Thousands Remember Che Guevara
Musicians, artists, labor leaders, politicians and leftists from around the world converged Tuesday on the Bolivian village where guerrilla leader Ernesto ``Che'' Guevara was buried 30 years ago.Three decades after his murder in Bolivia,Che Guevara is one of the most revered celebrities of this century. Never before in history have homages been so internationally widespread.
A series of tributes, including concerts, dance performances, lectures, painting and photography exhibits, will take place through the weekend to remember Guevara. The Simon Bolivar Caravan, which has travelled through many Latin American countries, headed to the locality of La Higuera -- where Bolivian soldiers took Che's life on October 9th, 1967, after he had been apprehended the day before.
A leader of the caravan and representative of the Bolivian Confederation of University Students, Jose Luis Bedregal, told reporters that young people were "right-on-target" when they decided to organize such tributes to Che Guevara -- "because they are exposing a broad sector of the Latin American people to alternative positions, as opposed to having a political and economic model imposed upon them by Washington."
In Cuba, where Che Guevara arrived on board the Granma yacht as one of 82 expeditionaries in 1956 to fight the US, supported Fulgencio Batista dictatorship -- tributes to his memory involve his four surviving children and widow. Ernesto Guevara March -- Che Guevara's youngest son -- told journalists in Havana that he admires his father because he was a creator of ideas. Ernesto Guevara Jr. visited his father's former stronghold in the Escambray Mountains in central Cuba. Aleida Guevara -- his eldest daughter -- appeared Tuesday on a special television talk show broadcast on TeleRebelde.
Young Cubans are meeting in Havana for a colloquium on the life and work of the Heroic Guerrilla. The meeting began with a showing of the first biographical video on Che Guevara, produced by renowned Cuban film-maker Santiago Alvarez. The 19-minute documentary was made when President Fidel Castro confirmed the death of Che in Bolivia.
In eastern Cuba, local scholars will be discussing the dimension of Che Guevara's thinking, the example he set as a revolutionary and the role of the Rebel Army in the final liberation of the island in 1959. As all this is taking place in Cuba, reports from Chile say that hundreds of people are taking part in a pilgrimage to Cuba, in order to get a closer look at the place where Che lived and reached international recognition.
Mexican activists are reporting on a planned protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Mexico City set for tomorrow, October 8th. The Autonomous University of Mexico has announced that a series of discussions on Che Guevara and Latin America will gather together scholars from Cuba, Uruguay, Bolivia and Panama.
Homages to the Heroic Guerrilla have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Europe,
where people will take to the streets of the principal cities of Sweden,
Denmark and Norway.
Cuba unveils Che statue
Cuba Tuesday unveiled a new statue of Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the legendary leftist guerrilla's death in Bolivia. Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina presided over a simple ceremony to unveil the work of Cuban sculptor Alberto Lezcalle in the Foreign Ministry building in Havana.
"We will work and fight like him for victory, always and wherever we are," Robaina said. "This will be our homage to Che the guerrilla, to Che the fighter, to Che the teacher, to Che the diplomat and to Che the commander, friend," he said.
The ceremony was attended by two of Guevara's four surviving children, Ernesto and Aleida, former comrade in arms Ramiro Valdes, Culture Minister Abel Prieto and workers at the Foreign Ministry. Guevara, an Argentine-born doctor who was President Fidel Castro's righthand man in the rebel struggle that led to the 1959 revolution, left Cuba in 1965 to export the revolution abroad, first in the Congo, then in Latin America.
Cuba, which has marked the approaching anniversary with tributes ranging from seminars to a chess marathon, will open the Fifth Party Congress of its ruling Communist Party Wednesday, the actual anniversary date.
Cuba's full public homage to Guevara begins Saturday, when a casket containing his remains will be publicly displayed in Havana. The remains were unearthed from a secret mass grave in Bolivia in July and returned to Cuba. On Oct. 14 the casket will be taken to the central city of Santa Clara and shown for two days before a funeral ceremony Oct. 17, when Guevara will be laid to rest in a specially built mausoleum.
