“Are you sick of this whole Che Guevara shirt thing? It’s still a thing! It’s still going on to this day,” Tom Woods lamented on the 965th episode of his popular libertarian podcast The Tom Woods Show. Why that is important you might ask? Because his guest was Federico Fernández, our very own Senior Fellow at the Austrian Economics Center. Federico and Fundacion Bases, a classical liberal think tank from Argentina which he founded and is President of, have made big waves in the last weeks on their fight against the popularity of the Left’s hero.
The Economist, which published an entire article on Bases’ project to remove a statue of Guevara from his birthplace Rosario – which incidentally is also the city Bases is seated – explained more:
Not everyone in Rosario thinks the bereted revolutionary, who was captured by soldiers in Bolivia and killed on the orders of the country’s pro-American dictator, deserves such reverence. Fundación Bases, a liberal think-tank based in the city, has launched a petition to persuade the city council to remove the monuments. The martyr was himself a killer, says Franco Martín López, the institute’s director. Guevara was second-in-command to Fidel Castro, whose Cuban revolution killed more than 10,000 people. “No one here has any idea about the massacres committed during the revolution,” Mr López laments.
Those massacres are not the only crimes Che committed, as Federico discussed with Tom Woods. Interestingly, Guevara was very much opposed to homosexuality (to say it lightly) – but is now strangely celebrated by the gay community:
Most of the people who wear a Che t-shirt are either completely clueless and just wear it because it’s fashionable and trendy, or they have been misled. He’s glorified for exactly the opposite of what he really thought and did. Many people who are in the gay community identify with Che Guevara. But he was a persecutor of homosexuals in Cuba, he thought that homosexuality was a bourgeois problem and with the revolution it should be eliminated. … He wanted homosexuals to be sent to re-education camps and he did so.
One would expect that people would distance themselves from such a person. Instead, they have attacked Fundacion Bases: Some in a rather hilarious way, like Norberto Galiotti, the secretary of the Communist Party in Rosario, who just noted that “you don’t see many kids walking around with Margaret Thatcher t-shirts,” but some more viciously, as the Atlas Network, a libertarian organization from the US, explained:
Fundacion Bases had originally wanted to produce videos highlighting the crimes committed by Che Guevara and his fellow revolutionaries and play them around Rosario. During a Lights, Camera, Liberty! workshop, Lopez and filming director Jose Guillermo Codina, worked to design the video campaign. They returned to Argentina ready to produce these videos, and made plans to collaborate with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation – Argentina to play them in giant LED screens throughout the city. The team had everything ready to go when the company that was leasing out the screens backed out at the last minute. “They feared that the content could attract acts of vandalism that could end in damage to the equipment,” explained Marcelo Duclos, communications coordinator at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation – Argentina.
These attacks should not distract from the true goal of Fundacion Bases, though, which is summed up by Federico by going back to the interview with Tom Woods:
We are in favor of free speech and if private individuals want to own a Che Guevara shirt of course we would criticize that, but we would never forbid that. But on the other hand, what the state is doing by promoting his popularity is morally wrong, it’s incorrect, and it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money.
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