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Che Gueverra

     The Faculty of Geography and History of the University of Barcelona holds "debate encounters with Latin America" attended by specialists from Spain and Latin America (this is the term used, not IberoAmerica). It is interesting that the University of Barcelona stages these meetings, not that of Madrid. Presumably trade, including publishing, supports an active interchange.
     The theme of the sixth encounter was : "Being forgotten is painful. Recovering the memory of Latin America." The aim apparently was to remind Spain and Latin America how much history they have in common. The papers cover the whole range of history, from Latin American archeology to 1898. They have been brought together in a 435- page book published by the University of Barcelona.
     The problem with such volumes is that they consist of a collection of odd papers rather than a coherent exposition of a subject. This is true of the section on '98, i.e. 1898 and the war with the United States. It is not a broad assessment of that painful period, but there is a paper on "General Weyler, a polemic without a solution." General Valeriano Weyler, known as "the butcher", fought the rebels in Cuba and the Philippines just before the war with the United States. He has left a volume of memoirs about Cuba.
     The startling thing is that, at this conference on history ending in 1898, the keynote address, with which the volume opens, is devoted to the Che Guevara myth. It refers to the extraordinary cult of Che in Europe and elsewhere. It quotes the enormous literature about him, including well-documemented objective studies which are more useful than the masses of propaganda. The author, Professor F. Fernandez Buey, tries to be objective, but he seems unsympathetic to the cult. He describes an episode in the Sierra Maestra which has been omitted from accounts sympathetic to Che. He killed in cold blood, with a shot in the temple, a comrade he accused of being a traitor.
     Professor Fernandez Buey teaches in Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University, as does Stanford Knight Fellow WAISer Joan Ubeda. Joan will be going to Barecelona at the end of this month, and I have asked him to talk with Fernandez Buey. In any case, the Che cult would make an excellent subject for an objective university seminar, much better than the protest literature which is favored by our politically correct colleagues.

Ronald Hilton - 03/13/99