Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Motorcycle Diaries

It's time for a change...this man, this man who is idolized, deified, revered in Latin America finally made it to the silver screen. Although I read his biography several years ago, this movie made me cry. It is the pre-cursor to what was one of the greatest cross-continental revolutions in the history of the world. Many people love him, many people hate him...but he made an impact. He inspired people who had previously been without a voice to stand up and say "no". NO to imperialism, NO to oppressive dictatorships (although his closest comrade would later become one) NO to genocide. Someone who came from an upper middle class background and had absolutely no connection to the impoverished and oppressed indigenous population of South America before he went on a joyride with his best friend...made a difference. Imagine if a college kid went on spring break today and instead of running around Puerto Vallarta like a jackass drinking and saying "mamacita" in their gringo accent to any latina walking by...imagine if instead they sat down and respected people. Imagine if they (and not in the condescending hippie way) took the time to learn about the culture and then took up arms to defend those people...well it's too late for that now. Latin America doesn't need some liberal gringos bleeding out of their heart for them. It's time to raise up. It's time to stop being run over by their own governments. If their leaders are in the back pocket of the U.S.- then say something! If their leaders are committing genocide on indigenous people- raise up! Subcomandante Marcos is another example of a non-indigenous Latino who has organized a civil militia for the liberation of the indigenous people of Mexico. Lo único que yo sé es que me cansé de vivir la vida sin propósito.


NYgirl said...

But what about all the Latin Americans He killed?

Tremenda Trigueña said...

No one is saying his actions were without bloodshed...nothing was fair back then, nor is it now.

Patrick Jason said...

Hey, you bring up some very good points here.

Val Prieto said...

No one is saying his actions were without bloodshed...nothing was fair back then, nor is it now.

this is the single most moral relativistic hogwash I have read in a while. Che guevara was a TERRORIST and a Murderer born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

killcastro said...

T.T. (okay so that does sound weird but hey ...)
Having read other posts by you at Babalu, I am quite surprise on your comments about "El Che"
El Che was Michael Moore with a machine gun. A self centered megalomaniacal, psychopath who HATED Cubans. His only goal was self aggrandizement, his Cuban sobriquet "El Carnicero de La Cabaña" This from those who knew him best; The Cuban people
We can fall on the trap of the allegoric and romantic lifestyle. We can revisit and re-write history and come up with “The Motorcycle Diaries" but there is very little proof that any of that actually went on. And even if it did. His decision to become the consummate assassin he was, totally betrays any desire for justice he may have held in his youth.
Even Castro was afraid of this man’s thirst for blood. His demise was orchestrated by Castro under direct orders from Moscow. Who knows what psychosis overcame this animal, but at the time of his death he was full of hatred, fear and murderous intentions.
Let us not forget that Hitler’s incipient steps into politics were full of idealism and desire for a better Germany.
Do we forgive the outcome of his savagery because he held benign and patriotic views as a youth?
Just something to think about …

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...


There is no doubt that the plight of many people in Latin America when Che made his journey (and even today) sucked. But the point is what did he do to make it better? He chose the path of violence, which he personally relished. He chose the path of the supremacy of the state, which crushes liberty.

I'm sure he was moved by what he saw. But in trying to remedy it, he became worse than that which he despised.

I swear I could make a movie about an Austrian corporal who went to war for Germany in WWI. He was moved by the destruction and havoc the war caused in his adoptive country. He was an artist. He loved dogs and actually fell in love with a movie star. He created a movement, unified a people and made a real difference in the world. It's a true story and it would be a very pretty movie if I only left out one important detail...he was Adolph Hitler. Nobody should be taking history lessons from Hollywood.

I'd like you to read the following anecdote about Guevara. http://songuacassal.blogspot.com/2005/06/che-guevara-anecdote-on-his-birthday.html

And this other account: http://www.angelfire.com/mac2/eaglephin/Sanmartin.html

I wonder if you'll cry when you read them.

The biography you probably read is by Jorge Castañeda. He is very left-leaning and he glosses over the exections at La Cabaña although her cannot ignore them completely.

Guevara like all the other communist icons is a myth created by propaganda.

D. Robledo said...

Trigueña, I suggest you read Castañeda's biography on Che. It is well researched and doesn't delve into stories that couldn't be double-checked or confirmed by another party. In other words, it doesn't put up certain "Miami mythologies" about Che as gospel truth. The author simply states what he could double check and makes some intelligent guesses with the knowledge gaps.

The book should be an eye opener for you. IMHO, I don't think Che is worth the time to demonize or idolize -- although he's ironically become a symbol of "justice for the oppressed" by young idealistic Americans (although he was vehemently anti-American :-)

I have not seen the movie "Motorcycle Diaries" but according to Castañeda's biography (where he researches and quotes the many letters he wrote through the years of his travels up South America, on to Central America and then Mexico), it was only when he reached Central America AFTER he had completed the "motorcycle diaries" where he developed his Marxist bent and his anti-Americanism.

