More on the Loathsome Che Guevara

The Washington, D.C. local gay-oriented paper, the Washington Blade, ran a review of the new movie about Che Guevara as starry-eyed romantic, The Motorcycle Diaries, and accompanied it with a remarkable essay on “Che Guevara: liberator or facilitator? Life of politically progressive activist contains shades of gray.” How about shades of crimson, for the blood of all the people he murdered in his torture and execution chambers?

In the essay, the author suggests that all of the oppression of gay people (as if that were the only measurement of the evil of a regime) should be attributed to pre-existing Cuban macho culture and — of course — the U.S. embargo on trade between Americans and Cubans. (It’s worth noting that everyone else on the planet is free to trade with Cuba, so if the Cuban economy were to produce anything of value, they could trade with Europeans, Asians, and others; Cuba is poor because of socialism, not because of the admittedly unjust and counterproductive embargo imposed by the U.S. government on American citizens.) After portraying Che as a “progressive,” the essayist tries to appear brave by indicating that the regime that Che helped to impose on the Cubans (and tried to impose on many other countries) may not have been perfect: you see, in setting up a system for the rational allocation of labor “by creating a program for men who were deemed unfit for the army,” Che set in motion a system “that caused gay people to be targeted at a greater rate than other groups.” Horrors! Of course, who could complain if slave labor camps were filled only with former coffee shop owners (class enemies, after all), counterrevolutionary poets, anti-social slackers, and anyone who threatened the absolute monopoly on power wielded by Che and the other thugs who took over Cuba?

My friend Adam Allouba passed on to me a rather different kind of review of The Motorcycle Diaries that appeared in the October 30 issue of Canada’s paper The Globe and Mail. As the author of that review wrote:

40 Responses to “More on the Loathsome Che Guevara”

  1. Once again, bravo. I think that when you are younger you blindly accept the heroes you are given by t-shirts, teachers and television. I always thought the posters of Che were cool as a kid. It is a shame, however, that more people with the knowledge to express displeasure over such hideous iconoclasm do not speak up with the moral surety to disrupt the celebrity worship of those who are vile and indefensible. You do a good job of that here.

    Thanks you.

  2. Don’t you understand that criticising Che makes you a fascist pig? That’s why people keep silent. For some reason attractive girls are particularly drawn to social slackers with Che T-shirts. If you detect the voice of my frustration in this, you’re right.

  3. Michael Hardesty

    Che never oppressed any gays. There was a brief
    policy of persecuting gays in the 1960s started
    by Raul Castro but soon reversed. Nor did Che
    massacre peasants,etc, He was fighting the massacre of peasants by the US backed rightist
    governments ! So much for your beautiful corporate
    capitalism. Frankly, your rantings here are pure
    ultra-right ignorance exactly on the level of
    Hoppe and the more deranged nuts on Lew Rockwell’s
    site. At least Murray Rothbard knew something
    about history and had an excellent tribute to
    Che in a 1967 number of Left and Right that he
    edited with Leonard Liggio, whom I believe is now
    a big rightist stink-tanker like yourself.
    Cuba’s government is in fact better on gay and legal abortion issues than any other government
    in Latin America. There’s much more to say but
    your simply another rightist hack shill playing
    to a very small audience.

  4. Tom G. Palmer

    Oh, Mr. Hardesty….

    Where to begin? First, let’s consider the reason that so many gay people came over in the Mariel boat lifts. They were *let out of jail* to cleanse the country of unwanted bourgeois elements. Many of them had been forced to labor in the fields or were tormented in prison. The policy of persecuting gay people decidedly was not “reversed.” And as to massacring peasants, that was a common tactic of both guerillas and government soldiers throughout Latin America who forced peasant communities to take sides. The horrors were inflicted by both sides and Che Guevara was a pioneer in the tactic.

    What a sad relic you are, Mr. Hardesty, pining for the dramatic revolutionary days of yore. Anyone who points out that the USSR was an evil empire, that the Red Chinese killed people by the villageful, that Che Guevara was worse than a common thug, as he glorified killing, and that every communist state was bathed in blood is sure to get a lecture about “corporate capitalism,” as if advocating free trade had anything to do with hateful little protectionist states like the Banana Republics of Latin America that Che tried to replace with even more oppressive regimes.

    (By the way, I was present when Murray Rothbard made his awful remarks about the fall of Saigon and the destruction of the Republic of Vietnam. The South Vietnamese government was certainly no paragon of liberalism, but what replaced it was also decidedly not a liberation, no matter how romantic Ho Chi Minh might have seemed to some. I was 18 at the time when Murray disgraced himself and I’m ashamed that I didn’t have the presence of mind to tell him how irresponsible and unlibertarian he showed himself to be in making that remark. If there is an afterlife, I do hope that Rothbard has repented celebrating the defeat of one state by another that was worse and has seen what a departure it was from the entire philosophy of liberty with which he was so closely associated.)

