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From Guevara to Chavez

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Old drawing on paper (ballpoint pen), digital coloring.

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Pink tide - and a revolutionary is born again

By Rory Carroll and Lola Almudevar

When the haggard and broken figure was laid out on the slab and displayed to the world it was not just Che Guevara that had died. The dream of socialist revolution in South America was over. His image and name would continue to inspire millions, but on the continent he wanted to transform he was a political failure, a defeated guerrilla on the wrong side of history.

Bolivia's peasants spurned Che's rebellion, leaving the Bolivian army and the CIA to capture him on October 8, 1967, kill him the following day, and rid South America of Cuba's revolutionary spirit. The soldiers reportedly drew straws to determine who would have the honour of shooting Che.

"And so he is dead," wrote the Guardian's Richard Gott, one of the few journalists at the scene that day. "As they pumped preservative into his half-naked, dirty body and as the crowd shouted to be allowed to see, it was difficult to recall that this man had once been one of the great figures of Latin America."

It was difficult to feel his ideas would die with him, Gott said. He was right. Forty years later the anniversary of the death is looming and the scene is transformed: the Cubans are back, socialism is back and Che is a hero.

Che's rehabilitation has been borne on the region's "pink tide" of left-wing governments, especially in Bolivia and Venezuela, where efforts are under way to promote socialism, deepen ties with Havana and roll back Washington's influence.

The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, echoes Che's desire to wean people off capitalism by moulding a "new socialist man". The Argentine-born rebel's writings have been widely distributed in Venezuela and a government-run work and training scheme was recently named after him. Chavez has devised an ambitious scheme that ships Venezuelan oil to Cuba in exchange for 20,000 medical personnel who offer free treatment to Venezuela's poor.

About 800 doctors have moved to Bolivia since its President, Evo Morales, an ally of Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro, was elected in 2005. Others are on their way to Ecuador now it has a socialist president, Rafael Correa. The scheme has widened so that poor patients from as far afield as Brazil, Chile and Nicaragua can fly to Venezuela and Cuba for free treatment.

"They have treated more than 120,000 [Bolivian] patients for free, without any conditions at all," Morales says. "What has Cuba asked of us? Have they asked to take ownership of a mine or to be partners in petrol? No."

Bolivia's President contrasted that with US aid, which he said came with strings, such as concessions for corporations that would perpetuate the neo-liberal economics, which he blames for impoverishing the region. "One wants to subordinate and impose conditions, the other gives unconditional co-operation."

Che envisaged violent insurrections against South America's ruling elites as part of a global fight against US imperialism, with the war in Vietnam just one front. Even Castro was said to be taken aback at his vehemence.

What Che would make of socialists who take power through elections rather than the gun no one can know. Not even Chavez, the reddest tinge in the pink tide, advocates communism. Nor is it certain the tide will endure.

But there is no doubt it has swept Che back into political battle after decades when he was little more than a handsome face on countless T-shirts and posters.

His name still inspires loathing among those who attend anti-government protests in Bolivia and Venezuela. Che was an enthusiastic executioner of the revolution's opponents in Havana, they say, and his elevation to secular saint bodes ill for democracy in the Andes. "He was a bloodthirsty Marxist who died and failed for a good reason," says Ignacio Baretto, a from Caracas. "We don't need him back."

Momentum is with those who revere the guerrilla. Chavez, flush with oil money and popularity, is building what he calls "21st century socialism". Morales has nationalised the energy industry and is ploughing through heavy resistance to rewrite Bolivia's constitution. Both presidents openly scorn the US.

Analysts agree that Washington has hemorrhaged influence over a region once its backyard. The dispatch of a US navy hospital ship to treat the poor has been viewed as a belated, feeble reply to Cuba's doctor army.

"Che was fighting for dignified societies, where no one is in the street, where no one is exploited and where people have the same opportunities to study and live," says Loyola Guzman, a member of Bolivia's constituent assembly and one of the few remaining guerrillas who fought next to Guevara. "That is what we are fighting for now."


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President Chavez launches Che Guevara Mission

By Mathaba

During a ceremony that takes place in the Theater Teresa Carreño this Thursday, President Hugo Chávez officially launched Che Guevara Mission.

The new mission was created to substitute Vuelvan Caras mission aimed at strengthening the training of the new man with a socialist view of life.

The Minister of People’s Power for Communal Economy, Pedro Morejon, said before attending the ceremony: ''In this phase, we will go to strengthen the revolutionary process by creating conscience, ethic and ideology with a socialist base to build a new social production.''

Last September 10th, the mission successfully started in all the Socialist Training Centers (CFS, by its Spanish abbreviation) of the country; about 40,000 people enrolled in the mission.

Members of the President Commission of Che Guevara Mission also attend the ceremony, among them: Minister of People’s Power for Education, Adan Chávez, Minister of People’s Power for Communal Economy, Pedro Morejón and Minister of People’s Power for Higher Education, Luis Acuña.

Ideological training and constitutional reform conferences are given in the CFS of the country in order to incorporate Ché Guevara Mission’s members in the building of socialism.

