In India on 60 years of Cuban revolution, Che’s daughter says world needs more people like him
Aleida Guevara (58) is a doctor with many dreams. She dreams of a better world, more equality and solidarity among human beings. And on Wednesday, as she spoke to a packed hall — that frequently erupted in applause and slogans — at the capital’s Constitution Club, people tried to hear the voice of her father: Ernesto Che Guevara.
“He is dead. But practice of his ideology is more important in this time. He is a man who fought for a better world for all. Perhaps, we need many more men and women like Che today to achieve a better, equal place for all,” said Aleida, the eldest of Che’s four children with his second wife, on the sidelines of the event.
Che was assassinated when she was just six years old. “I have some fond memories of my father. I call it the present absence. I cherish all those memories,” Aleida said. In earlier interviews, she had narrated how her mother struggled to bring them up after their father was killed in 1967 by the Bolivian army. The family had very close ties with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, but preferred to live a normal life outside politics.
But her life has become intertwined with her father’s legacy. It is mere coincidence that just as her father studied medicine before taking up arms, she too has become a doctor in Havana. She has no interest in politics and laughed when asked if she would like to join the Cuban presidential race in the future. But she speaks of communist ideologies and likes comrades as friends.
“I met her earlier too. She always tells me about the Cubans’ strong fight against the US administration,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), politburo member Brinda Karat.
Aleida is also no stranger in India. Her father was here in 1959. She was in Kolkata almost 20 years ago. “And every Friday, an Indian film is telecast on a Cuban TV channel,” she quipped. She also knows the poor state of Left politics in India. But on Wednesday, her arrival in Delhi coincided with 60 years of the Cuban revolution that was orchestrated by Castro and Che.
The armed battle started on July 26, 1953, and lasted till January 1, 1959. Every year, July 26 is marked in Cuba as the Day of the Revolution. Ironically, that same year, Che married Aleida March, Aleida Guevara’s mother. She will come to Delhi again next month, said an official of the Cuban embassy.
Her latest visit also coincided with interesting times in Cuba’s domestic politics. With 88-year-old Raul Castro in the top post of the Communist party and Miguel Diaz Canel as president, the country has adopted a new Constitution. Fernando Gonasalves Llot, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples’ of the World (ICAP), said, “Our new Constitution doesn’t allow anyone above 60 to contest elections and it gives more power to the people and elected bodies.”
But what has certainly not changed is the Cuban leaders’ attack on the US administration. While Fernando said “USA wants to deny Cuba any kind of resource it can use for its development”, Aleida asked Indians to draw inspiration from Cuba. “We can tell you that we are fighting against the most powerful nation but the US government has not been able to defeat us. We must unite to fight to make our society better,” she said.
The event at the Constitution Club to commemorate a great event in history was almost lacklustre — a reflection on the Indian Left’s dwindling strength — till Aleida lighted it up by declaring, “I am a Cuban, so I must sing.”
She then burst into a song by poet José Martí, another Cuban national hero, delighting the audience with distant dreams of revolution.