TO WHAT EXTENT HAS THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT CREATED THE HEROIC IMAGE OF CHE GUEVARA?
They say that some are born into greatness; some have greatness thrust upon them, and some of them become great as they go. Which of it is true for Che Guevara, we will never know. But some things that we all are aware of are his courage, determination, and his sheer dedication towards his country, which is found in few of them today. The world might think of him as a ruthless executioner, a bloodthirsty general or an over hyped icon, but Cuba worships Guevara as an angel of mercy and liberation in a time when the country had become a playground for international politics and government tactics. Che Guevara freed Cuba from a long lasting regime of corruption and oppression, and for that the country remains ever grateful to him.
There has been much debate as to whether the promotion and apparent hero worship of Guevara that ensues in Cuba is justified. Some refer to him as the advocate of a failing ideology, or a symbol of a new dictatorship. However, the Cuban Government revers him as an ideal for virtue, internationalism, and independence. Each school day in Cuba witnesses children chanting words meaning pioneers for Communism, we will be like Che. Not only is Guevara now a popular choice for pop art, but he has also been immortalized in the form of billboards, monuments, statues, and artworks that have been adorning buildings, museums, and even currency. Words meaning Homeland or Death top his face on the Cuban three peso coin, and he has also been imprinted on the national postage stamp.
The Cuban Government has also included Che as a subject in the University of Havana. The tourism industry in the country also benefits from Guevara and his image, which is a center of interest for people all over the world. Every year, more than half of the visitors of Guevara’s mausoleum, situated in Santa Clara, are foreigners.
However, Guevara does not seem to have an equally pronounced effect on national policies and such. In fact, his assassination led to the abandonment of the usage of guerilla warfare as a means of foreign policy. In the Latin American community as well, he is regarded more as a ruthless and biased executioner than a national hero.
What Che Guevara was then, and what he is now—that is a question that baffles many. But that is not to say that it makes this man any less revolutionary than he was. He might have been many things—a hero, a martyr, or a cruel dictator—but he was inspiring nonetheless.