Revolutionary Hero Of The World's People
By Gloria La Riva and Richard Becker, Workers World Service:
Thirty years ago--on Oct. 8, 1967--Ernesto "Che" Guevara, one of the greatest revolutionaries in history, was captured in battle in the Bolivian jungle. He was leading Bolivian and Cuban guerrillas whose goal was to liberate that country's people from oppression.
The next day Bolivian troops executed him, at the direction of the CIA. All over the world, millions of people are commemorating the anniversary of Che's death--and celebrating his exemplary life--in marches, rallies and other events. In Chile, 85,000 people participated in a concert and rally.
Cuba, whose people embraced him as their own, is honoring him with a
year of remembrance.
This is why countless CIA assassinations were plotted against Fidel Castro. This is why the U.S. government was determined to extinguish the life of Che Guevara. Who was Che Guevara? How did he, an Argentinean doctor, become a "Cuban by birth" and die in Bolivia?
He was born June 14, 1928, in Argentina, one of four children of Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna. His parents were progressive and involved in various political campaigns. Che was a product of the political ferment and anti- imperialism of the 1940s in Latin America. As a young person he identified ardently with the idea of a united continent, independent of the United States. Later he would give his life for this dream.
Che entered medical school, and obtained his degree in 1953. During his school years he journeyed twice through Latin America. In December 1951 he traveled through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela. This trip was recorded in his diary, recently published in English as "The Motorcycle Diaries."
Che was moved by the stunning poverty he encountered. It created in him an intense desire to do away with injustice and misery--although it was only later that he would understand how to do it. In Chile, he and his friend Alberto met two very poor communists on the road. They were searching for work. "The couple, numb with cold, huddling together in the desert night, were a living symbol of the proletariat the world over. They didn't have a single miserable blanket to sleep under, so we gave them one of ours, and Alberto and I wrapped the other round us as best we could. It was one of the coldest nights I've ever spent ... ."
In every country he saw the oppressive rule of the United States. He wrote: "[Chile] has the mineral resources to make it a powerful industrial country. The main thing Chile has to do is to get its tiresome Yankee friend off its back, a Herculean task ... given the huge U.S. investment and the ease with which it can bring economic pressure to bear whenever its interests are threatened."
His stay in Guatemala in 1953 and 1954 was a turning point. The U.S.
government, through the Central Intelligence Agency, was preparing to overthrow
the bourgeois nationalist President Jacobo Arbenz.
Che already considered himself a Marxist. The lessons of the coup proved to him in practice what he had studied in theory. Che tried to send a message to Arbenz urging him to arm the people against the U.S.-proxy invasion. Che himself joined a militia.
Years later, in a speech to newly graduated Cuban doctors after the 1959 revolution, he said: "I began to look into what I needed to be a revolutionary doctor. I was then in Guatemala. However, the aggression came, the aggression unleashed by the United Fruit Co., the State Department, John Foster Dulles, and the puppet they put in named Castillo Armas.
"Then I realized one fundamental thing: to be a revolutionary doctor or to be a revolutionary, there must first be a revolution."
Meanwhile, in Cuba, dramatic events were unfolding. Fidel Castro and a group of rebels had attacked the Moncada military barracks of the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, on July 26, 1953. Fidel and Raul Castro and others were imprisoned for leading the assault.
Che made it into Mexico in the fall of 1954 as the repression was unleashed in Guatemala. The next year, the Castro brothers went into exile in Mexico after their release from prison in Cuba. It was there that Che met first Rastlgl, and later, Fidel. They developed an immediate bond.
In their first encounter, Fidel expressed his determination to return to Cuba to launch a revolutionary war. He asked Che to join their group, and Che immediately agreed. Right afterwards, Che wrote: "yenico [an exiled Cuban revolutionary in Guatemala] was right when he told us that if Cuba had produced anything good since Marti it was Fidel Castro. He will make the revolution. We are in complete accord. ... It's only someone like him I could go all out for."
