Return To Che Guevara Index
Che Guevera Archives
An Interview with Camilo Guevara, Son of El Che, in Belgium
Excerpts from interview in HUMO nr 43/3032
16 October 1998.
Q: You didn't really know your
father. You where five years old when he died. You probably
know him like we all do: out of books.
Guevara: I have a few memories, but
vaguely, things I'm not even sure off that they really happened
or that I dreamed them, fantasy. I know him through the stories
that my mother, family and friends of my father have told me.
Q: For believers in the free
market and the Americans, he is a devil.
That's their problem, not mine. He is a devil for the U.S. government
and American multinationals. Not for the North-American people.
I am convinced that many North-Americans admire and respect
El Che, that they love him and that they fight injustice in
American society under his banner. In the U.S. there is a movement
that declares its solidarity with Cuba and tries to lift the
father's life ended in controversy. He left Cuba because the
Soviets came, whom he did not trust, so they say, and had problems
with Fidel Castro who became more and more a pragmatic head
Guevara: That isn't
true. My father left Cuba because he was an eternal revolutionary.
He wrote as much in letters that might soon be published. He
had no quarrel with Fidel at all. Fidel and Che stayed friends,
brothers and comrades until the end. That they had problems
with one another is a lie which was already launched before
El Che's death. The period he was in Congo during the sixties
and the capitalist countries didn't know where he was, the Western
press wrote some crazy stories: he was dead; he was locked up
in a Cuban jail. With these lies they wanted to harm the Cuban
revolution and Fidel Castro as one of the international leaders
of the left and of the poor in the world, still eighty percent
of the world population today. On the other hand they tried
to convince people that the revolutionary Guevara, this great
symbol, wasn't all that, but a man who had to flee from Cuba
because he had problems with his colleague — revolutionary
^ Back To
Q: How is
life for the son of El Che in Cuba?
You want to know if I'm privileged? Children of 'the symbol'
have one advantage: a great part of the Cuban people still loves
El Che. I often feel awkward about it, but a lot of Cubans treat
us, the children of El Che, more warmly than others. I feel
that the Cubans convey their affection that they had for my
father onto me and my family. In that way we are indeed privileged.
Q: How are things in Cuba today?
The economic situation seems to improve gradually?
Guevara: 1994 was rock-bottom for us. After that the Cuban economy
gradually began growing again, which was a miracle, really.
And El Che had nothing to do with it! (Laughs) Or maybe, a little.
That year made a great impression on us all. Imagine: a country
which is the victim of a rigorous economic blockade all of a
sudden also loses eighty percent of its trade due to the collapse
of Eastern Europe. At the same time the blockade is even tightened,
and the prices of Western goods, which we desperately needed
just like any other Third World country, keep on rising. And
still we managed to let our economy grow. That is the miracle.
A very dangerous example. We achieved this without one cent
from the International Monitary Fund, nor of any other international
financial institution whatsoever! We have showed that you can
achieve a lot without money, but with a great political will.
I suspect that capitalists around the world are a bit anxious
that this example might be followed in other countries. That's
why they try to destroy us with even greater vigour.
Q: El Maximo Lider Fidel will sooner
or later disappear from the scene. He is 72 now. What will happen
then? In Florida huge groups of Cuban exiles are waiting for
the day they can reclaim Cuba.
Guevara: There are few thing of which
one can be sure in this world. (Laughs) The Cubans in Florida
where already convinced back in 1959 that they would re-conquer
Cuba quickly. Ha! We are forty years further now, and they are
still in Florida. When Eastern Europe collapsed, they knew for
certain: we take Cuba back! In the meantime that's nine years
For sixty years, from the beginning of the century until the
end of the fifties, Cuba was a colony of the U.S. . We know
capitalism, we have experienced its deeds. Until Fidel and a
group of youngsters launched the revolution. What do you think
the Cuban people are going to do after Fidel's death? Do you
think that everybody wants to go back to the period before 1959;
that the people will allow the U.S. to come and boss us around?
Q: Wouldn't it be possible that
the Cuban regime imploded? The consumption goods of capitalism
are very seductive. One notices it these days in Havana.
Guevara: In the West capitalism
seduces many people, yes. And maybe a few ignorant people in
the Third World too . . .
Back To Top
Oh come on, the Cuban youth wants Nikes and Marlboro's, Coca-Cola
and walkmans too.
Without a doubt, without a doubt. But that isn't the majority
of youngsters. Never! The Cuban people have reached a level
of political and cultural awareness that cannot easily be ignored.
The Cubans have seen what has happened to Eastern Europe: before
the collapse of the Berlin Wall they had promised these people
heaven, but what did they get? Nothing, absolutely nothing,
except chaos and exploitation. We Cubans know this, we see it
and we don't want it to happen to us. OK, there are still some
people that want to sell us out to the U.S. . But they are a
Q: Wouldn't it
be wiser to completely ignore the U.S. and tighten the economic
ties with Europe?
The Europeans aren't philanthropists either, hey. You have to
be realistic: our relationship with Europe depends on what we
can earn from one another. But the U.S. executes pressure onto
Europe, a lot of pressure. Northern-Europe resists the Helm-Burton
law (American law that tries to prevent non-American industry
to trade with Cuba) and we are glad about that. But is that
because the Europeans are in love with Cuba? No, its a question
of sovereignty. How can one country accept that another country
forbids it to trade with the rest of the world?
Q: Until recently Cuba was a isolated
socialist 'paradise'. Now you receive thousands of tourists
and businessmen from Europe and South-America. Is that positive?
Guevara: Cuba has never been
as isolated as you think. We have always had good contact with
Europe. With Eastern-Europe, sure. But we have always been open
to the European culture. In the past we have never promoted
mass tourism from Western-Europe because we didn't need it.
Now it has become our most important source of income and a
way to attract foreign investments.
But mass tourism has a shadow side too: prostitution.
Guevara: For me it has more to do
with the crisis of human values all over the world, than with
tourists coming to Cuba.
You really believe that?
There's prostitution in Belgium as well. I have seen it with
my own eyes. People who have enough money to live on don't prostitute
themselves. People who lack money, do. Why?
Because they want money?
No! If I had no money and would go hungry every day, I would
not prostitute myself! It is a question of values. So, what
can we do about it? Must we throw out all tourists, or do we
have to make sure that people do not only have enough money,
but also have respect for the essential human values? In any
case we are working hard to force back prostitution.
Q: You work for the Ministry of Fishery. Strange that you have
such ministry. Cubans hardly eat fish.
Guevara: That's true. But there is improvement. In the past,
eating fish was for the poor. Or food for cats and dogs. Now
we try to promote the fish consumption through fairs and feasts.
Q: Even Fidel seems to interfere?
Guevara: Yes, he once did an advertisement on TV. One saw an
empty table in an empty room. Fidel entered and sat himself
behind the table, looked into the camera very seriously but
didn't say a word. After a while a waiter entered and served
him a plate of fish. Fidel ate the fish in silence. This took
a few minutes. When only the fish-bones where left on his plate,
Fidel rose up, looked imperatively into the camera, and spoke
to his people the historical words "And now, YOU"
And now we all eat fish.
Back To Top
Return To Che Guevara Index