Humberto Fontova

Guevara would clear the occupation of Wall Street in a New York nano-second. His colleagues of the time recall Che cheering the Soviet tanks slaughtering Hungarian freedom-fighters on the streets of Budapest. The youths they machine-gunned and ground under their tank treads were all “Fascists and CIA agents!” he raved.

“I’m a Stalinist” Che Guevara boasted to Cuban colleague Carlos Franqui in 1957. That sniveling speech by Khrushchev denouncing Stalin’s crimes was nothing but “imperialist lies!” But Khrushchev’s subsequent spunk in sending tanks and battle-hardened Siberian troops to massacre Hungarian protesters, Che later conceded, certainly helped ameliorate his speech’s doctrinal errors.

Forty four 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. 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 his firing squads," said a former Cuban political prisoner Roberto Martin-Perez, to this writer, "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.

Two years ago, the U.K. Guardian interviewed Oscar-winning actor Benicio del Toro regarding his Cannes-winning role as Che Guevara in Stephen Soderbergh's movie Che. "Dammit This Guy Is Cool!" was the interview title. "I hear of this guy, and he's got a cool name, Che Guevara!" says del Toro. "Groovy name, groovy man, groovy politics! So I came across a picture of Che, smiling, in fatigues, and I thought, 'Dammit, this guy is cool-looking!'"

There you have it. In effect, Benicio del Toro probably revealed the inspiration (and daunting intellectual exertion) of millions of Che fans, including hundreds on Wall Street last week.


Humberto Fontova

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.