Che An Extraordinary Human Being. By Jayatilleke de Silva

Via: Daily News.

Today marks the 82nd birth anniversary of an extraordinary human being, one whose name will live through centuries and generations. He is none other than Ernesto Che Guevara, the legendary guerilla, statesman, thinker and revolutionary

In the words of his close comrade-in-arms Fidel Castro he was “a person of total integrity, a person with a supreme sense of honour and absolute sincerity, a person of stoic and Spartan living habits, a person in whose conduct not one stain can be found.”

He was not only a man of action but also a visionary and a person of broad culture, a profound thinker. His great contribution was the building of a new man who would with selfless devotion contribute to the building of a new society in revolutionary Cuba.

In Socialism and Man in Cuba Che spoke of two pillars of the construction of socialism: “the education of the new man and woman and the development of technology.” He always led by example.

Whether it is in the mountains of Sierra Maestra, or in the battle for post-revolutionary construction, he was always in the forefront. In the early days of the Revolution he had many responsibilities – Head of the newly created Industrial Department, Command of a regiment in Oriente, Head of Cuba’s National Bank.

He worked till early hours of the morning. In a letter to his parents he wrote: “We are not men, but working machines, fighting against time in the midst of difficult and luminous circumstances.” As biographer Lee Anderson said he used to grant interviews to foreign diplomats at 3’O clock in the morning.

For fellow men

Che’s life was full of sacrifices, sacrifices for fellow men. He gave up the profession of a doctor and the chance to accrue money and comforts to join Fidel’s group of rebels. In the very first battle as the doctor of the guerillas in which their group was decimated, he chose the rifle over the medicine box and became a guerilla commander. In battle he undertook the most difficult missions never fearing death. As Fidel said, “If, as a guerilla, he had his Achilles’ heel, it was his excessively combative quality, his absolute contempt for danger.”

Born in Congo, leading the revolution in Cuba, fighting in Africa and Latin America with arms in hand against imperialism he faced death in Bolivia at the hands of CIA trained butchers. He died defending the cause of the poor and the humble of the earth. That is why he has become an immortal legend.

Che was convinced that political independence itself wasn’t enough for the former colonies to be free. He understood the need for economic independence if they are to be really free. Participating at the Second Economic Seminar of Afro-Asian Solidarity way back in February 1965 he said: “Each time a country is liberated it is a defeat for the world imperialist system.

But we must agree that the break is not achieved by the mere act of proclaiming independence or winning an armed victory in a revolution. It is achieved when imperialist economic domination over a people is brought to an end.” Experience of the past 45 years has confirmed the truth of this statement.

It is customary to remember and honour Che as a military figure, as a guerilla commander. However, his relevance today is more in the ideas and thoughts he bequeathed to humanity. In the context of neo-liberal globalization accompanied by a media and ideological blitz by monopoly capital and world financial institutions his teachings on independent economic development become very useful. He wrote: The IMF acts as a custodian of the dollar for the capitalist world.

The IBRD is an instrument that is used to penetrate into underdeveloped countries, and the Inter-American development Bank fulfills this sad role in the American continent. The laws and principles that these organizations are governed by appear to be, on the surface, acting in the interests of the people they are supposedly there to help. They are promoted as safeguarding equity and reciprocity within the area of international economic relations. However, in reality they are merely subtle instruments used to perpetuate exploitation and backwardness.”

An inspiration

Most of all Che will be remembered for his internationalism, his lack of parochial interests. Actually he brought internationalism to a new height. He is the most outstanding proletarian internationalist of the 20th Century. At the time of the Vietnam War he wrote: “There are no borders in this struggle to the death. We cannot be indifferent to what happens anywhere in the world, because a victory by any country over imperialism is our victory, just as any country’s defeat is a defeat for all of us.”

He was devoid of ambition and self-interest. He never wanted any privileges for himself or his family. He believed that leaders should have no special privileges over the masses. He led a Spartan life enjoying no privileges that the masses did not have. Soon after the revolution, Che undertook a tour of several African and Asian countries (including Sri Lanka). Fidel had asked him to take his wife also along with him. He flatly refused the privilege offered as an extravagance that the Government could not afford.

In putting an end to his life at a young age imperialism hoped to end his influence over the masses, especially in the Third World. The result, however, was quite the contrary. His thoughts and deeds continue to inspire millions the world over, those in developed countries, to join the struggle for a better world.

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