A controversial new biopic about Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara is awakening old passions and provoking vigorous defenses and denunciations of the iconic revolutionary and - in the case of an interview with The Washington Times - a dramatic walkout.But (to quote Richard Thompson on Kenny G) he had such lovely crinkly hair.
"I'm getting uncomfortable," Benicio del Toro said after fielding a question about his new movie's portrayal of the Bolivian and Cuban revolutions. "I'm done. I'm done, I hope you write whatever you want. I don't give a damn." . . .
In doing research for the picture, Mr. del Toro was drawn to the writings of Guevara. "First, you start with what he wrote. What Che Guevara wrote. And he was a great writer, he wrote for years, so you start with that," he said.
Given the film's tenor, however - Guevara is shown telling a reporter that the most important thing for a revolutionary to have is "el amor," love - it's fair to ask to which parts of the Guevara bibliography the producer was exposed.
"He was a man full of hatred," said Armando Valladares, the Cuban dissident imprisoned by the revolutionary regime in 1960. Named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, Mr. Valladares is the author of "Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag" and a board member of the Human Rights Foundation. Speaking through Glenda Aldana, a translator who works for the foundation, Mr. Valladares points to Guevara's writings as proof.
In his "Message to the Tricontinental," Guevara espoused "hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine."
"He took joy in killing counterrevolutionaries and was one of the most hard-edged, most Stalinist, pro-Soviet communists of the whole leadership," said Ronald Radosh, a Hudson Institute adjunct fellow and author of "Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left."