In training for the guerrilla war they would soon launch, Che stood out in his abilities and discipline despite suffering from terrible asthma attacks. From the time the rebels landed in Cuba in December 1956 until the victory over Batista, Che proved to be an outstanding military leader. Fidel quickly made him a leader of the rebel group, now known as the July 26 Movement.
Later Che would become a full commander, the top rank granted to only a few. Like Fidel, Che was greatly respected by his comrades--and loved by the campesinos who sheltered them and joined the rebel force.
Survival and victory required tremendous sacrifice and hard work. With almost nothing, Che led the construction of a guerrilla village carved out of the jungle. To build the hospital, shoe shop, tin shop, printing press, school, store, bakery and more, Che had to demand a great deal from the campesinos who had joined in the fight.
One peasant, Feliciano Rosabeles, who along with his wife and four children joined the guerrillas, said of Che, "He was so demanding of himself that it seemed normal to everyone that he should also be demanding of his soldiers." This was to be one of Che's outstanding characteristics until the end of his life.
After two years of fighting, the rebels were winning. It was decided to take Santa Clara, a city of 150,000 in Las Villas province. Che and Camilo Cienfuegos were the military leaders in this attack, which was the decisive battle of the revolution. Che's column had only 340 soldiers to fight thousands of Batista's now-demoralized troops when he launched the attack on Dec. 29, 1958.
A fierce fight lasting three days ended in a disastrous rout for the government's forces. At the same time, forces led by Fidel seized Santiago de Cuba. These defeats forced Batista to flee the country on Jan. 1, 1959. The revolution had triumphed.
Now, the long and difficult task of building a new Cuba began. Immediately, rents and utility rates were cut in half. Racial discrimination was banned. Land was given to the peasants. One month after the revolution, Che was proclaimed a citizen of Cuba "by birth" for his role in the revolution. In October 1959, he was designated head of the Department of Industry.
The next month he was named president of the national bank. His role in Cuba's economic development was second only to that of Fidel Castro. Cuba's economy was reoriented in an increasingly radical direction from 1959 to 1961. U.S.-owned sugar plantations, refineries, mines and factories were nationalized. Washington responded with economic sanctions, sabotage, and, in April 1961, the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion, which was quickly crushed.
At the height of the invasion, Fidel declared that Cuba was fighting
to defend its socialist revolution.
So, despite their overwhelming responsibilities as leaders of a new and besieged revolutionary state, Che, Fidel and others put in hundreds of hours cutting sugar cane, and working in factories, warehouses and construction sites. Che's contributions to Cuba's revolution alone would have guaranteed him a revered place in history. But he, like the other Cuban leaders, was dedicated to the liberation not only of Cuba, but of all the world's oppressed.
In 1965, Che secretly left Cuba for the Congo. After gaining its independence from Belgium in 1960, the Congo had been plunged into civil war and invaded by several imperialist powers under the flag of the United Nations. The CIA assassinated Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister. Revolutionary forces continued the struggle, and they were joined by Che and 100 Cuban volunteers. Che remained in the Congo for eight months.
When Che disappeared from view, rumors circulated in the world capitalist press that he had had a falling out with Fidel, and might even have been killed in a "power struggle." After months of this, Fidel responded, "The only thing I can tell you about Commander Guevara is that he will always be where he is most useful to the revolution."
In December 1965, Che returned secretly to Cuba. He began training a group of volunteers to go to Bolivia. Traveling in disguise, he arrived in Bolivia in October 1966. In March 1967 he launched a guerrilla struggle in that country.
Before leaving Cuba, Che had written an historic message "from somewhere in the world." The statement said in part: "Let us develop genuine proletarian internationalism with international proletarian armies. Let the flag under which we fight be the sacred cause of the liberation of humanity, so that to die under the colors of Vietnam, Venezuela, Guatemala, Laos, Guinea, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil--will be equally glorious and desirable for a Latin American, an Asian, an African, and even a European.
"Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear, if another hand reaches out to take up our arms." In this message, Che called for creating "two, three, many Vietnams." This was at the height of the U.S. war against Vietnam and the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people. Che's strategy to aid the Vietnamese was to spread the liberation war and thereby force the imperialists to spread and weaken their forces.
