Normally, the concept of politics is one which –even though I have defined beliefs- does not get discussed in this blog or in pretty much any conversation in which I am involved. Why? The same as religion, each one of us has his/her own beliefs and these should be respected… even when they are dead wrong.
It has now been close to 50 years since I had the chance of stepping my dainty size 14 feet on Cuban soil, MY homeland. As my friends and readers of this blog know, this has been due not to personal preferences, but to a very strong personal dislike of the since 1959 current dictatorship, a continuing bad show that has turned the island from a veritable Caribbean paradise (yes, I know… not perfect, but close!!) into an outpost from hell.
Am I biased? You bet! Family and childhood friends never to be seen again; some reunions held many years later and in far places. Do I have a strong dislike for those who choose to wear trendy clothes with the likes of Guevara, Castro and others like them? Yes I do. And this does not come from the simple fact of their sartorial choice, but because this choice has been made without giving a second thought to the reality(ies) behind the person they are rendering homage to by wearing their faces on their chests, pants, hats, etc. Many who wear the famous Che Guevara face, do so because “others do” and, better yet, because “he was a hero to the Cubans, and fought for them”. Well, I have news for them.
This hero, as they call him, was personally responsible (his hands held and used the guns) for the documented deaths of 145 people, several of whom had not reached their 18th birthday. Many other deaths, attributed to him, are not fully documented yet. In most cases, the soon to be dead person would be held by a couple of his goons, to make sure there would be no possible attempt to fight back and “hurt” the che. These deaths were carried out because the individual in question “disagreed” with government views, or because the person had committed a “crime” (usually related to ideals) against the state. One time while still in the mountains, because a hungry rebel soldier dared eat food that unbeknown to him, was destined for the che’s stomach. In these cases once the victim was identified, an arbitrary judgment was made by a deranged mind, drunk with power. Che was also a totally ineffective administrator. Every single department or functional corporate structure he was put in charge of, was literally run to the ground and declared a failure. Of course, “others” were always to blame for these failures and, in more than one instance, the hapless soul which was so identified paid with his life for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Over several years, I have taught ESL (English as a second language) to many immigrants. Not long ago, I had a Peruvian student who was about 40 years old at the time. For a while, he came to class with a che cap on. He was very proud of his hat and would wear it at all times. One day, I asked him about the che and, as expected, he really did not know much about the deeds of the man. It was a week end class and, as homework, I gave some books and web sites which have true information on this man, and asked that everyone do a one paragraph report on the che. Often, in these classes, homework is not done. Tiredness due to long work hours and a family with whom to deal, becomes a mental barrier. So, I was somewhat surprised when the following week end rolled around, and most had done some homework; especially my Peruvian friend. The first thing I noted, was that his beloved hat was not on his head. Then, that he asked to be the first to speak.
He proceeded to tell us that when he started to read about the real history of the Che Guevara, his heart sank. From a “people’s hero” he was downgraded to common criminal, not apt to be honored. He was surprised to find out how many untruths the marketing machinery spews out, in order to sell an idea. This was the general gist of the discussion that morning. Only one person in the class kept saying “these were all lies” and when confronted by his fellow students (not by me, I only created the viable scenario –the other side does it all the time, so why can’t I?) he could not hold his side of the story at all. In the end, he (a young man from Mexico) had no choice but to accept that “perhaps”, some of these “accusations” were true.
The moral of this story is that much more is accomplished by educating people than by screaming against their ideas. Ideas are sacred; we all have the freedom of choice (well, those of us who live in democratic societies, anyway) and this includes the freedom of thought. If I attack your ideas, your reaction will be that of entrenching in them. So would be the reaction of most of us, given the case. However, if I can get you to analyze what your ideas are, what the base for them is and whether or not you have looked at all different angles, you will carry out an exercise in self education. Then, if you insist on maintaining your thoughts as they were, you will do so knowing the full story and the full impact of these ideals; good and bad. That I will respect, even in disagreement. What I cannot respect is a blind fanatic, who simply puts on a hat or wears a slogan because “someone told him to”, without taking the time and effort to understand its true meaning.
This morning I saw the proverbial face of che staring at me from somebody’s chest. Since the wearer was a relatively busty young lady, the che’s face was cheekier than usual, giving him an even more surreal look. I had to laugh at this.
Anyway, enough for now;
Take care, RJA