Newswire » Your Say! » Putting “Che” on a stamp? Why not Stalin? There really was no difference.

Putting “Che” on a stamp? Why not Stalin? There really was no difference.

There seems to be something of a defect in the Irish psyche. If we as a nation find anyone of historical note that has any minute connection to Ireland, we go into full PR mode. Combine this geo-historical egotism with the innately Irish moral fallacy that if someone dies for a cause, the cause, and the dead are somehow “right” (or at least understood), and we can begin to understand the sheer lunacy of commemorating a monster like Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Now, when it comes to “Che”, we Irish are not alone in whitewashing. Indeed, traverse any University campus in the western world, and you will be sure to see skinny-jean attired neckbeard wearing a “Che” t-shirt, no doubt shaking a fist in anger at some imagined slight perpetrated by the capitalist patriarchy (grrrrr!!).

And while trendy leftism is generally not terminal, and can be treated with a healthy dose of reality, it can often linger on in certain individuals. And every now and then, these individuals become decision makers. And the perfect storm happens when such decision makers prey upon the aforementioned national egotism and moral fallacy. Thus, we have the decision by An Post to create a €1 stamp with the iconic “Che” image, appropriately enough on a red background, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death. Well, I think it is imperative that An Post be given a history lesson about “Che”.


The Miami Pact.

“Che” became a Marxist sometime in the early 1950s. Around 1955, when “Che” was working in a Mexican hospital, he came into contact with the Castro brothers (Fidel and Raul) who were in the process of plotting the overthrow of the dictator Fulgencio Batista in their native Cuba and establish a Marxist-Leninist state there. On the 25th of November 1956 “Che” and the Castros along with a small band of Guerillas set sail from Mexico to Cuba. “Che” and the Castros hid their Marxist sympathies, and had convinced many of the guerillas that they were merely fighting for “democracy” in Cuba.This lie would soon be exposed in a most aggressive manner.

The popular narrative of the brave band of fearless guerillas fighting against the might of Batista’s army (as has been immortalised in songs by Christy Moore, and Benicio Del Toro movies), while exiting, isn’t accurate. In what became known as the Miami Pact, the Castros had been able to acquire a large sum of money from wealthy enemies of Batista (both in Cuba and the US), and use that money to bribe high ranking Cuban military officers into switching allegiances. Without the support of the army, Batista was forced to flee, and was given political asylum in Portugal. And while pockets of Batista loyalists put up some fight against the guerillas and their allies, on January 1st 1959 Castro and “Che” rolled into Havana and took control.

Remember those “pro-democracy” guerillas? Well, those who demonstrated strong anti-communist sentiment started to disappear from the ranks. You see Marxist-Leninists have a nasty habit of shall we say “losing” allies when they outlive their usefulness, or may pose opposition in the future. Stalin perfected this tactic in the Spanish Civil War, brutally murdering Trotskyists and Anarchists who were recently on the same side. One should read Orwell’s: Homage to Catalonia to learn more about such savagery. Though, truth be told, the Trotskyists and Anarchists would probably have done the same had they got the chance. In any event, Cuba became an official Marxist-Leninist state in 1963 (though as soon as they got to power Castro and “Che” began laying the foundation for a communist system).



Oddly enough, I don’t think Christy Moore wrote a verse in the song Compañeros about “Che” really enjoying murder. But he certainly did. An example of this can be found in the early days of the revolution. Having murdered a guide accused of spying called Eutimio Guerra, “Che” wrote a letter to his father describing the murder in graphic detail, before confessing: “I discovered that I really like killing”. Indeed it has been argued that the reason for “Che’s” rapid ascent in the revolutionary army was not due to his military ability, but rather his willingness to pull the trigger with ease. One of his revolutionary allies is alleged to have said that: “Che drowned the city in blood”

Things only got worse when “Che” got into power. In the early days of the regime, “Che” set up camp at La Cabaña prison. During this time it is alleged by a priest who gave sacraments to the condemned that “Che” personally ordered the execution of at least 700 people. Another prisoner claimed that “Che” shot a child of about 13 years at point blank range, “almost decapitating him”. “Che” himself, was said to have said to CIA investigators that he “probably killed 1000 people, all of whom were “imperialists and  spies”. It should be noted that many of these “imperialists and spies” were often just poor conscripted soldiers, people who had modest amounts of wealth, and people who “wouldn’t get with the program” so to speak.

But “Che” was also a man of great mercy. Sometimes when he wasn’t sure if someone was “an imperialist or a spy” he would only send them to forced labour camps. Such early camps were the inspiration for the Cuban gulag system that eventually locked away not only “imperialists and spies” but also, priests, homosexuals, AIDs victims, academics, and anyone else who was deemed hazardous to the morals of the revolution.

When he wasn’t busy washing blood off his boots, “Che” could be found destroying the Cuban economy. Under Batista, the average industrial wage for a Cuban was higher than that of a German. More Cubans owned TV’s and cars than many of their counterparts in the west.

Ronald Reagan once said: “Communists are people who read Marx, Capitalists are people who read Marx, and understood it”. And “Che” certainly fit that criteria. When he became minister of industries, “Che” did what good Marxists do. He went about collectivising, nationalising and centralising. The Cuban communists went so far in distorting the market,destroying incentives and isolating itself from trade that the once prosperous Cuba, could now only survive on subsidies from the Soviet Union. And such was the zeal and idiocy of “Che’s” reckless policy, that the Soviet Union demanded Castro remove him or they would stop subsidies.


Exporting Chaos

Castro did indeed remove “Che” from is economic role. And seeking to get rid of him for a while at least, sent him on a hairbrained scheme to foment revolution in other part of the world. While much has been written about his exploits in the Congo and South American nations, it was his aims in the United States that were the most galling. Teaming up with ethno-radical group the “Black Liberation Army”, “Che” planned a massive terrorist campaign in the US in 1962. The plot entailed planting bombs in major shopping centers in American cities. Thankfully, the FBI stopped the plot. When they learned of this the Soviets were infuriated, they saw “Che’s” activities as totally renegade and needlessly escalatory, and made it clear again to Castro to reign “Che” in.  Finally, in November 1966, “Che” was arrested in Bolivia and executed by anti-communist fighters backed by the CIA.



In summary, let us look at the career of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Firstly, he inflicted on the nation of Cuba an ideology that has resulted in the death millions worldwide, and the misery of countless millions more. To this day, the long shadow of Marxism darkens the collective soul of the Cuban people. Beyond the propaganda and lies, and beyond the patronizing ignorance of lefty tourists singing its praises, lies a nation, a people, completely held hostage by poverty and oppression. And even by communist standards “Che” was an extremist.  And whatever about the economic debate around Marxism, Guevara’s legacy is dripping in a sanguine hue of murder and torture.He was no better than any dictator that came before or after him. It is estimated that 14000 people were killed in the early years of the regime. He wasn’t a romantic revolutionary, he was a serial killer with an excuse.

And this is the man the decision makers at An Post think we should be commemorating? It beggars believe. Would they put Stalin on a stamp if he had distant relatives in Gortahork or Crumlin? Maybe Stalin wouldn’t look as cool on a t-shirt eh?

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