Friday, June 13, 2008

Sri Lanka : Che's 80th Birth Anniversary

I will dedicate the next posts about Che Guevara (the revolutionary leader with a Basque last name) to some infamous gusanos (worms) that pollute the blogosphere, specially to one by the name of Val Prieto and to his lap dog Dean Esmay.

Here we go:

The 80th Birth Anniversary of Che Guevara:

Remembering an extraordinary man

Jayatilleke de Silva

Had he lived, Che would have turned 80 today - June 14. Unfortunately his life was cut short at the age of 39. Scared to hold him alive after capture, the enemy cowardly ended his life in the obscure jungles of Bolivia where he led an armed movement for liberation.

His assassins, still in fear, severed his body and buried different parts in different places before announcing “triumphantly” to the world the “death of Che Guevara”.

Yet, 41 years after his death in combat, he is very much alive.

His ideas have gained fresh adherents and winds of revolutionary change are sweeping across Central and South America from the Caribbean in the North to the Strait of Magellan in the South. Today, the first signpost of socialism in the Western hemisphere - Cuba, whose revolution Che had the privilege of leading with Fidel, is not alone.

Che lives in his ideas and in the struggle being waged by the people the world over for a better future for mankind. He lives in the struggle against neoliberalism, in the movement for sustainable growth, in the fight against poverty and human degradation, in the movement for freedom of the peoples, in the movement for socialism.

He has become a revolutionary icon for millions of youth both in the developed and the developing world. “Let us be like Che!” is the motto of millions of them.

Che was a man of extraordinary courage and extraordinary combative spirit.

Full of optimism and faith in humanity he never wavered in his convictions. During the most difficult days of the guerilla war he always volunteered to undertake the most dangerous operation regardless of the danger to his life.

“I wouldn’t consider my death a frustration, but... I will take to my grave only the regret of an unfinished song”, he wrote to his father for prison in Mexico in 1956. Yet Che was not only a heroic guerilla. He was “also a person of visionary intelligence and broad culture, a profound thinker”, as Fidel told a memorial rally in Havana on October 18, 1967.

Che realised that the building of the new society, the revolutionary transformation required two pillars: the education of the new man and woman and the development of technology. The excellent results achieved by Cuba in its development at present in both these fields show the potency and validity of Che’s thought.

In place of the relations of domination and subjugation that exist in the world Che fought for relations of mutual respect between nations.

“Foreign trade should not determine policy, but should, on the contrary, be subordinated to a fraternal policy toward the peoples”, he told the Afro - Asian Conference in Algeria on February 24, 1965. This principle is today beginning to assert itself among member countries of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America) - a grouping of progressive countries in Latin America.

He consistently fought against the use of capitalist norms in trade exchanges between socialist countries and insisted that wealthier countries offer concessionary terms to the weaker.

At the same Conference he said: “the socialist countries must help pay for the development of countries now starting out on the road to liberation. .......We believe the responsibility of aiding dependent countries must be approached in such a spirit. There should be no more talk about developing mutually beneficial trade based on prices forced on the backward countries by the law of value and the international relations of unequal exchange that result from the law of value”.

Che was above all an internationalist. His very life is an example of the highest internationalism. In fact, in this respect he stands taller above everybody else. Born in Argentina, he led the Cuban Revolution and died in Bolivia in an attempt to liberate its peasants. He was a true follower of Jose Marti who declared that “Humanity is my home”.

The staunch revolutionary he was, he nevertheless was a man of exceptional sensitivity.

It was his sense of duty to fellow humans that made him choose the life of a revolutionary instead of becoming a medical doctor.

As he wrote in his Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, wounded in the first battle at Alegr¡a de P¡o when he had to choose between a backpack full of medicine and a box of ammunition, he chose the latter.

On the 80th anniversary of his birth, we could agree with his comrade in arms Fidel Castro that “he constituted the singular case of a most extraordinary human being, able to unite in his personality not only the characteristics of the man of action, but also the man of thought, the person of immaculate revolutionary virtues and of extraordinary human sensibility, joined with an iron character, a will of steel, indomitable tenacity”.

The greatest homage one could pay him is to complete the “unfinished song”, the memory of which he took to his grave.

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