From people with poor understanding of context and function I may seem like a man existing in innumerable contradictions. One of those contradictions may be my Che Guevara belt buckle and the fact that I am not a communist.
While Che was a dedicated communist, this dedication was secondary to his first dedication, which was the liberation of human beings from miserable and struggling circumstances. He was dedicated to communism because he believed it was a means to that end. In some places during that time under better circumstances communism may have flourished. As impoverished as Cuba has been, it has still always been better than it was for most of the population than it was for them under Batista, where according to Kennedy US corporations owned about 80% of all their major industries. Cuba’s lack of growth and prosperity is largely attributable to US foreign policy towards Cuba which is also responsible for the degree of political repression that exists in the country.
Cuba should have long ago sought to establish opportunities for foreign investment. Although their track record isn’t great having defaulted on loans and expropriated a great deal of property from US companies, if there are resources that can be developed to make money the past can be forgiven through new partnerships. For the Cubans, having a communist government means that the people of Cuba should benefit from the profits of any partnerships with private companies according to the will and efficiency of their government. In many other nations where leaders are subordinate to the will of the west the conditions of investment do not benefit the people. The difference in Cuba is the Cuban government has control over the terms of the agreement. The government receives X amount of the profits, sets the minimum wage to be paid on a company by company basis, as well as other regulations required to maintain the safety of employees, the interests of the public, and the sustainability of the resource.
Foreign investment is typically bad because through free trade agreements, loan conditionalities, and diplomatic pressure, resources are developed but the companies largely decide the terms of investment, since the public policy of nearly all nations is a product of private investment. All US foreign policy is undertaken for the ends of accessing, maintaining, or gaining an advantage in the markets of nations.
It is also through this mechanism of investment politics that Cuba would be freed to prosper. If the Cuban government began to seriously seek partnerships with private companies these companies would lobby to have sanctions removed to proceed with these projects. After which the Cuban government is free to import and export. The people of the island individually have access to US dollars and become capable of starting their own businesses. The people of Cuba do not lose their independence to the wealth of private citizens and foreign entities, instead they gain freedom that comes with having more opportunities to gain the means to do as they please on an individual basis. The state will have more means and require more employees to oversee and process requests from private entities to do business with Cuba.
Returning to Che, he is an inspiration as a man who dedicated himself more than anyone else before him to the liberation of humankind. His tours of Latin America in his youth and early adulthood revealed the impact of US interference in the political systems of those nations for the benefit of US industry.
After completing medical school he became a doctor in Guatemala. After the United States at the behest of the United Fruit Company, the successor of which is Chiquita Brands International, removed the democratically elected prime minister Jacobo Arbenz and began a communist purge Che left to Mexico City and was introduced to Raul Castro by his first wife. Here he met Fidel Castro and became involved with the effort to liberate Cuba. They sailed with 82 men, lost time in a man falling overboard, were blown off course and arrived in the mourning where the great majority were killed as soon as they landed. Then a dozen or so men began the work of enjoining the citizenry to the cause of liberation from a despot who was supported by the most powerful nation on the planet. In addition to Che being a military asset to the liberation of the Cuban people, he was also an educator, and a symbol of noble values.
The criticism of Che is the executions he presided over during and after the revolution. They call him a murderer and a communist which is all most people feel they need to know about him. His name is brought up and that is the association. When George Washington presided over similar executions in the field during the American revolution that act isn’t considered as murder. As for executions in the field we consider the severity of an individual’s imposition and the options available to ensure the imposition doesn’t happen again or isn’t ongoing.
During the Cuban revolution, Batista’s army and the police perpetrated horrific acts against people suspected of supporting the revolution. Rape, torture, murder, seizure and destruction of property including razing homes. Naturally, they also offered rewards for information concerning the revolution’s plans and those who supported revolutionaries. Consequences of a traitorous act meant people died, lost their property, were physically violated, and the interests of the entire Cuban people are at stake should what is shared cause the revolution to fail outright.
What options are available when there is evidence that someone has done something like this?
Do you imprison them and take them with you affording them the opportunity to acquire more information about your dealings and whereabouts so if they escape they may do more harm than they’ve already done? Take them with you when you’re trying to gain an advantage over the enemy by being quiet and moving quickly from one point to another?
