So, last Tuesday, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called in to Radio Mambi (WAQI 710 AM) and spoke with host Ninoska Perez Castellon. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen called not only to inform listeners that she has sent out a "protest letter" to State Sec. Clinton, but also to encourage listeners of Radio Mambi to write their own letters of protest to the State Department because of what occurred at the U.S. Embassy booth of the Buenos Aires International Book Fair. Furthermore, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also mentioned another letter that is being signed by "dozens and dozens" of her colleagues telling Sec. Clinton that "she should be informed about (or alerted to)" what is happening at our Embassies.
[Audio of Interview]
While the exact words of the "protest letter" to Sec. Clinton are not known, the comments from the press release are incredibly misinformed. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen believes that the book presentation of "Che's Afterlife" was an event "venerating" Ernesto Guevara. And, thus "the U.S. Embassy in Argentina is using American tax dollars to advance the radical agenda of those working feverishly to threaten regional stability and undermine critical U.S. foreign policy priorities in the region."
These comments make no sense at all.
The book by Michael Casey, just like the other investigations into Korda's "Che," does not "venerate" anyone, and does not "advance" any political ideology. Rather, it seems that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is completely misinformed about the content of Michael Casey's book. As a matter of fact, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen mentions that she wrote her "protest letter" immediately after reading the Miami Herald's article describing the book presentation as "provocative" and part of a "charm offensive." Way to go Herald.
But, even if Rep. Ros-Lehtinen did have some knowledge of the book's content, she would probably still protest because as she told Radio Mambi: "I don't care about the image of 'Che' Guevara. What I care about is what 'Che' Guevara has done, and the hundreds of Cubans that died because of this tyrant."
It's clear that some people only see a "Killing Machine" when they see or think of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's father, Cuban historian Enrique Ros, is author of one of the first books to confront the "Che Myth" before Humberto Fontova or Alvaro Vargas Llosa did. To these authors, based on their thorough research, Guevara embodied all the worst human elements anyone can think of. Therefore, they believe that the people who continue to idolize "Che" the assassin are either "idiots," victims or members of the "worldwide media/academia axis," or tyrants themselves.
But, it's incredibly ironic that these authors, who write to counter the appeal of "Che," are revealing historical material that is irrelevant to the worldwide appeal, distribution and proliferation of Korda's "Che." Remember what Michael Casey wrote, those who idolize "Che" are engaging in a "personal act" where they re-interpret and incorporate "Che" into their "idealized self." It has little, or nothing, to do with the documented facts of Ernesto Guevara.
Interestingly, the conclusions drawn by Casey, and others, concerning the worldwide appeal of the "Che" image, may inform why some Cuban exile militants venerate alleged terrorists like Orlando Bosch, or Luis Posada Carriles.
For example, Orlando Bosch, who was arrested as a suspect of the 1976 bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner which killed 73 people and and act which he publicly justified (in print and video@4:30) as an act of war, has never denounced acts of terrorism attributed to him. Despite his long-time, open support for terrorism against the Cuban government, then-State Sen. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen signed a letter in 1988 which described Bosch as a "valiant freedom fighter."*
In a 2006 interview, Bosch told a reporter: "I would have liked to kill [Fidel Castro] to set an example for future generations." That same year, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen appeared in a video saying: "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people." She dismissed the video as a fraud once it gained media attention, but then admitted it's authenticity days later, never apologizing for her comments.
I guess her admiration for Orlando Bosch is a personal thing, like those that admire "Che." One wonders if it has anything to do with the historical facts. But, just like her protest against a book which she hasn't read, and has no interest in reading anyway, why should the facts get in the way?
[*] Harrison, Carlos. (1988, February 23). Politicians plead for Bosch's release. The Miami Herald.
- Michael Casey responds to Roger Noriega's book review on "Che's Afterlife."
- Another reaction from a blogger in Buenos Aires.
- And, despite being charged repeatedly with torturing, kidnapping, and homicide, and having U.S. support throughout his brutal repression, Humberto Fontova would have no problem wearing an Augusto Pinochet t-shirt. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.