Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ernesto Che Guevara

A Determined Pursuit for Justice

His parents chose to live on their own,
away from civilization,
so he was born close to the jungle of Argentina,
where safety depended on the pistol and the machete.

He had a strong mind,
but his lungs were weak.
The family moved to the cool air of Alta Garcia,
so Ernesto could breath.

His asthma prevented Ernesto
from attending school,
so he stayed at home
reading books and playing chess.

His family was of the middle class,
but they had no money.
Ernesto learned of the disparity
between rich and poor.

Once he was having dinner
at the home of an affluent family.
Someone spoke affectionately of Winston Churchill.
Ernesto countered that he was just another “rat pack politician.”

He wanted to see the world outside Argentina,
and traveled throughout the Americas.
He visited the largest copper mine in the world, Chuquicamata,
where Chilean miners toiled for Kennecott and Anaconda.

He returned home to become a medical doctor,
but preferred the road to the prospect of a comfortable life.
In Guatemala he found a government
that attempted to right the wrongs of Latin America.

He also saw U.S. bombers murdering people
for the United Fruit Company.
He sought asylum in the Argentine Embassy,
and decided he would never ask for asylum again.

In Mexico he found Fidel and joined the Cuban Revolution.
Eighty-two freedom fighters sailed to Cuba.
Only twenty-two survived an ambush,
but La Revolucion continued.

One might have thought
that the freedom fighters didn’t have a chance.
But in the Americas struggles appearing to be impossible
have overcome the most stubborn obstacles.

Native Americans waged war
for hundreds of years to defend their culture.
Hundreds of thousands gave their lives
to end chattel slavery.

The thirteen colonies ended British rule.
Haitian slaves ended the rule of Napoleon.
The leaders Bolivar and San Martin
drove Spain out of South America.

Gomez, Marti, and Maceo
overwhelmed Spain in Cuba.
And all these struggles proved
that the seemingly impossible could happen in the Americas.

So the twenty-two organized a revolution
against a numerous and heavily armed government.
But that government murdered 27,000 human beings,
and there were people willing to give their lives for a change.

Many in the army were guajiros, or subsistence farmers.
While the affluent enjoyed themselves in Havana,
the guajiros were prematurely aged, and toothless.
The children had distended bellies, parasites, and rickets.

Although he was from Argentina,
Ernesto Che Guevara became a commander.
He fearlessly attacked the enemy,
placing the struggle before his own life.

Che never asked others to do what he would not.
He was hardest on the best soldiers,
and they gave him their complete loyalty.
These were the ingredients of the Cuban Revolution.

They endured bullet wounds, hunger, rain, sore feet, and insect bites.
They stayed on the move to survive.
After years of struggle,
they broke the enemy’s will to win.

Batista flew out of Havana,
and the revolutionary army marched in.
Those who had murdered the people went on trial.
The new army became the true servant of Cuba.

Since his youth Che studied Karl Marx.
He felt that Cuba
needed to be independent politically and economically.
The U.S. government didn’t agree.

Che met with Esso and Texaco.
He asked them to refine Soviet oil.
They refused.
Cuba nationalized the refineries of Esso and Texaco.

Che felt that human beings living
under a capitalist system could not reach their potential.
His most important aspiration
was to “see man liberated from his alienation.”

Che had a wife and four children.
He was a leading minister of the Cuban government.
He gave up all of this to continue
the seemingly impossible struggle of guerrilla warfare.

Che attempted to lead a struggle
aimed at alleviating the abject poverty of Bolivia.
He knew the odds were against him,
but continued to risk his life for a chance at victory.

The U.S. government was terrified of Che.
They knew that he could win.
That might signal the end of their rape of Latin America.
They spared no expense to stop him.

Che was murdered by an order from Washington.
But his example lives
with those fighting for freedom all over the world.
Because they can kill a body, but not an idea.

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