The New Man
ERNESTO GUEVARA FACED A stormy reception in New York. Earlier in the day— December 11, 1964—three anti-Castro exiles had fired homemade bazooka shells at the United Nations building from across the East River. They assured police interrogators that they had no criminal intentions, that they merely hoped to draw attention from Guevara's speech to the General Assembly. And as he entered the building, a woman attacked him with a knife. He was not injured. Castro had sent him to state Cuba's position on several international issues, particularly the current problems in the Congo, and he was determined to be uncivil, to spare no one and no country, least of all the United States. This was Guevara's first opportunity to address a gathering of that magnitude, but he was not awed as he stood before the microphones. His words were alternately eloquent and passionate, at times almost mystic, and they seemed to defy any adequate translation. At the outset he welcomed the three newest members of the body— Zambia, Malawi, and Malta—inviting them to join the "group of nonaligned nations" that were "fighting against imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonialism." He declared Cuba's solidarity with the neighboring people of Puerto Rico and their "great leader," Pedro Albizu Campos. For too long, he said, young Puerto Ricans had served as cannon fodder in America's imperialist wars. And he warned the delegates of the perilous situation in the Congo, "a case without parallel in the modern world," in which the rights of the peoples were being flouted with "absolute impunity and the most insolent cynicism."
How could anyone, he asked, forget the machinations and maneuvering that had followed the occupation of the Congo by the United Nations