    I was at a celebration last night of the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As one of the speakers, Alejandro Chafuen, pointed out, let us hope that the 20th anniversary is celebrated in Havana.

  5. Brian Radzinsky

    My parents came over from two nations in the southern cone of South America, where they watched the more unstable republics of the north fall to Banana Republicanism and begin to oppress the outspoken, confiscate properties, and torture the landowners all in the name of some grande peasant revolution. They were too young to remember the Che, but when Allende took power in Chile, my mother saw the failure of such policies. The issue of gay oppression is just one small facet of the overall systematic disintegration of a society where constitutions reigned above the bickering of the many factions who vied for power. To say that some how Che Guevara liberated gays or offered some shelter from the intolerance really just shows anyone’s ignorance of the culture of South America. The issue was a small part of the larger problem. Che was a murderer, a terrorist, and no role model. The misinformed may have characterized Guevara as a hero, but history will condemn him as a menace.

  6. Michael Hardesty


    You are pathetic and a liar to boot. Raul Castro’s
    anti-gay policy was ended long before the Mariel
    boatlift and all those anti-communist criminals
    who came to our shores.
    Anyone who is an advisor to the US Govt in Iraq
    which has cold-bloodedly murdered over 100,000
    Iraqis and tortured scores more is no position
    to give moral lectures to anyone. You can save
    your scummy redbaiting for those ignorant enough to fall for it. The Saigon regime was a viciously oppressive totalitarian regime which killed many
    more Vietnamese from 1954-75 than either Ho killed
    before 1969 or the Commies since 1975.
    The unwanted elements of the Mariel boatlift were
    the sort of hardened criminals who soon filled our
    jails over here and I agree it was an unfriendly
    act of Fidel to send them. Any actual historian
    of Cuba knows that the anti-gay policies were
    reversed in less than a decade and in fact Cuba
    is more gay tolerant than most places here that
    Spare me your me your little lectures on the Berlin Wall, Red China, Russia, criticizing those
    despotisms is as easy as shooting cows in a field
    over here. When are you going to start criticizing the TENS OF MILLIONS OF DEATHS OF AFRICAN SLAVES AND INDIANS PERPETRATED BY THE
    These little banana protectionist states you
    whitewash in Latin America have killed TENS OF
    Let’s all pray we will see the end of the mass murderous US empire, the most blood-soaked group
    of criminal killers and goons in world history
    as Murray amply demonstrated many times.
    The reason you didn’t speak to him then was because you knew he had forgotten more than you
    would ever know. You are as ignorant now as when
    you were 18, nothing to brag about.
    Che never had any mass massacres of peasants, it
    was precisely what he was fighting against,the
    Kennedy Brothers did do that though in training
    all the rightist capitalist regimes whom you have
    spent your sad, little pathetic lifetime apologizing for. The US killed as many Cambodians,
    500,000 as Pol Pot and it killed them first.
    Chiang Kai-Chek killed tens of millions in China,
    10 million alone in 1927, as or even more than Mao. I prefer not to respond further but if you
    promulgate more lies, then I will.
    Oh by the way, your celebration of Ashcroft’s
    leaving was rudely interrupted by the appointment
    of another fascist goon as AG, the same Nazi who
    gave W the advice to ignore the Geneva Conventions
    against torture. DUMMY !

  7. Michael Hardesty

    Your Babbitt like comments on the Berlin Wall also
    call for a response. I was opposed to it from the
    beginning in 1961 but unlike you I also realize that tens of millions of people behind the former
    “Iron Curtain” are also much worse off starting
    with the many millions of East Germans who were
    economically ruined by their absortion into the
    western part, the rampant deindustrialization,
    the monstrous growth of racism & neonazism
    (or maybe it’s not so neo), the loss of abortion
    rights for East German women and the cutting back
    of the whole social safety net in Germany due to
    their being no competing ideology to keep corporate Germany in line.
    Not to mention the genocide in the former Yugoslavia and the far worse condition for the
    great majority of former Soviet citizens.
    So one evil has been replaced by many more.
    And, no, very few people in Europe, east or west,
    want your cowboy capitalism, Tom. In fact a lot
    of us over here are getting tired of it, those
    of us who have had to actually work for a living
    for many years instead of being subsidized in
    market-insulated think tanks.

  8. Tom G. Palmer

    I nominate Mr. Hardesty for the next “Cicero” award for rhetorical brilliance.