Translated by Natalia González


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Deutsch-Ostafrika's avatar
I Feel like I've seen this before somewhere ..
Dowlphin's avatar
Who'd have though that polito-cynical me could name a head of a country that I actually have positive feelings towards. Getting into such a high office without becoming a money puppet is a great feat.
It pains me how recently the Venezuelan people seem to be caving and preferring convenient corruption over inconvenient sincerity.
With each victory for the People comes potential for another defeat. The battle is never over. The great corruptor that is beyond help goes into ever-deeper madness. It is mindboggling how many are still fervently supporting the agents of their own misery.
It's either a little inconvenience for everybody all the time or great inconvenience for everybody in the future.
Kevin2097's avatar
How is Chavez good?
aedan122's avatar
como no mundo ainda ha imbecis,graças a Deus que chaves ja foi.
tarzanpg's avatar
the struggle is real
GuerrillaChe's avatar
Two of the greatest men of any era Rest in power
MoonlightTheif's avatar
R.I.P Hugo Chavez

There is always a Free Latin America from US Imperial Influence. You are always be remembered in a our hearst as a Hero of Latin America along with Che Guevara and many Leftist presidents who are overthrow by US backed Coups
pete8680's avatar
Im glad that puppets of "let the goverment run EVERYTHING way of life" r ded.

less gov't is better gov't.
AnaBelenRuiz's avatar
Hero! he's not dead, he is now a seed in the people minds
Silver786's avatar
Merci pour ce magnifique artwork :)
2 of americas most wanted
Fedayn-Roma's avatar
you are featured on my journal: [link]
blackorb00's avatar
>>> RIP Chavez..
TheDarkAbb's avatar
La idea original del Che me parece muy buena, ahora como todo evoluciono en Cuba y Venezuela por los Castro y Chavez es un fracaso. Se supone que debería haber un bien común, no solo a unos privilegiados.
LukaErCaiman's avatar
Desafortunadamente estan todos los problemas hechos por los opositores a la idea, Chavez en realidad no pareciera que hace un mal trabajo, hay beneficios y desventajas, la mayoría justificados por una ideología, pero sería mejor observar y ver que más puede que halla dentro de la caja de ideas que tienen
TheDarkAbb's avatar
Bueno pero la división, inseguridad y crisis política, económica y social no me parece u buen trabajo. Ayudo a mucha gente de menos recursos pero al mismo tiempo atacando a la clase alta y media. Es una ideología difícil de controlar, en Europa donde se pone mejor en practica también les esta fallando un poco pero andan mejor que nosotros. En un socialismo todos deberían trabajar sin que hayan privilegiados, cosa que no ocurre en Venezuela. Mientras se ve gente en los barrios la hija de Chavez se va de viaje y conoce celebridades.
LukaErCaiman's avatar
Bueno, la division ocurre por las diferencias ideológicas y gigantezca hostilidad existente entre ambos bandos, inseguridad.... No tengo mucho que decir, si, hay bastante, sin embargo se hacen esfuerzos (policia bolivariana por ejemplo) y la mayoría de los datos no son de antes de este gobierno. El ataque a la media alta también es cierto, se da como motivo el aprovechamiento de esa clase contra las bajas, sin embargo hace falta ver si el motivo es objetivo o creencia ideológica. Europa ha estado más avanzada que los paises latinoamericanos de todas maneras, y Venezuela es un pais emergente y no está tan mal. No entiendo mucho lo de los privilegiados.... Y me gustaría saber de donde sale eso de que la hija se va de viaje a conocer celebridades asi
TheDarkAbb's avatar
Simplemente busca fotos de ella y la veras con Justin Bieber y otra gente, ademas de tener una foto con una faja de dolares en la mano... Se necesita una transición en Venezuela, ya es mas que suficiente haberlo tenido por 14 anios... Se necesitan nuevas ideas y nueva gente.
LukaErCaiman's avatar
ups, no terminé el comentario
En realidad en cierto modo aún está ocurriendo una transición, comparado a los tipos de gobiernos que ocurrieron a lo largo de la historia desde la separación de la Gran Colombia este gobierno ha tenido ventajas, el largo período de gobierno ha sido debido a varias reelecciones consecutivas, nuevas ideas sería algo interesante como para echar un vistazo, sólo que hasta ahora la mayoría de la politica está dividida entre "chavistas y antichavistas", es posible que la gente y las ideas esten atoradas en ese conflicto o no hayan sido notadas por ello, o posiblemente agarradas como armas para el propio conflicto
LukaErCaiman's avatar
Sip, hay fotos de ella con rial, pero en realidad no tengo ni idea si es una foto legítima haci que hace falta investigación (de donde salió la foto, si enserio es ella y no alguien haciendose pasar, posibilidad de alteración de las imágenes o uso para un contexto equivocado, etc), recuerda que una vez alteraron una foto de chavez y cambiaron una flor por una pistola
ALANCOHEN's avatar
AmericanComrade's avatar
DragonQuestWes's avatar
I used to hate Chávez when I was a younger ignorant yankee but then I realized the truth and the improvements of Venezuela under Chávez. Now I support him.

Che Guevara is also a good inspiration. :thumbsup:
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