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    The Cult of Che

    The Cult of Che
    Don't applaud The Motorcycle Diaries.[/b]
    By Paul Berman
    Posted Friday, Sept. 24, 2004, at 7:33 AM ET


    The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination. In the famous essay in which he issued his ringing call for "two, three, many Vietnams," he also spoke about martyrdom and managed to compose a number of chilling phrases: "Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become …"— and so on. He was killed in Bolivia in 1967, leading a guerrilla movement that had failed to enlist a single Bolivian peasant. And yet he succeeded in inspiring tens of thousands of middle class Latin-Americans to exit the universities and organize guerrilla insurgencies of their own. And these insurgencies likewise accomplished nothing, except to bring about the death of hundreds of thousands, and to set back the cause of Latin-American democracy—a tragedy on the hugest scale.

    The present-day cult of Che—the T-shirts, the bars, the posters—has succeeded in obscuring this dreadful reality. And Walter Salles' movie The Motorcycle Diaries will now take its place at the heart of this cult. It has already received a standing ovation at Robert Redford's Sundance film festival (Redford is the executive producer of The Motorcycle Diaries) and glowing admiration in the press. Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a free-thinker and a rebel. And thus it is in Salles' Motorcycle Diaries.


    A vagabond tour of South America

    The film follows the young Che and his friend Alberto Granado on a vagabond tour of South America in 1951-52—which Che described in a book published under the title Motorcycle Diaries, and Granado in a book of his own. Che was a medical student in those days, and Granado a biochemist, and in real life, as in the movie, the two men spent a few weeks toiling as volunteers in a Peruvian leper colony. These weeks at the leper colony constitute the dramatic core of the movie. The colony is tyrannized by nuns, who maintain a cruel social hierarchy between the staff and the patients. The nuns refuse to feed people who fail to attend mass. Young Che, in his insistent honesty, rebels against these strictures, and his rebellion is bracing to witness. You think you are observing a noble protest against the oppressive customs and authoritarian habits of an obscurantist Catholic Church at its most reactionary.

    Yet the entire movie, in its concept and tone, exudes a Christological cult of martyrdom, a cult of adoration for the spiritually superior person who is veering toward death—precisely the kind of adoration that Latin America's Catholic Church promoted for several centuries, with miserable consequences. The rebellion against reactionary Catholicism in this movie is itself an expression of reactionary Catholicism. The traditional churches of Latin America are full of statues of gruesome bleeding saints. And the masochistic allure of those statues is precisely what you see in the movie's many depictions of young Che coughing out his lungs from asthma and testing himself by swimming in cold water—all of which is rendered beautiful and alluring by a sensual backdrop of grays and browns and greens, and the lovely gaunt cheeks of one actor after another, and the violent Andean landscapes.

    The movie in its story line sticks fairly close to Che's diaries, with a few additions from other sources. The diaries tend to be haphazard and nonideological except for a very few passages. Che had not yet become an ideologue when he went on this trip. He reflected on the layered history of Latin America, and he expressed attitudes that managed to be pro-Indian and, at the same time, pro-conquistador. But the film is considerably more ideological, keen on expressing an "indigenist" attitude (to use the Latin-American Marxist term) of sympathy for the Indians and hostility to the conquistadors. Some Peruvian Marxist texts duly appear on the screen. I can imagine that Salles and his screenwriter, José Rivera, have been influenced more by Subcomandante Marcos and his "indigenist" rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico, than by Che.

    And yet, for all the ostensible indigenism in this movie, the pathos here has very little to do with the Indian past, or even with the New World. The pathos is Spanish, in the most archaic fashion—a pathos that combines the Catholic martyrdom of the Christlike scenes with the on-the-road spirit not of Jack Kerouac (as some people may imagine) but of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, a tried-and-true formula in Spanish culture. (See Benito Pérez Galdós' classic 19th-century novel Nazarín.) If you were to compare Salles' The Motorcycle Diaries, with its pious tone, to the irrevent, humorous, ironic, libertarian films of Pedro Almodóvar, you could easily imagine that Salles' film comes from the long-ago past, perhaps from the dark reactionary times of Franco—and Almodóvar's movies come from the modern age that has rebelled against Franco.

