the Salvadoran military, which was receiving U.S. funding and training from American advisers during the Carter administration, these events prompted outrage in the U.S. and led to a temporary cutoff in military aid from the Reagan administration.Some death squads, such as Sombra Negra, are still operating in El Salvador.

  • Edward||

    The U.S. government has systematic links to Guatemalan Army death squad operations that go far beyond the disclosures that have recently shaken official Washington. The news that the C.I.A. employed a Guatemalan colonel who reportedly ordered two murders has been greeted with professions of shock and outrage. But in fact the story goes much deeper, as U.S. officials well know.

    North American C.l.A. operatives work inside a Guatemalan Army unit that maintains a network of torture centers and has killed thousands of Guatemalan civilians. The G-2, headquartered on the fourth floor of the Guatemalan National Palace, has, since at least the 1960s, been advised, trained,
    armed and equipped by U.S. undercover agents. Working out of the U.S. Embassy and living in safehouses and hotels, these agents work through an elite group of Guatemalan officers who are secretly paid by the C.I.A. and who have been implicated personally in numerous political crimes and assassinations.

    This secret G-2 / C.I.A. collaboration has been described by Guatemalan and U.S. operatives and confirmed, in various aspects, by three former Guatemalan heads of state. These accounts also mesh with that given in a March 28 interview by Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez, the C.I.A.- paid Guatemalan G-2 officer who has been implicated in the murders of Guatemalan guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez and a U.S. citizen, Michael DeVine.

  • Edward||

    "Feds Look the Other Way While United Fruit Company Peddles Death and Corruption in Latin America"

    Today of course, the infamous United Fruit of yore (whose machinations in Guatemala led to a CIA coup that set off decades of mass-murdering chaos) is known by the more perky name of Chiquita, and conjures up cheery pictures of childhood banana-munching around the family table. But while corporations may change their spots (or their peels) and their personnel over the years, the nature of the beast remains much the same, because its raison d'etre remains the same: maximizing profit. And United Fruit/Chiquita has traditionally been willing to push the banana boat way out when it comes to ensuring that its exploitation of cheap labor remains undisturbed.


    In the case of Colombia, this meant paying an officially designated terrorist gang -- the vicious killers of the rightwing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) -- to keep Chiquita's operations running smoothly in the war-torn nation. A whole sordid history could be written about the extensive intertwining of American government and corporate interests with AUC and the other rightwing Colombian militias, but for our purposes here it is enough to note that Chiquita not only paid AUC for protection from leftwing militias, it also took an active and direct role in "in smuggling thousands of arms for paramilitaries into the Northern Uraba region, using docks operated by the company to unload thousands of Central American assault rifles and ammunition," as the Post reports. In turn, the paramilitaries used these weapons "to fund operations against peasants, union workers and rivals."

    "I regarded this as a murder investigation," says Roscoe Howard Jr., the former U.S. Attorney who spearheaded a prosecution of Chiquita for its death-squad collaboration, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Even though Chiquita didn't murder anyone, that's what the money was used for -- to buy weapons."

  • Asharak||

    Edward, what makes you think everyone here approves of any of the above? I don't. Of course, it's obvious that you only oppose atrocities when the U.S. or its allies commit them.

  • Edward||

    Asharak:

    My point is that you can't condemn Che and his socialist/communist ideology without considering the context of his activity. It isn't a though Che introduced some evil violence into an otherwise tranquil, free society. Many who supported the idea of a communist revlution did so out of desperation. Che was a hero to many because he opposed the oppressors. Revolutionary communists weren't the only ones committing atrocities in Latin America.
    Thinking in black and white and reducing everything to facile slogans belies the complexity of reality. But reality isn't the long suit of the loons who blather here, is it?

  • Les||

    Revolutionary communists weren't the only ones committing atrocities in Latin America.

    Who has suggested that they were? Just because I know that the U.S. supported terrorism in Latin America throughout the Cold War doesn't mean I can't think people are stupid for describing a murderous hate-monger like Che as a hero.

    I feel the same way about Reagan worshippers, too. And when I point out that Reagan supported terrorists, his loyalists point their fingers and shriek, "But...but...communists!"

    Idealists on the right and left consistently ignore the atrocities of their own.

  • Edward||

    Idealists on the right and left consistently ignore the atrocities of their own.

    Amen!

  • Asharak||

    Who has suggested that they were? Just because I know that the U.S. supported terrorism in Latin America throughout the Cold War doesn't mean I can't think people are stupid for describing a murderous hate-monger like Che as a hero.

    I feel the same way about Reagan worshippers, too. And when I point out that Reagan supported terrorists, his loyalists point their fingers and shriek, "But...but...communists!"

    Idealists on the right and left consistently ignore the atrocities of their own.


    I concur.

    As for what Edward said in his last post about Marxist revolutionaries, it is true that they don't exist for no reason at all, but they've done an awful lot of thinking in black and white themselves, with disastrous results.

  • M. Simon||

    The Indians fought wars with each other all the time for territory.

    The white man was just a better Indian.

  • ||

    Che never had a chance to get fat and ugly, like the hideous Fidel. He died young and stayed pretty, as Blondie used to sing.

