Recently the film “Che: El Argentino” was released starring Benicio del Toro in the title role. The movie is yet to make it to Ronda but when it does I want to see if for two reasons. The first I am interested in the subject – Che – but also because part of it was filmed near to where I lived in San Pablo de Buceite.
However I am too long in the tooth to believe that a modern movie would do anything in the case of Che other than paint a romantic picture that bears little relationship to the real man.
I was therefore interested to read a recent article by respected journalist Francisco Rubiales who in his long career was the EFE correspondent in Cuba for two years from 1977. At that time Che was already dead but Francisco says that he was able to verify that he was a “violent, insensitive and trigger happy man, addicted to murder, and not at all like the romantic and idealistic fighter” who appears in the film. I suspect that neither you nor I are surprised by that.
Francisco continues: “I arrived at Cuba in 1977, aged 28 years, as the EFE correspondent, and remained two years. I arrived admiring the Cuban revolution, like so many young people of my generation, and that I left the island having verified “in situ” and personally that the famous “Revolution” was a figment of the imagination with little freedom, equality or justice.”
“I dedicated much of my time to following in the footsteps of the old comrades-in-arms of Fidel, to Camilo Cienfuegos, Hubert Matos, of Che, Gutiérrez Menoyo and others. I interviewed many of the companions in the revolutionary fight of the ‘Argentinean’, including a his father, Ernerto Guevara Linch, with whom after an interview I passed a memorable time in the Hotel Habana Libre, and with Jorge “Papito” Serguera, who was also a commander and, along with the Che, presided over the judgments over Batiste. After my investigations, the solid conclusion was that Che was a dangerous and uncomfortable radical, trigger happy, that he hindered all in Cuba, including Fidel, Raul and the rest of the commanders of the revolution, the elite of Castro Cuba.”
One special point of interest is when Francisco talks of the testimony of Dariel Alarcón Ramirez, “Benigno”, who was one of the oldest and faithful comrades-in-arms of Che Guevara. He survived the guerrilla war in Bolivia, and has been a political exile in France since 1996. He says that Che personally ordered the executions and then seemed to enjoy the spectacle. As “Commander-in-Chief” of “La Cabaña” prison, a post he held from January 3 1959 to that July, and latter in charge of the ‘Comisión Depuradora’ Che issued the order to carry out nearly one hundred and eighty death sentences. Indeed Francisco remembers that Che stood before the United Nations and said the famous phrase “we have shot; we shoot and we will continue shooting”.
Francisco points out that the Steven Soderberg film ignores all the brutality of the revolution and instead praises the idealism. The danger is that many people, young, middle aged and old will accept the fiction proclaimed in the film as fact. I will certainly still see the film but I also urge you to read Francisco’s fascinating blog in full at: http://www.votoenblanco.com/index.php?action=article&numero=2609