    “DUMMY!”: such eloquence could inspire only envy among other rhetoricians.

    And the move from “Regime X killed many people, too,” to “Therefore you must have supported Regime X”: such rigor is the sign of a master logician.

    Never before have such brilliantly honed skills been combined in a manner so clearly guaranteed to elicit instant agreement.

  9. Tom G. Palmer

    Then it’s settled. Since I think that Castro is a bad man, it must follow that I think that Batista was a good man. And since I oppose the slave labor of the Gulag system and the slave labor of the Stalag system, it must follow that I favor the chattel slavery of the American south. Makes sense to me!

    Hardestian logic dictates that, given the principle of the conservation of acknowledged evil, if Chiang Kai Shek killed innocents, then we should overlook it when Mao Tse Tung kills innocents. I’m glad that’s been explained to me.

    P.S. I have to point out that I’ve never been “an advisor to the US Govt in Iraq.” I did advise Iraqi teachers through the Iraqi Ministry of Education on how to eliminate fascism from their curriculum and how to get people to speak freely, rather than cower in fear. Yes, I am guilty of that crime.

  10. Isn’t the internet fantastic, Mr. Hardesty ?
    I’ve never met you, yet we can engage in debate over issues of common interest. However, the web may save your face, but the hollow, rabid inconsistencies of your argument do not hide your sophistry. Whatever your personal grievances, a modicum of research might hint that Tom Palmer’s website is anything but ‘conservative’.
    The same misdirected fury befalls Michael Moore. It is counter-productive to your cause. Whatever that is…

  11. Tony Jensen

    Stumbled across this site….can you geniuses tell me the approximate number of innocent people murdered by George 1 and 2, the United States of America and Che and Cuba. I like numbers….they tell truths…you can omit the numbers killed after the death of Che if it makes you feel better.

  12. if only el che were alive today, to deal with all the tom palmers of the world. but execution is too easy on scat munchers like him. he should be put to work for the rest of his natural life cleaning up all the maleficent sewage that has poured out of his mouth. that way his hateful existence would be somewhat justified. we can only hope he hasnt reproduced, so that when hes dead his kind will disappear from the human gene pool.

    is that clear enough for you bloodless mutants. as for you oscitant cowards hiding behind rhetorical forms, you can call this hyperbole.

    there is no room here, or need to dignify your degeneracy with Procatalepsis


  13. Tom G. Palmer

    Mr Jensen and Ad Hominem raise questions that are helpful for evaluating political systems and the legacies of their leaders.

    For Mr. Jensen, I’d first ask for a specification of innocent people. If he means those killed in Iraq he might want to look at the claims put out by The Lancet ( ) and the evaluation of them by The Economist ( ). Then he might want to ask if he believes in differentiating between “collateral damage” in war and, say, executing people who attempted to leave the country. If the former are to be included, would he also include all of the Germans, Italians, French, Belgians, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Japanese, Chinese, Austrians, and others killed by the allied forces (including the U.S., the U.K., and the U.S.S.R.) during the second world war against the Axis powers, as well? If so, would he (just on that basis) characterize FDR and Stalin as killers of innocent people? I’m not sure of what the right approaches are to those issues, but they are certainly relevant to the issue of how to consider the killing of non combatant Iraqis by the U.S. and other foreign forces in Iraq and by the Iraqi terrorists. (I also note that it does not follow that if Stalin killed a million people, then it’s ok for Hitler to kill a million people, which is implicit in Mr. Jensen’s question.)

    If Mr. Jensen is interested in a comparison of how many people have been gunned down for being critical of the American government or for trying to leave the United States with how many people have been gunned down, deliberately rammed and drowned, or executed for criticizing the Cuban regime or for trying to leave the country, that’s not all that hard to evaluate. I think that the former number is probably zero and the estimates for the latter vary, but all run into the thousands. (See for one list of victims.)

    Ad Hominem sure sounds like a fun person, but not very well versed in his Marxism. The idea that a gene pool is a source for personal characteristics of any kind is remarkably unMarxian, which is why Lysenko had his geneticist rivals in the Soviet Union sent to labor camps and killed. A good Marxist would look, not to whether a person reproduces and passes on his or her genes, but entirely to the social forces [actually, the material means of production] that make the person what he or she is. After all, that was the whole point of Che’s murderous campaign — to build a new society that would make a new man. Had Ad Hominem been around under a serious Marxist state, he would have been sent to labor camp for his invocation of bourgeois capitalist “science” (albeit a bogus interpretation) rather than just being laughed off as a nutter, as he is under liberal capitalism.