The guerrilla campaign in Bolivia had early victories. But it increasingly drew the attention and wrath of the Pentagon and CIA. Washington made it a top priority to destroy the incipient guerrilla army and its leader. Despite the overwhelming odds, the guerrillas fought with great determination. But on Oct. 8, 1967, they were surrounded.
After a fierce battle, most of the guerrillas were killed or captured. Che was wounded in the legs. His wounds were not life-threatening. That night, U.S. and Bolivian authorities made their decision. On Oct. 9, Che was executed. Nine days later, Oct. 18, 1967, Fidel Castro spoke to a rally of over a million people gathered in Havana to pay tribute to Che. Declaring Oct. 8 the "Day of the Heroic Guerrilla," he said: "As a revolutionary, a communist revolutionary, a true communist, Che had a boundless faith in moral values. He had a boundless faith in the consciousness of human beings.
"Che died defending no other interest, no other cause than the cause of the exploited and oppressed of this continent. Che died defending no other cause than the cause of the poor and humble of this earth.
"Before history, people who act as he did, people who do and give everything
for the cause of the poor, grow in stature with each passing day and find
a deeper place in the heart of the peoples with each passing day."
Ode to Che
In October of 1997, 30 years since the death of the "Heroic Guerrilla warrior", we call to remember and yield homage:
We call to actualize Che like a complete man, of thought and action, by word of mouth and facts, of principles and practice.
We call to make reality the watchword: " THE CHE GUEVARA LIVES"
Oil showdown looming
A major showdown over Iraqi oil sanctions is taking shape in the U.N. Security Council with the US rushing new forces to the Gulf to reinforce its control over the world's premier oil region. The Security Council is due to debate the findings on October 16. The United States and Britain oppose any easing of U.N. economic sanctions against Iraq which could increase the flow of Iraqi oil and power in the region.
``The Americans are doing this to highlight their warnings that Saddam remains dangerous and their presence as guarantor of Gulf security remains necessary,'' said analyst Ibrahim Karawan of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Oil traders say Gulf tension jolts world oil prices each time the Iraqi
sanctions come up for debate. ``The sabre-rattling may be related to the
timing of the Security Council debate to deflect likely pressure from France
and Russia for an easing of sanctions,'' the oil expert said. A consortium
led by French oil company Total signed a $2 billion deal to develop
an offshore Iranian gas field in the Gulf late last month, in defiance
of a U.S. law barring investment in Iran's oil and gas sector.
" Sanctions which are continued with the knowledge that they have already killed more than 750,000 people in Iraq and physically damaged and radically shortened the lives of millions more unquestionably constitute genocide. Every person who votes to continue these sanctions while serving as a representative of a government on the Security Council and the government that authorizes or instructs that representative to vote for sanctions is guilty of the crime, just as members of a group that agreed to murder would be guilty of murder."
President Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in June at a G7 summit deal postponed considering the sanctions on Iraq till October. The US is now desperately trying to create an incident which will keep the Iraqi oil sanctions regime in place.
The Pentagon said on Tuesday that Washington had stepped up air patrols in the last week to prevent Iraqi aircraft flouting the exclusion zone imposed in 1991 and extended last year. On Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Wlliam Cohen added , "We have taken measures to tighten (control over) the area around which they seem intent on seeking to exploit on a very quick and piecemeal basis," Cohen told reporters. "If they make a mistake, they will have to bear the consequences."
"I believe that (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein continues to violate the no-fly zones on a periodic basis. We are enforcing the no-fly zone. He is posing a risk to his pilots whenever they start to challenge to no-fly zone," Cohen said.
Cohen, responding to questions before talks with Israeli President Ezer Weizman, did not specify the measures the U.S. military had taken. The US is widely unpopular in Arab countries which resent the double standard that Americans refuse to join the world the UN in criticizing Israel for its building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Asked to explain what consequences Cohen had in mind, his spokesman Kenneth Bacon noted the presence in the Persian Gulf of U.S. strategic bombers and Navy ships capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles. In addition, the Nimitz carrier battle group is steaming toward the Gulf, and Bacon said its fighter aircraft should be flying in the area by this weekend.
