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  • Bolivia’s Evo Morales and the Ghost of El Che

    Che Guevara

    The Cold War is supposed to be over, and the murderous ideology of Marxist-Leninist revolution either tempered by capitalism and consumerism in China or Vietnam, or confined behind the grim ramparts of communist throwbacks like Cuba and North Korea. If that’s the case, Bolivian leader Evo Morales must not have gotten the memo.

    In a sharp contrast with Bolivia’s history – it was in fact Bolivian troops which executed the violently homicidal Cuban Communist leader Che Guevara in 1967 for attempting an ill-fated repeat of Cuba’s communist revolution – the country’s leftist President Evo Morales has now ordered the Bolivian army to adopt a chant popularized by Guevara and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, “Patria o muerte, venceremos (Fatherland or death, we shall overcome!)”

    From Havana, via Caracas, where the Hugo Chavez variant of the chant is “Partia, socialismo, o muerte!” (Fatherland, Socialism, or Death), to La Paz, Bolivia the revolutionary ideals and practices of ‘El Che” are again in vogue. A new generation of populist political leaders is seeking to mobilize the masses with exhortations to martyrdom, self-sacrifice, and hatred of foreign and domestic enemies.

    Bringing back the ghost of Guevara is a great way to shore up support for Morales not only in Latin America but throughout the world. Despite many penetrating books revealing Guevara’s dark side, Che remains a chic, radical symbol of violent and disruptive change around the world. While the politically naïve rush to purchase T-shirts and posters that forever freeze the face of youthful rebellion or consider propaganda films such as The Motorcycle Diaries and Che to be the unvarnished truth, the beneficiaries and manipulators of the image squash human rights, stifle public debate with slogans, and arrogate to themselves and the favored few power and control. The Orwellian process of re-writing history, turning individuals into shouting automatons lost in the masses, and extolling the superior qualities of a visionary authoritarian is alive and well in Bolivia.

    Michael Orion Powell is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/About/Internships-Young-Leaders/The-Heritage-Foundation-Internship-Program

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Bolivia’s Evo Morales and the Ghost of El Che

    1. Pingback: Revisiting an Old Flame: Bolivia adopts Revolutionary Slogan

    2. locojhon, Trumansbur says:

      The author states: "The Orwellian process of re-writing history, turning individuals into shouting automatons lost in the masses, and extolling the superior qualities of a visionary authoritarian is alive and well in Bolivia."

      Given the previous statement claiming that the Bolivian army–supposedly on its own–executed Che without mentioning the role of the CIA in that operation, means that the "Orwellian process" is also alive in the Heritage blog.

      People living in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones….


    3. jorge says:

      Wow, nice right-wing propaganda. VIVA CHE !!!

    4. Michael says:

      locoto -

      Thank you very much for writing a comment. I am fully aware of the role of the CIA in Che Guevera's death. It wasn't mentioned in the blog because it wasn't particularly relevant or necessary for the message of the blog in question.

      For further information on Che's death, George Washington University has great resources: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB5/index

    5. gordon santa cruz, B says:

      Living in Bolivia I cannot understand why Che is considered a hero. He was sent here to kill Bolivians much as he helped Castro do in Cuba to Cubans who disagreed with him. It is true that past right wing Bolivian regimes have been oppressive and ruthless. The current left wing government is following in the same footsteps. Now that the president controls congress and the court system there is no independence of powers any where in the country. The upcoming departmental elections will largely determine if any open opposition will be allowed in Bolivia in the foreseeable future.

    6. Gina, NYC says:

      "Che" Guevara was not Cuban, nor can he be considered "violently homicidal". But I understand that for someone that has never been in the side of the poor, this is a very easy image to get.

    7. Sam, WI says:

      Mind siting your source, Gina?

      As for the current Bolivian President, I heard, back in late 2006 or 2007, from a guy who had taken some trips there saying that the president that had been recently elected was a coke farmer. I haven't been able to confirm if that statement is or was true, but I'm curious as to whether or not it is the same person.

    8. VivaChe says:

      "Che’s life is an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom, we will always honor his memory." — Nelson Mandela

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