This story is from UCLA Today, a discontinued print and web publication.



The decision by the Fowler Museum of Cultural History to mount the exhibition "Che Guevara: Icon, Myth and Message" has painfully shocked and offended the Cuban-American community of Los Angeles.

As it is, this exhibition demonstrates how Guevara�s "admirers" have constructed, manipulated and displayed his image for mainly political ends. The idealization of the Argentine revolutionary, who was a key figure in the Cuban Castro Revolution, portraying him as a romantic hero, intellectual and freedom fighter, contributes to the distortion of Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

This man, who ordered the execution of countless human beings while in charge of the notorious La Cabaña prison in Havana, who terrorized Cuban society and who denied freedom to thousands of citizens whom he considered "deviants" or "anti-revolutionaries" can never be accepted as a hero, martyr or -- the shock of it -- a saint. The blood of thousands of Cubans is on the hands of "Che" Guevara. The families who lost loved ones cannot condone this exhibition and must protest and express their anger and disgust. The revulsion of Cubans to this event is as valid and honest as would be that of the Jewish community if confronted with the idealization of Adolf Hitler.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara dreamed of creating the "New Man" at any cost. During the Cuban missile crisis, he was in favor of a nuclear war because he believed that a better world could be built from the ashes, regardless of the cost in millions of lives. By adhering to his anti-American feelings and pro-Soviet stance, he achieved a role in history that stands for one failure after another, both in Cuba, as well as in all the other countries where he went to promote and disseminate Castro�s Revolution.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara had all the characteristics of a ruthless dictator and opponent of freedom. He believed that the end justifies the means, and he fanatically adhered to this gospel. This "idealized icon" is the one who, as a modern day Grand Inquisitor, eliminated many of his foes with a single pistol shot to the back of their heads. And he is also the same one who authored these enhancing words printed in the identity booklets of young Cuban soldiers sent to fight in Angola: "Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary."

Guevara�s elevation as symbol of goodness, due to the self-indulgence and frivolity of pampered Western pseudo revolutionaries, speaks clearly of their lack of critical objective analysis, forgetting that, as Anthony Daniels states, "The difference between �Che� Guevara and Pol Pot was that Guevara never studied in Paris."

Being UCLA a first-rate research university and a place of knowledge, it is expected that the public conferences planned for October 24 and 25 will include exiled Cuban historians and intellectuals who will shed a different light from the one promoted by the exhibition. This way, history will be properly served.

Sara Lequerica de la Vega is a professor emeritus at Los Angeles Valley College.

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