And boy, is he pissed.
On a more serious note, yesterday would have been Che Guevara’s 79th birthday, if he had lived. Here are Eduardo Galeano’s remembrances of “El Comandante Amigo”:
“Traitor,” I said. I showed him the clipping from a Cuban paper. There he was, dressed as a pitcher, playing baseball. I remember that he laughed, we laughed. I don’t know whether he answered me. The conversation jumped, like a ping-pong ball, from one subject to the next.
“I don’t want every Cuban to wish he were Rockefeller,” he said.
Socialism had meaning to the extent that it purified people, moved them beyond egotism, saved them from competition and greed.
He told me that when he was president of the central bank he had signed the bills with the word “Che” to poke fun, and he told me that money, that shit-awful fetish, should be ugly.
Che Guevara gave himself away, like everyone does, through his eyes. I remember that clean, morning-fresh look: the look of people who believe.
Chatting with him, you couldn’t forget that this man had come to Cuba after a long pilgrimage throughout Latin America. He had been in the whirlwind of the Bolivian revolution and in the death throes of the Guatemalan revolution–and not as a tourist. He had loaded bananas in Central America and taken snapshots in Mexican plazas to earn his living, and he had risked his life by throwing himself into the “Granma” adventure.
He was not a man to sit behind a desk. That feline tension so noticeable when I interviewed him in mid-1964 had to explode sooner or later.
His was the unusual case of someone who abandons a revolution which he and a handful of crazy people had already made, to throw himself into beginning another one. He lived not for triumph, but for struggle–the ever necessary struggle for human dignity.
Three years later, my eyes were glued to the front page of the papers. The agency photos showed his motionless body from all angles. General Barrientos’ dictatorship displayed its great trophy to the world.
For a long time I looked at his smile–ironic and tender at the same time–and bits of that 1964 dialogue came to my mind. Definitions of the world (“Some people possess the truth, but the matter of life is possessed by others”), of revolution (“Cuba will never be a showcase of socialism, but rather a living example”), and of himself (“I have been mistaken often, but I believe…”).
I thought, “He has failed. He is dead.” And I thought, “He will never fail. He will never die,” and with my eyes fixed on the face of that Jesus Christ of the Rio de la Plata I longed to congratulate him.
–“But I Prefer the Radiance of People”, from Days and Nights of Love and War