    The modern-day cult of Che blinds us not just to the past but also to the present. Right now a tremendous social struggle is taking place in Cuba. Dissident liberals have demanded fundamental human rights, and the dictatorship has rounded up all but one or two of the dissident leaders and sentenced them to many years in prison. Among those imprisoned leaders is an important Cuban poet and journalist, Raúl Rivero, who is serving a 20-year sentence. In the last couple of years the dissident movement has sprung up in yet another form in Cuba, as a campaign to establish independent libraries, free of state control; and state repression has fallen on this campaign, too.

    These Cuban events have attracted the attention of a number of intellectuals and liberals around the world. Václav Havel has organized a campaign of solidarity with the Cuban dissidents and, together with Elena Bonner and other heroic liberals from the old Soviet bloc, has rushed to support the Cuban librarians. A group of American librarians has extended its solidarity to its Cuban colleagues, but, in order to do so, the American librarians have had to put up a fight within their own librarians' organization, where the Castro dictatorship still has a number of sympathizers. And yet none of this has aroused much attention in the United States, apart from a newspaper column or two by Nat Hentoff and perhaps a few other journalists, and an occasional letter to the editor. The statements and manifestos that Havel has signed have been published in Le Monde in Paris, and in Letras Libres magazine in Mexico, but have remained practically invisible in the United States. The days when American intellectuals rallied in any significant way to the cause of liberal dissidents in other countries, the days when Havel's statements were regarded by Americans as important calls for intellectual responsibility—those days appear to be over.

    (continues)

    http://www.slate.com/id/2107100/
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    Re: The Cult of Che

    I wonder if people who stand up to cheer a hagiography of Che Guevara, as the Sundance audience did, will ever give a damn about the oppressed people of Cuba—will ever lift a finger on behalf of the Cuban liberals and dissidents. It's easy in the world of film to make a movie about Che, but who among that cheering audience is going to make a movie about Raúl Rivero?

    As a protest against the ovation at Sundance, I would like to append one of Rivero's poems to my comment here. The police confiscated Rivero's books and papers at the time of his arrest, but the poet's wife, Blanca Reyes, was able to rescue the manuscript of a poem describing an earlier police raid on his home. Letras Libres published the poem in Mexico. I hope that Rivero will forgive me for my translation. I like this poem because it shows that the modern, Almodóvar-like qualities of impudence, wit, irreverence, irony, playfulness, and freedom, so badly missing from Salles' pious work of cinematic genuflection, are fully alive in Latin America, and can be found right now in a Cuban prison.


    Search Order
    by Raúl Rivero


    What are these gentlemen looking for
    in my house?

    What is this officer doing
    reading the sheet of paper
    on which I've written
    the words "ambition," "lightness," and "brittle"?

    What hint of conspiracy
    speaks to him from the photo without a dedication
    of my father in a guayabera (black tie)
    in the fields of the National Capitol?

    How does he interpret my certificates of divorce?

    Where will his techniques of harassment lead him
    when he reads the ten-line poems
    and discovers the war wounds
    of my great-grandfather?

    Eight policemen
    are examining the texts and drawings of my daughters,
    and are infiltrating themselves into my emotional networks
    and want to know where little Andrea sleeps
    and what does her asthma have to do
    with my carpets.

    They want the code of a message from Zucu
    in the upper part
    of a cryptic text (here a light triumphal smile
    of the comrade):
    "Castles with music box. I won't let the boy
    hang out with the boogeyman. Jennie."

    A specialist in aporia came,
    a literary critic with the rank of interim corporal
    who examined at the point of a gun
    the hills of poetry books.

