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mirza's avatar

Thoughts On Che Guevara: good or bad?

Asked by mirza (5042points) September 12th, 2007

when it comes to history, i dont think i have ever been so confused about a person as Ernesto Che Guevera. I have read his books (motorcycle diaries, manifesto essays and so on). id like to think of him as the legendary revolutionary who abandoned his profession and his native land to pursue the emancipation of the poor of the earth but then i cant overlook the fact that he was was Chief executioner for the Castro regime, responsible for the murder of thousands (ordering 700 executions by the firing squad on a single day wothout a trial). So what are your thoughts on ernesto guevara

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26 Answers

archer's avatar

photogenic pond scum. the power of that photo to essentially override the reality of his evil is astonishing and tragic.

glial's avatar

Well put.

hossman's avatar

Unfortunately, frequently the “revolution” to overthrow the status quo either becomes corrupted over time by those who simply want to replace one elite with another, or the revolutionary language was to conceal a corrupt power grab in the first place. Just like the Crusades largely used religion to camouflage a pursuit of wealth and power. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a socialist revolution that hasn’t ended with a new corrupt elite, but I could be wrong. Does anyone know of an example of a socialist revolution that resulted in a healthy government?

Flavio's avatar

I think this is a a strange way to frame a question. Che was an influential person in the politics of two continents. There is good and bad, of course. A good biography is Jon Lee Anderson’s “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life”.
My own point of view (caveat, i am Latin American and follow news about Cuba and Latin American in more than just the American press) is that Che played a central role in ending the dictatorship of fulgencio batista and establish a nation that is independent from influence of the United States. He made great contributions to Latin American sovereignty, but there were mistakes, of course. Hindsight is perfect.

hossman's avatar

Flavio’s understatement is amazing. Guevara was a mass murderer who personally killed thousands of innocent people. His own allies admit he executed thousands of innocent people with no legal process whatsoever, including many fellow revolutionaries whose only “crime” was to be competing with Guevara’s path to power. The fact he helped bring down Batista is no justification, and is no different than saying one gang is a hero for deposing another. To call the murders of thousands “mistakes, of course” is to engage in the same sort of reasoning that labelled the Holocaust “social engineering.” Hindsight has nothing to do with it, Guevara knew he was evil when he was committing the evil. This is the same sort of thinking that refused to admit Stalin was evil. Crimes against humanity are just that, crimes against ALL humans, and having a “Latin American” perspective does not absolve anything. The fact Flavio finds it “a strange way to frame a question” tells us a lot about Flavio. Trying to softpedal Guevara’s crimes makes you no better than Batista, in my opinion. The fact he chose to export himself to other countries, you may view as “leadership,” but plenty of other innocent people would view as terrorism.

kapuerajam's avatar

che gets on my nerves I’m suprised you even have good for an answer and I hate it when people wear his t- shirts my grandmother left Cuba to escape communism

charybdys's avatar

Evil people can do good things and good people can do evil deeds. Does mass murder justify “freeing” a country? I certainly don’t think so. Does “freeing” a country make one a good person, not necessarily, especially if mass murder is involved. People can certainly be important and bad people. But important doesn’t mean we should idolize someone.

jess333's avatar

Ok che was a mass murderer, but he was most likely paranoid, due to the fact that he was working so hard for the revolution and he didnt want anything to mess it up. Now im not saying this is an excuse for what he did, but you cant overlook the fact that he was one of the key members to bringing down Batista, which in my opinion does make him a good person, not because of what he did, but why he did it. sure he made some pretty huge mistakes, but he also made some pretty huge changes for the better for cuba, for the good of the poor, not only the rich, which is the way it usually happens.

I also dont like the idea of him being on t-shirts, since he was against capitalism and materialism, and i really dont think he would want him to become an item that teenagers wear to look cool, even they know nothing of what he did, or even his name.

thebludoc's avatar

“His own allies admit he executed thousands of innocent people with no legal process whatsoever”

you know who else killed thousands for the sake of revolution? George Washington. and no, i dont think he gave all the people he killed (yes he did EXECUTE people, not just shoot them in combat) a fair and a balanced trial

“Hindsight has nothing to do with it”
I should say so

“Guevara knew he was evil when he was committing the evil.”
Oh yes because you got inside his head did you?

“This is the same sort of thinking that refused to admit Stalin was evil.”
Who refused to think what now? I don’t know of any who think Stalin was an upstanding guy.

“Crimes against humanity are just that, crimes against ALL humans”
Yes, like murdering British sympathizers in masse orrrrr supporting a certain “Ngo Dihn Diem”

“and having a “Latin American” perspective does not absolve anything.”
Oh heavens no, looking at your own history from your own viewpoint couldnt POSSIBLY give you a better perspective, after all, you seem to not even recall our own history. Thanks for clarifying

“The fact Flavio finds it “a strange way to frame a question” tells us a lot about Flavio.”
Are you related to Joesph McCarthy by any chance?

“Trying to softpedal Guevara’s crimes makes you no better than Batista, in my opinion.”
Yeah, expressing a point of view totally equates you to a man who stole from the dirt poor.

