Che as example

Issue 

By Marce Cameron

"If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine." — Che

Deep in the jungles of Colombia, guerillas who call themselves "Guevaristas" prepare for another offensive against the brutal and corrupt regime. In the streets of Mexico City, tens of thousands of students march against university fees, carrying banners of the famous image of Che's face that is recognised by millions as a symbol of rebellion.

Contrary to popular mythology, cultivated by the ruling class through its mass media and high school history classes, Che Guevara was neither a romantic idealist nor a cold-blooded killer. It was Che himself who insisted, "At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love". But Che is remembered foremost as a successful revolutionary, who lived a life consistent with his ideals.

His most lasting legacy, revolutionary Cuba, still stands. Ten years after the collapse of the bureaucratic regimes in the eastern bloc, the Cuban Revolution has lived up to the promise of Fidel Castro: "We are prepared to resist in a dignified and selfless manner for as many years as the US blockade lasts. Even if others give in, if others let themselves be bought off, if others betray, Cuba will know how to remain the example of a revolution that does not give in, that does not sell out, that does not surrender."

Still strong too is his more intangible legacy: his example. Far from fading from memory, Che's ability to serve as a source of inspiration to the poor and oppressed is growing.

No one is born a revolutionary. Che's life experiences led him to his revolutionary convictions. Che came to realise: "The isolated effort, the individual effort, the purity of ideals, the desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals goes for naught if that effort is made alone, solitary, in some corner of Latin America, fighting against hostile governments and social conditions that do not permit progress. A revolution needs what we have in Cuba: an entire people mobilised, who have learned the use of arms and the practice of combative unity."

In the small town in Bolivia where Che's body was taken after his capture and murder in 1967, someone has graffitied a wall with the slogan "Che — alive as they never wanted you to be". Che's vision of a socialist humanity will be achieved as long as there are those of us who continue to fight for it.