The official Spanish-language Twitter account of UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, celebrated the birthday of Irish-Argentine mass murderer Ernesto “Che” Guevara on Monday with a selected excerpt of his “historic” speech to the U.N. in 1964.
Guevara, born to an economically comfortable family in Argentina, became a central figure in the 1959 Cuban Revolution alongside Fidel Castro. Guevara routinely discussed in his writings the need to kill opponents, how he personally enjoyed killing others, and was responsible for many of the thousands of firing squad executions in the aftermath of Castro’s hijacking of the country. Guevara also wrote extensively about his distaste for black people and lead an initiative to use slave labor to turn gay people into “men.”
Despite this, Guevara has become a fashion icon and popular figure on the left. President Barack Obama posed before a monument to Guevara during his visit to Havana in 2016.
“[On this day] was born in Rosario, #Argentina Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, known as el Che,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) account wrote in Spanish. “We remember his figure watching his historic speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1964.”
The attached video consists of about a minute of his speech in which Guevara says, in part, “We want to build socialism. We have declared that we are supporters of those who strive for peace. We have declared ourselves to be within the group of Nonaligned countries, although we are Marxist-Leninists, because the Nonaligned countries, like ourselves, fight imperialism.”
.#TalDíaComoHoy nacía en Rosario (#Argentina) Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, conocido como el Che. Recordemos su figura viendo su histórico discurso en la Asamblea General de la @onu_es en 1964.https://t.co/8ZIAIuU1Sm #Che #MemoriaDelMundo #CheGuevara pic.twitter.com/IGYO8E8b0M
— UNESCO en español 🏛️#Educación #Ciencia #Cultura (@UNESCO_es) June 14, 2021
Omitted from the speech, which lasted nearly an hour, is Guevara’s admission to the United Nations that the Castro regime was engaging in mass murder.
“We have to say here what is a well-known truth, that we have always expressed before the world: firing squad executions, yes, we have executed,” Guevara told the United Nations. “We execute and we will keep executing so long as it is necessary. Our struggle is a struggle to the death.”
“We know what the result of a lost battle would be and the maggots [anti-communists] must also know what the result of their lost battle is today in Cuba,” Guevara continued.
The audio is readily available online from a different part of the speech than the one posted by UNESCO.
The official UNESCO English-language Twitter account did not appear to celebrate Guevara’s birthday on Monday, posting instead praise for European climate celebrity Greta Thunberg.
On its official website, UNESCO describes its mission as “build[ing] peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture”
“UNESCO develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance. … By promoting cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures, UNESCO strengthens bonds among nations,” the website claims. “UNESCO stands up for freedom of expression, as a fundamental right and a key condition for democracy and development.”
The post outraged many social media users on Monday, who referred to the United Nations agency as “disgusting” for promoting a mass murderer and noted the clear omission of the most violent portion of Guevara’s remarks. Among the descriptions posted in response to the tweet, in Spanish, of UNESCO itself were “rotten,” “disgusting,” and “embarrassing.”
UNESCO and the United Nations in general have honored Guevara similarly in the past. In 2013, UNESCO added “The Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara” to its Memory of the World Register, welcoming members of the Guevara family to a lavish event honoring the mass murderer.
“Ernesto Che Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967) embodies an outstanding combination of action and ideas forever inscribed in the political thinking of Latin America during the second half of the 20th century,” the official nomination for the Register reads, “an example of the organic intellectual, the revolutionary who knows no borders, which explains the deeply universal nature of his extensive legacy and the impact of his work beyond the Third World.”
The nomination documents notably omit Guevara’s fervor for killing dissidents and his support of the use of concentration camps to torture and eliminate dissidents, Christians, LGBT people, and other communist “undesirables.”
The United Nations itself celebrated Guevara more recently, in 2019, with a large portrait showcase at its offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
No formal death count exists for the number of people Guevara personally killed. Estimates by human rights researchers suggest that the Cuban Revolution, which he supported and under which he led execution protocol, resulted in the firing squad killings of over 7,000 people. The Cuba Archive has documented the killing or disappearance of another 10,000 people under the Revolution and 20,000 killed or disappeared in the process of attempting to escape Cuba by sea between 1959 and 2016, the year the communist regime claimed Fidel Castro died.
Guevara repeatedly described, in his writings and interviews, the relish with which he viewed killing. He told his father in a one letter, following his first homicide, “I discovered that I really liked to kill.” He admitted in a February 1959 television interview that the executions in La Cabaña, his headquarters, were done exclusively by his orders. Documented anecdotes relayed by eyewitnesses include the execution of children. Guevara also described due process as an “archaic bourgeois detail” and expressed disapproval of trials prior to executions: “a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.”
Guevara also pioneered the use of concentration camps to make suspected homosexual people into “men” and described black people as “lazy” and claimed that they had “maintained racial purity through their lack of affinity for baths.”