BY ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA
October 9 marks the 29th anniversary of the death of Ernesto "Che" Guevara at the hands of the Bolivian army, in a CIA- organized operation.
Guevara, born in Argentina, joined the movement led by Fidel Castro and other Cuban revolutionaries and became a commander in the Cuban Rebel Army. After the overthrow of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he became one of the central leaders of the new workers and farmers government. Guevara held a number of posts, including president of the National Bank and minister of industry, and frequently represented Cuba internationally, including at the United Nations and in other world forums.
Guevara resigned his government posts and responsibilities in early 1965 and left Cuba in order to return to South America to help advance the anti-imperialist and anticapitalist struggles that were sharpening in several countries. Along with a number of volunteers who would later join him in Bolivia, Guevara went first to the Congo (now Zaire) where he aided the anti-imperialist movement founded by Patrice Lumumba. From November 1966 to October 1967 he led a guerrilla movement in Bolivia against that country's military dictatorship. Wounded and captured by the Bolivian army on Oct. 8, 1967, he was murdered the following day.
Below are excerpts from Guevara's "Message to the Tricontinental," which he wrote in Cuba in 1966 before leaving for Bolivia. The message was addressed to the newly formed Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It was published in April 1967 in the organization's magazine Tricontinental, under Guevara's title, "Create two, three...many Vietnams, that is the watchword."
The article is included in Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution, a collection of the revolutionary's speeches and writings published by Pathfinder. The selection below is reprinted by permission of Pathfinder Press.
In Asia, as we have seen, the situation is explosive, and Vietnam and Laos, where the struggle is now going on, are not the only points of friction. The same holds true for Cambodia, where at any moment the United States might launch a direct attack. We should add Thailand, Malaysia, and, of course, Indonesia, where we cannot believe that the final word has been spoken despite the annihilation of the Communist Party of that country after the reactionaries took power. And, of course, the Middle East.
In Latin America, the struggle is going on arms in hand in Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia, and the first outbreaks are already beginning in Brazil. Other centers of resistance have appeared and been extinguished. But almost all the countries of this continent are ripe for a struggle of the kind that, to be triumphant, cannot settle for anything less than the establishment of a government of a socialist nature....
The great lesson of the guerrillas' invincibility is taking hold among the masses of the dispossessed. The galvanization of the national spirit; the preparation for more difficult tasks, for resistance to more violent repression. Hate as a factor in the struggle, intransigent hatred for the enemy that takes one beyond the natural limitations of a human being and converts one into an effective, violent, selective, cold, killing machine. Our soldiers must be like that; a people without hate cannot triumph over a brutal enemy.
We must carry the war as far as the enemy carries it; into his home, into his places of recreation, make it total. He must be prevented from having a moment's peace, a moment's quiet outside the barracks and even inside them. Attack him wherever he may be; make him feel like a hunted animal wherever he goes. Then his morale will begin to decline. He will become even more bestial; but signs of the coming decline will appear.
And let us develop genuine proletarian internationalism, with international proletarian armies. Let the flag under which we fight be the sacred cause of the liberation of humanity, so that to die under the colors of Vietnam, Venezuela, Guatemala, Laos, Guinea, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil - to mention only the current scenes of armed struggle - will be equally glorious and desirable for a Latin American, an Asian, an African and even a European.
Every drop of blood spilled in a land under whose flag one was not born is an experience gathered by the survivor to be applied later in the struggle of one's own country. And every people that liberates itself is a step in the battle for the liberation of one's own people....
We cannot evade the call of the hour. Vietnam teaches us this with its permanent lesson in heroism, its tragic daily lesson of struggle and death in order to gain the final victory.
Over there, the soldiers of imperialism encounter the discomforts of those who, accustomed to the standard of living that the United States boasts, have to confront a hostile land; the insecurity of those who cannot move without feeling that they are stepping on enemy territory; death for those who go outside of fortified compounds; the permanent hostility of the entire population. All this is provoking repercussions inside the United States. It is leading to the appearance of a factor that was attenuated by imperialism at full strength: the class struggle inside its own territory.
How close and bright would the future appear if two, three, many Vietnams flowered on the face of the globe, with their quota of death and their immense tragedies, with their daily heroism, with their repeated blows against imperialism, forcing it to disperse its forces under the lash of the growing hatred of the peoples of the world!
And if we were capable of uniting in order to give our blows greater solidity and certainty, so that the aid of all kinds to the peoples in struggle was even more effective - how great the future would be, and how near!...
We feel proud at having learned from the Cuban revolution and from its great main leader the great lesson to be drawn from its position in this part of the world: "Of what difference are the dangers to a man or a people, or the sacrifices they make, when what is at stake is the destiny of humanity?"
Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism and a call for the unity of the peoples against the great enemy of the human race: the United States of North America.
Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear, if another hand reaches out to take up our arms, and other men come forward to join in our funeral dirge with the rattling of machine guns and with new cries of battle and victory.
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