SACRIFICIO-WHO BETRAYED CHE GUEVARA, A DOCUMENTARY, 2001
This year marks the 54th anniversary of the Cuban July 26th movement, the 48th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and the 40th anniversary of the execution of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara by the Bolivian Army after the defeat of his guerilla forces and his capture in godforsaken rural Bolivia. Thus, it would seem fitting to review a documentary concerning the life of a man who stood for my generation, the Generation of 68, and for later generations as an icon of revolutionary intransigence.
That is what I would like to do but this hour long documentary left me with more questions than it answered. Mainly I asked myself why, at this far remove from the events, it is necessary to find scapegoats or heroes around Che’s capture. Sure, we always search for historical accuracy where we can. And we know that history can be a terrible taskmaster. However, I am not convinced that the supposed victim here Ciro Busto, one of Che’s subordinates, who has been named in some historical accounts as the man who tipped the Bolivian authorities to Che’s presence in Bolivia, has made his case. Nor, for that matter, has the other subject of this research Regis Debray, although he seems to have won the historical argument. Moreover, it is entirely possible that others could have betrayed Che's presence, including local peasants, or that rather than betrayal it was a question or erroneous judgments. That is my position. In any case, both Busto and Debray were tried and received 30 year sentences and after an international campaign served three years. Furthermore, all I know is that with the death of Che a real revolutionary fighter went down. The only winner here was the American government and its various agents.
A word on a couple of the people interviewed here. One Felix Rodriquez of Bay of Pigs and Iran Contra infamy, a notorious soldier of fortune gets to put his two cents worth in since he was in on the capture of Che. Mark this- this is the rank and file face of the enemy of the peoples of the world and believe what he has to say at your peril. The second is Debray himself. Whatever his mistakes that led to Che’s capture may have been and I believe that they were, if anything, errors of judgment in Bolivia he is now a case study in the demise of revolutionary integrity that swamped the Generation of ’68 once the revolutionary wave ebbed. Debray was no mere maverick leftist journalist but essentially Fidel’s man in Europe in the 1960's. For those with short memories, or who were not alive then, Debray authored a book called Revolution Within the Revolution, a book that debunked the traditional Marxist notions of the centrality of the urban working class as the focal point of revolution and touted the ‘purity’ of the guerilla strategy as the way forward toward socialism. Of course this petty bourgeois professorial ‘philosopher’ now has political amnesia on that subject. Unfortunately, many a Latin American youth wound up dead or in prison trying to fight for that perspective. Honor their sacrifice. No honor to Debray from these quarters.