6
The
General Strike

ERNESTO GUEVARA HAD SEEMED content to remain in the shadow of Fidel Castro. But when Castro appointed him a major *—the highest rank in the undersized Rebel Army—and sent him off to establish a separate base in the mountains, he began to emerge as an individual. Indiscretions that could not be uttered in the rebel leader's presence were safely confided to paper. Though Guevara never once communicated with his wife and daughter, who were now in Peru, and perhaps did not even think about them, he wrote often to Castro. He taxed the commander about his "mental diarrhea" and his refusal to accept a rank other than major. An army should have a general, he insisted. In his dealings with others Guevara was abrasive and often cruel. Those who did not agree with him were fools or traitors or both. He could never understand the Cubans, he said. They talked too fast. Those who served under him were "illiterates." Prío Socarrás was an imbecile, the communist Carlos Rafael Rodríguez a joker. When he reached his zone of operations, he found that other forces, not part of Castro's army, had preceded him. Irritated, he reported to Castro: "Those guerrillas from the plains hadn't left here yet, as the businessmen of this place wanted. So I crapped on the businessmen and kicked those guerrillas out!" He grumbled about those down below on the plain who conspired, he said, against the real fighters in the sierra. His principal target was René Ramos Latour. Castro should select a new head of the July 26 National Directorate, he said, someone loyal, such as Raúl Castro or Juan Almeida, or perhaps the Argentine doctor himself. "I emphasize this," he

____________________
*
Comandante.

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