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This painting is the latest in my “Heroes” series and my first with two people together. It is based on the famous photograph taken of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara as they were preparing for their triumphal march into Havana in 1959 to take control of the central government after the corrupt Batista regime, along with their US carpet-baggers had fled. Castro managed to not only hold the country together, but transform it into the most stable, egalitarian, healthy country in the western hemisphere for over 50 years, despite over 600 American CIA assassination attempts, a draconian trade embargo, a failed, US led invasion. He eliminated childhood hunger, homelessness and rampant gambling. He instituted universal, free healthcare and free education through university. Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate and longer life expectancy than the US despite spending 1/5 as much on medicine. They send more doctors around the world to help developing nations and in crisis situations than the US does, though they are relatively tiny.

Fidel Castro said, “Capitalism is using its money. We socialists are throwing it away!” What he meant by that is that they weren’t using it to make more money. They were spending it on the people. All the profits from the factories and industries went to the people. There has been scarcity in Cuba, but no one has gone hungry. No one has gone uneducated. They have the highest literacy rate in the hemisphere at 99%. No one has gone without top-notch medical care. It is a medical tourism destination! The scarcity is because of the lack of trade because of the bullying of the US. In the US, when business is bad, the ones who work the hardest are the first to suffer! Not so in Cuba! Furthermore, Fidel wanted to have a free and open democracy. Honduras had tried that. They elected a socialist. Our CIA, under Dulles, went and overthrew him, and reinstalled fascism. So Che persuaded Fidel to maintain a benign dictatorship.

Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926 and died on November 25, 2016, proving once and for all that the best revenge is a long life.

Ernesto Che Guevara was born on June 14, 1928. (My birthday in June 14, 1955.) His early life is documented in the book and movie: “The Motorcycle Diaries”, about his travels from one end of South America to the other on a motorcycle. This trip was formative in his education as a revolutionary. He became a medical doctor first. In 1955, Fidel’s brother Raul introduced them, and he joined the revolution in Cuba. On June 2, 1959, he married Aleida March. He stayed in Cuba until 1965; then he joined the revolution in Kinshasa, Congo. In 1966, he joined the revolution in Bolivia. He was captured by the CIA on October 8, 1967, and summarily executed the next day. So much for human rights and due process and Geneva Convention.

These two are unlikely heroes of mine, since I am a pacifist. As Winston Churchill said, “Consistency is the bugbear of small minds!” The result of what they did cannot be questioned. They improved the lives of millions of people and literally made hundreds of thousands more lives happen. Vision, combined with action, blended with stubborn love for common people. Heroes indeed!

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.”

“Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.” – both by El Che

Painting is acrylic on 24″ x 18″ stretched canvas.

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