  14. James Whitfield

    How interesting it is to see Mr. Palmer to qoute claims that have been concocted by U.S media organizations. When a nation is controled by the media, it is impossible to substantiate one’s argument with this kind of media. Now, Mr. Palmer, was it morally or politically correct to bomb HIroshima, and Nagasaki? Was it correct to cause the near genocide of the native american people? If you go against che, then do you also go against andrew jackson, Bush, american principles of interventionism? Oh no, here we go again the president now wants to start war in Palestine to force a DEMOCRATIC_CAPITALIStic view down the palestinians throats? Thank God he refrained this time from saying the U.S was going on a CRUSAde to the middle east, what ignorance. it is easy for someone like Mr. Palmer to advocate capitalism. When one has money, then it is obvious you will advocate such a flawed system like capitalism. Socialism will come back, and will W is focused on the ubiquitous middle east, it will be the U.S in the BEHIND!!Death to capitalism, and contradictory actions of the U.S

  15. Tom G. Palmer

    Mr. Whitfield has posed some fairly easy questions. I would have opposed the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I would have opposed the near genocide of the native american people. I would have opposed the actions of Andrew Jackson. (For a very useful treatment of the last question, see the essay by my friend Jacob Levy on James Madison and the Indians in *James Madison and the Future of Limited Government*, John Samples, ed.) I opposed the invasion of Iraq and oppose interventionism generally, except in those cases in which defense is a legitimate ground (the war against the Taliban is the only war of my lifetime that I have supported).

    The rest of his remark is an amusing rant, just a bit more elevated than most of the threatening hatemail I’ve gotten for my remarks about Che.

    As to whether I’m rich and therefore support capitalism….Let’s see, Karl Marx’s co-author Frederick Engels had a great deal of money, and he opposed capitalism, as does Michael Moore, who is even richer. If I support free markets, does that make me rich or does it mean that one can infer that I must be rich? I do wish that supporting capitalism would make me rich, but so far it’s not working. I doubt that Mr. Whitfield knows anything about my own family background or my income, but he assumes that, if I support capitalism, well, it must be because I am rich. Despite the fact that there’s virtually no relationship between wealth and support for or opposition to capitalism, the claim is regularly trotted out as a substitute for actually showing why capitalism is bad or socialism would be better. Yet, I will admit to being rich in this sense: because of the operation of free markets, I have more access to more health, art, culture, leisure, and other good things in life than the richest people in the pre-capitalist societies of the past, and I live much better than did most of the powerful elites in the old Communist societies of eastern Europe, where I spent much time working to help people get rid of Communist oppression.

  16. Terry Schmid

    Mr. Whitfield,

    Che faught a war to impose his ideas on a country. You suupport him. Therefor, to you it is legitimate to use force to impose your politics on other people. You really lose any logical basis for criticism of anyone using force to impose his will. This is, at the end of the day, the fundamental flaw in all socialistic/communistic arguments. You wish to limit free will, choice and liberty to a very small ruling elite and treat the rest of humanity as playing pieces in an inhumane game.

    The only political philosophy I’ve come across that is absent the internal contradictions of the far left and the far right is simply to let each live as he or she will while protecting them from one anothers’ more violent impulses.

    Mr. Whitfield, just leave people alone and they will thrive. Kill them and they most certainly won’t.

    And, by the way, to all of those putting so much energy into defending Che…lighten up. The surest sign of a bankrupt ideology is to sidestep the real issue and engage in a personal attack. If you think someone is wrong, stay calm, make your point and be factual. Otherwise, go away.

