Yesterday was San Ernesto’s big day. Ernesto “Che” Guevara Lynch was shot by Bolivian soldiers 40 years ago yesterday, in La Higuera. Now, in the town where Che Guevara was gunned down, Ernesto has become a saint.
“We have masses for him…we pray to him…he performs miracles for us,” says Susana Osinaga. “He was like Christ.”
We’re not making this up. La Nacion reports that a woman named Ligia Moron says she saw Che’s body laid out on the ninth of October, after he was shot. That image was forever “drawn in my soul,” she says, adding:
“He gave his life for an ideal, fighting for us, here, just as Christ has given his life for us.”
The poor soldiers who captured Che Guevara have suffered. People look at them as though they had crucified Christ. One was shot in the back…one was lynched. Another fell out of a moving car and died.
Mike Tyson has Che Guevara embroidered on his body…so does soccer star Maradona. Here in Buenos Aires, a street demonstration marked the occasion. Yes, San Ernesto has become the patron saint of half-wits all over the world.
What’s wrong with the Argentines? Lord Byron thought he could trace the problem in the whole Hispanic world back to Cervantes. His character, Don Quixote, the Man of the Mancha, gave Spaniards such a heightened sensitivity to ridicule, said Byron, that ever thereafter they refused to take any initiative, for fear of making fools of themselves.
Now, in all of Latin America there is a general attitude of “defeatism, pessimism and self criticism,” says Gabriela, our Spanish teacher. “If you hear someone saying bad things about a Frenchman, he must be English. If you say bad things about a German, you must be French. But if you say bad things about an Argentine, you must be an Argentine.”
“We never do anything right in this country…that’s what people say,” she went on. “And whenever someone proposes to do anything new, everyone tells him it will never work.
“Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Back in the days of Peron, Argentines were very proud…very positive…very sure of themselves – even arrogant. In fact, most people in Latin America still think the Argentines are arrogant. And maybe we are. But we are fiercely self-critical.
“I think what happened was that Peron was a disaster…and he was followed by other disasters. There were the generals…the war in the Malvinas (Falklands)…inflation…the crisis of 2002…debt defaults. In the ’30s, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world. In fact, I think it was number 8. Now, it is a mess.”
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