"You come burning the breeze/ With the spring sunlight/To plant the flag/ With the light of your smile"
We are marking the 40th anniversary of the death in La Higuera, Bolivia, of Ernesto “Che” Guevara: born in Argentina, hero of the Cuban revolution and a universal symbol of rebellion.
For many he is only a face on a T-shirt, but in Miami he’s still considered a blood thirsty murderer, while in Evo Morales‘s Bolivia many Indians pray to “San Ernesto de La Higuera”. Diego Maradona has a tattoo of Che on his right shoulder and Oscar winning actor, Benicio Del Toro who is playing Che in a film, described his appeal to the New York Times, “Che symbolizes not selling out,” he said, “staying true to what you believe in.”
The few surviving people who actually fought alongside Ernesto Guevara, or fought against him, are very old. For example: Mario Teran, the Bolivian army sergeant who shot Che dead forty years ago just had his cataracts removed by Cuban doctors working in Bolivia. Quoted by the BBC, the Cuban Communist Party's official newspaper Granma proclaimed. "Four decades after Mario Teran attempted to destroy a dream and an idea, Che returns to win yet another battle." That’s right, there are doctors from Castro’ Cuba working where Che Guevara was hunted down and killed by American trained Bolivian soldiers forty years ago.
If Che’s ghost still walks the streets of La Higuera, as its inhabitants believe, the specter’s silent laughter must ring through the hills, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador are all on the path of what is being called, “Twenty-first century socialism”. This has been possible because Che’s obsession, the United States of America, has no energy or attention left to control its restless southern neighbors, bogged down as it is in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that it can neither win nor finish and with Washington insiders considering an American attack on Iran imminent.
America’s foremost investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, writing in the New Yorker, quoted US foreign policy guru Zbigniew Brzezinski as saying that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.” If that happens Che’s dream of the “hundred Vietnams” will have come true. South America will find itself without an “imperial tutor” for the first time in its history.
In the 1990s the Russians lost control of their traditional spheres of influence; the world witnessed the seemingly magic disintegration of the czarist empire that Russia had maintained through world wars and revolution since the 17th century. The similarities to the deflation of US power in Latin America are striking. DS