October 8th In History

October 8 1967, 50 years ago, a wounded prisoner is transferred to the tumble-down school at La Higuera, absorbed in his pain and almost unable to breathe. He can barely walk upright; he fights with the weight, accumulating over the past few months, which conspires against his shoulders. He has been weakened by calamity and illness, by the death of friends and compañeros, by the betrayal of some, by the unenviable responsibility he bears for the lives of those near and far away, by a yearning for his loved ones. Yet his body is still upright and armed with conviction, preparing for another battle.
His captors are faced with a tremendous dilemma. On the one hand, they hold one of the most legendary revolutionaries ever known, who can be paraded as proof of foreign aggression or an international communist plot. On the other hand, they know their captive is tenacious, a righteous man commanding solid arguments, who could transform any court into public platform, so that any trial might become a dangerous political game with an uncertain outcome.
Finally, without a trial, without a thought, the new man Che Guevara represented is killed. But what is born is a yearning for the new human being who is neither an illusion nor a fantasy.
The dream now emerges of a new human being who is constantly renewed, who sacrifices themselves for others, who grows beyond mediocrity, if only for an instant, to become different, better. A dream, dormant for many centuries, takes shape: an ethical, virtuous, selfless human being. This time, stripped of all myth and mysticism, this person must be fundamentally human.
Perhaps there was another option, somewhere between an uncertain farewell and faith in the final goal, the “Hasta la Victoria siempre” (Ever onward to victory) we have heard so often. What does it matter: if the struggle continues, independently of the great loss, Che and his compañeros will have won. If the struggle is abandoned, irrespective of the present or the future, his battle cry will fall as lifeless as his body.
Their decision will affect the course of history. Although it is the people who always have the final word, it is a favorable, unequivocal sign when the rank and file of the revolutionary movement adheres to the thought and actions of their leaders.
How can a future spirit be imprisoned in the past? How can an example be incarcerated?
With his leg wounded, his rifle broken and with no other weapon, they managed to capture this man, but only because he was a brother to his compañeros, a real man, a true revolutionary to the core, a human being moved only by great feeling of love.
He could have broken through the encirclement of soldiers surrounding him. Who could doubt his tactical genius? But he preferred to remain with those who could not defend themselves, the sick and wounded compañeros. He could have left Santa Cruz some time before, but he decided to wait, to continue the search and not abandon Joaquin’s group.
By Camilo Guevara
Che Guevara’s son

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