Ernesto “Che” Guevara is described by many people as a hero and a source of inspiration to societies. T-shirts with his heroic logo are proudly worn by those who know him as a hero. Various media outlets and Hollywood actors have played a major role in trying to lionize the man to the current generation through movies. Humberto Fontova, in his book “Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Idiots Who Idolize Him,” exposed the bad side of the man that is idolized as a fearless and selfless fighter who is a source of inspiration to many. Fontova brings out his childhood memories of his family’s life as well as a recount of crimes committed by Che in Cuba during Fidel Castro’s regime (Fontova 2007, 10).
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In this book, Fontova succeeds in exposing the other side of Che. The writer ably narrates and points out atrocities and other crimes Che committed against humanity. However, by pointing out only the negatives about Che and basing on the idea that Fontova presents himself as a victim of Che, the book does not reveal the real Che. It is in a sense biased and thus does not fulfill its purpose, which was to reveal the real Che Guevara.
From the first pages, Fontova reveals his hatred for Fidel Castro as well as the communists who empowered Guevara and ruined Cuba. Throughout the book, the writer portrays Che’s revolution in Cuba as having been characterized by cold blood killing and pure hate. He quotes Che as having said that “liberation will only go through the bullet” (Fontova 2007, 3). As a leader of the guerilla group, Che masterminded the killing of many innocent people especially those who tried to oppose or criticize him through writing. He founded the communist police and the secret police that were behind most of the atrocities (Fontova 2007, 68). He signed death warrants for thousands of political prisoners, personally shot helpless prisoners, and enjoyed the cruel execution of others by the firing squad (Fontova 2007, 66). Being a senior government official, his activities brought much embarrassment to Fidel’s government. He was in a group that plotted to blow up the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument as well as the Liberty bell. The plot did not succeed eventually as the group was nabbed when trying to stuff the dynamite in the statues.
The writer quotes Che himself as having admitted that they executed people (Fontova 2007, 2). Fontova recounts a more heartless action by Che. He claims Che shot a bullet into the stomach of a six-month pregnant woman just because of a disagreement between him and the woman’s family (Fontova 2007, 82). The writer makes the claims authentic by citing interviews with survivors of Che’s atrocities as well as the CIA agents who interrogated him just before he was finally executed. The interviews reveal several ills against humanity committed by the guerilla group led by Guevara. The first one was a declaration that a revolutionary must become a cold carnage mechanism aggravated with extreme dislike. He led the group that captured and killed members of the anti-communist guerillas who were mostly the landless peasants. He also harbored plans to destroy New York City using nuclear missiles (Fontova 2007, 4). He ordered for burning of books that criticized him and signed death warrants for writers of such books (Fontova 2007, 112). He made public racist statements against the blacks and victimized homosexuals as well as religious people (Fontova 2007, 12).
Fontova is very critical of those who hold Che Guevara in high esteem. Even the use of idiots in the title itself indicates his disdain. This comes off as bias or reveals a level of bias on the part of the writer. For him, it would appear that Che was moronic and so are his supporters or admirers. With tirades of accusations, Fontova portrays Che as a type of person who had only ill motives against others especially the disadvantaged. He cherished a luxurious life at the expense of the people he was supposed to lead (Fontova 2007, 5).
Another accusation Fontova makes, which one would be tempted to consider extreme, is that Che had no experience with the military that he purported to lead (Fontova 2007, 37). He points out that although the left claims he was an accomplished warrior, he did not know how to handle a pistol. Actually, Fontova narrates that Che once shot himself in the head with his pistol and was just fortunate that the bullet did not kill him. According to Fontova, Che was a coward as evidenced by his surrender to the Bolivian military despite having a fully loaded pistol (Fontova 2007, 52). According to Fontova, if indeed Che was a fearless warrior, as it is claimed, then he should have engaged the Bolivian army in a real fight.
Such a view reveals the writer’s bias against Che. One would argue that Fontova is being unreasonable. Having a fully loaded pistol is not enough reason as to why Che should have engaged an army. The words Fontova chooses to describe these fans of Guevara: words like “idiots”, outrightly show the dislike he had for the man. He focuses only on the negative things committed by Che to disapprove the mainstream media and the Hollywood actors who in a sense have lionized Che.
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Perhaps these supporters and fans are ignorant of the real man they wholeheartedly support. Fontova makes a point in that direction. However, his language and fuss of accusations leave one wondering what his real intentions are. It would appear even Fontova, just like the left that he vehemently criticizes, does not do justice to the debate on who Che Guevara real was.
Fontova, Humberto. Exposing the real Che Guevara: and the useful idiots who Idolize him. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 2007.