“The Killing Machine”, Diary of “Che” Guevara (1928-1967)
The image of the Argentine guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara has been very popular among students for several generations. In universities and colleges throughout Latin America, it is usually found in large murals; Auditoriums and Halls are also named after him. His challenging and haughty superhero-style image appears in bags, caps, banners, T-shirts, and other merchandise. Today Che Guevara has been adopted as a multicultural symbol for progressivism and pacifism, even for the environmental and LGBT movement as well.
“The Killing Machine” is the title of a new biography written by Argentine lawyer Nicolás Márquez. The phrase was not invented to fustigate the legendary guerrilla. The phrase is taken from a speech given by Che Guevara before his death and published by the Cuban newspaper Granma in 1967. There Guevara describes himself and his ideal of the “new socialist man”, saying: “The uncompromising hatred of the enemy, which drives beyond the natural limits of the human being and turns it into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine.”
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born in Rosario, Argentina, to a prosperous family of Spanish immigrants. In 1947 the family moved to Buenos Aires. There Guevara entered the faculty of Medicine and graduated as a doctor in 1953. His restless nature and interest in politics and philosophy led him to make frequent trips to the provinces. He was attracted to left-wing Peronism but soon embraced radical Marxism. Guevara traveled to Mexico in 1954 where he organized himself with Cuban exiles who named him the “Che”, for being Argentinian. Guevara left for Cuba and together with Fidel Castro led the 1959 Revolution that imposed communism.
This facet of Guevara is found in countless books, biographies and even in films, glorifying him as the heroic guerrilla on motorcycle. The biography of Marquez, however, is one of the few who dare to touch the dark side of this strange doctor, who broke the Hippocratic Oath to inflict pain and death around the world. And Marquez does not refer to deaths in combat, which could be understood in terms of military duty. He refers to the sinister side of Guevara, who liked to use his own gun to execute political prisoners. It is estimated that he alone executed in cold-blood 216 people.
To back up his claims, Marquez cites paragraphs from Che Guevara’s famous personal diary in Sierra Maestra, where using his knowledge as a doctor describes in detail his multiple executions (or murders), explaining the damage caused by bullets to tissues and bones of his victims. The biography recounts the most abominable case of his thirst for blood in the military fortress of La Cabaña (the Cabin), in Havana, which was an extermination camp. It is documented that Che Guevara executed only there and with his own gun 165 political dissidents, tied to a pole or kneel.
Any Psychology professor or student could define such cold, morbid behavior as one of a psychopath. Moreover, Guevara was a deep admirer of genocides such as Joseph Stalin, the brutal communist dictator in the USSR, responsible for exterminating more than 25 million Soviet dissidents and citizens. The writer Márquez recounts that Guevara signed letters and documents under the pseudonym “Stalin 2”.
Years later the relationship with Fidel Castro was distanced by political differences. While Castro adapted to Nikita Khrushchev’s more moderate style in the USSR, Guevara aligned himself with the genocidal communist Mao Zedong in China. It is believed that Castro, knowing Guevara’s exacerbated temperament, let him embark on his insane mercenary adventure in Bolivia and there Castro abandoned him to his fate. An adventure that ended in defeat and that would cost him his life, not without first killing 49 Bolivian soldiers.
Guevara was not only a “killing machine”, a homicidal, he was also in charge of the first “rehabilitation” camp pf forced labor for homosexuals on the Guanahcabibes peninsula in Cuba. As a great admirer of Stalin and Mao, Che Guevara shared the strong homophobia of Stalinism embodied in terrible laws. While in the USSR Penal Code 121 punished sodomy with 5 years of forced labor in the fearsome “gulags”, in communist China homosexuals were castrated (a law repealed only in 1997).
In Cuba homosexuality was considered an evil of “capitalist decay” and it was punished. Gay artists and writers were persecuted. The case of poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas is the best known. In August 2010, Fidel Castro apologized to the world for the anti-gay persecution. Guevara however referred to them with contempt, saying: “The revolution does not need hairdressers and work will make you men.” The ideal of the “new socialist man,” the man of steel promoted by Guevara, is more like Frederick Nietzsche’s superman, the Adolf Hitler’s Aryan warrior.
Che Guevara was also a racist. This shameful trait, whose supporters try to hide or justify, resurfaced in April 2013 when the famous rapper Jay Z visited Cuba with his wife Beyonce, and he wore a Che Guevara T-shirt. Senator Marco Rubio(R-Fla.) reminded the rapper that Che wrote terrible things in his diary, such as that blacks in Venezuela were drunk and filthy: “Those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of affinity with bathing.” “The black is indolent and a dreamer, spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; The European has a tradition of work and saving.” To the Bolivia indigenous people, Guevara referred with contempt as “those little animals”.
While the image of Che does not have today the violent and bloodthirsty connotation like in the 1970s, many young people mistakenly still associate his name with a noble or humanitarian cause. Left-wing organizations use it as a transnational franchise to promote the false promises of socialism. As a commodity or idol of admiration, it is however demeaning and repulsive. No one in his right mind should wear a T-shirt with the image of Che Guevara knowingly that he was a homicidal psychopath, a homophobic, a racist and a lousy military strategist, an organizer of defeats.