The power of revolution
It has been said that revolution results in nothing more than a show of who has more power, and that this power is only a demonstration of violence. Yes, the victors of a revolution must have more power. But this power is not necessarily wrought through violence.
The men who succeeded in the Cuban Revolution, which overthrew the bloody and repressive regime of Fulgencio Batista, consisted of eighty-two, including Fidel and Raul Castro, and the iconic figure of revolution itself, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. These eighty-two men succeeded in defeating the Cuban army, which was backed by the military power of the United States. In the end, it was estimated that less than twenty of the original eighty-two survived.
Now, this doesn’t sound like a victory achieved by superior power; however, I readily concede that it is. This small band of revolutionaries succeeded solely because they were backed by the power of the people of Cuba. El Che grasped this fact instinctively, for he fought only for the people.
Che Guevara was born in Argentina, into a measure of privilege. He earned a degree as a Doctor of Medicine. As many know, during his studies, he traveled throughout South America, and spent some time volunteering in a hospital for victims of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). His experiences among the people are what led him to his vision of a Latin America free from the vestiges of imperialism. He sought whole-heartedly to liberate the people of Latin America from poverty, disease, and hunger.
There are those yet today who would refer to Che Guevara as a terrorist, who deserved his predictable end. It is a matter of record that when a journalist posed the question, “What is the most important quality for a revolutionary to possess?” he answered with one word: Love.
As for the predictable end, Che was captured in Bolivia, attempting to achieve there what he and his comrades did in Cuba. Most analysts agree that this mission failed because the guerrillas (one of whom was a woman, known as “Tanya”) did not have the united hearts of the Bolivian people. The Bolivian army was also backed by the United States. El Che was captured and executed by a Bolivian soldier. His last words were, “Go ahead, coward, you’re only killing a man.” It is uncertain if the connotation is “a man” or “one man” as in Spanish, “un hombre” could be translated either way.
As a final point, el Che did not kill civilians. He and his comrades sometimes kidnapped villagers in order to keep their location secret, but they fed them the best of their food and, if they had money, paid them for their time before releasing them.
Mr. Editor, I wish you a very long and healthy life. But as you tamp your cigarette ashes into Che’s face, remember this: You are only killing one man.