Книги: Episodes of the Revolutionary War, Ernesto Che Guevara
Episodes of the Revolutionary War,
Ernesto Che Guevara
A FEW DAYS AGO, the news from Guatemala included the deaths of several patriots, among them Julio Roberto Caceres Valle.
In our profession as revolutionaries, amidst the class struggle shaking the entire Continent, we find that death is a frequent accident. But the death of a friend, who was our comrade during difficult moments as well as during many moments of hopeful dreaming, is always painful. Julio Roberto was a great friend. He was small and rather weak, physically, so we nicknamed him "El Patojo" which in Guatemalan slang means "little one" or "child."
While in Mexico, El Patojo had witnessed the birth of the idea of a Revolution. He had offered his services as a volunteer, but Fidel did not want to involve any foreigners in this project of national liberation in which I had the honor to participate.
Shortly after the triumph of the Revolution, El Patojo sold his few belongings and came to me. He occupied several positions in public administration and became Chief of Personnel of the Industry Department of INRA - National Institute of Agrarian Reform - but he was never too happy with his jobs He was looking for something different: his country's liberation. Like all of us, he had undergone a deep transformation. He had changed from a bewildered boy who had left his country without fully understanding the reason for defeat, into the fully conscious revolutionary that he now was.
The first time I saw El Patojo was aboard a train. We were running away from Guatemala following Arbenz' overthrow. Our destination was Tapachula; then Mexico City. He was much younger than I, but we soon became close friends. Together, we made the trip from Chiapas to Mexico City, facing the same problems. We were poor and beaten, and we had to make a living amidst indifferent, if not hostile, surroundings.
El Patojo was completely broke and I had only a few pesos. I purchased a camera and we became clandestine photographers, taking pictures of people visiting parks, etc. Our partner was a Mexican who owned the laboratory where we developed and printed our photographs. We be came thoroughly familiar with Mexico City, walking from one end to the other, delivering our miserable photos and struggling with our customers in an effort to convince them that the little child in the print really looked beautiful and that the price of one Mexican peso for such work of art was a tremendous bargain. We practised our profession for several months and managed to eat quite regularly. Gradually, we fared a little better, until the adventures of a revolutionary life separated us. I have already explained why Fidel did not want our small army to be a mosaic of nationalities.
El Patojo continued his life as a newspaperman, studying Physics at the University of Mexico, cutting short, his studies, going back to the University, without getting ahead. He made his living working at various occupations, never asking for anything. To this day, I cannot say whether that sensitive boy was too timid or too proud to recognize his weaknesses and personal problems; to approach some friend and ask for help. El Patojo was an introvert, a man of great intelligence, well educated, and endowed with tremendous sensitivity which, towards the end, he had devoted to serving his people. Already a Party man, he belonged to the Guatemalan Workers' Party, he had acquired great discipline and he was a good prospect as a revolutionary cadre. There was very little left of his former touchiness and proud demeanor. The Revolution cleanses men, improving and developing them, as the farmer corrects the defects on a plant and brings out its best qualities.
In Cuba, El Patojo and I shared the same house, as becomes old friends, but the old mutual confidence no longer existed. On a few occasions, I suspected what El Patojo was after: I had seen him hard at work, studying one of his country's native languages. One day, he came to me and said he was leaving; that the time had come for him to do his duty.
El Patojo had no knowledge of military training. He simply felt that it was his duty to return to his country and fight, weapon in hand, in an attempt to imitate our guerrilla warfare. We held a long conversation, a rare thing at the time. I limited my recommendations to three points: constant mobility, constant mistrust, and constant vigilance. Mobility: never stay in the same place, never stay more than two nights in the same spot, never stop moving from one place to another. Mistrust: At the beginning, do not trust your own shadow, never trust friendly peasants, informers, guides, or contact men. Do not trust anything or anybody until a zone is completely liberated. Vigilance: constant guard and scouting, setting up camp in a safe spot, and above all, never sleep with a roof over your head, never sleep in a house that can be surrounded. It was a synthesis of our guerrilla experience; the only thing I could give my friend. Could I tell him not to do it? On what right? We had tried something when it was considered impossible, and now he was convinced that it was possible.
El Patojo departed, and a short time later we heard about his death. As always in these cases, we hoped that there had been some mistake, perhaps a mix-up on names. Unfortunately, it was true: his own mother had identified the body. Others, too, had been killed: a group of his comrades, perhaps as intelligent and as self-sacrificing as El Patojo, but unknown to us.
Once again there is the bitter taste of defeat. The question left unanswered: Why not profit by the experience of others? Why weren't these simple instructions obeyed? Every effort was made to find out exactly how El Patojo had died. The exact facts are still unknown, but one could say that the zone was badly chosen, the men's physical condition was below par, they were too trusting, and above all, there was not enough vigilance. The repressive army came upon them by surprise, killing a few; the men were dispersed and the soldiers caught up with them once again. Some were captured and others, like El Patojo, were killed in the battle. Once the guerrillas lost cohesion, the rest was probably an open manhunt, similar to what happened to us at Alegria del Pio.
Once again, young blood has been spilled in American soil, in the struggle for liberty. Another battle has been lost. Let us take time off to cry over the fallen comrades while we continue to sharpen our machetes. Based on the unfortunate as well as valuable experience of our beloved dead, let us adopt the firm resolution not to repeat mistakes, and to avenge the death of every one of them by winning battles and attaining liberation.
At the time of his departure, El Patojo made no recommendations; he mentioned no one. He had no personal belongings to be concerned with. However, common friends in Mexico brought me some verses he had written in a plain notebook. They are a revolutionary's last verses. They are also a song of love to the Revolution, to the motherland, and to a woman.
The final recommendation in these verses must have the characteristics of a command directed to the woman whom El Patojo met and loved, here in Cuba.
Take it, it is only a heart
bold it in your hand
and at daybreak,
open your hand
and let the sun's rays warm it...
El Patojo's heart has remained with us, waiting for the lover's hand, and the loving hands of an entire people, t o allow the sun to warm it on the dawn of a new day that will shine for Guatemala and all America. Today, there is a small School of Statistics named "Julio Roberto Cacercs Valle" at the Ministry of Industry, where El Patojo left numerous friends. Later, when freedom comes to Guatemala, his beloved name must appear on a school, a factory or a hospital, anywhere where people struggle and work in the construction of the new society.