by Federico Fernandez
In the early 1950s, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his friend and colleague Alberto Granado had an initiatory journey across South America. Guevara’s travel log was later published to much fanfare, resulting in the Hollywood hit “The Motorcycle Diaries”, starring Latin sensation Gael García Bernal.
The movie portrays a young “Che” witnessing the inequalities and, in some cases, the harsh exploitation that was occurring within the subcontinent. His conclusion? That Western capitalism was to blame and a violent revolution was needed to solve Latin America’s problems.
By the way, Guevara hadn’t always been a Communist. By the time he undertook that famous trip, his desire for revolution had an unclear basis. Only after meeting the Castro brothers in 1955 he became a Communist and would remain a faithful Stalinist for the rest of his life. He thought of Stalin as a great Socialist theorist and even wanted to lay a floral offer at his tomb during his first visit to the USSR. He had to be dissauded by his Soviet entourage from doing so. No wonder why Juan José Sebreli, a brilliant Argentinean essayist, defines him as “political idiot”.
Naturally, his idiocy didn’t prevent him from ruling with an iron fist -both as a military commander and as chief of the Cuban central bank and minister of industry. There’s a very well documented list of more than two hundred people extecuted by Guevara personally. In his diary, he even describes how he blew a suspected desertor’s brains out…
Perhaps Guevara’s greatest merit has to do with two pictures taken without him even knowing. The first is one of the most popular photos of our time, taken in La Havana by the Cuban photographer Alberto Korda. It was a snapshot taken during a demonstration. One has to admit that the ferocity of his look, coupled with the beret and the long hair make him the perfect poster boy for the revolutionary.
The other one is a bit creepy, since it’s the picture taken by the commandos that killed him. Certain (blasphemous) Christ-like features of the photohave since mesmerized generations.
In any case, his powerful imagery plus his “heroic” death helped to forge the pagan martyr status.
I happen to be born in the same city as “Che” — Rosario (Argentina… Yes, he came from Argentina!). What’s more, I lived many years a couple of blocks from his family house. And last but not least, I also took an initiatory journeyof sorts…
In 2014 I had the privilege of touring Europe and the Caucasus with theFree Market Road Show. Organized by the Austrian Economics Center, in cooperation with more than sixty leading institutions, the Free Market Road Show brings together renowned economists, top politicians and prominent business leaders every year to discuss current social and economic problems and their possible solutions. Speakers at the events comprised of the who’s who in the libertarian, journalistic, political, and business worlds. Thus, the Road Show has gained considerable clout worldwide for its insightful presentations and debates.
Unlike Guevara’s motorcycle trip which stopped at mines and leper hospitals, the Free Market Road Show visits Europe and the Caucasus’ most dynamic cities, from Seville to Munich, and from Zagreb to Stockholm. Believe me that the tour itslef is a lot of hard work and much less glamorous than it seems, though. Nonetheless, it is indeed a life changing experience.
From now on, I’d like to use this small parcel of cyberspace to share with you about the experiences, the people and the topics that will be unveiled along of the fantastic journey of the Free Market Road Show.
Welcome to the Free Market Diaries!