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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1587

Commandante Ernesto “Che” Guevara: 45th Death Anniversary

Daya Gamage- Asian Tribune presentation
Washington, DC. 11 October (

The 45th anniversary of the cowardly and brutal murder by a drunken Bolivian soldier of Latin American revolutionary, second only to the great Simon Bolivar, Commandante Ernesto "Che" Guevara fell on October 8.

In several accounts that I have read long after his assassination the consensus was his amazing charisma. The accounts went on: several soldiers were sent to the cell he was kept in a school in Bolivia to kill him but none had the guts to discharge the orders given by their superiors. Something emanated from him that the soldiers failed to pull the trigger. And finally, a drunken soldier was sent to kill him, the account goes on.

I never forget October 8, 1967. We returned to the Arunachalam Hall at the Peradeniya University around noon after lectures to tune into the 'common room' radio after lunch that brought the breaking news of the assassination of "Che"; all of us were stunned and saddened.

We were neither revolutionaries nor Communists or Trotskyites but were great admirers of Che's unselfish struggle, his love toward the under-privileged, and his broad vision to uplift the disadvantaged masses who were deprived of their rights due to unreasonable social structure. We truly mourned his untimely death.

With that we continued our discourse as to whether a revolution could be exported. Despite our disagreement on the issue we at no time belittled Che's mass struggle to uplift the disadvantageous masses of the people.

Ernesto lived thirty-nine years, to the full. He was born an Argentinean, on the 14th. May 1928, and graduated as a doctor; he specialized in Dermatology. In 1952, together with his friend Alberto Grando, he traveled throughout Latin America and was radically transformed by the endemic poverty and alienation he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region's ingrained economic inequalities were an intrinsic result of capitalism, neocolonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution.

At the 'A Hall' at Peradeniya since Che's brutal murder we disagreed whether a revolution could be exported.

After a brief period in Guatemala, he met the Castro brothers in Mexico City and joined the 26th.July Movement. He sailed for Cuba where he was instrumental, as second -in-command, in the victorious two-year guerrilla campaign which ousted the Batista regime in 1959. As matters normalized, he was everywhere. He instituted Agrarian land reform. He was the driving force behind comprehensive Literacy campaign. He was the Instructional Director for the Cuban Armed Forces. In April 1961, under his leadership the Cuban militia successful repelled an invasion force of US trained mercenaries in 72-hours.

On October 8th, 1967, Ernesto The” Guevara was executed by Bolivian soldiers of the country's military rulers. The just passed October 8th marked the 45th anniversary of his death. In his eulogy to almost one million people in Havana, Cuba’s “Plaza de la Revolucion”, then President Fidel Castro asserted that Che’s “life long struggle against imperialism and his ideals will serve as inspiration for future generations of revolutionaries. Fidel went on to say that Che’s life “was a glorious page of history because of his extraordinary military accomplishments and his unequaled combination of virtues”. Words of praise for Che came from every comer of the world, but Che’s essence may have been summed up best by Jean Paul Sartre who said that “Che was the most complete human being of our age”.

As the Internet Blog”The Sound Strike” rightly said During Che’s eventful yet brief lifetime he eagerly and expertly fought the determined and well equipped adversaries of oppressed peoples on battlefields in the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America.

Remember Che’s words. “Each spilled drop of blood”, he said, “in any country under whose flag one has not been born, is an experience passed on to those who survive, to be added later to the liberation of his own country. And each nation liberated is a phase won in the battle for the liberation of one’s own country”. It was Che who said “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine”. We heard Che when he said “What do the dangers or sacrifices of a man or nation matter, when the destiny of humanity is at stake?” Never one to mince words, Che stood before the United Nations and boldly stated, “Those who kill their own children and discriminate daily against them because of the color of their skin; those who let the murderers of blacks remain free, protecting them and furthermore punishing the black population because they demand their legitimate rights as free men . . . how can those who do this consider themselves guardians of freedom? The government of the United States is not the champion of freedom, but rather the perpetrator of exploitation and oppression against the peoples of the world and against a large part of its own population”.

As an outgrowth of Cuba’s revolutionary process, Che envisioned and focused his energy on what he termed “The New Man and Woman”. Che advanced the idea that the struggle against injustice constitutes the moral basis of a new, better and ideal human being. It is clear from the outset that Che, synthesizing theory with practice, had morphed into this “New Man” himself.

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality”, wrote Che. It is the stranding together of these qualities that have distinguished Che and earned him a special place in the pantheon of revolutionary heroes . .. love for humanity, unwavering opposition to imperialism, courage, selflessness and command ability as a formidable fighter.

- Asian Tribune -

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