  17. Adolfo Centeno

    I can tell you with certainty that their exists no correlation between having money, and being pro-capitalism. I believe that in a nation like the U.S, capitalism does work, but at the expense of human rights. What do i mean by this? What I’m trying to say is that through NAFTA, and other policies, U.S capitalism takes advantage of latin america, and american companies go abroad to exploit the people. Consequently, Capitalism, or at least American capitalism feeds off of the poor and exploited latin americans. Many people think that free trade benefits LAtin America, but the truth is the antithesis. Capitalism does not work in Latin America, or at least not under the imperialistic U.S. People do have agency and initiative in latin america, but if the U.S continues to exploit resources and people, latin america will not advance. I myself don’t glorify Che Guevara, but the reason i wear his shirts and other revolutionist’s shirts, and Mr. Palmer and I already talked about this and we sort of came to a consensus, is to defy and go against U.S foreign and domestic policies. I hate U.S interventionism, Imperialism, dominance. The U.S does not need to protect nations form socialism or this and that, other nations need to protect themselves against the U.S. Whether socialism or capitalism is better for a given nation, is a question that can only be answered by trying both systems. There is no point in the U.S dictating what is right and what is rong. If the U.S intervenes, then it becomes hypocritical, and fascist. People go against socialism because they say it does not work, but in really it has not been allowed to work in latin america. The u.s always intervenes!!Maybe socialism is not the solution to latin america. What is the solution is for the U.S to respect humanity abroad and not exploit people for profit. Second, the U.S should not repress governments in other nations, it should mind its own business and maybe then, will latin america and other nations around the world might advance. In other words i think the issue supercedes the idea that the problem is in socialism or capitalism, the problem is in the U.S. And the power it exerts on less powerful nations. More than socialism i advocate anti U.S imperialism views. I advocate indigenous rights of land and liberty as a follower of EZLN Zapatistas, i advocate social justice and equality, which are all things that they U.S supposedly also advocates, but the truth is the opposite, how sad. We have become people,, who are controled by money to such an extent that we harm human rights, and humanity as a whole. Mayber the solution to eradicate poverty in Latin America is not socialism,as i initially thought and think, but rather a calling for social justice for the native people of that land.Maybe someone can help me out to construct a solution, I’M just 18, what do i know. By the way Mr.Whitfield, though i agree with your anti U.S views, i don’t think you substantiate your argument enough.You have to see and analyze both sides of an argument for it to be efficient, you can’t be completely one sided and biased, because scholars, will embarass you. My sister is 15 she has the same views as i do, yet she was not impressed by you argument, or lack thereof.

  18. Wow. I guess “left” and “right” are having a hard time finding common ground. Let me get this straight though. You both agree that the US (govt that is, seems obvious to me but let’s be precise here) and its clients (Chiang Kai Shek, South Vietnam, Batista, various South American banana republics etc.) severely repressed and killed millions of people. Also agreed, Mao, Stalin, Castro etc. were killer/oppressors.

    Could the problem be the state? Both “sides” claimed to represent opposite philosophies.

    BTW, Tom, Rothbard never claimed Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese communists were libertarians did he? His point was that the Vietnam war was about the people vs. the invaders (French, then Japanese, then French again, then finally the US). Of course, the communists then took over…Is your point that the South Vietnamese govt was good? I think the Rothbardian position was that all government is bad. He was simply stating that the war was about getting rid of the US (govt). Most Vietnamese who participated were presumably not fighting for Marxist/Leninist ideology. Neither (presumably) were the Iranians who rose up against the Shah only to then be exploited by Khomeini or the Eastern Europeans who welcomed the Russsian liberation from the Nazis only to then be exploited by Stalin…

  19. Tom G. Palmer

    Dear Sag,

    You have managed to misunderstand my approach entirely. It would be unlikely that my point would be that the South Vietnamese government “was good.” The problem is indeed tyranny per se, rather than whether you like “Tyranny A” or “Tyranny B.” The issue is not “left vs. right,” but tyranny vs. freedom. It does not follow from one’s opposition to Fascism that one must support Bolshevism, or from one’s opposition to Bolshevism that one must support Fascism. They’re just different flavors of the same poison. The difference between Fidel Castro and Benito Mussolini is mainly the color of their uniforms.

    Murray was not making a point about “the people vs. the invaders”; he was celebrating “the death of a state.” In addition to having a remarkable intellect, Murray was capable of being remarkably obtuse when it came to certain moral distinctions. He was not even celebrating the ejection of the U.S. government, but the destruction of the South Vietnamese government. He celebrated “the death of a state,” although that “death” was the result of a conquest and meant suffering for huge numbers of people. The communist conquest of South Vietnam was no cause for celebration.

  20. Tom,

    Wasn’t Rothbard’s celebration of the death of the South Vietnamese government relevant to the point you make in the first paragraph? In other words, he wasn’t saying the communists were wonderful people was he?

    Unless your point is that the South Vietnamese government was a symbol of freedom. It wasn’t was it? Wasn’t it a quite fascist government with no legitimacy (to the point that it needed hundreds of thousands of US troops to prop it up)?

    It executed people for such offenses as spreading rumours of imminent currency devaluation and “hoarding for profit”. Not exactly lovers of freedom I’m sure you’ll agree…

  21. Tom G. Palmer

    Murray repeated and elaborated his remarks in an essay titled “The Death of a State”in “The Libertarian Forum” (Vol. 7 No. 4, April 1975). My copy is long gone and I have not been able to locate one online. My recollection of his published elaboration of his remarks was that what was important about the total destruction of the South Vietnamese state, about which he was truly exultant, was that it demonstrated David Hume’s point that government ultimately rests on opinion and that when people no longer believe in a state, it will collapse.

