Saturday, April 4, 2015

Che

The Dictator's Handbook, pg 25

Lest there be doubt that those who share the risks of coming to power often are then thrown aside—or worse—let us reflect on the all-too-typical case of the backers of Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba. Of the twenty-one ministers appointed by Castro in January 1959, immediately after the success of his revolution, twelve had resigned or had been ousted by the end of the year. Four more were removed in 1960 as Castro further consolidated his hold on power. These people, once among Fidel’s closest, most intimate backers, ultimately faced the two big exes of politics. For the luckier among them, divorce from Castro came in the form of exile. For others, it meant execution. This includes even Castro’s most famous fellow revolutionary, Che Guevara.

Che may have been second in power only to Fidel himself. Indeed, that was likely his greatest fault. Castro forced Che out of Cuba in 1965 partly because of Che’s popularity, which made him a potential rival for authority. Castro sent Che on a mission to Bolivia, but towards the end of March 1967 Castro simply cut off Guevara’s support, leaving him stranded. Captain Gary Prado Salmon, the Bolivian officer who captured Che, confirmed that Guevara told him that the decision to come to Bolivia was not his own, it was Castro’s. One of Fidel’s biographers remarked, "in a very real sense Che followed in the shadows of Frank Pais, Camilo Cienfuegos, Huber Matos, and Humberto Sori Marin [all close backers of Castro during the revolution]. Like them, he was viewed by Castro as a ‘competitor’ for power and like them, he had to be moved aside ‘in one manner or another.’ Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia but at least he escaped the ignominy of execution by his revolutionary ally, Fidel Castro. Humberto Sori Marin was not so ‘fortunate.’ Marin, the commander of Castro’s rebel army, was accused of conspiring against the revolution. In April 1961, like so many other erstwhile backers of Fidel Castro, he too was executed."

Political transitions are filled with examples of supporters who help a leader to power only to be replaced. This is true whether we look at national or local governments, corporations, organized crime families, or, for that matter, any other organization.

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But for many years Fidel happily used Che's image to bolster his own; now it looks like it was he who sent Che to his death.. What an asshole (is he still alive?). Here is a Fidel joke: He is given a Galapagos turtle as a gift. He asks how long the animal will live. "About four hundred years", he is told. Fidel shakes his head sadly, and  says, "That's the trouble with pets. You get attached to them and then they die on you".

*ba-dum-tshh*

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