By Matthew Brady and M. L. Brillman
The Galway City Council scuttled plans to erect a statue to Ernesto "Che" Guevara but the very idea is repulsive to those who know about Guevara's crimes.
The plan to build the statue was apparently spearheaded by Irish Labour politician Billy Cameron. The Galway City Council approved an initial proposal last year and construction was slated for late 2012 or 2013 but never got off the ground due to widespread criticism, including public letters from U.S. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The proposal itself reflects the success of the €he Guevara brand ("€" insertion is deliberate). The Cuban economy is built, in part, on the myth of a socialist heaven and Guevara's role in that myth has been prepared, packaged and exported through books, postcards, photos, posters, paintings, videos, t-shirts, berets, and other paraphernalia. Indeed, unsavory characters have their admirers, but Guevara's posthumous popularity as the global symbol of revolution has been embraced by uninformed millions who know nothing of his murderous past.
They see what Hollywood and recent authors have portrayed -- a romanticized, one-sided account of portions of Guevara's life. They see the young idealist from The Motorcycle Diaries. Ironically, Guevara has become the darling of capitalist commoditization and conspicuous consumption, the very principles he purportedly fought against including a profound hatred for the United States. Ubiquitous t-shirts and posters now permeate affluent college campuses, diluting his supposed populist message of class struggle.
But the reality is Guevara oversaw and participated in thousands of summary executions without trial during and after the apotheosis of the Cuban Revolution. Nearly every Cuban living in Cuba or exile knows about La Cabaña -- where Guevara created, as one Cuban said, "an assembly line of torture, murder and assassination" during the Cuban Revolution. While Guevara's evil deeds are widely known in Cuba and Miami, awareness outside Cuba of Guevara's actions is only now coming to light -- see the Cuba Archive (www.CubaArchive.org) and a book titled The Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him by Humberto Fontova.
Returning to the issue of Galway, one must ask -- could the City Council find no better candidate? Guevara's lineage to the Lynch clan in Galway is murky. There is no source or report that has conclusively settled Guevara's Irish ancestry on his mother's side, father's side, both, or if they were from Galway or from Cork.
Galway should ultimately be applauded for rejecting the whims of a few old Irish Lefties, but this should be the last attempt to glorify Guevara anywhere in the world because doing so is disrespectful to his victims and offensive to humanity. If Galway still seeks a piece of granite iconography, its leaders could honor Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who was in Ireland last month for an award and a concert called "Electric Burma" at which Irish musicians Bono, Bob Geldof and Damien Rice performed. Now that would have been worth a trip to Ireland.