Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page on October 9, 2009. Ten years has passed but the “tradition of silence” by the prestige media in the US regarding the CIA-backed execution of Ernesto Che Guevara continues.
Those were the last words of Ernesto Che Guevara before he was murdered by a Bolivian soldier who had “fortified his courage with several beers” after the first soldier had failed to carry out the order to kill him. 
What would an 81-year old Che be telling us about the multiple crises the world community faces today? Would he have been the honorary guest at the recent debut of Michael Moore’s latest documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story?” Or, would he have by now faded from public memory and the world stage in the absence of the martyr status he acquired from having been assassinated with the aid of the CIA? We won’t know the answer to these questions but we do know that since his execution the revolutionary guerrilla leader has been revered by millions around the world, and in some quarters reviled by those eager to stamp out any radical consciousness from resurfacing. But on the 42nd anniversary of Che’s murder, the prestige media in the US have once more chosen silence over either revulsion or reverence.
Before going any further, let me pause and say a few words about Che’s execution and the CIA man most responsible for his capture and murder. Che was murdered by a US-trained Bolivian army ranger unit aided by the CIA operative Felix Rodriguez. Rodrigues lives in Miami and has been a veteran of bloody US imperialist adventures such as the 1961 invasion of Cuba at Bay of Pigs, the training of the terrorist Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s, and the advising of the fascist Argentine military government during the same dreadful period (1980s) there in Argentina. In 2007, he told the BBC that his only regret is that he had not kept the iconic pipe of the legendary rebel leader and instead had given it away as memorabilia to the Bolivian soldier that shot Che. He treasures his historical collection at his home from the years of his service as a CIA operative including the framed picture of himself and George Bush Senior talking in the White House, a CIA medal for exceptional service, a picture of Che’s severed hands put in formaldehyde to preserve his fingerprints for identification purposes (in case his friend Fidel Castro denied that the displayed corpse was Che’s), and a blood-soaked North Vietnamese flag.
Now back to the silence of the media today. A Google search yielded only 2 short Associated Press pieces mentioning the 42nd anniversary of Che’s death without any mention of the US connection. No one who matters in North America has ever apologized for this atrocity. And the silence of the media tells volumes about the intellectual cowardice of the chattering classes here. The one AP piece carried by the NYT (“Today in History”) mentions Che’s execution in a line but chooses for “Today’s Highlight in History” the following: “On Oct. 9, 1919, the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series, 5-3, defeating the Chicago White Sox 10-5 at Comiskey Park. (The victory turned hollow amid charges eight of the White Sox had thrown the Series in what became known as the ”Black Sox” scandal.)”
The other AP piece published by the Miami Herald reports that Che’s legacy lives on in Bolivia. President Evo Morales of Bolivia along with 2,000 people from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe, participated in a tribute to Che in the town where his slain body was displayed for the world to see. Morales said Che was “invincible in his ideals” and that “…in all this history, after so many years, he inspires us to continue fighting, changing not only Bolivia, but all of Latin America and, better, the world.” Interestingly, the AP piece reports that “The tribute concluded the Social Alternative conference that began Tuesday, organized by social and union leaders from around the globe.”
Now, wait a minute, WHAT Social Alternative meeting? (Again, a Google search for the phrase ‘Social Alternative conference” yielded only the AP piece above!) Does this mean that Che’s last words were prophetic? That the fatal bullet that struck his body killed only a 39-year old man but not the idea of constructing socioeconomic alternatives to what passes as civilized order today? If so, why haven’t we heard about this and the people who have traveled to Bolivia this week from around the world? Who are they? Did any North American participate in this? Who do they represent? What alternative visions do they propose?
Oh, well, forgive me for getting ahead of myself. For a moment I forgot that article of faith in North America that There Is No Alternative to capitalism. So, let me thank the media instead for filtering out the unimportant news items and maintaining the tradition of silence on another anniversary of Che’s US-backed execution.
Hasta la Victoria Siempre Comandante Che
Faramarz Farbod, a native of Iran, teaches politics at Moravian College. He is a founder of Beyond Capitalism Working Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.