Unfortunately, the brutal political manipulations that were going on at the time in Guatemala & Honduras (implemented by the CIA) pretty much pushed Che into full on anti-Americanism.

Fortunately for the U.S., Che's efforts to foment revolution in the Congo and Bolivia were utter pathetic failures. If only TODAY'S insurgents (Bin Laden, Zarqawi, et al) were as resource-poor and as ineffective as Che! ;-)

What dooms Che in the eyes of the exiles is that he signed off on the deaths of several hundred Cubans loyal to Batista. Some people claim it is in the thousands. Some even say he personally executed many himself. It is very difficult to prove or corrobate this, but given Che's experience with the dog-eat-dog world of Latin-American politics at the time, I think it's possible this is true. Read Castañeda's biography and draw your own conclusions. I will try to read Anderson's biography next to see if I can find out more about this controversy.

BTW, I would take everything Val says on his blogs with a grain of salt, lest you too end up sipping cafecitos at Versailles talking about "la lucha" and droning and whining on and on about Fidel, Che, Bush, bla, bla. . . ;-)

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

D. Robledo,

What makes Castañeda's biography any more legitimate than say that which was written by Enrique Ros? Just because something is hard to corroborate doesn't mean that it didn't happen. There are people today that still don't believe the Nazi holocaust happened or that it was blown out of proportion. If you really study the man, (even his own words) you'll see what made him tick. In his diaries and recollections he talks about how he "solved the problem" by personally executing a suspected informer while he was in the Sierra. Castañeda begrudgingly admits that there must have been innocents caught in Guevara's blood thirsty reign of terror and that many of the punishments were out of proportion to the alleged crimes. I urge you read the very recent piece by alvaro vargas llosa that appeared in the New Republic. It's subscription only so I have posted it at http://www.angelfire.com/mac2/eaglephin/The_Killing_Machine.htm

How is it that Cuban Americans are always doubted more than the communist propaganda? How can american liberals who despise the death penalty worship a man who presided over at least 159 killings. Most of them state sanctioned.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Link again so you can read the article


D. Robledo said...

Who said I was a liberal, or a leftist? You want to see the world in 2-color mode, go ahead! I read Castañeda's bio and, to me at least, it painted a pretty depressing picture of who Che was. The guy wrote WAY more sentences criticizing Che than praising him. Read the book! Does it sound to you like I'm a Che fan? I said it's possible the executions happened! Let the girl read several sources and make up her own mind. . .

"How is it that Cuban Americans are always doubted more than the communist propaganda?"

LOL, oh man. . . it's such a sick, sad world, I wouldn't even know where to begin the answer. . . ;-)

Robert said...


First you imply that Che's murderous ways is "Miami Mythology", then you say that it's possible that Che executed people himself. What do you really think?

I second Conductor's recommendation of Vargas Llosa's piece. Maybe then you'll begin to think that Miami mythology may be more real than you'd like it to be.

Tremenda - I'm glad you've opened your eyes and mind to "our side of the story". Look forward to reading your comments and posts.

Tremenda Trigueña said...

Robledo, thank you for your insight. I appreciate everyone coming on here to express their points of view. Conductor and Robert, I am learning a lot and admittedly have romanticized Che. The important thing to remember is I am outside the emotional realm of this political arena. My approach is going to be less about writing everyone off who doesn't agree with one opinion and learning several facets to a very complicated story. What gets dangerous is when ANYONE oversimplifies the situation as all good or all bad, that's when we get in trouble. I do agree there are absolute truths in the world, so I am not going to be a "bends with the wind" liberal who is afraid to offend anyone. I am a right of center progressive conservative. (no that is not an oxymoron). I believe in human rights and I also believe in self-preservation.

The biography I read about Che was the one by Anderson. I have seen Castañeda's book, I will probably pick it up.

Tremenda Trigueña said...

Robledo, where is your blog? I am trying to access it and I can't...

Robert said...


Your approach is a very good one. Being on the outside often means you can see things more objectively.

I'm not about automatically writing people with different opinions off, but those have to be intelligent and respectful. Otherwise, they get what they deserve.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

I applaud your open-mindedness. You are a truth seeker. Most people that admire or idolize Che have no idea about him one way or the other. They worship an idealism that is very appealing. I'm going to send you some quotes from Guevara's own writings. I think they are the best window

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

And by the way Mr. or Ms. Robledo thanks for giving me permission to see the world in a "2 color mode." There is truth and there is fiction. 2 colors. That works just fine with me. Everything else is just an excuse to defend the indefensible like the torture and execution of political enemies.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...


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