Che’s Grandchildren / Iván García

Forget the New Man Che Guevara dreamed of one day. We said goodbye long ago to that guy dressed in a uniform twelve hours a day and on the weekends we would prefer to read realistic Russian works like Volokolamsk Highway and How The Steel Was Tempered, before having a beer and listening to the geniuses from Liverpool. That New Man never put down roots in Cuba.

This incorruptible man with his unlimited hatred of the imperialist enemy, who didn’t enjoy drinking rum with coconut water on the beach, a hooker at his side, could not be cloned on the island of sugar cane.

Guevara must be turning in his granite and marble mausoleum where his remains rest outside of Santa Clara, some 200 miles east of Havana. Now, in 2010, teenagers and young Cubans see Che as a marketing fetish; clothes and objects with his image on them clutter the foreign exchange stores.

Yesenia, 19, loves rock, detests the Castro government, but wears a Dior T-shirt with the face of the guerrilla saint. “I read that in real love Che was rigid, authoritarian and violent, but the Argentine was charismatic because he wanted to be different from the rest,” says the girl, sitting with her friends listening to music on their Mp3s.

The children of those who waged war on African soil and who instead of the Bible read Che’s Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, are closer to his time than their parents. They are allergic to slogans and revolutionary marches. No one can inculcate them with the idea of voluntarily working to clear the marabou weed without charging a cent.

These grandchildren of Che think of visas to the United States or Spain. They go to good discotheques. Drink Coca Cola and quality whiskey. Dress in the latest fashions. Dance to Shakira’s waka-waka, and if they have hard currency, they take a snort of cocaine.

The most nonconformist in Cuba today are precisely the young people. They want to live in a democracy. For them, Ernesto Guevara is a myth. And a legend what can be worn on a watch or tattooed on an arm, like Maradona.

The current generation of Cubans now prefer to sit in the park or on the Malecon with their iPhones or Blackberries, sharing psychedelic music and talking nonsense. They don’t hate the gringos. On the contrary. They fight for Made in USA products.

Forty-three years after his death in Bolivia, the New Man dreamt of by Che has become a boomerang.  At least in Cuba.

Photo: volkerfoto, Flickr

October 9, 2010