The article below is excerpted from an Argentinian newspaper. I have translated it as faithfully as possible. The bracketed commentary is mine and it should also be noted that the article continues on, discussing the the alteration of historically significant architecture and so I have ommitted those last paragraphs since at they are not about Che Guevara.
The Failures of Che Guevara
By Marcelo Gioffré
For La Nación
A Buenos Aires legislator has proposed changing the name Cantilo Avenue to "Che Guevara Avenue, which leads one to reflect on the merits of the person whose name is being proposed.
Born of an aristocratic Argentine family, Guevara abandoned his origins and his country. He received the title of doctor [that is debatable, it has always been part of the Guevara myth that he was a doctor, however it has never been fully substantiated] and he also declined the exercise of that profession. As a student, he attempted to make gamexane with talcum powder, under the brand name Vendaval, but things went badly with the company. In 1952, he left his friend Alberto Granado behind at a Venezuelan leprosarium with a promise that he'd return, which he never did. In Guatemala in 1954, he failed in a vain attempt to defend Jacobo Arbenz from a coup d'etat. As provisional administrator of Sancti Spiritus, he prohibited alcohol and gambling, a rule that had to be revoked the following day. He failed in his marriage to Hilda Gadea. He was so vain, he committed the error of publishing a book, "Guerrilla Warfare, which was very useful to the Pentagon in that it disclosed the secrets of armed subversion. He failed in his underestimation of the blockade. He was unsuccessful in his diplomatic mission to the Conference of Punta Del Este in 1961, where he was supposed to have reached an agreement with the United States. He failed in his plan of accelerated industrialization, thereby causing a debacle of the sugar harvest. He lost in a controversy with Russian economists over appropriate stimuli (that he believed to be morals - the "new man" - and the Soviet technicians, material). He failed in his evaluation of China and could not convince Mao Tse-tung, in 1965, to wage another guerilla war in Latin America. He contributed to the creation of a monster in Cuba, then had to resign and leave. He failed as a son (at least in the famous moral dichotomy which Jean-Paul Sartre raises in Existentialism and Human Emotions), since he could not be at his mother's side when she died of cancer, and in a final letter, that would arrive late, he wrote: "I have loved you all very much, it's just that I haven't known how to express my affection. He committed the error of confiding in Fidel by giving him a letter that was to be read after his death, and which Castro read prematurely, thereby betraying him. He went to fight in the Congo and after his picturesque savoring butterfly soup, had to abandon the mission. He armed an improbable guerrilla movement in Bolivia and it also failed. He was not able to enlist the communist, Monje, nor the peasants to join him for that guerrilla war. He was father of five children and, objectively, he let them go at their own risk to undertake crazy trips towards badly calculated utopias. His whole life could be seen as an impeccable beautiful failure that concluded posthumously, with a generation that was decimated in his name.
What is his true merit, setting aside the fact that he's the object of a fetish among the rebels of the seventies, his image printed in infinite t-shirts made according to capitalist canons?
It is true that he achieved mythical status, but random circumstances that have nothing to do with his virtues contributed to that outcome. The military triumph in Cuba had much more to do with the prudence of Castro than to the irresponsible heroism of Che. The death and disappearance of his body helped to forge the legend. The necessity of the Cuban regime to have heroes also contributed. The purity of his fundamentalism, which he shares with Hitler. But none of these aspects has genuine merit. Nor can his anti-Peronism be seen as representative of his thinking, but rather, the typical intellectual leftist criticism of a reformist party.
There's more: two years ago, having lunch in a bar on Salguero Street with Humberto Vázquez Viaña, a Bolivian who took part in the guerrilla movement that Guevara mentions in his diaries, I was the witness to of a shocking confession. This man conjectured that the true reason for which Guevara had fought was not ideological, nor idealistic, but therapeutic. As is well known, Guevara suffered from asthma but he never experienced an attack in the middle of a battle - perhaps due to the additional adrenalin it generated -, possibly explaining the hidden reasons for his campaigns, for his uncontrollable desire to continue fighting and to separate himself from desk jobs, which would not have been for any other reason than to avoid those bronchial spasms. It's a frankly spurious reason, of which an eventual confirmation would mute so many demonstrators who hoist the photo of him his with his beret.
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