The image of massive fascist Ernesto Ché Guevara is absolutely fucking everywhere. A million t-shirts depicting him are sold in Camden every second, typically to the kind of grungy kid who stands around smoking and looking moody. I posit that they know little to nothing of this man’s life and works. These kids are probably alienated by their peers for being honest, tolerant and non-judgemental.

Now it’s 2009, and his visage is a global insignia, representing counter-culture and rebellion and is reproduced in many, if not all media.

But what about all the other shit he got up to, like stringing up gays?

Fighting for justice

Guevara was a medical student who travelled across Latin America and was confounded by the poverty he witnessed. It moved him to take up a pen and write with a furious zeal a Marxist-leaning ream highlighting the woes of rural Latin America.

During his last hours, the captive of Bolivian soldiers, he is reported to have commented on the anti-pedagogical notion that campesino (rural peasant) children received substandard education in a village mud hut while government officials drove around in Mercedes. I couldn’t agree more – not much has changed.

So he did have the best intentions at heart. Thus far, it’s understandable that his face represents the flip-side of everything commercial, consumerist, capitalist, vapid and shit.

Fighting justice

What you never hear about in glamourised films starring Benicio del Toro or Gael Garcia Bernal is what I want to shed light on here. As well as inciting public hatred against homosexuals, he ordered the execution of traumatised deserters who had dropped their posts as teachers to voluntarily fight for his cause. Those who got away were accused of being traitors or spies, and vilified so they could never return home. He inspired the post-revolution Cuban populace into a frenzy of hate; biographers note that by 1959 they were in a “lynching mood”. Under his boot, homosexuals, and later people with AIDS, Catholic priests and other Christians were enslaved and murdered.

At La Cabaña prison, where Guevara was commander, he routinely executed prisoners of war without due process. He publicly threw out humanitarian and ethical concerns over his treatment of prisoners in the name of protecting the state.

Then there’s that little spat where he was instrumental in bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. Add to that the perceived betrayal of the Russians at the time, and Guevara being quoted as saying “if the Cubans had been in possession of the missiles, they would have fired them.” He spent the rest of his life disparaging the USSR as often as he did the USA.

I refuse to repeat or quote any of the vile and ignorant things he used to say about homosexuals and would urge anyone who reveres him to look up some of his writings, and think again. To wear his face around like you’re some kind of ironic rebel is to elongate his reign of terror, and it makes you look the exact opposite of educated and lofty.

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