The consequences of the act are deserving of death since those consequences include the probability of death for others, as well as other consequences I listed above. The individual who is committing a treasonous act under those circumstances knows 1: this act will likely lead to the death of others, the destruction of their property, extreme bodily harm, and serve as a detriment to the interests of most of the people in their country. 2: They know if they are discovered to have committed a treasonous act they will be killed for it. They are neither ignorant of the consequences to others for their act, nor are they ignorant of the consequences to themselves for having committed the act, but do so knowingly and voluntarily to advance whatever personal interests will be advanced by their betrayal.
The same as in other revolutions, Che presided over executions in the field which were necessary to protect the interests of the Cuban people. It is just as important to state what the policy was when enemy soldiers were captured. They were offered the opportunity to join the revolution, otherwise they were stripped of their arms and released.
After the revolution the executions were ordered through tribunal, primarily the police and military who had been accused by witnesses of perpetrating the heinous acts described above. Some of which was probably documented in reports.
If Che set out to become a celebrity, to bask in the glory of the Cuban revolution, to live a comfortable life revered by the population he had this opportunity while also being an integral part of Cuba’s plans for development. There is an account from his biopic where Fidel asks Che in Mexico City if Che thinks he’s crazy. This question is a product of unsuccessfully trying to create a revolution by attacking a barracks and hoping people would follow his example, and now planning on overloading a sailboat with 82 men and thinking you can enlist the help of your countrymen to liberate the nation from a brutally repressive regime supported by the most powerful nation on the planet who is only 90 miles from the border. Che says “a little”. Che tells Fidel “after the revolution, you have to let me bring the revolution to all of Latin America”. Fidel tells him “maybe you’re a little crazy too”.
Che wrote reflecting on his travels through Latin America that he realized there was something more important to him than being responsible for some medical breakthrough, he wanted to help those people. The man that earned everything that anyone could ever ask for in Cuba, left Cuba supported by Cuba to assist the revolutionaries in the Congo after Patrice Lamumba and the newly formed independent government was taken over by Joseph Mobutu, who was supported by Belgium, the United States, and eventually most other western european countries who had interest in the country or the continent. The revolutionaries there did not possess the values to retake their revolution from the general. Che commented to the effect that you cannot help people who refuse to fight.
After he was unsuccessful in the Congo, in his hotel waiting to return to Cuba he said he never felt so low in his life. Instead of accepting that he was successful in Cuba where he was a symbol embodying much of what they counted as good, and that he could not liberate every people living under an oppressive hand of tyranny, he decided to try to make good on his promise to assist in the liberation of Bolivia. In Bolivia there were a series of mishaps where Che was captured and then killed on US orders.
Che is the best representation of a person who dedicated himself to the liberation of human beings. While there are others who I have similar reverence for, Che’s ambition wasn’t limited to a nation, race, or ethnicity, but was the genuine desire to liberate all people from oppressive circumstances. My respect and admiration for Che also extends into what I understand about him being the representation of what he understood as good. The feelings derived from being the embodiment of what you understand as right motivates you to be that embodiment and you cannot be persuaded to compromise that conduct because the bad feeling resulting is greater than the feeling gained from whatever object you would compromise that conduct for. Che is a symbol of liberation, and an example of a man who is true to his ideal.
Che said a true revolutionary is motivated by love. I contend that a true revolutionary is motivated by truth, and truth is liberty because all people want to do what they want to do. A revolutionary can only help those he loves by understanding the causes that produce their circumstances, and introducing ideas to improve those circumstances. A revolutionary that is motivated by love can be blinded by biases that prevent him from understanding what he must understand to ensure his cause is valid and to improve what he seeks to improve. For Che, I think he believed that if you can help people rid themselves of governments that exist to serve the interests of the United States and allow them to set up a government, that people free from interference would create governments and develop economies that would lead to the equitable distribution of resources, opportunities, and liberty.
When I first began exploring the questions of why I was the way I was, and the world was as it is, I was driven by empathy, motivated by love, and I wanted to help people. In increasing my understanding the motivation changes because responsibility is better understood. There is an account when Che was executed where an officer is telling Che to the effect that the Bolivian people have rejected him and his ideas for a revolution, where Bolivians recently marginally benefited from reforms. Che says “maybe it’s because they believed your lies”.
In the last moments of Che’s life he believed that people worked against their own best interests because they were deceived by others placing responsibility on the deceivers. The general public has lost the innocence that I once assigned to them under similar reasoning as Che. I’ve come to understand that people can only be deceived because they deceive themselves. In doing so they become ignorant of function. Otherwise, if they didn’t deceive themselves they’d recognize the contradictions. This is why the deceivers are less at fault than the deceived (although still imposing and morally wrong) for the results that exist on this planet. The supply of deception is only as great as the demand for it.