Magazine article The New American

The Picture: In a New Book, Cuban Exile Humberto Fontova Exposes the Real Che Guevara

Magazine article The New American

The Picture: In a New Book, Cuban Exile Humberto Fontova Exposes the Real Che Guevara

Article excerpt

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Rock star Carlos Santana wears the shirt with Che Guevara's famous visage because the long-dead revolutionary, he declared, "is all about love and compassion, man." Supermodel Giselle Bundchen sports a bikini covered with his image. Johnny Depp, the flamboyant Jack Sparrow in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, wears a medallion bearing Che's image. Robert Redford made a film based on Che's Motorcycle Diaries, with the approval of the Castro regime.

And entertainers and models aren't alone in their worship of Che. The failed communist revolutionary who "fought" with Castro is a cultural icon and fad with the average kid who doesn't know the story behind the visage on his T-shirt. This year, the 40th anniversary of Che's death, occasioned a small gale of stories, including one in the New York Times on October 9. The headline says it all: "A Revolutionary Icon, and Now, a Bikini."

The New York Times' article does nothing to illuminate readers about the atrocities Che was involved with (the article does mock capitalists for capitalizing on a socialist hero), so those average kids remain ignorant of the murderous communist tyranny Che helped impose on Cuba. That Che unleashed a campaign of murder and terror and signed his correspondence as "Stalin II." That Che erected Cuba's notorious system of concentration camps. And that he murdered with pleasure. These truths are among those in Humberto Fontova's new book, Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him, the necessary corrective to the repulsive adulation Che receives.

Yet before today's glitterati swallowed the Che myth, before average teenagers began wearing Che paraphernalia, came the people who should have known better. They were the historians, intellectuals, and journalists who wrote and spoke with adulation about the man who helped Fidel Castro bring communist tyranny to Cuba in 1959. Nearly a half-century later, Fontova shows what they should have known, what he already knew by age seven when he fled the Castro regime with his mother, brother, and sister. The family thought his dad was dead at the time but were able to reunite with him later.

Throughout his book, Fontova contrasts the real Che with his groupies' laughable caricature of him:

* "Few doubt Che's sincerity."

* "Che waged a guerrilla campaign where he demonstrated outrageous bravery and skill."

* "Wearing a smile of melancholy sweetness that many women find devastating, Che Guevara guides Cuba with icy calculation, vast competence, high intelligence and a perspective sense of humor."

* "Che was aided by ... a complete freedom from convention or material aspirations."

All these quotes come from writers at what most Americans think are respected newspapers and magazines: the Washington Post, Time, the Boston Globe. Not to be left out is the New York Times, which swallowed communist propaganda whole when it published Che's claim, "I have never been a communist."

But the intellectuals are no better: "Ernesto Che Guevara is one of the most appealing figures of our century," thinks UCLA professor David Kunzle.

"Bravery, fearlessness, honesty, austerity and absolute conviction ... he lived it--Che really lived it," burbled biographer John Lee Anderson, a scribe for the New Yorker. "For Ernesto Guevara," Anderson averred, "everything began with literature."

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"He was the first man I ever met who I thought was not just handsome but beautiful," gabbled Christopher Hitchens, the same leftist who declared of Mother Teresa, "I wish there was a hell the b***h could go to."

According to the Guggenheim Museum curator, Che's image "references a classical Christ-like demeanor."

And "with his curly, reddish beard," gibbered leftist I.F. Stone, "he looked like a cross between a faun and a Sunday-school print of Jesus. …

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