My heroes: Che Guevara
I painted Che as my first attempt to paint my heroes.
I admired Che ever since I can remember as a teenager and followed his exploits first in Cuba and later in Bolivia where he was assassinated by the CIA. But over the years his stature as a legend kept growing and reached a height that has firmly sealed his legacy as the protector of the poor and downtrodden just like his mentor and comrade in arms Fidel Castro who died a few days ago.
This brought him to the attention of the US government that considered him as a threat to their interests in Cuba and elsewhere so they assassinated him in Bolivia where Che was helping fight the injustice that the poor landless farmers suffered in the hands of the rich who controlled the economy and all its assets.
His success in Cuba emboldened him to reach out to others in the Latin countries where his fame spread before him and prepared the ground for him to actively organize the poor and the landless people.
The big American companies that are involved in many Latin countries including Bolivia exploiting their natural resources and paying pittance for it saw in Che a serious threat that jeopardized their operations and profit margin so they asked the US government to eradicate this menace. The US government was already smarting from the successes achieved by an “upstart revolutionary called Castro” in Cuba which was practically in their front yard and mere 90 miles off their shores so they did not need a lot of convincing that their interests were at stake in Bolivia . Che had to be eliminated because there was no telling where next he would stir up trouble. The whole of Latin America was seething with discontent due to the US imperialism and the exploitation of the natural resources by the American companies.
The US government supported the dictators in Cuba, Panama, Chile, Peru , Argentina and many other countries where supporting dictators with arms and money was profitable and served their interests. They trained the police and army in the methods of crowd control, torture and intimidation and supplied the bullets and tear gas for it. The US contractors built jails for the trouble makers who were only asking for their rights.
If Fidel Castro and Che had not come along to light the fire of revolution, the climate of discontent prevailing in many countries under oppressive rule of dictators would have created a Fidel and Che.
Che Guevara was an Argentinian intellectual who was trained and educated as a doctor. He saw firsthand what the junta was doing in his country to the poor and he was acutely aware of the situation in Cuba and other countries. When Fidel found him, he did not need to convince hard the validity of his cause because Che was already a believer and eagerly joined Fidel and his fellow revolutionaries.
Fidel valued the intellectual part of Che as he gave many thoughtful ideas to Fidel that were considered and implemented in the post revolution Cuba. If Fidel was the tactician, Che was the brain behind the tactics. The pipe smoking intelligent Che was very charismatic just like Fidel and was sent to the UN to put the case of Cuba to the general assembly where he was warmly received by the delegates of the world and where he pleaded for the lifting of embargo and sanctions.
But the US government would have none of it because it controlled the Security Council and would not let any resolution pass that favored Cuba so Che went back empty handed. Fidel himself went to the UN but the result was the same.
Cuban revolution had hurt the US interest there so they had to be punished this way never mind if the mafia was exploiting Cuba before the revolution and the rich Cubans in cahoots with the Americans were doing the same. They all had to leave Cuba so where do you think they ended up? In Little Havana in Miami of course where they set up radio stations funded by the CIA to broadcast black propaganda against the Cuban government and castigated day and night the villains like Fidel and Che.
They also participated eagerly as mercenaries to invade in the Bay of Pigs but that too failed making the CIA agents very angry so they took their anger out on a poor hapless and bedraggled Che Guevara who was being chased by the CIA day and night through the jungles of Bolivia. They did not waste any time killing him when they caught up with Che somewhere while the world mourned his death.
Thus an era of great revolutionaries ended with the death of Che, Fidel, Mandela and Biko. Such people are not born everyday but they come when the poor and downtrodden of this world cry out for justice. Che will always be my hero.
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