    Eight policemen
    in my house
    with a search order,
    a clean operation,
    a full victory
    for the vanguard of the proletariat
    who confiscated my Consul typewriter,
    one hundred forty-two blank pages
    and a sad and personal heap of papers
    —the most perishable of the perishable
    from this summer.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2107100/





    Just had to pop in for a brief moment to bring you a photo montage of Che Guevara cultists marching out of the shadows over the past week in L.A., Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Salinas:








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    Re: The Cult of Che

    At the Dallas Immigration Rally this weekend :



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    Re: The Cult of Che

    I have a Che Guevara t-shirt.

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    Re: The Cult of Che

    Usually, we only hear about corporations caving into left-wing demands for sensitivity. Here's a rarity: a corporation apologizing to critics offended by merchandise featuring murderous Marxist Che Guevara....

    Targeting Che
    INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
    Posted 12/13/2006


    Target, the retailer that distinguished itself last year by banning Salvation Army bell-ringers, has topped itself this yuletide by selling Che Guevara CD cases for a little tyrant-chic right under your tree.

    The big box retailer has jumped onto the Guevara bandwagon, selling the murderous revolutionary's image as if it had just turned its stores into Marxist rally stalls.

    What next? Hitler backpacks? Pol Pot cookware? Pinochet pantyhose? Target gives this monster a pass, while using common sense on almost everything else it sells.

    We can only guess it's because Alberto Korda took one glamorous snapshot of Guevara in 1960 that has delighted leftists and blown around at global anti-American rallies ever since, something Target might do well to consider.

    The firm is not immune to trendy leftism. In its Community Giving program, it has given cash to artist Rupert Garcia, whose claim to fame is glorifying Guevara, something noted on Target's Web site.

    All this reflects an indifference to history. For some real market research, Target ought to go to Miami, a shopper haven that is a place of exile for the 20% of Cubans who fled for their lives from Guevara's communist Cuba.

    For them, Guevara was no hip revolutionary with a free spirit wearing earbuds, as the Target CD case shows. He was a psychopath with a central role in Cuba's 1961 mass executions in the "year of the wall." Guevara personally signed at least 600 death warrants and executed children against firing squad walls; he was responsible for at least 2,000 deaths.

    After that, the Argentine-born communist organized Cuba's gulag. His violence was so over the top it scared even Castro, who eventually sent him away to fight mercenary wars in Africa.

    Guevara also left a lot to be desired on a personal level, never paying bills, living in houses he confiscated and wearing Gatsby suits and smoking from a cigarette holder as Cubans starved.

    Target would be well-advised to yank the Guevara trash from its shelves, melt it down and purchase their buyer some history lessons. Even for the sake of self-interest, it would make sense, because marketing Guevara probably will come back to bite.

    The ailing Castro is en route to the ash heap of history and freedom's gales are blowing through the land he has long oppressed. If there is any justice, there will be a democracy and there will be a reckoning. Leftists who romanticized Guevara will be called out and the consequences will reach U.S. shores.

    http://www.investors.com/editorial/e...50906458533409



    Che Guevara CD case pulled from shelves
    By Michele Gershberg
    Fri Dec 22, 8:52 PM ET


    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Target Corp said on Friday it had pulled a CD carrying case bearing Ernesto "Che" Guevara's image after an outcry by critics who label the Marxist revolutionary a murderer and totalitarian symbol.

    Target had touted a music disc carrying case for Che admirers emblazoned with the Argentine-born guerrilla's iconic 1960 portrait by Alberto Diaz, or "Korda." A set of small earphones was superimposed on the image, suggesting he was tuned in to an iPod or other music player. "It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry," Target said in a statement. "We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests."

    Some business columnists had decried the product, sold under Target's brand, saying the trendy discount chain was giving in to a misguided fashion craze while ignoring Guevara's role in bringing Fidel Castro's Communist rule to Cuba.