“The fact he chose to export himself to other countries, you may view as “leadership,” but plenty of other innocent people would view as terrorism.”
Kinda like how the previous leader exported himself to America for profit?

I’ll leave it at that

ipsskunk's avatar

absolute power corrupts a mind absolutely.

nessa09's avatar

Look here is the thing when a person sees what is happening in the world and begin to see is how is supposed to be seeing we closed our eyes and we don’t wan to open them. Why? Because we are scared, what “Che” did was to open the ideas of the people who were not been hear before. He open a lot of doors to us the youth right know to think and be open mind it. What he did was a crime but what he spoke was not a crime was the pure reality that many people in the power back then try to hide from us. He did what no other person would do in this time take the fall for be who we are know. Many latinos now they don’t even know who Ernesto “Che” Guevara is while they are waring a T-Shirt with “Che’s” face in it. Let’s face it he is a good example of what Revolution is about. We don’t want his mass murder we want his voice and words to be heard once again so that the world would listen and go out side and began to think that all of us are the one that have to make the difference in this world. But yet he did was a mass murder.

amsup3rwoman's avatar

I was born in miami but come from a strong cuban background and some how the blood from all people that che, fidel and cienfuego murdered run through my vains. personally its hurts when i see the young and the old wearing his t shirts as if he were an icon the truth is he isnt even a hero. they took the freedom and hope of people and destroyed a beautiful country, because them cuba will never be again.

amilcar80's avatar

hola yo soy argentino perdona que no escribo en ingles pero no lo hago muy bien y entiendo solo un poco.
he visto que muchos han idolatrado al che y la mayoria lo considera un dictador. no creo que eso sea importante , se puede estar de acuerdo con ser marxista o capitalista o ninguo de estos la vida le hizo elegir seguramente, ademas creo que sus aciertos superan a sus errores. muchos libros se escribieron algunos a favor otros en contra lo cierto es que la gente que lo conocio personalmente temblo ante el algunos de miedo muchos de entusiasmo y alegria: era imponente eso no queda dudas, se es un martir cuando mueres peleando por lo que crees no puedes equivocarte cuando eres sincero contigo mismo, el sabia que moriria por lo que creia, lo escuche decirlo muchas veces, en sus metodos se equivoco muchas veces. el comunismo no sirve tampoco se duda de esto solo funciona en la teoria pero el imperialismo es una verdad evidente no dudes de esto solo hace falta mirar y ver, pero el Che fue mas alla de todo eso es el claro ejemplo de que con una idea, carisma, temple y muchisimo coraje se puede llegar muy lejos. me gustaria creer esto yo que no conoci al che pero vivo en el tercer mundo y veo al primero quien te dice que si viviera en el primer mundo no pensaría todo lo contrario y los que piensan en contra del che también cambiarian nunca se sabe bueno espero traduzcan algo de esto. solo es una opinión la verdad depende muchas veces de lo que quieras creer.-

Nesta_Anon's avatar

It depens on how you look at him. If you take Che as a symbol is doesn’t really matter how you view politics or if you agree with him or not, he represents freedom from opression of any form and revolution. He represents those who will stand up and fight for what they believe in no matter what that may be. Especially in this day and age, Che has become a modern symbol of counter culture and defiance of athority. However, if you view him in a more literal sense, he was a bad man with good intentions, not unlike most other revolutionary socialists, there is no question there. He was a communist, he killed many with no regard for innocents or guilt, he turned cuba from one dictatorship to another no less evil than the first and collaberated with the Soviet Union. But, he did see the undenyable injustices that plagued South America and acted on it as best he could. He was quite a smart man he was a multi-lingual, a philosphe and a doctor. Dispite his crimes, his face is a symbol for freedom fighters world wide to rally behind.

Raf's avatar

His vision was beautiful, his Ideals hopeful. He fought for what he believed in and became an Icon amongst many. Today, the youth of America (north, south and central) parade his image… A huge percentage not knowing who he really was or stood for. And fighting for what he believed in, he murdered thousands for Castro, liberated Cuba from one tirant to enslave it with another. He was a main contributor to the distruction of a country that once made the Caribean tremble with envy. “The Gem of the Caribean” is no longer, And Hernesto “Che” Guevara led the blood bath in the name of Castro behind flawed Ideals that have never, in history, worked. I am sorry to see so many idolize a man so wrong. Charisma kills faster than a bullet. Dont forget what has happened to Cuba, learn from it. Pay attention to our own.

Sagamisan's avatar

Bludoc loves to listen to himself doesn’t he. You have no proof to back your claims that Washington executed thousands and secondly if you read che’s diary he admits to his father that he enjoys killing sounds pretty evil to me. He killed woman and children. Take those shirts off of your clueless children.

jangles's avatar

This is, in no way is an objective argument for, “good” and “bad” are idea’s and opinions.
Why must we identify men of history this way? In looking at “Che’s” life there are moral contradictions but only in the sense that they contradict our 21st century North American morals.

I believe his own moral motives were to help the people of Latin America, for why else would he give up his family, his power, his money and influence in Cuba, to travel to Bolivia and fight for its people to the point of death.

