2 – He Enjoyed Killing
The various murders Guevara was involved in had less to do with ‘necessity’ and more to do with the fact that he really enjoyed it. There are a variety of quotes attributed to him which suggests as much. For example, he once said that killing made his “nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood.” He was even angry at the Soviet Union’s failure to attack America claiming that Cuba would have used the missiles.
Of course, actions speak louder than words and Guevara mastered the art of murder. While many of the executions he ordered were members of the former regime, he didn’t hesitate to kill just about anyone who got in his way. Journalists, businessmen and former colleagues who didn’t agree with him were all executed on his orders.
He is also ‘credited’ with the creation of Cuba’s first ‘corrective work camp’ which was little different to the Soviet Gulags of the time. There were unimaginable atrocities committed in the two main prisons; Santa Clara and La Cabana. Reinaldo Arenas is a Cuban writer, and he spent time in La Cabana. According to Arenas, he was arrested for his anti-authoritarian views and wrote about the appalling conditions inside. There was no bathroom, while beatings were commonplace as were executions.
Arenas also spoke of how his colleague, Herberto Padilla, had his spirit crushed in La Cabana. For 30 days, Padilla was locked in a prison, beaten and tortured until he branded himself a traitor and renounced all of his previous work which was critical of the regime. The exact number of people executed on Che’s orders is unknown, but it is probably in the thousands. As I mentioned in the previous point, Guevara often shot victims himself, so we also have no idea how many people he murdered during his time on Earth. It is likely that he killed well over a hundred people himself. Not because they were ‘enemies of the state,’ but because he wanted to and he enjoyed doing it.