Che Guevara’s daughter Aleida says Cuba will stay socialist in a post–Fidel Castro era
Cuban doctorAleida Guevara is confident that her country’s socialist system, which provides free health care and education to its people, will endure in a post–Fidel Castro era.
“The revolutionary process will stay together not because of one person,” Guevara told the Straight in Spanish through translator Wilson Munoz, a Vancouver community activist. “It’s because there is unity in the population.”
Guevara, a pediatrician, was speaking on the sidelines of a four-day conference organized by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity With Cuba. The event is named after her father, the revolutionary icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
“To live 90 miles from the U.S. and to keep the revolution going for 50 years is a great accomplishment,” Guevara added.
In a warmly received talk on November 3 at the International Che Guevara Conference at East Vancouver’s Russian Hall, Guevara stressed that Cuba’s socialism has done good things for its people despite the crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. since the 1960s.
“We have less resources but we are capable of doing beautiful things,” she said, noting that there are still millions without health care in the U.S., the richest and most powerful nation in the world.
The ailing Castro, who co-led the Cuban revolution of 1959 with Guevara’s father, has been the subject of a death watch for years. Many foresee a change in Cuba, as well as an improvement in the country’s relations with the U.S., with the passing of Castro.
Professor Jon Beasley-Murray, a UBC expert on Latin American affairs, explained the strong local interest in Cuba and Che Guevara.
“In many ways, Cuba is an example of a country that previously tried to do something different,” Beasley-Murray told the Straight in a phone interview. “For some people, Cuba is a model. For other people, I’d say, it’s a flawed model.”
As for Che Guevara, Beasley-Murray noted: “People want to know why this middle-class doctor in Buenos Aires finds himself first in Cuba, and then in places like Angola, and finally Bolivia, where he ultimately dies. What happens? How did that transformation take place? He’s a powerful figure from the ’60s, and the reminder of a moment when there was more of a sense of possibility.”
Former Vancouver city councillor Tim Louis spoke at one of the conference events. Louis, an ardent admirer of Che Guevara, told the Straight by phone, “He’s an internationalist. He believed that we have a responsibility to fight for a better world, not just in our homes, in our country, but to help other people that are trying to do the same thing.”