    "What next? Hitler backpacks? Pol Pot cookware? Pinochet pantyhose?" wrote Investor's Business Daily in an editorial earlier this month, citing the Guevara case as a model of "tyrant-chic."

    Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady said Target made an "admirable decision" to correct the actions of some company employees who "allowed Target to become a target itself of the Che myth."

    In a rare moment of accord, some social activists said they were not sorry to see Guevara taken off Target's shelves, but on different grounds. "Che would just be rolling in his grave if he knew his face was making money for Target," said Nell Greenberg, spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Global Exchange. "Everyone who does support that legacy of social justice is certainly not going to be opposed to stopping Target from using that tool."

    Guevara's image is literally stamped into the capitalist consumer society that he died fighting to overturn. His portrait adorns everything from schoolbags to T-shirts and women's lingerie.

    The picture of a stern-faced Guevara sporting a beret with a single star was popularized on posters after his 1967 execution in Bolivia, where he tried to foment a Communist uprising. Its place as a symbol of idealistic revolt has held strong in the decades since, from students rioting in Paris in 1968 to Palestinians launching an uprising against Israel in 2000.

    For people gift-shopping, Guevara's image is part of a motley of symbols of retro cool that populate flea market stalls and chic designer boutiques. It has also been used by globally recognized brands. Swatch put Guevara on a wristwatch and Smirnoff vodka featured the picture in an advertising campaign.

    Guevara's own family aims to end the industry of Che merchandise, seeking lawsuits against companies they believe exploit his image and undermine his political philosophy.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061223/...t_guevara_dc_3
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    Re: The Cult of Che

    Quote Originally Posted by Patchouli View Post
    I have a Che Guevara t-shirt.
    So were you familar with this person's history & philosophy when you got this ?
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    Re: The Cult of Che

    We were watching a documentary on Castro and Che today. It was very interesting to say the least.
    It is the Right of the People to Alter or Abolish Government

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    Strand of "Che" Guevara's hair to be auctioned off
    By Tom Brown
    Wed Sep 5, 9:16 AM ET


    MIAMI (Reuters) - A former CIA operative who says he helped hunt down Ernesto "Che" Guevara and bury him in Bolivia 40 years ago now hopes to make a killing from the famed Argentine revolutionary's hair.

    Gustavo Villoldo, 71, a Cuban exile who says he was a major player in Guevara's capture in the Bolivian jungle, plans to auction off a strand of Guevara's hair and other items, kept in a scrapbook since the joint CIA-Bolivian army mission ended in Guevara's death in 1967. "I'm doing it for history's sake and to have closure. This is a very unique piece," Villoldo said of his scrapbook.

    "Guevara is, I would say, the world's leading recognized figure," he said. "To me the clipping of his hair, psychologically for me, for myself, meant that I was cutting off one of the symbols of the revolution, the long hair."

    Guevara, a leading figure of the Cuban Revolution often seen as rivaling Fidel Castro, has been regarded as a martyred hero of radicalism by generations of leftists.

    Villoldo said he expected the scrapbook -- which includes a map used to track down Guevara and photographs of his body -- to fetch as much as $7 million when it hits the auction block in Texas on October 25.

    Asked for proof of the hair's authenticity, Villoldo said he had no reason to lie. "It is what it is, and I let people believe or not, and that's up to them," he said.

    He added that DNA evidence could be extracted from the hair and compared with surviving members of the Guevara family.

    The Cuban government says it recovered Guevara's remains from Bolivia a decade ago and laid them to rest at a monument in Santa Clara, Cuba.

    "CULTURAL ICON"

    Villoldo disputes that account, saying the makeshift grave the remains were pulled from held seven bodies while he buried only three.

    He buried Guevara -- close to the grave later uncovered by the team of Cuban forensic experts -- because he wanted to deny Havana the chance of turning "Che's" remains into a monument to Cuban President Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.

