Thursday 9 October, 2008
Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara's death, Iba 'e, and as I was looking for this letter to republish here I learned the shocking news of the death of an old friend of mine, Chris Matthews, owner of the Poet and Patriot Pub, long time social justice activist, and former member of the County Board of Supervisors in Santa Cruz, California. It is befitting that I would receive the news on the anniversary of the passing of one of my heroes, as Chris too was a person whom I always admired as a forthright person who said what he thought, who cared deeply for others, and stood for what is right with little thought of how it might effect him. I will write more on Chris' life in another post but for now here are Che's words in his farewell letter to his comrade Fidel Castro Ruz.
The words of Che, in his many reflections throughout his short life are almost like a channeling of the things that we are experiencing today as the world goes into this phase of great upheaval and change.
paz y r/evolucion!
"Year of Agriculture"
Havana, April 1, 1965
At this moment I remember many things -- when I met you in Maria Antonia's house, when you suggested my coming, all the tensions involved in the preparations.
One day they asked who should be notified in case of death, and the real possibility of that fact affected us all. Later we knew that it was true, that in revolution one wins or dies (if it is a real one). Many comrades fell along the way to victory.
Today everything is less dramatic, because we are more mature. But the fact is repeated. I feel that I have fulfilled the part of my duty that tied me to the Cuban Revolution in its territory, and I say good-bye to you, the comrades, your people, who are already mine.
I formally renounce my positions in the national leadership of the party, my post as minister, my rank of major, and my Cuban citizenship. Nothing legal binds me to Cuba. The only ties are of another nature -- those which cannot be broken as appointments can.
Recalling my past life, I believe I have worked with sufficient honor and dedication to consolidate the revolutionary triumph. My only serious failing was not having confided more in you from the first moments in the Sierra Maestra, and not having understood quickly enough your qualities as a leader and a revolutionary.
I have lived magnificent days, and I felt at your side the pride of belonging to our people in the brilliant yet sad days of the Caribbean crisis.
Seldom has a statesman been more brilliant than you in those days. I am also proud of having followed you without hesitation, identified with your way of thinking and of seeing and appraising dangers and principles. Other nations of the world call for my modest efforts. I can do that which is denied you because of your responsibility as the head of Cuba, and the time has come for us to part.
I want it known that I do it with mixed feelings of joy and sorrow: I leave here the purest of my hopes as a builder, and the dearest of those I love. And I leave a people who received me as a son. That wounds me deeply. I carry to new battlefronts the faith that you taught me, the revolutionary spirit of my people, the feeling of fulfilling the most sacred of duties: to fight against imperialism wherever it may be. This comforts and heals the deepest wounds.
I state once more that I free Cuba from any responsibility, except that which stems from its example. If my final hour finds me under other skies, my last thought will be of this people and especially of you. I am thankful for your teaching, your example, and I will try to be faithful to the final consequences of my acts.
I have always been identified with the foreign policy of our revolution, and I will continue to be. Wherever I am, I will feel the responsibility of being a Cuban revolutionary, and as such I shall behave. I am not sorry that I leave my children and my wife nothing material. I am happy it is that way. I ask nothing for them, as I know the state will provide enough for their expenses and education.
I would like to say much to you and to our people, but I feel it is not necessary. Words cannot express what I would want them to, and I don't think it's worth while to banter phrases.
Hasta la victoria siempre. ¡Patria o Muerte!
I embrace you with all my revolutionary fervor.