To hasten the Nimitz battle group's deployment to the Gulf it skipped a port call in Singapore to get there early. Two Navy ships that had been scheduled to end their deployment in the Gulf this week were ordered to stay until the Nimitz arrived, Bacon said. Bacon also noted that the U.S. Air Force has two B-1 strategic bombers in the Gulf state of Bahrain. This is in addition to the fleet of U.S., and British fighters based in Saudi Arabia, he said.
But a Tehran newspaper denounced this as "U.S. gunboat diplomacy" and said it would not work because Washington could not rally other countries behind it for any adventurous move. "Any miscalculation may lead to an irreparable disaster," the Tehran Times newspaper said Wednesday.
There are also reservations in the Gulf states with the Americans accused of a double standard by issuing warnings when Iranian and Iraqi planes violated the no-fly zone while remaining silent on Turkish air force and army incursions into northern Iraq, the Gulf News daily in the United Arab Emirates said in an editorial.
``If and when the Nimitz sails into the Mediterranean to warn Turkey against violation of the 'no-fly zone' in the north, the American credibility will be better served than it is now,'' the paper wrote.
The United States and Iraq last clashed in September 1996 when U.S. forces fired cruise missiles at Iraqi missile sites it said had threatened its aircraft.
Libya unity & justice march to Egypt
Hundreds of Libyans, marching for pan-Arab unity at the request of leader Muammar Qadhafi,reached the Egyptian border on Tuesday. Qadhafi in March called on Libyans to march on neighbouring Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan and Algeria to press for unity.
Libyan state-run television, monitored in neighbouring Tunisia on Monday, showed hundreds of marchers at an unspecified place in Libya in a what it called a ``March of Unity.'' It said they were members of various popular and revolutionary committees.
Protesting against an UN embargo imposed on their country for over five years. The Libyans, who thronged along the Libyan-Egyptian border on their way into Egypt, reconfirmed their standing against West's demands for the men's extradition, Al Gomhoria said today.
In Cairo, Arab foreign ministers suggested some points to ease the embargo imposed on Libya by USA, Britain, and France through exempting the following from the embargo: flights for humanitarian emergencies; religious purposes like Al Haj (pilgrimage); treatment, transferring medicines and emergency equipment ; moving labor and foreign nationals and officials to and from Tripoli and unfreezing accounts whose sources are not oil. The League of Arab States, the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement had all supported Libya on this issue.
The suggestions also include assigning a special international envoy to deal with the crisis in order to reach a peaceful settlement to inform the Security Council with a report of the losses incurred by the Libyan people as a result of the embargo.
The Arab Foreign Ministers supported Libya's request to get compensation from the USA for its raids on the Ezizia region in 1986 which occured after the US accused Libya of being involved in bombing a cafe in Berlin - an accusation which turned out to be incorrect.
The Arab League Council called on its members to implement the suggestions related to the accounts if no solution is reached with the Security Council. The International Court of Justice open hearings Oct. 13 on the dispute between Libya, Britain and the United States over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Libya asked the United Nations court in March 1992 to rule that London and Washington had no right to demand the extradition of two Libyan suspects for trial in Scotland or the United States. Britain and the United States contend that the U.N. court does not have jurisdiction over the case and this issue must be resolved at the hearings from Oct. 13 to 22 before the proceedings can go any further.
Last Tuesday, Libya called on the General Assembly to intervene in the affair to enable the two suspects to be tried in a country other than Britain or the United States. Referring to Britain and the United States, Libyan U.N. representative Abuzed Dorda said: ``How can anyone expect the Security Council to solve the problem when our adversaries are both permanent members of the council and possess the veto power? In other words, they are the judge and the jury.''
Dorda told Assembly delegates: ``My country calls on you to intervene so that we can reach a peaceful solution to this dispute, one that would accelerate the holding of the trial for the two suspects before a fair and just court, in a climate free of prior condemnation ... in any place to be agreed upon or to be decided by the Security Council.''