Good thing the college hipsters who wear Che T-shirts didnt live in Stalinist Cuba under their idol.
Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates! snarled the KGB-mentored Che Guevara in 1961. Instead they must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service! Youth should learn to think and act as a mass. It is criminal to think of individuals! Individualism must disappear from Cuba!
By the mid-60s, the crime of a rocker lifestyle (blue jeans, long hair, fondness for the Beatles and Stones) or effeminate behavior got thousands of youths yanked out of Cubas streets and parks by Ches KGB-trained secret police and dumped in prison camps with Work Will Make Men Out of You emblazoned in bold letters above the gate and with machine-gunners posted on the watchtowers. The initials for these camps were UMAP, not GULAG, but the conditions were quite similar.
Today, the worlds largest image of the man whom so many college hipsters sport on their shirts adorns Cubas headquarters and torture chambers for its KGB-trained secret police. Nothing could be more fitting.
The most popular version of the Che T-shirt, for instance, sports the slogan fight oppression under his famous countenance. This is the face of the second-in-command, chief executioner, and chief KGB liaison for a regime that jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalins and murdered more people in its first five years in power than Hitlers murdered in its first six.
Forty-six years ago this month, Ernesto Che Guevara got a major dose of his own medicine (Oct. 9 marked the 40th anniversary of his death). Without trial he was declared a murderer, stood up against a wall and shot. If the saying What goes around comes around ever fit, it was then.
When you saw the beaming look on Ches face as his victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad, said a former Cuban political prisoner, to this writer, you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara.
As commander of La Cabaña execution yard, Che often shattered the skull of the condemned man (or boy) by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Ches second-story office in La Cabaña had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.
The Spanish word vencido, by the way, translates into defeated or surrendered. And indeed, the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood very, very rarely reached Guevaras nostrils from anything properly describable as combat. It mostly came from the close-range murders of unarmed and defenseless men (and boys.) Carlos Machado was 15 years old in 1963 when the bullets from the firing squad shattered his body. His twin brother and father collapsed beside Carlos from the same volley. All had resisted Castro and Ches theft of their humble family farm, all refused blindfolds and all died sneering at their Communist murderers, as did thousands of their valiant countrymen.
Viva Cuba Libre! Viva Cristo Rey! Abajo Comunismo!
The defiant yells would make the walls of La Cabaña prison tremble, wrote eyewitness to the slaughter, Armando Valladares.
The one genuine accomplishment in Che Guevaras life was the mass-murder of defenseless men and boys. Under his own gun dozens died. Under his orders thousands crumpled. At everything else Che Guevara failed abysmally, even comically.
So for many, the question remains: How did such an incurable doofus, sadist and epic idiot attain such iconic status?
The answer is that this psychotic and thoroughly unimposing vagrant named Ernesto Guevara de la Serna y Lynch had the magnificent fortune of linking up with modern historys top press agent, Fidel Castro, who from the New York Times Herbert Matthews in 1957, through CBS Ed Murrow in 1959 to CBS Dan Rather, to ABCs Barbara Walters always had the mainstream media anxiously scurrying to his every beck and call and eating out of his hand like trained pigeons.
Ches image is particularly ubiquitous on college campuses. But in the wrong places. He belongs in the marketing, PR and advertising departments. His lessons and history are fascinating and valuable, but only in light of P.T. Barnum. One born every minute, Mr. Barnum? If only youd lived to see the Che phenomenon. Actually, 10 are born every second.
His pathetic whimpering while dropping his fully-loaded weapons as two Bolivian soldiers approached him on Oct. 8 1967 (Dont shoot! Im Che! Im worth more to you alive than dead!) proves that this cowardly, murdering swine was unfit to carry his victims slop buckets.
Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Fidel; Hollywoods Favorite Tyrant and Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him.