I think that we are repulsed that he could claim to be such a humanist and yet execute thousands. But in looking at it from his perspective we see that the prior government executed thousands more and tortured, as well as set up an oppressive class system regime. You must also understand the mentality of the Cuban people was that of the people of France after their revolution and that if those men were not executed the people would have cried out for justice and taken it into their own hands.

If there is anything you can say about “Che” it is that he was devoted in way that seems to us almost madness, to the ideals of the revolution of Latin America he was fighting for. I think that his ideas of what would make Latin America a better place were not the best and as we can see of Cuba could have done better. But in remembering “Che” I do not think of Cuba or communism, I think of a man worked tirelessly for the betterment of his people and that quality to me makes him “good” if you will.

mikedjumpin's avatar

after traveling to cuba this past month, I absolutly cannot see this man as a hero. Comunism is a terrible terrible thing. They work 6 days a week for 12+hour shifts for 10 dollers a month and a free shack? It broke my heart to see such inteligent, honest and beautiful people have no where near what they deserve. I dont see how any one can argue he brought freedom, unless of course having to whisper every word you say because if the wrong person heard it god knows what would happen to you. On the bright side you can for sure see a massive underground network developing in cuba, a overthrow attept would not shock me what so ever.

panic_switch's avatar

how can someone be a bad man with good intentions? surely the intentions make the moral view. If you have good intentions you cannot be a bad man. You can be a screw up or slightly misguided or even you could be arrogant suffering certain delusions.

Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons granted it is still the wrong thing, but certain situations make doing anything other than the wrong thing more dangerous and problematic if not nearly impossible. Not that it can ever be justified, but nearly every country has had historic moments it may wish to erase, i am sure every person does to. I am english, who created concentration camps? who had a large slave trade? who had an imperialistic empire spanning most of the globe.

In a utilitarian government any evil would be tolerated if the benefits outweigh the costs, surely the cost of another civil war was deemed too great and so one had to be crushed prior to it’s beginning, if a second civil war had occurred then the USA and potentially Soviets would have gotten involved bringing far greater deaths.

In stating he messed up an economy, the economy was doomed as soon as the revolution succeeded, potentially he played his part, but having a number of trade embargo’s and blockades cannot really help the economy that much.

Communism may be a terrible thing, but i can’t walk through the centre of the capital city of my country and deem capitalism that great either. Every country should have the right to decide for itself what it values in life, nay every person should be able to decide what they value if that is not money, why should they be pressurised soo much by advertisements and everything else to conform to it.

gizmomacca's avatar

i fink he was a good man, macca.

but the CIA and his enemies bigged up his war killings to make him look bad, so that no other Cher would arise. The CIA and America had every reason to give him a bad rap, and it wouldnt be the first time they deliberately put down someone so that they could grab the goodies. Weapons of mass destruction, anyone.

gizmomacca's avatar

whoops i mean Che, nor Cher.

gizmomacca's avatar

man if Che was alive today he would whup all you non-believers lol

materialist's avatar

The American Revolution is the only acceptable violent revolution! The countless millions who have died in order to make way for capitalism, imperialism and the interests of the various ruling classes throughout history were necessary, regrettable at the most! When communists kill those who try to stand in the way of the popular revolution, it is unacceptable and should be condemned and exaggerated by all status quo-kow-towing media outlets!

nikkom831's avatar

everybody needs to learn that no killing of any innocent person in the name of anything is ok. People need to stop d**k measuring in terms of who was committing the more violent act. It’s as easy as the simple saying of two wrongs dont make a right. I’m not saying a revolution wasn’t necessary, and I’m not saying that fighting the government with power was the wrong way of going about it, I’m simply saying all of this could have been done very well without resorting to the killing of innocents, however righteous his cause may have been, THERE SHOULD BE NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THAT, because in my humble opinion it seems ignorant to for people to say they can feel empathy or sympathy with his cause of helping out the oppressed people when he himself took innocent lives. To take innocent lives in the name of saving innocent lives seems very hypocritical

Manuel's avatar

Let me get my Ayatollah Khomeini t-shirt out. Just because your revolting against a brutal dictatorship doesn’t make you any better. You have to be and do better when you get there.
You can’t murderer those who disagree, you can’t surpress speech, religion, dissent, liberty, sexuality….You have to be better, not bloodthirsty.
Your t-shirt offends me.

suzco's avatar

hossman – I totally agree with you. I also visited Cuba in April of this year. Never left Old Havana where I was able to meet 2 young bicycle taxi drivers. One of the spoke very good Engish and was happy to educate me on the hardships of the Cuban people. When Batista was ousted (or ran for the hills with millions of dollars) the older people were happy. The old regime was so horrible – the people were happy to have something new. They now had free hospital and free education. I don’t think they ever thought it would turn around to bite them in the ass. I visited them and met their families – 3 generations living in a 3 room apartment that is falling apart. I shared meals with them at their home and played with their children. Even in Cuba (as I’m sure you saw”, Che’s picture is everywhere. I don’t understand it. He was at best a cruel mercenary and went to kill when and where they wanted him. He was a terrible man.

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