In a recent interview, the daughter of Che Guevara explained how the West deliberately frames revolutionary governments as dictatorships. Noting Cuba as an example, she asked, “What kind of a dictator wants his people to be healthy and have free education?”
In a recent interview with Russia Today, Aleida Guevara, daughter of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, expounded upon how the West construes revolutionary governments as dictatorships, manipulating these governments’ aims and purposes.
Her explanation of the West’s imparted definition of dictatorship applies to the Cuban Revolution, as well as her brief insights into socialist and revolutionary governments in Latin America, reflect the process that Fidel Castro, inspired by Jose Martí — a Cuban poet and journalist who was involved in the struggle for independence from Spain, defined as fundamental to the continuation of revolutionary struggle and consciousness.
Departing from questions on how Che would have reacted to the turmoil instigated by imperialist violence, Aleida asserted that, based on his letters and speeches, backing revolutionary movements would have been a priority for her father.
Mentioning Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, a group that has been resisting exploitation and fighting for land reform for over 25 years, Aleida stressed the significance that such a movement would have had for Che – one of the foundations of the Cuban Revolution being agrarian reform. Mentioning Evo Morales, Nicolas Maduro and Rafael Correa as three Latin American leaders who Che would have supported, Aleida stated: “My father always appreciated staunch advocates of a certain ideology who know exactly what they want in life. No matter if he agreed or disagreed with them, he would certainly give a hand to those leaders who are willing to change their peoples’ lives for the better.”
Though it expresses a general revolutionary sentiment, her statement is not properly indicative of the fundamental principles consistently and rigorously applied by Che. Notably, Correa’s recent overtures toward Zionism, expressing the opinion that Latin American countries should emulate Israel in their quest for emancipation, would not have endeared him to Che. Che visited Gaza on June 18, 1959 — a trip based on showing internationalist solidarity and imparting guerrilla tactics for the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s colonization of land and people.
Yet Aleida’s statement does reflect Cuba’s support for Chile’s Salvador Allende – support that clearly disturbed U.S. plans for dominance in the region. Allende was deemed by both Fidel and Che as a leader intent upon achieving revolution through different means, with Chile being the country that could initiate socialist struggle in the region. Cuba’s support for Chile extended beyond Allende’s short-lived rule to the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), for whom Cuba provided guerrilla training to resist Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship.
Further, Chile and Cuba shared a common problem: U.S. efforts to destabilize socialist revolution. In Allende’s case, U.S. overt and covert actions resulting in sabotage, supply shortages and the financing of right wing groups to create turmoil in Chile led to the overthrow of Allende.
In Cuba, however, the United States’ destabilization attempts through terrorist attacks, CIA assassination plots against Fidel, as well as the ongoing embargo instituted in 1962, have sought to undermine precisely the values which have supported the Cuban Revolution’s continuation — education and health care.
“The more educated the people, the freer they are”
Despite hardships as articulated by Aleida, the foundations for a new society in Cuba remain strong, albeit hampered by American reticence to lift the blockade, resulting in severe repercussions for the most vulnerable. The blockade affects food and medicine imports, and thus, several health conditions risk remaining untreated because companies worldwide are restricted from entering into economic agreements with Cuba. The alternative is, in Aleida’s words, going through “intermediaries” to provide patients with the best chance of survival, resulting in added expenses for a country that is already under extreme pressure due to the economic isolation imposed on it by the U.S.
Apart from the obvious aim of the U.S. — to destroy Cuba’s revolutionary society and smash its internationalist endeavors — the insistence upon maintaining the embargo also aids in manipulating the revolution as a “dictatorship” and Fidel as the “dictator.” The George W. Bush administration stated the U.S. government’s intentions to persist with its hostility against Cuba for as long as Fidel or Raúl Castro remain in power — clearly outlining their strategy for offering counterrevolutionary support and promoting democracy on the island nation.
Likewise, after a forum held to discuss the U.S. embargo last month, Josefina Vidal, the head of the Cuban foreign ministry’s U.S. division, stated, unequivocally: “We don’t have those indications (of any policy change).”
Still, as Aleida stated, the West’s concept of a dictatorship is compromised and purposely misinterpreted: “
They have no idea what a dictatorship is. No dictator would educate his people, because the more educated the people, the freer they are.”
Educating the masses
The concept of education, one of the bases of the Cuban Revolution, is a process that combines anti-colonial struggle through the socialization of knowledge. Under the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, education was the means of supporting colonial relations that caused the manifestation of inequalities in Cuban society.
Fidel’s concept of education, however, was in line with the revolution’s goals: sovereignty, economic development, and social justice.
In his defense speech following the July 26 Movement’s attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, Fidel stated:
“Where the peasant doesn’t own the land, what need is there for agricultural schools? Where there is no industry, what need is there for technical or vocational schools. Everything follows the same absurd logic; if don’t have one thing we can’t have the other … Is this the way to make a nation great?”
Additionally, the education process in Cuba is a continuation of Jose Martí’s interpretation of revolution as a direct attack on colonial and imperialist practices. The Cuban Revolution embraced a framework that incorporated Martí’s vision of reconciling the needs of the individual with those of the collective, Fidel’s anti-imperialist stance and Che’s views about educating the masses, with no one left behind. The imparting and acquisition of knowledge has placed Cuba at the helm of education, medicine and humanitarian relief, rendering the island’s internationalist stance a tangible reality.
Eliminating the concept of privilege from education and health care – a capitalist vision that fosters inequality in many societies – Cuba’s approach to education combats the monopoly of knowledge in order to promote equal dissemination which is firmly rooted in revolution, freedom and internationalism. Thus, Fidel managed to transform an education system that was dependent upon the promotion of inequality into one compatible with anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle. This was possible through the unification of education and revolution – a process that Che contributed to, in particular, through his views on the necessity of creating a “new consciousness” that repudiated the colonial concept of the individual as a commodity. Hence, it can be said that the freedom imparted within the Cuban model of education safeguarded not only the independence of the revolution, but also society.