June 14 is the birthday of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna known to most of us by his nickname "Che".
If all you know about Che is stuff you’ve picked up from US media, then take some time today to educate yourself about the other side of the Che story. I’ve added Jon Lee Anderson’s "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life" to my book recommendations.
I dare anyone to read that book, along with Che’s diaries, and still think this man was a violent, bloodthirsty dictator.
I’ve read them both (along with a few other books about Che) and it just doesn’t add up in my mind. Violent dictators rarely talk endlessly about social justice. Che (and Fidel too, for that matter) spent his life arguing eloquently for the need to equal rights for all people. He put his life on the line to fight for the rights of the poor people in Cuba and Bolivia.
If all he wanted was power (which is usually what motivates dictators), why leave Cuba at the height of his success to go into the jungles of Bolivia? It doesn’t make sense.
Compare Che’s words to the speeches and writing of Hitler or Stalin or even the last half dozen American Presidents and you’ll spot the difference.
And, if you can, watch Steven Soderbergh’s recent film about Che. I don’t think it’s out on DVD yet but I’ve seen Part One and it’s terrific.