Argentine College Students Protest ‘Illustrious Citizen’ Honor to Murderer Che Guevara

A statue of Ernesto Guevara in the Ernesto "Che" Guevara square on June 27, 2020 in Rosario, Argentina. Revolutionary leader Ernesto Guevara was born in Rosario in 1928. Argentine businessman Francisco Farruggia had bought the apartment in 2002. The price of sale has not been informed. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty …
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A group of students from Argentina’s National University of Rosario launched a petition, Cuba’s independent 14 y Medio reported Sunday, urging the city of Rosario to revoke the title of “Illustrious Citizen” awarded in 2003 to Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a communist mass murderer who played a key role in the Cuban Revolution.

The petition has attracted over 18,000 signatures at press time. Authors of the petition note that their gesture is in solidarity with ongoing peaceful protests in Cuba that began July 11, demanding an end to the 62-year-old communist regime. Despite aligning himself with Fidel Castro and becoming the head of firing squad executions and concentration camps after Castro’s takeover in 1959, Guevara was Irish-Argentine and born in Argentina. Despite his record of support for the mass killing of political dissidents, his record of personally killing opponents to the Revolution, and a long record of racist and homophobic writings, many on the international left have adopted Guevara as a hero, receiving accolades such as the city of Rosario’s award and posthumous birthday greetings from the United Nations.

The petition is the brainchild of a group of political science students organizing under the name “Alternativa” seeking to highlight Argentine support for freedom in Cuba, 14 y Medio reported. The students demand the removal of all symbolic support for Guevara in the city, not just the symbolic title local officials granted him decades after his death. Guevara was born in Rosario, a point of pride for local leftists.

“Young Rosarians support the struggle for liberty of the Cuban People. We demand … the renaming of Che Square to a name voted on by the people of Rosario,” the petition read. “At the same time, we request the removal of a Guevara mural on the Plaza of Cooperation. We demand … the removal of the title of ‘illustrious citizen’ granted to someone who facilitated the Castro’s arrival in power.”

“We ask for honesty and coherence from the political class. Rosarians do not want the name of a murderer in our city,” the petition concluded.

On Twitter, the group has launched a hashtag campaign titled “#FueraCheGuevara” to remove all public honors granted to the communist icon.

“Enough with revindicating murderers as if they were heroes. It shows a lack of respect to the Cuban people and the victims of communism,” the group asserted online.

Alternativa, a senior member of the group told the Argentine newspaper La Nación, was founded in 2018 as an “option against hegemony” of leftist ideas in universities. The student, Camila Corina, noted that the university openly allowed paintings and other positive allusions to some of history’s most prolific killers, including Guevara and Mao Zedong, but had become a “hostile environment” for free expression outside of the far left.

“There are over ten political groups and all are associated with the left but none from the center or center-right,” Corina was quoted as saying.

Buenos Aires has been one of the dozens of regional and national capitals around the world in which Cuban exiles and allies organized massive rallies in support of the protests that began on the island on July 11. The week after, hundreds of people surrounded Cuba’s embassy in the city demanding an end to communism, among them several prominent conservative and libertarian leaders in the city.

Guevara, like brother Raúl Castro, was one of Fidel Castro’s most trusted confidantes during the early days of the Revolution. While technically “minister of economy,” Guevara was in charge of organizing mass firing squad executions. Historians also credit him with establishing the labor camp system known as the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP), used to imprison and torture suspected LGBT Cubans, Christians, writers and academics, and other “counterrevolutionaries.” Many UMAP prisoners were worked to death or placed in intentionally dangerous situations to kill them.

“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 during a General Assembly speech in 1964. “We execute and we will keep executing so long as it is necessary. Our struggle is a struggle to the death.”

Guevara also wrote to his father that he “really liked to kill” and regularly encouraged violence against anti-communist dissidents and other political opponents.

The Bolivian military killed Guevara in 1967; Guevara was in the country attempting to create a violent revolution similar to Cuba’s.

Last week, in light of ongoing protests on the island, Guevara’s daughter Aleida Guevara March condemned peaceful protesters as “low-class people” and encouraged the Castro regime to use more violence to repress calls for freedom.

“There are things happening manipulated by the United States,” Guevara March said during a radio interview. “Truly low-class people, people without scruples have taken to the streets and so some fools follow. … The people have reacted very well and the situation is getting under control.”

The government of Argentina, under socialist President Alberto Fernández, has taken no significant stance against the excessive violence the Castro regime has initiated against the unarmed protesters. Fernández has maintained friendly relations with the Castro regime and notably abstained from signing a statement by 21 free states this week calling for an end to arbitrary arrests and summary judgments against suspected protesters on the island.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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