COLUMN: Castro, a traitor to Cubans, will not be hailed like Che Guevara

At long last, Cuban refugees in America and abroad can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Fidel Castro, former Cuban president and the country’s de facto dictator for nearly 60 years, died last week on Nov. 25.

Upon the announcement of his passing, millions of Cubans marched in the streets. It was a procession of liberation, one not offered in Castro’s ill-fated tenure as “Commandante.” It was a stark reminder that even in death, Castro will not be afforded a posthumous pardon.

History will not be grant him asylum, nor will it label him as simply misunderstood. There’s a reason for that, and it has less to do with his ruthlessness. That reason is the fetishized fame of his right-hand man, the Argentine known as Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

Che, which means “man” in Spanish slang, was the architect of modern guerilla warfare. He meticulously planned and executed the overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista in the late 1950s, and became the face of global revolution. One can hardly walk by a Hot Topic or some other seemingly hipster clothing store without seeing Che t-shirts or Che bumper stickers.

You know the image – the dark, mysterious mustachioed man with a knowing scowl and unkempt warrior hair underneath a tight-fitting beret.

That’s Che, and by all accounts, this icon for freedom fighters was just as ruthless, calculated and ambitious as Castro. So why the stark difference in their lasting legacies?

The answer is simple: Che never betrayed the cause of true Communism, nor did he bring less freedoms to his people overall in the same way Castro did. Che never enacted harsh policies against dissenters in the same manner Castro did, nor did he self-aggrandize his importance to Cuban Communism.

When Castro spoke about Cuba, he spoke about a country that could not survive without his guidance. Che spoke of Cuba and Communism in romantic abstracts, focusing on the will of his people rather the will of tyrant.

By the time Che left Cuba in the middle 1960s to jumpstart revolution in South America, Castro had assumed control over Cuba and its destiny. Castro directed terror squads against those who opposed him from his estate, while Che died fighting for his people.

Together, their original aim was to liberate working class from the clutches of oligarchs and corrupt governors so the poor could prosper. According to some historians, Che would have been appalled at what Castro did to his beloved Cuba, and were he still alive to see it, Che would have led the march against him.

Castro spent his life battling Capitalism, but he was really fighting was his own inferiority complex. Castro led his people to believe the U.S. and other “fascist” imperialists were out to destroy the world. In reality, Castro was more worried about his own power than the power of an independent Cuba.

Che and Castro may have been cut from the same cloth, but their outlooks on humanity and liberation couldn’t be more disparate. Today, I am proud to say good riddance to Castro and what he wrought onto the world.

In that same regard, I couldn’t be more proud to wave the banner of Che Guevara.

I’m no Communist, and I never will be, but in my studies, I know that Castro, like Stalin, was far from an ideal socialists, and we should remember both of them in the same fashion – as murderers, thieves and traitors to their countries.


About Ben Solis

Ben Solis is the Managing Editor of Central Michigan Life. He has served as a city and university ...

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