The publication by The New York Times on July 3rd of Maureen Dowd’s article “Gaelic Guerilla” became evidence of the obsessive panic still generated by the image of Ché Guevara and the deep hold his ideas maintain in peoples of the Third World and the rich countries in the periphery of the Empire.
The article talks about Bill Cameron, an enthusiastic Labour Party member of the Galway City Council, a town in the western area of the Republic of Ireland, who never thought he would be involved in an international conflict.
According to Bill Cameron, the story began in 1960 when Ché made a brief stop in Ireland one night after his flight from Moscow to Cuba stopped for refueling at Shannon airport and then got stuck in fog.
It was then that Ché visited a pub –a typical British bar- in the West Clare seaside town of Kilkee near the airport, where he was waited on by Jim FitzPatrick, a young bartender from Dublin, who served him an Irish whisky and held a dialogue that had great impact on the young man. The guerrilla leader told FitzPatrick that his ancestors were Lynches from Galway and that he admired the Irish revolutionaries who had helped Ireland “shake off the shackles of empire.”
Cameron has been pushing the idea that “Dr. Ché Guevara Lynch,” as his Irish supporters dubbed him, counts as a “Galwegian” because he’s descended from the Lynches and Blakes, two of the 14 original tribes of Galway, well-to-do merchant families who once ruled the city.
According to Cameron, Patrick Lynch emigrated to Argentina in the mid-1700s and settled in Buenos Aires. “Ché is part of the Irish diaspora,” he proudly notes.
The NYT article states that Ernesto Ché Guevara’s grandmother Ana Isabel Lynch, and his father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, told an interviewer in 1969: “The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels.”
Cameron agrees: “I’m sure Ché studied guerrilla tactics of the IRA., the same way the Mau Mau in Kenya did.”
However, things got complicated after Cameron proposed putting up a memorial to honor, Ché Guevara, or “our Ché,” as Cameron fondly called him, while referring to him in his proposal as a famous son of Hibernia (Ireland for the Romans).
The council voted last year to build the monument to honor Ché. Cameron says he got pledges of funding from the Cuban and Argentine embassies in Dublin. “I’m sure the monument will attract visitors from Latin America,” Cameron forecasted.
The architect Simon McGuiness and the Dublin artist Jim FitzPatrick –none other than the young bartender who served Ché at the West Clare pub in 1960- designed a plan for a three-dimensional, interactive work of art that would be “a total homage” to “man, image and ideal,” according to McGuiness, featuring three glass panes in different colors of Ché’s iconic image.
When plans for the memorial were printed last winter in the newspaper, “all hell broke loose,” Cameron recalls. In Washington, extreme right-wing Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was furious. She wrote to Prime Minister Enda Kenny, calling Ché a “mass murderer and human rights abuser.” The corporate press followed suit, condemning the “monstrous project” until the controversy caused the outgoing mayor of Galway and others to back away, claiming they didn’t realize an actual monument was being planned, and the project was stopped.
Cameron protested arguing that “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her buddies down south, lunatic fringe Republicans with a Miami-Cuban agenda, should not be allowed to dictate what happens in Galway politics.”
Cameron hopes the Galway city council will resume taking the memorial matter up soon. “The ultimate fruit of all this is that Ché will be known as having the Irish blood and the Galway connection,” he says. “And that is an achievement in itself.”
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
* Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba's ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency; vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and national director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Nations Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples.
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