    Tom Slater of Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, Texas, which will run the Guevara auction, said it was hard to tell how much Villoldo's scrapbook would make at auction. "As a cultural icon he's just one of the most important of the second half of the 20th century," Slater said.

    "There's never been, to my knowledge, any other personal effects or material relating to the last part of his career or his capture and death that has ever come on the market."

    Slater acknowledged difficulties in proving things like the origins of a 40-year-old lock of hair. "I've been in this business for 35 years. I've learned to have a good nose for when things have been fabricated or put together," he said. "I personally have absolutely no reservations about his material being what it is claimed to be."

    The October 25-26 auction will be held in Texas, but bids will also be accepted online or by telephone.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070905/...xW7P.qaq4uQE4F


    ew....
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    Che remembered 40 years after death
    By ALVARO ZUAZO, Associated Press Writer
    Fri Oct 5, 6:00 PM ET


    SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia - Fidel Castro insists Ernesto "Che" Guevara could never have been taken prisoner 40 years ago if his gun hadn't malfunctioned. But the retired Bolivian general who led the mission to capture him says the Argentine revolutionary was hardly a heroic figure in his final moments.

    The man that Gen. Gary Prado remembers — sad, sick, hungry, dressed in rags and alone in the jungle — simply dropped his gun and surrendered, saying, "Don't shoot, I'm Che."

    "He wasn't the figure of the heroic guerrilla," Prado recalled in an interview with The Associated Press Thursday night.

    Decades after he gave up a comfortable middle class life in Argentina to foment armed rebellion, Guevara still inspires and infuriates people around the world. He is an icon for fans who have made his death scene a tourist trap. His face is instantly recognizable, a one-dimensional image on posters and T-shirts that either celebrate or mock his revolutionary ideals.

    Prado is bitter that Guevara still gets so much global attention four decades later. He's angry that Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales plans to honor Guevara but not the 55 soldiers who died putting down his attempted revolution in Bolivia.

    Che "wasn't someone to inspire terror or anything, but simply to be pitied," he said.

    Castro has put a noble spin on the death of his fellow revolutionary and close friend, calling Guevara "not a man who could have been taken prisoner" with a working gun. "Wounded and without a weapon they were able to hold him and take him to a small town nearby, La Higuera," Castro told Spanish writer Ignacio Ramonet for the book "100 Hours with Fidel."

    "The following day, October 9, 1967, at noon, they executed him in cold blood," Castro said.

    Prado said the order to kill Guevara, then 39, came not from the CIA operatives who joined his soldiers, but from Bolivia's president, who wanted to avoid a trial that would give Guevara a global platform to spread his views. Prado said he wasn't present when Guevara was shot.

    "Why did they think that by killing him, he would cease to exist as a fighter?" Castro asked in 1997, when Guevara's remains were finally laid to rest in Cuba amid thundering cannons. "Today he is in every place, wherever there is a just cause to defend."

    Those who knew him personally remember a complex character — sardonic and demanding of himself as well as others. "He always did what he said he was going to do," said Alberto Granados, who traveled with Che across South America on a broken-down motorcycle in 1952, a trip portrayed in the hit 2004 movie "The Motorcycle Diaries."

    "That's why he is still timely," added Granados, who is now in his 80s and lives in Havana.

    Guevara's Cuban enemies, now living in exile, remember a man who did not flinch after Castro and his rebels came to power. It was Guevara who oversaw the military tribunals and subsequent firing squad executions of hundreds of people — military, police and other officials of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

    Cuba will honor him Monday with a ceremony at the tomb where his remains are kept, beneath a gigantic bronze statue built in his image in Santa Clara, where Guevara oversaw a decisive victory for the Cuban rebels. Cuba also planned a gathering of 1,500 people playing chess — Guevara's favorite game.

