The first brush I ever had with the Che Guevara myth arrived at a very early age. In my country, it is not rare to see buses with Guevara’s visage emblazoned over the large windows and doors, or see throngs of people wearing him at political rallies and demonstrations.
And because those political rallies were held by the Communist party, my ignorant mind made the association that if the Reds were bad, and the Reds liked Che Guevara, it meant Che Guevara was bad.
It is surprising that it took me this long to actually know about the man.
This past summer, I read Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto. What I learned in that work was such at odds with what the Communist party at home, now the ruling party, proclaimed about Communism that I began to wonder what else had I been misled about.
Enter Steven Soderbergh’s Che.
The film neither romanticizes nor demonizes the titular Che, which is perhaps one of the reasons it is so engrossing. Soderbergh is not making a political statement as he is documenting the rise and fall of the extraordinary life of a figure many consider one of the greatest revolutionaries to ever exist.
Do I agree?
Throughout the proceedings, Che mentions many times the lousy conditions in which peasants live and the ignorance in which its own government has mired them in. He aims to topple the rulers and replace them with people who actually care about people. His goal then, was a noble one and I doubt there are folks out there who would say that caring for our neighbor is a bad thing to do.
Does that mean I’ll be wearing his face at the next political rally?
There is a short scene, set right after the rebels have taken control of Cuba, which summarizes the hypocrisy of political ideologies perfectly.
Che is riding in a jeep with his soldiers on his way to the capital, when a sleek red sports car speeds right next to them, carrying more soldiers. The red car belonged to a now deceased member of the opposition, the driver says, so it is okay if they take it.
Che makes them turn around and get a ride in a jeep like everybody else.
People use the image of Che Guevara as a rallying cry in the name of the poor and destitute, but I look at the Communists now in power and I see the very thing Guevara would have fought against. They do not really know the story of the man, but have grasped on to the legend and mold it to serve their purposes.
That is why, I believe, there is no perfect political ideology, for in the end most of us will become what we once despised
“I believe in man”, Che says before he is executed.
And that is the problem. Trusting in man got Guevara killed and is what continues to perpetuate parties like the one in control of my country in power. People keep believing in other people and everybody’s forgotten that cursed is the man who trusts in man.