    Of course, that lesson is quite general; I see no reason for rejoicing just because it has been demonstrated, as Murray did. Hitler’s takeover of Poland and of Czechoslovakia led to the deaths of states, but those were not occasions for rejoicing. The South Vietnamese state was wicked, to be sure, but its conquest by an even more ruthless invader was no reason for having a party. It meant slave labor camps, executions, eradication of what little bit of press freedom had existed before, suppression of religion, mass confiscation of property, the imposition of irrational central planning, “reeducation” camps, and the exodus of thousands and thousands of people who took to the sea in rickety boats. The lives of other people are not there so that college professors can draw lessons from their destruction. When a state collapses because a more powerful state conquers it, people suffer. Murray had many good features, but they aren’t what he showed when he exulted over the death of the Republic of Vietnam. Murray didn’t say that “the communists were wonderful people,” but he showed no concern for what they did to their victims and his rejoicing was wholly inappropriate to the occasion.

    As to Sag’s rhetorical question, let me pose another: how many times do I have to state that being critical of a communist state does not mean that my “point is that the South Vietnamese government was a symbol of freedom.” Expressing revulsion for one thug does not entail that I am at the same time expressing admiration for another thug. What don’t some people get about that?

    The particular application to Murray Rothbard’s approach is that if one thug kills another and immediately starts robbing, raping, and looting the previous thug’s victims, one shouldn’t start whooping and hollering about how great it is that the first thug is dead.

  22. Robert Cummings

    Hey guys. Sorry to break this heated banter of insults piled on each other, but I need to get back to Che.
    I’m a 15 year old kid in Antigua (small island in the West Indies), and I’m forced to write an essay on any part of the history of the Caribbean, so I chose Che. I want the deep facts.
    What did he entirely do? What were his deepest motives? How would Cuba be different today without him. I’d appreciate your input, Mr. Palmer, as well as that of the others that are getting quite passionate on this. I hope im not wasting your time, please write soon.
    Thanks a bundle,

  23. Tom G. Palmer

    Mr. Cummings raises an important issue: how to research and write about someone who is considered a saint, if not a god, by his supporters. There is an enormous amount of hagiographical literature about Che, as a look at the internet or at will show. In addition, Che considered himself an intellectual (as well as a self-admitted cold blooded killer; he praised “the extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless, and cold killing machines”) and wrote a number of memoirs. Most of the secondary literature is quite one-sided, as one can imagine, and the problem is compounded by the control exercised by the Cuban government over his papers and access to people who knew him. A more critical, although very brief, account can be found in the chapter on “Communism in Latin America” in The Black Book of Communism (, althugh the bibliography to that work is very thin. As to what Che’s deepest motives were, that would be a hard topic to investigate. We have some of his own writings, but one should always be skeptical of what a writer says about himself, especially a political power-seeker. (Richard Nixon’s autobiography is an important document, but one should be rather skeptical about his descriptions of his own motives.) And how would Cuba be different without him? Well, counterfactual history is a risky matter, of course, but it is less likely that Cuba would have tilted toward the USSR and the totalitarian model, less likely that Fidel would have managed to eliminate democrats from the government after his coup d’etat, less likely that execution would have been such a common policy of the new government, and less likely that forced labor (which Che introduced as Minister of Industry) would have become a staple of the Cuban economy. On the other hand, Fidel might have done all those things even without Che promoting them. It’s hard to say. As to the wider question of what would have happened to Cuba had Castro and Che and their gang not seized power and killed off their opponents? One could look at other Latin American or Caribbean countries and ask whether Cuba might have taken a path closer to, say, Jamaica or Venezuela or Costa Rica. The question is a bit like asking, “What would have happened in Germany had Hitler not had Ernst Roehm at his side to organize the Sturmabteilung (Storm Troopers)?” It’s hard to say.

  24. Jimi Jones

    Mr Palmer repeats Mr Cummings question of how different Cuba would be had Che Guevara (along with Castro) not had any part to play in what is now the country’s core and history.

    Mr Palmer offers his theory, so here I offer mine: Without Che, Cuba would today be a part of the USA’s imperialistic model. Instead of operating by the communal model (however flawed it is, and like any regime, communist and capitalist both, it is flawed) it would be operating under the USA’s hideous and vile capitalist model, where a $ sign can and IS placed on anything and everything that exists, to make a never ending profit for approximately 0.000001% of the population to afford them extreme comfort and living way beyond any mans needs and seemingly without guilt.

