Controversy over Che memorial


Sir, – Declan Ganley trots out the usual erroneous anti-Cuban propaganda in his vitriolic denunciation of Che Guevara (Home News, February 29th).

I presume he is sincere in his beliefs, but the historical facts, though difficult to digest, are important too.

Let me just add two quotes to the discussion. The first is from former CIA agent Philip Agee: “There was no person more feared by the company [CIA] than Che Guevara because he had the capacity and charisma necessary to direct the struggle against the political repression of the traditional hierarchies in power in the countries of Latin America.” The second is from Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara. A Revolutionary Life: “I have yet to find a single credible source pointing to a case where Che executed ‘an innocent’. Those persons executed by Guevara or on his orders were condemned for the usual crimes punishable by death at times of war or in its aftermath: desertion, treason or crimes such as rape, torture or murder. I should add that my research spanned five years, and included anti-Castro Cubans among the Cuban-American exile community in Miami and elsewhere”. I have a copy of the Jon Lee Anderson book which I am quite happy to lend to Mr Ganley if he wishes to acquaint himself with the facts and the truth about Che Guevara, one of the greatest heroes of our times – and a man full of faults like the rest of us.

Che also died for the poor, the disenfranchised, the dispossessed and the exploited, when he could so easily have enjoyed his comfortable life in government and done nothing. Instead he sacrificed his life for others.

That is why he is regarded as saintly by so many of the poor in Latin America and admired by so many others around the world.

Che, of course, was no latter-day saint, he was an idealist and a revolutionary and it can easily be argued that today much of Latin America is free and democratic because of his example; quite rightly he is commemorated everywhere on the continent by the new socialist governments who all readily acknowledge his sacrifice. Perhaps one day his vision of a unified Latin American continent will come to pass.

As the artist whose work has inspired this proposed submission to Galway County Council let me add that I am proud to be involved in any monument to such a man.

My own hero Nelson Mandela referred to Che Guevara as “an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom”.

I wish we had such a person in Ireland today who could so inspire us, who could fight to lift us out of this unjust system of Sippenhaftung – the collective punishment of the Irish people for the transgressions of others; someone who could bring to justice to the gangsters, bankers, lawyers, accountants and politicians who have destroyed and looted – and continue to loot, with their vast pensions and payoffs – our own country; and to see them account for their crimes. – Yours, etc,



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