    In Bolivia, Che fans were gathering in the jungle where he was captured and in La Higuera, where he was killed. A new Che statue is being built in his native Argentina, Venezuela is holding an art and music festival in his honor, and students were painting huge Che portraits in Mexico City's subway.

    Guevara's image is ubiquitous in Cuba, where a giant stylized rendering of his face oversees Havana's Plaza of the Revolution. Cuban schoolchildren start their daily classes by pledging: "Pioneers for communism. We will be like Che!"

    Those who knew him personally would consider that difficult. They recall him being a taskmaster insistent on austerity. "He was demanding of everyone and practiced being a personal example," wrote Tirso Saenz, an adviser when Guevara served as Cuba's Industry Minister. Once, Guevara and other ministry officials were served fat, juicy steaks during a severe food shortage. Steaks are a treasured meal for Argentines, but Guevara became incensed and ordered it all removed.

    "What is this?" Saenz quoted Guevara as saying in his biography. "No one is touching this meat. Take it away."

    Leftists still cherish the image of the dogmatic Marxist wearing a beret, a determined gaze and an unkempt beard. But anti-communists hate what he stood for.

    One such man is Cuban exile and former CIA operative Gustavo Villoldo, now living in Florida, who hopes to profit from a lock of hair snipped from the slain rebel's head in Bolivia. Now 71, Villoldo said he kept the hair and other items in a scrapbook since participating in that mission. Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas is auctioning them off on Oct. 25-26.

    The auction has generated much discussion among Cuban exiles. Some fear a Che fan will buy them and put them on reverent display.

    Prado said that after Guevara surrendered in the jungle to his squad of 70 Bolivian soldiers, he asked what they planned to do with him, and that they initially told him he would be put on trial. "I'm worth more to you alive than dead," Prado remembers him responding.

    Guevara was shot the next day. He would have been 79 this year.

    Associated Press Writer Anita Snow in Havana contributed to this report.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071005/...XmQyOz3k6s0NUE
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patchouli
    I have a Che Guevara t-shirt.
    So were you familar with this person's history & philosophy when you got this ?

    Never got an answer to this question ....
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    Monument to Che destroyed in Venezuela
    By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer
    Fri Oct 19, 2:50 PM ET


    CARACAS, Venezuela - A glass monument to revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara was destroyed by gunfire less than two weeks after it was unveiled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government.

    Images of the toppled and shattered 8-foot-tall glass plate, which bore an image of Guevara, were shown on state television Friday and appeared in newspapers.

    The monument on an Andean mountain highway near the city of Merida was unveiled Oct. 8 by Vice President Jorge Rodriguez and Cuba's ambassador to Venezuela to mark the 40th anniversary of Guevara's death in Bolivia.

    Police said they had yet to identify those responsible. The El Nacional newspaper published a copy of what it said was a flier found by the monument signed by the previously unknown "Paramo Patriotic Front."

    "We don't want any monument to Che, he isn't an example for our children," the flyer read. It called Guevara a "cold-blooded killer" and said the government should raise a monument in Chavez's hometown of Sabaneta, in the nearby lowland plains, if it wants to commemorate the Argentine revolutionary.

    The mayor in the local municipality of Miranda, Jesus Maria Espinoza, suggested the vandals came from elsewhere.

    "We can't tolerate people from outside ... damaging something that was unveiled with so much happiness, with so much enthusiasm that day," Espinoza told state television.

    The 1.5-inch-thick stele was erected near the top of El Aguila Peak, a popular tourist spot and one of the highest points in Venezuela at 13,143 feet above sea level.

    The Argentine-born Guevara visited this spot in 1952 during his travels through South America, which he recorded in his diary, before joining the Cuban revolutionary struggle led by Fidel Castro.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20...LRrLvGKCGs0NUE
    Laissez les bon temps rouler! Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.** a 4 day work week & sex slaves ~ I say Tyt for PRESIDENT! Not to be taken internally, literally or seriously ....Suki ebaynni IS THAT BETTER ?

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