    How disgusting that the USA, the richest country on the planet (in monetary terms only…) offered one of the most pitiful donations to the Asian disaster fund recently, and were then embarrased into donating more after Japan (a communist country if there ever was one) donated infinitely more than the USA, who are more concerned with spending a million $ per missile blowing limbs from Iraqi kids, in the name of freedom. Every country has it’s killers in the name of freedom – don’t single out Che for this.

    Killing is often a means to an end in any country – and if that statement bothers you Mr Palmer I suggest you leave the USA immediately. You only have the “right” to own your home or land in the USA thanks to your forefathers comitting the mass-execution of the natives.

    There’s guilt everywhere.

  25. Alejandro Chafuen

    You should read what Che wrote and said about hate. He regarded hate, especially against the US, as the great motivator. It would let him and his pals kill with no remorse.

  26. Matthew Boutin

    It disgusts me that anyone could look up to this criminal. He is particurly popular with all the dope smoking bums at school. The girls think he is atractive and everyone else thinks he is a “Champion of Equality”. He was nothing but a thug!

  27. Stefan Meiker

    Thanks to Jimi Jones for the very appropriate comments. The united states main tool is deception. One has to be very naive to believe they want to spread “democracy and freedom” around the world. Why would they want that ? For what reason and to what end ? Why do some people believe in such a scam ? Has history really taught us nothing ? The only truth is that the usa is after global control and exploitation, and one only needs to look around to find plenty of evidence for this fact. How can the usa speak of democracy while supporting dictators and barbarially enforce shark loans with imf and world bank on poor countries to facilitate their rich corporations to predate them. Just one example here. The genocide of Sudan has been overlooked yet Iraq was considered grounds enough for military intervention. This is what Che was fighting against. this is the horror he was fighting against. If he had to kill, he had to kill traitors who were supporting us imperialism and who would have killed him. Unfortunately such is human reality. And his charachter is very much clear. He in no way enjoyed killing. And what he has done has brought positive results. A thousand times better living in a somewhat disorganised state than being owned by the capitalist tyrants of the usa. It’s not even comparable. And who says that Cuba is in such a sorry state ? All the information that you have on that country comes from the american media. The people are not starving, they live in dignity. So they dont have the hyperbolic consumeristic goods that exist in usa and Europe but does that mean lacking wealth ? Are the usa people wealthy with all their social problems ? Che will always be respected no matter what you say mr palmer. Your point about his killings is very feeble.

  28. While we are talking about “terrorists” and killing innocents…
    Anyone know any American Indians? How about an America loving Black guy?
    These people were killed or enslaved so we could enjoy a better standard of living. How is what Che did any different, other than being on a much, much smaller scale? He killed so the people could share an overall standard of living. Terrorist or not, he made life better for a lot of people. Rather than a bunch of racist plantation owners, he fought for the same kind of people my ancestors murdered and enslaved. The american media portrays Cubans as being completely unhappy with their lot in life, but most Cubans I know personally say life is ok in Cuba, and would only improve when the embargo is lifted. Sure they can trade with Europe, but the US is the heart of economics on this planet, like it or not. US imperialism was/is raping the planet, and history (on a long enough timeline) will tell this story, and people like Che will go down as heros…

  29. I don’t think your article is going to have as much influence as giant can of spray paint to cover up all the Che posters and graffiti all across Latin America. Maybe we should start a fundraiser for this spray paint? I’m sure the whole Palmer family would pitch in.

    Just don’t forget to cover up images of that other revolutionary that was a corrupt leader, Simon Bolivar, the “George Washington” of Latin America. Well, you might want to leave Bolivar there because he was a wealthy creole (white). After all, Tom Palmer can relate to wealthy white people being in power or at least their subordinate puppet regimes. Am I right Tom? You bigot!

  30. Tom G. Palmer

    It’s not clear what Brian is getting at or why “the whole Palmer family” is drawn in. Since I can’t “relate” to wealthy white people being in power any more than any other group of persons (wealthy, white, or otherwise) being in power, I can’t quite fathom what Brian is struggling to say. I suspect that he can’t, either.

  31. Marie Hernandez

    Whenever I come across such ignorance, I cannot help but wonder if this man had been born and raised in a third world country and was not “white” if he’d feel differently. If he’d been suppressed and been on the opposite end of the economic scale, if he’d still have the audacity to compose such ludicrous statements. But we will never know because he is white and has no idea, nor ever will, what it is to be the victim of such atrocities. Atrocities that are so preventable.

    I am a 26 year old, Latin American and I know what Che stood for and why he is beloved among us. He stood up for those whom no one else would. He wanted to bring social justice to all mankind. He lived and died in his belief. And for those reasons, and many more, he will always be remembered and loved by us who truly understand the social and economic struggle that continues to occur in a majority of this world.