  • DWPittelli||

    I feel a bit unclean defending Che against any charge, but shooting "someone suspected of being a spy" without strong evidence or a formal trial is normal and often necessary practice within a guerrilla army.

    Read a history of the French Resistance and you will find more problematic cases than that, including a man who slipped into town to get laid, and was shot almost summarily because he had risked getting captured by the Nazis and tortured for information, such as the location of his encampment.

    I recognize that the French Resistance was fighting against one of history's greatest evils, while Che was fighting to replace one evil with a greater one, but that difference in ends does not, IMHO, make a key difference to how we should judge a guerrilla army's administration of internal justice.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Edward, my point is that you can cut and paste with the best of them.

  • Sarcasm Man||

    Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam and Bush in Iraq have killed more people than Che ever dreamed of killing. If the number of actual victims is your criterion, Che was a piker.

    Yeah, but that's nothing compared to the greatest mass murderer in US history, FDR. Look at all the Germans and Japanese he killed!

  • ||

    "BTW, those hot-ass chicks sporting the conservative shirts fill me with the perverse desire to impregnate them, and then watch as they run screaming to the abortion clinic to rid themselves of the hellspawned love-child of a mohawk sporting doped out freak."

    I think even most of those on the right approve of abortion for rape victims.

  • ||

    "I think even most of those on the right approve of abortion for rape victims."

    Woman gets drunk and has sex with a guy; she gets pregnant. Abortion in this case kills a beating heart, god's children.

    Woman gets raped; she gets pregnant. Abortion in this case does not kill a beating heart or god's children.

  • atrevete||

    " Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam and Bush in Iraq have killed more people than Che ever dreamed of killing. If the number of actual victims is your criterion, Che was a piker."

    If the number of actual victims is your criterion, North Vietnam killed far more people in Vietnam than Kennedy or Johnson. According to Statistics of Democide there were close to 1.5 million killed by North Vietnam from 1945-1987.

  • Edward||

    If the number of actual victims is your criterion, North Vietnam killed far more people in Vietnam than Kennedy or Johnson. According to Statistics of Democide there were close to 1.5 million killed by North Vietnam from 1945-1987.

    Oh well, nobody lives forever, and guns are an important part of the world economy. Che, for one, would have no argument with the NRA.

  • dhex||

    hey riddle me this residents of 'merica:

    have you guys seen mussolini shirts? i've seen a few being sold in little italy (no shit, had an eagle and a faces and everything) but i've never actually seen anyone wearing one.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    get it on ebay, choice of 43 colors with a nice color photo of il douche hisself.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    See LaMar, that's my lunatic sister's argument, that you can't kill the kid because it's father was a depraved rapist. That ain't the kid's fault.

    Don't get me wrong, she's deranged, but I don't say that because she's pro-life.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Che, for one, would have no argument with the NRA.

    That's why all the peasants in Cuba have M-1's and pistolas stashed in the closet, cuz, after a few good smokes our man Che convinced Fidel that the populace should be armed.

    Get outta town, Edward.

  • dhex||

    yeah i mean get it on ebay but have you ever seen anyone wearing one?

    i'm fuckin' neck deep in guidos here and i've never seen anyone wearing anything remotely like that.

  • Edward||

    "...there is no memorial, no place of pilgrimage for the countless lives extinguished by Guevara; those accused of being "counterrevolutionary traitors"..."

    Alas, there is no memorial to the countless victims of the CIA and corrupt right-wing Latin American dictators either.

  • ||

    Edward, you might actually have a point if the Reason 'ninnies' you mentioned here were tattooing their arms with the likenesses of Latin American dictators or other statist thugs on the right, but since none of us here are celebrating statist thugs on the right (or middle) any more than we are celebrating statist thugs on the left, you are simply blathering irrelevantly into the wind. But nice apologies for thuggery you prefer.

  • ||

    I'd like to go on record and state my preference for hot chicks wearing skimpy outfits over murderous, totalitarian zealots.

  • Edward||

    Mikhael

    You wouldn't understand the concept of putting things in context if it bit one of your balls off. No active agents in history have had clean hands.

  • atrevete||

    And the white handkerchief ladies with the pictures of the "disappeared" in Argentina? Who are THEY??? In comparison, there are PLENTY of memorials and demonstrations in Latin America against "right wing" barbarities, but much lesser outrage against the left.

    Edward, do you really believe the mothers in Argentina deserve sympathy, but those Cuban mothers whose sons and daughters have disappeared or drowned trying to escape that hellhole do NOT? Or do you believe Cubans don't have mothers?

  • JD||

    So, Edward, you'd be cool with a Carlos Castillo t-shirt, or maybe a Somoza t-shirt, or a Trujillo t-shirt? All of your wind would seem to indicate that since "all active agents have had dirty hands", all are morally equivalent and there's no point in any outrage or anything.

  • ||

    Edward,
    Context can explain actions, it does not necessarily excuse them. Or perhaps you have tattooed Dubya's face on your butt?

  • ||

    'An absurd 2005 Der Spiegel cover which reads: "The Heirs of Ghandi and Guevara: Europe's Peaceful Revolutionaries."'

    Sorry to be a pedantic pissant but isn't it 'Gandhi'? Why do so many people get this wrong? Professional journalists no less.

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