Cuba held a ceremony on Friday to celebrate UNESCO’s despicable decision to include “The Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara” among 54 new additions to the Memory of the World Register, approved on June 18 by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
Spanish news agency EFE has the most information on the ceremony, with quotes from Che’s family members who attended the event. Here is the official UNESCO page documenting the inclusion of 431 manuscripts by Che and 567 documents about Che or related to him.
Claudia Rosett offers the best analysis, explaining the absurdity and immorality in UNESCO’s decision, and quoting historian Paul Berman’s 2004 Slate article on Guevara.
Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution’s first firing squads. He founded Cuba’s “labor camp” system — the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents and AIDS victims.
It’s important to recall what Guevara has himself admitted in this regard.
On December 11, 1964, Guevara gave an inflammatory speech at the United Nations General Assembly, attacking the West. In reply that afternoon, several states took the floor to challenge him.
Venezuela noted Guevara’s hypocrisy in slamming other countries given that “repressive measures, which include executions by a firing squad, that are continually carried out by the Cuban Government against its own people do not seem to wound its sensibility.”
In response, Guevara took the floor:
We must say here something that is a well-known truth and that we have always asserted before the whole world: executions? Yes, we have executed people; we are executing people and shall continue to execute people as long as it is necessary.
(As translated by the UN from the Spanish original: “Nosotros tenemos que decir aquí lo que es una verdad conocida, que hemos expresado siempre ante el mundo: fusilamientos; si, hemos fusilado; fusilamos y seguiremos fusilando mientras sea neoesario.”)
This has been quoted by many, but the source appears not to ever have been precisely identified, or placed on Internet. We do both here today.
Original UN Sources:
* United Nations General Assembly, Official Records, Nineteenth Session, 1300th Plenary Meeting, Friday, 11 December 1964, at 3.30 p.m.
* Spanish original