Che Guevara’s hagiographer Jon Lee Anderson and his ever-helpful Cuban “anti-Castro” collaborators.

(Jon Lee Anderson and Yoani Sanchez at Hay Festival, Cartagena, Colombia, Feb. 2014.)

“I have yet to find a single credible source pointing to a case where Che executed ‘an innocent’. Those persons executed by Guevara or on his orders were condemned for the usual crimes punishable by death at times of war or in its aftermath: desertion, treason or crimes such as rape, torture or murder….Che studied the evidence in each case (of the “50 executions!” according to Anderson!) with methodical care. The executed were all torturers and murderers of women and children. I should add that my research spanned five years, and included anti-Castro Cubans among the Cuban-American exile community in Miami and elsewhere.” (Jon Lee Anderson)

Yes, historically Che Guevara’s hagiographer Jon Lee Anderson has never had much trouble finding “anti-Castro Cubans” to lend him some “respectability” (and vice-versa.) His Che hagiography was published in 1997.

Che was only in charge of La Cabana for a few months but till the end of his days he proudly claimed the judicial system he had set in motion: “Executions? Certainly we execute and we will continue…!” (Che’s UN speech, Dec. 1964.)

“Not one witness to accuse me, not one to identify me, not one single piece of evidence against me.” (Armando Valladares recalling his “trial”)

Edwin Tetlow, Havana correspondent for London’s Daily Telegraph, starting having second thoughts about the Revolution he hailed in his reporting after attending a mass “trial” in Havana’s La Cabana prison in 1959 where he noticed the death sentences posted on a board–before the trials had started.

“The whole procedure was sickening,” wrote New York Times (no less!) correspondent, Ruby Hart Phillips, about a trial she attended in Havana in early 1959. “The defense attorney made absolutely no defense, instead he apologized to the court for defending the prisoner.” The defendants were all murdered by firing squad the following dawn.

In 1961 a Castro regime prosecutor named Idelfonso Canales explained Cuba’s new system to a stupefied “defendant,” named Rivero Caro who was himself a practicing lawyer in pre-Castro Cuba. “Forget your lawyer mentality,” laughed Canales. “What you say doesn’t matter. What proof you provide doesn’t matter, even what the prosecuting attorney says doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what the G-2 (military police) says.”




11 thoughts on “Che Guevara’s hagiographer Jon Lee Anderson and his ever-helpful Cuban “anti-Castro” collaborators.

  1. When Anderson says that he “included anti-Castro Cubans among the Cuban-American exile community in Miami and elsewhere,” for his hagiography of Che Guayaba, his book only mentions, on page 774, “Among Che’s list of enemies, I met with former CIA agent Felix Rodriguez.” That’s it. No other anti-Castro Cubans.
    Aderson certainly didn’t interview Moncada attack veteran Carlos Bustillo nor cite my interview of him on the Internet here
    where Bustillo declares:
    El Che Guevara una vez me dijo, siendo Ministro de la Industria, que el único amigo que él tenía en Cuba era yo, porque Raúl y Fidel conocen al Che por mí en México. En aquel grupo de intelectuales que nos reuníamos en México, estaba Raúl Roa, y otros en 1954. El Che tenía un apartamento en la zona Chapultepec Polanco. El todos los días iba a mi apartamento, y era el único que tenía permiso para entrar en el edificio. No conocía a su esposa en aquel momento ni sabía que estaba casado. El Che vino a través de un muchacho cubano de apellido Margolles, que no sé cómo se empató con el Che y alquilaron un apartamento. Yo les cocinaba, y cuando llegó la amnistía que decidí volver a Cuba, El Che me dijo que no iba a tener donde ir cuando yo me fuera. Lo presenté a María Antonia González, una cubana allí que ayudaba mucho a los jóvenes exiliados. Ella estaba casada con un luchador mexicano. El Che me pidió que al llegar a Cuba le hiciera las gestiones necesarias para que él pudiera ir a Cuba, y que le consiguiera algún contacto en un hospital. Me decía que su afán era ir a la Unión Soviética y que de La Habana podía ir a Paris y de allí hacer contacto con el Partido Comunista para ir a la Unión Soviética. Eso que dicen que El Che era miembro del Partido Comunista es incierto, porque él jamás fue miembro del Partido. El era comunista pero yo lo consideraba mas bien un individuo que odiaba extraordinariamente a los Estados Unidos pero sin que tuviera en que basarse. El sí tenía su pensamiento socialista y revolucionario, su afán era la liberación de los indios de Sur América.
    Yo discutí eso mucho con él, porque he estudiado mucho ese tema, y a los indios no les interesa absolutamente nada de lo que ocurre alrededor de ellos. Yo le decía al Che que estaba equivocado porque jamás iba a lograr que los indios se revelen contra el sistema establecido y que eso era una cuestión emocional de él que no tenía base real. El Che creía que el APRA y la izquierda democrática de Rómulo Betancourt era una pantomima que aspiraban al poder para enriquecerse y no interesados en los problemas sociales.”
    So much for Anderson’s “thorough” research, as Bustillo is not even mentioned in the book. There is a photo book of Che published in Cuba, showing Bustillo with Guevara, but Bustillo is purposely not identified for being “a traitor to the revolution” after going into exile. Anderson does mention Fernando Margolles, Bustillo’s friend, as a Cuban hired by Guevara “to develop photos he took for Agencia Latina.” That’s it.

  2. Humberto: Anderson mentions Villoldo in three pages but did not say that he interviewed him. Villoldo has always been a slippery fellow and would not subject himself to an Anderson interview. Therefore, the only Cuban exile Anderson interviewed was Felix Rodriguez, who has openly spoken about the Che incident for decades to many people.

  3. See P. 754: “Among Che’s enemies, I met with the former CIA agents Felix Rodriguez and Gustavo Villoldo.” On p. 753 Anderson also mentions the late architect Nicolas Quintana, but not as a “Che enemy.”

  4. Humberto: You must have a first edition of Anderson’s “Che.” I have the 1997 paperback sixth edition. On page 774, of the section “Part Three: Making the New Man,” Field Research and Interviews, Anderson removed Villoldo’s name as having interviewed him. He only lists Felix Rodriguez. He got busted on that one and had to make a correction. I knew the slippery Villoldo would never give Anderson an interview. Therefore, Anderson interviewed hundred of Guevara friends and supporters, and only one enemy who knew him less than twenty-four hours as a captive. Definitively a hagiography.

  5. antonio2009, this reminds me of the Kundera book title, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. If something doesn’t help your narrative in Communism, air brush it out of history.

  6. Sixth edition? Paperback? Oh, yeah, this guy picked the right meal ticket. As for YS apparently fraternizing with him, it’s indecent and offensive, but I’m reminded her mother was a “miliciana,” which means her “tolerance” for Castro-related filth is bound to be relatively high.

  7. Humberto: Look at the bottom of the second page, under where it says Grove Press, and you’ll see a series of numbers that define the edition. Mine says
    00 01 10 9 8 7 6
    The last number is the reprint edition, meaning that it was published five times before. My Moncada Attack book went into a second printing after four months. However, had I glorified Fidel Castro like Anderson does with Guevara, I would be in at least the tenth edition by now. No regrets, however.

  8. Antonio, your book would have moved more if it had been pro-Castro, but for mass audience purposes, Che is clearly more marketable. A Castro hagiography would be very hard pressed to outsell or even match the sales of a comparable book on Che.

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