TWO, THREE, A HUNDRED IRAQS? AFGHANISTANS?
Tomorrow we commemorate the 36th anniversary of the assassination of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in a pesthole called La Higuera, Bolivia, at the hands of the CIA , the Green Berets and the Bolivians—yellow for the general cowardice displayed by the majority of the actors in that scenario.
Raven and I made a little poster of Che—with the famous Korda image above one taken by an undesignated photographer in Bolivia—probably in November or December of 1966, as he still looks partially in the disguise he created in order to get into the country. While Che was in Bolivia in April of 1967, cut off from Cuba and from just about everything else apart from the stands of jungle in front of the machetes of his companions, his famous “Message to the Tri-continental” was published in Cuba. This was the “Create two, three, many Vietnams” speech. Rather than talk about it, we’re going to give you an English translation of just part of that speech, as it rings very current for something written in 1966:
Vietnam and the World Struggle for Freedom
(Message to the Tricontinental)
published on April 16, 1967
"It is the hour of the furnace, and the light is all that can be seen."
-- Jose Marti
….Everything seems to indicate that peace, the precarious peace that bears that name only because no global conflagration has occurred, is again in danger of being broken by some irreversible and unacceptable step taken by the United States.
What is the role that we, the exploited of the world, must play?
The peoples of three continents are watching and learning a lesson for themselves in Vietnam. Since the imperialists are using the threat of war to blackmail humanity, the correct response is not to fear war. Attack hard and without letup at every point of confrontation--that must be the general tactic of the peoples.
But in those places where this miserable peace that we endure has not been broken, what shall our task be?
To liberate ourselves at any price.
The world panorama is one of great complexity. The task of winning liberation still lies ahead even for some countries of old Europe, sufficiently developed to experience all the contradictions of capitalism but so weak that they can no longer follow the course of imperialism or embark on that road. In those countries the contradictions will become explosive in the coming years. But their problems, and hence their solutions, are different from those facing our dependent and economically backward peoples.
….Little by little, the obsolete weapons that suffice to repress the small armed bands will turn into modern weapons, and the groups of advisers into U.S. combatants, until at a certain point they find themselves obliged to send growing numbers of regular troops to secure the relative stability of a power whose national puppet army is disintegrating in the face of the guerrillas' struggles.
This is the road of Vietnam. It is the road that the peoples must follow. It is the road that Latin America will follow, with the special feature that the armed groups might establish something such as coordinating committees to make the repressive tasks of Yankee imperialism more diffcult and to help their own cause.
….We must definitely keep in mind that imperialism is a world system, the final stage of capitalism, and that it must be beaten in a great worldwide confrontation. The strategic objective of that struggle must be the destruction of imperialism.
The contribution that falls to us, the exploited and backward of the world, is to eliminate the foundations sustaining imperialism: our oppressed nations, from which capital, raw materials, and cheap labor (both workers and technicians) are extracted, and to which new capital (tools of domination), arms, and all kinds of goods are exported, sinking us into absolute dependence. The fundamental element of that strategic objective, then, will be the real liberation of the peoples, a liberation that will be the result of armed struggle in the majority of cases, and that, in Latin America, will almost unfailingly turn into a socialist revolution.
In focusing on the destruction of imperialism, it is necessary to identify its head, which is none other than the United States of North America.
We must carry out a task of a general kind, the tactical aim of which is to draw the enemy out of his environment, compelling him to fight in places where his living habits clash with existing conditions. The adversary must not be underestimated; the U.S. soldier has technical ability and is backed by means of such magnitude as to make him formidable. What he lacks essentially is the ideological motivation, which his most hated rivals of today--the Vietnamese soldiers--have to the highest degree. We will be able to triumph over this army only to the extent that we succeed in undermining its morale. And this is done by inflicting defeats on it and causing it repeated sufferings.
….Our mission, in the first hour, is to survive; then, to act, the perennial example of the guerrilla carrying on armed propaganda in the Vietnamese meaning of the term, that is, the propaganda of bullets, of battles that are won or lost--but that are waged--against the enemy.
We must carry the war as far as the enemy carries it: into his home, into his places of recreation, make it total. He must be prevented from having a moment's peace, a moment's quiet outside the barracks and even inside them. Attack him wherever he may be; make him feel like a hunted animal wherever he goes. Then his morale will begin to decline. He will become even more bestial, but the signs of the coming decline will appear.
….Let us sum up as follows our aspirations for victory. Destruction of imperialism by means of eliminating its strongest bulwark: the imperialist domination of the United States of North America. To take as a tactical line the gradual liberation of the peoples, one by one or in groups, involving the enemy in a difficult struggle outside his terrain; destroying his bases of support, that is, his dependent territories.
This means a long war. And, we repeat once again, a cruel war. Let no one deceive himself when he sets out to begin, and let no one hesitate to begin out of fear of the results it can bring upon his own people. It is almost the only hope for victory.
We cannot evade the call of the hour. Vietnam teaches us this with its permanent lesson in heroism, its tragic daily lesson of struggle and death in order to gain the final victory.
Over there, the soldiers of imperialism encounter the discomforts of those who, accustomed to the standard of living that the United States boasts, have to confront a hostile land; the insecurity of those who cannot move without feeling that they are stepping on enemy territory; death for those who go outside of fortified compounds; the permanent hostility of the entire population. All this is provoking repercussions inside the United States. It is leading to the appearance of a factor that was attenuated by imperialism at full strength: the class struggle inside its own territory.
How close and bright would the future appear if two, three, many Vietnams flowered on the face of the globe, with their quota of death and their immense tragedies, with their daily heroism, with their repeated blows against imperialism, forcing it to disperse its forces under the lash of the growing hatred of the peoples of the world!
And if we were all capable of uniting in order to give our blows greater solidity and certainty, so that the aid of all kinds to the peoples in struggle was even more effective--how great the future would be, and how near!
....Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear, if another hand reaches out to take up our arms, and other men come forward to join in our funeral dirge with the rattling of machine guns and with new cries of battle and victory.
And a final comment from Raven: “Hasta la victoria siempre!”