Forty three years ago this week, Ernesto "Che" Guevara got a major dose of his own medicine. Without trial he was declared a murderer, stood against a wall and shot. Historically speaking, justice has rarely been better served. If the saying "What goes around comes around" ever fit, it's here.
"When you saw the beaming look on Che's face as the victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad," said a former Cuban political prisoner Roberto Martin-Perez, to your humble servant here, "you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara." As commander of the La Cabana execution yard, Che often shattered the skull of the condemned man (or boy) by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Che's second-story office in Havana’s La Cabana prison had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.
Even as a youth, Ernesto Guevara's writings revealed a serious mental illness. "My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any vencido that falls in my hands!” This passage is from Ernesto Guevara's famous Motorcycle Diaries, though Robert Redford somehow overlooked it while directing his heart-warming movie.
The Spanish word vencido, by the way, translates into "defeated" or "surrendered."And indeed, "the "acrid odor of gunpowder and blood" very, very rarely reached Guevara's nostrils from anything properly describable as combat. It mostly came from the close-range murders of defenseless men (and boys.) Carlos Machado was 15 years old in 1963 when the bullets from the firing squad shattered his body. His twin brother and father collapsed beside Carlos from the same volley. All had resisted Castro and Che's theft of their humble family farm, all refused blindfolds and all died sneering at their Communist murderers, as did thousands of their valiant countrymen. "Viva Cuba Libre! Viva Cristo Rey! Abajo Comunismo!" "The defiant yells would make the walls of La Cabana prison tremble," wrote eyewitness to the slaughter, Armando Valladares.
The one genuine accomplishment in Che Guevara's life was the mass-murder of defenseless men and boys. Under his own gun dozens died. Under his orders thousands crumpled. At everything else Che Guevara failed abysmally, even comically.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.