*Larita Kutsarita - n. see THE AUTHOR
*Spoonfuls - n. articles/dispatches/scribbles by Larita Kutsarita
(Background photo by Aiess Alonso)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Che Guevara's Letters to His Mother

The following is a Facebook note tagged by one of my friends on Mother's Day. I wish I could write the same way to my own Mama. 

September 24 1955

Dear Mother

In time the Communist Party will be put out of circulation. Who knows what will meanwhile have become of your wandering son. Perhaps he will have decided to set up shop in his native country , or to begin a life of real struggle.

Perhaps one of the bullets so common in the Caribbean will put an end to my days (this is neither idle talk nor a concrete possibility: it's just that a lot of bullets fly around in these parts). Perhaps I'll simply keep wandering long enough to complete a solid education and take the pleasures I have awarded myself for this life, before seriously devoting myself to the pursuit of my ideal. Things develop with tremendous speed, and no one can predict where they will be next year and why.

I don't know if you got the formal announcement of my marriage and the [imminent] arrival of an heir. [He and Hilda Gadea married at Tepoztlan on August 1955.]

Chau. Kisses to all the family, and greetings from Hilda.

[apparently from prison]

Mexico City, July 15 1956

I am not Christ or a philanthropist, Mother; 2I fight for the things in which I believe, with the weapons in my reach, and I try to leave the other lying flat instead of letting myself be nailed to a cross. They will release Fidel Castro tomorrow, the head of the Movement. If this happens as they said, there would be just two of us left behind bars.

If I ever detect in myself that the sacred flame has given way to a timid votive flicker, the least I can then do is vomit over my own shit. As to your appeal for moderate egoism, that is, for common lily-livered individualism, I must tell you that I have done a lot to wipe him out - I mean, not exactly that unfamiliar spineless type, but the other bohemian type, unconcerned about his neighbour and imbued with a sense of self- sufficiency deriving from an awareness (mistaken or not) of my own strength. During these prison days and the period of training that preceded them, I have identified totally with my comrades in the cause.

I remember a phrase that once seemed to me idiotic or at least bizarre, referring to such a total identification among the embers of a fighting body that the very concept of the "I" disappeared and gave way to the concept of the "we". It was a communist morality and may, of course, appear to be a doctrinaire exaggeration, but in reality it was (and is) a beautiful thing to be able to feel that stirring of "we".

It is true that, after I have set wrongs [right] in Cuba, I'll go somewhere else; and it is also true that I'd be really done for if I were shut up in some bureaucratic office or allergy clinic. When all is said and done, though, it seems to me that this pain - the pain of a mother entering old age who wants her son alive - is a feeling that should be respected, a feeling that I have a duty to heed. I would like to see you, not only to comfort you but to comfort myself for my sporadic and unconfessable yearnings. Mother, I kiss you and promise to be with you if there is nothing new.

Your son, el Che

Mexico City, [probably November 15 1956]

Dear Mother

My long-term aim is to see something of Europe, if possible to live there, but that is getting more and more difficult. With the kind of illness I have, it seems to keep getting worse.

I had a project for my life which involved 10 years of wandering, then some years of medical studies and, if any time was left, the great adventure of physics.

Now that is all over. The only clear thing is that the 10 years of wandering look like being more (unless unforeseen circumstances put an end to all wandering), but it will be very different from the kind I imagined. Now, when I get to a new country, it won't be to look around and visit museums or ruins, but also (because that still interests me) to join the people's struggle.


(approximately October 1956)

Dear Mama

I would probably have more in common with a whale than with a bourgeois married couple employed at worthy institutions that I would wipe from the face of the earth if it was given to me to do so.

Previously I devoted myself for better or worse to medicine, and spent my spare time informally studying Saint Karl [Marx]. The new stage in my life requires me to change the order: now Saint Karl comes first; he is the axis and will remain so for however many years the spheroid has room for me on its outer mantle; medicine is a more or less trivial diversion. Next comes the tough part, The signs are good. They augur victory. But if they are wrong I think that I'll be able to say like a poet you don't know: "I shall carry beneath the earth only the sorrow of an unfinished song."

To avoid pre-mortem pathos, this letter will appear when things are really getting hot, and then you will know that your son, in a sun-drenched land of the Americas, is cursing himself for not having studied enough surgery to help a wounded man, and cursing the Mexican government that did not let him perfect his already respectable marksmanship so that he could knock over puppets with greater agility. The struggle will be with our backs to the wall, as in the hymns, until victory or death.

Again kisses, with all the affection of a farewell that refuses to be total. 

Your son

el Che

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