    You can write your ignorant words and profess your ignorant knowledge to those whom no know better, but you will never be able to kill the spirit that Che has left behind for those of us who still envision a world without economic struggle and social class. You will never be able to diminish the life of Che with your pathetic “argument”.

    We will never allow Che’s life to be in vain, we will always remember him for the courageous individual he was. He will always inspire us and remind us that there are good people in this world. We will always remember, vividly, what his life and death meant to us. He will forever motivate us to continue our fight against imperialism, capitalism and all factors that follow that mentality.

    So on behalf of me and all my fellow brethren…let us remember Che:

    “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, of the world, then you are a comrade of mine.” -Ernesto “Che” Guevara

    With all that being said, I forgive you for your ignorance, Mr. Tom Palmer, and look forward to your comments in response to mine. Thank you for the opportunity to express my view, as you have yours.

    VIVA CHE!!

  32. Tom G. Palmer

    Aside from the remarkably ugly racism of Ms. Hernandez (was she unaware, by the way, of the color of Mr. Guevara? How was a white — Irish and Spanish — and wealthy Argentinian doctor better able to understand the travails of the rest of the human race?), her notes reveal some remarkable ignorance of history. For example, Guevara never gave others the opportunity to express their views — instead, he had his opponents killed. There is no freedom of speech in Cuba, which is why poets, journalists, homemakers, fishermen, and others who dared to criticize the dictator-for-life Fidel are languishing in prison.

    I wonder if she would have made the same comments to all of the people who were killed by Fidel, quite a few of whom were neither “white” nor wealthy. Or if she would hide behind such remarkable and willfull ignorance when criticizing people from Africa, or Latin America, or Asia who support liberalism and oppose dictatorship.

    Fidel, Che, and their ilk don’t allow criticism. Their response is a police truncheon, a boot on the back of the neck, or a bullet in the back of the head. Whether my words are ignorant or not, I have the freedom to write them. Ms. Hernandez takes her stand with those who think that the proper response to an argument is to kill the person who utters it. They’re afraid to test their reason and put their faith instead in naked force. I take my stand with those who think that the proper response to an argument is another argument.

    Not only does Ms. Hernandez support killing those who don’t share her view, but she doesn’t even bother to address the issue of Che’s murders, or of Fidel’s personally ordering Cuban airforce planes and naval vessels to strafe and ram rickety rafts carrying refugees fleeing his totalitarian paradise. Or is she denying that that happened? If so, she should go and talk to the people who have fled from Castro or who would dearly love to escape his clutches. Ask their views. Oh, but she doesn’t favor asking people for their views. She’d prefer to follow Che’s example and kill them if they aren’t in accord with hers.

  33. QueerLibertarian

    Che was just another statist who busily forced his views upon others under the pain of death and suffering.

    All the idiots saying “but the Americans did bad stuff too” aren’t exactly bolstering their own case.

    That’s the ultimate moral emptiness of extreme leftism, and statism in general. In order to have a “world without class,” they must kill all those in different classes. In order to pretend that Eastern Germany isn’t better off as part of the largest economy in the EU, they must pretend that life under Erich Honneker was preferable and living standards “collapsed” along with the wall. In order to defend Fidel’s regime from the biting criticisms of his vile, poor and decrepit police state, they must manufacture fantasies that living in a country which locks you up for expressing the “wrong” opinion is better than living in a capitalist society.

    They’re always looking for a big bad wolf who is the reason that their mighty revolution has failed in every place it has started, leaving nothing but ashes and pools of blood. For a while, they blamed Jews. Now Americans are the lucky recipients of their intemperate rants.

    How revealing that though they have a new scapegoat, their “great revolution” never takes off, never succeeds, and always results in the worst human rights violations of contemporary times.

    And how revealing that their only answer to it is “well the Americans are almost sorta kinda as bad.”

  34. It is very interesting that both sides here appear to miss the point that “capitalism” doesn’t exist in the US (or for that matter, anywhere else). Why can’t libertarians understand that the corporate statism that we have today is not capitalism? Libertarians should be just as opposed to the collectivist, state-protected abstraction of corporatism as socialists, more so by a far shot. Yet, here we apparently have libertarians arguing for a collectivist institution and socialists arguing against it.

  35. Why do you people insult each other? Everyone has their own opinion on this matter, every story has two sides. A lot of you have made a lot of interesting points, but where are the sources? Where is this information coming from? If some of you could back up what you’re saying and the supposed facts youre saying I’d love to read up on them.
    In a case such as that of Ernesto Guevara a lot of information is being presented as factual when infact it stemmed from manipulated information.