Forty five 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 his victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad," said a former Cuban political prisoner 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 La Cabana had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.
A Rumanian journalist named Stefan Bacie visited Cuba in early 1959 and was fortunate enough to get an audience with the already quasi-famous "Che" Guevara. Upon entering Castro's chief executioner's office, Bacie noticed Che motioning him over to the office's newly constructed window. Bacie got there just in time to hear the command of FUEGO! hear the blast from the firing squad and see a condemned prisoner crumple and convulse.
The stricken journalist immediately left and composed a poem, titled, "I No Longer Sing of Che." ("I no longer sing of Che any more than I would of Stalin," go the first lines.)
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! With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!" This passage is from Ernesto Guevara's famous Motorcycle Diaries, though Robert Redford somehow overlooked it while producing his heart-warming movie.
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.