28. 5. 2008
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Britské listy

ISSN 1213-1792


Jan Čulík


Karel Dolejší


Michal Panoch, Jan Panoch

Grafický návrh:

Štěpán Kotrba

ISSN 1213-1792
deník o všem, o čem se v České republice příliš nemluví
28. 5. 2008

Camilo Guevara: You have false freedom of the press

Camilo Guevara, 46, is the eldest of Che's five children. He was born from his second wife, Aleida March, whom he married in 1959. Camilo has been active in Cuban politics since he graduated from school. Fidel Castro's regime gave him various important positions along the years, taking advantage of the mythical image of his father.Until recently, Camilo was Cuba's Minister of Fishing, a curious ministry in a country whose culture considers eating fish a thing for cats (oddly enough for an island...) He came to Vienna for an exhibit of photographs of his famous father.

Vienna's WestLicht photo gallery opened an exhibit about Che Guevara. Images from the revolutionary years taken by Cuban photographers are displayed alongside originals of Alberto Korda's well known cult portrait, which has been used as a symbol of rebelliousness by youth all over the world. Che's son, Camilo Guevara, came to Vienna for the exhibit and talked to Britské listy about his father's legacy and the situation in Cuba. However, he abandoned the interview, angry about not being able to control the questions asked.

Golgo: You were merely five years old when Che Guevara died. So you can judge him only from what popular culture and Cuban official propaganda tell you about him...

Guevara: First of all, there is no such thing as Cuban propaganda. In our country we have responsible journalists, writers, documentarists and historians to tell us about my father. I have indeed only a few memories of him, things I'm not even sure off that really happened. But my mother, family and friends of my father have told me a lot about his real self, about Che as a person, not the myth.

Golgo: Don't you ever wonder whether your father left Cuba because he was a threat for Fidel's vanity? I mean, it must have been hard for El Comandante to see his Argentinian friend get the spotlight...

Guevara: That isn't true. My father left Cuba because he was a revolutionary. He had no quarrel with Fidel at all. That they had problems with one another is just a lie. If Fidel had a plan to get my father out of the picture, why would he make Che the most visible symbol of communism in Cuba? His face is everywhere until today. El Comandante would have little by little eliminated them, if such problem existed. And I would not have been made Minister of Fishing, for example, which reminds the population about my dad.

Golgo: It must be nice to be the son of Che in Cuba, you even became a minister? How great a fisherman are you?

Guevara: You want to know if I'm privileged? Children of "the symbol" have one advantage: I often feel awkward about it, but a lot of Cubans channel their admiration for my father onto me and my family. In that way we are indeed privileged.

Golgo: Strange that you had such ministry. Fish is not part of the traditional Cuban diet, even if it is an island. Fish is considered catfood in Cuba, isn't it?

Guevara: That's true. But there is improvement. In the past, eating fish was indeed considered a thing only for the poor. Now we promote fish consumption through fairs and public feasts. Even Fidel once did an advertisement on TV about it. In the spot, there was an empty table in an empty room. Fidel then entered and sat himself behind the table, looked into the camera, but didn't say a word. After a while a waiter entered and served him a plate of fish. Fidel ate the fish in silence. When only the fish-bones where left on his plate, Fidel rose up, looked imperatively into the camera, and spoke to his people the historical words "And now, YOU" And now we all eat fish.

Golgo: I saw this so-called advertisement: it was a long piece, it lasted many minutes, which is very boring.

Guevara: That's because you are brainwashed by capitalism. You don't understand that in Cuba we don't have the hunger, unemployment, illiteracy and homelessness of capitalist Latin countries, like Brazil or Colombia. Our people are conscious of their obligations, they see the bigger picture.

Golgo: Come on, to depend on government stamps for your diet, to wait for weeks for some meat or even toilette paper makes for a very unpleasant life, don't you think?

Guevara: Cubans are happy about the way things are. And I would like to stop this conversation, which should have been about my father and this exhibit here in Vienna.

Golgo: Fidel will sooner than later disappear from the scene. What will happen when Fidel dies? Will he ever die?

Guevara: Even Fidel one day has to die! (Laughs) But why do you insist on these questions that have nothing to do with the exhibit here in Vienna?

Golgo: Are you in touch with the younger generation of Cubans? They seem to want a bit more freedom of choice...

Guevara: Capitalism seduces many people, yes. But only those who are ignorant. Our people are fully educated, they know what horrors capitalism brings.

Golgo: I was in Cuba many times, have many friends there and the common sense is that they want more choices to decide about their own lives, they want to travel freely, say their opinions without fear, complain openly about shortages and, why not, buy better products, many of which come from the United States.

Guevara: But that isn't the majority of young people. No way! Cubans have seen what has happened in Czechoslovakia, for example: before the collapse of the Berlin Wall they had promised heaven, but what did you get? Exploitation, chaos. We Cubans don't want it to happen to us. Yes, there are still some people that want to sell us out to the U.S. But they are a tiny minority. And this interview is over. It is an invalid interview, because you lied you wanted to know about my father and in the end you just threw your capitalist propaganda on me. I do not give you permission to print this. I want to see a copy of it first, if you want to publish it.

Golgo: I am not sorry to inform you that in Europe there is freedom of the press, so I will print this interview without your censorship. Professional editors should decide about the text of an article, not the person interviewed.

Guevara: What freedom do you think you have? Your editor-in-chief can cut whatever he wants and he will certainly be making his decisions based on the power relations of your government with them, of the advertisers with them, on the American Embassy and the newspaper. You have false freedom of the press. The public never gets some important information, if it endangers the newspaper. It is just a product to be sold to as many as possible, not a public service of informing the population about what really matters.

Golgo: At least each newspaper has a different Editor-in-chief, in Cuba there is only one: the State. Is such a thing reasonable?

Guevara: Enjoy the exhibition, sir.

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