Great piece by Carlos Eire on the real Che. Galway Ireland is planning a monument to Che–Eire wrote a letter to the Irish Times that they didn’t publish. So National Review ran it. Here’s the opening of the letter–read the whole thing (and read Eire’s extraordinary memoir–Waiting for Snow in Havana)
As a victim of Che Guevara’s atrocities, as a historian, and as a Cuban of Irish descent, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that the city of Galway is planning to erect a monument to Ernesto “Che” Guevara. I don’t mind one bit if those behind this monstrous project want to believe lies — that’s their right in a truly free society — but it would be wrong to allow their abysmal ignorance or willful blindness to stand unchallenged. Those who think highly of Che may be surprised to hear it, but they have way too much in common with Holocaust deniers.
Che was my neighbor in Havana, and I actually saw him in the flesh several times. He lived in an opulent mansion just a few blocks from my very small house, and also ran the prison of La Cabaña, where some of my relatives ended up being tortured and murdered. Their crime? Voicing an opinion different from Che’s. Or, in the case of my uncle, simply having a son who voiced an opinion contrary to Che’s. The awful truth about Ernesto “Che” Guevara is that he was a violent thug with despotic tendencies. Che’s admirers prefer to think of him as a righteous warrior, and often cite certain books that portray him as a saint. I hate to break the news to them: Some books are full of lies. Fortunately, others are not, like the memoir Cuba 1959, La Galera de la Muerte, written by Javier Arzuaga, the priest who accompanied all of Che’s victims to the firing squad during the first nine months of the so-called Revolution. Read it and weep, please, all of you who love Che. We Cubans are the only people on earth who knew the real Che — as opposed to the icon stamped on all sorts of merchandise — but there are many in the world who tune us out, discredit our testimony, and would love to gag us. Somehow, the lie is preferable.