40 Years of Che’s Martyrdom

On October 9, 1967 Che Guevara, an Argentinian doctor who was one of the key architects of the Cuban revolution, was captured and executed in Bolivia by CIA-trained Bolivian soldiers. But the CIA could not kill Che’s spirit. Che’s 40th death anniversary was marked by a huge gathering of thousands of people from across Latin America to pay tribute to Che’s life and his death as a model revolutionary internationalism and anti-imperialism. The anti-imperialist and democratic upsurge that is sweeping Latin America is a true tribute to Che; left-wing governments in Venezuela and Bolivia are joining hands with Cuba to unite, share resources and social services and challenge imperialism.

In tribute to Che, we reproduce excerpts from Che’s writings that describe with remarkable humility Cuba’s efforts to sustain its revolution in the face of an imperialist offensive, and which offer the hope to other Latin American countries the possibility of unity, freedom and revolution.

On August 8, 1961, a ministerial meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council (CIES), sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) was held at Uruguay, where the head of the US delegation presented Washington’s ‘Alliance for Progress’ for official ratification – a deliberate attempt to rally Latin American nations against Cuba. Che’s speech as the representative of the Cuban government was a brilliant expose of the US’ real fear of the effect of the Cuban example in the rest of the continent.

“… It is necessary to explain what the Cuban revolution is, what this special event is that has made the blood of the world’s empires boil, and that has also made the blood of the dispossessed of the world, or of this part of the world at least, boil with hope. It is an agrarian, antifeudal and anti-imperialist revolution that under the imperatives of its internal evolution and of external aggressions became transformed into a socialist revolution, and that declares itself as such before all the Americas: a socialist revolution. …It is a revolution that came to power with its own army and on the ruins of the oppressor’s army; a revolution that looked around when it came to power and dedicated itself to the systematic destruction of all the old forms of the structure that upheld the dictatorship of an exploiter class over the exploited class.

… It is in solidarity with all the oppressed peoples of the world. It is in solidarity, Mr. President, because as Martí also said: “Every true human must feel on their own cheek every blow dealt against the cheek of another.” And every time that an imperialist power subjugates a territory, it is a blow against every inhabitant of that territory.

… We have denounced the Alliance for Progress as a vehicle designed to separate the people of Cuba from the other peoples of Latin America, to sterilize the example of the Cuban revolution, and then to subdue the other peoples according to imperialism’s instructions.

… . It is a report of a secret document addressed to Ambassador Moscoso in Venezuela by his advisers John M. Cates, Jr., Irving Tragen, and Robert Cox. …this document states:
‘The magnitude of the threat that Castro and the communists constitute in other parts of Latin America will probably continue to depend, fundamentally, on the following factors: (a) the ability of the regime to maintain its position; (b) its efficacy in demonstrating the success of its mode of coping with the problems of reform and development; and (c) the ability of the noncommunist elements in other Latin American countries to provide feasible and popularly acceptable alternatives. If, by means of propaganda, etc., Castro can convince the disaffected elements of Latin America that basic social reforms are really being made that benefit the poorest classes, the attraction of the Cuban example will increase and will continue to inspire imitators on the left in the whole region. The danger is not so much that a subversive apparatus, with its center in Havana, could export revolution, as that growing extreme poverty and discontent among the masses of the Latin American people may provide the pro-Castro elements opportunities to act…the survival of the Castro regime could have a profound effect on Latin American political life in coming years. Likewise, it prepares the scene for a political struggle in the terms promoted by communist propaganda for a long time in this hemisphere, with the anti-United States, “popular” forces on one side, and the ruling groups allied to the United States on the other.’

…And to all of you, distinguished delegates, the Cuban delegation says with all frankness: we wish, on our conditions, to be within the Latin American family…. We cannot stop exporting our example, as the United States wants, because an example is something intangible that crosses borders. What we do guarantee is that we will not export revolution…. What we cannot guarantee is that the idea of Cuba will not take root in some other country of Latin America, and what we do guarantee this conference is that if urgent measures of social prevention are not taken, the example of Cuba will take root in the people.’

In another speech to the First Latin American Youth Congress in 1960, Che extended warm greeting not only to the delegates from Latin American countries but to those from the US too, in words that are equally significant in the post 9/11 scenario:

“Although it may seem paradoxical, I would also like to greet today the delegation representing the purest of the U.S. people. I would like to salute them because the U.S. people are not to blame for the barbarity and injustice of their rulers, and because they are innocent victims of the rage of all the peoples of the world, who sometimes confuse a social system with a people.”