Documentary Slide Show Pays Tribute to ‘Che’

Nine years after documenting the Final Burial of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Cuba, professor of Latin American Studies, Carlos Ugalde held a musical slide show presentation in commemoration of the 39 years since the revolutionary’s death.

Sponsored by the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), the tribute featured a slide show presentation by Ugalde which documented the final burial of Guevara in Havana, Cuba, in October of 1997. All the photographs were taken by Ugalde during the week-long procession.

The event, held in a small classroom in the library building, overflowed with students eager to pay homage to a man who Ugalde described as being a proponent of social justice.

Mainly known for his integral part in the Cuban Revolution, Che was involved — either directly or as a source of inspiration — in countless movements striving towards social justice, said Ugalde.

Highlights from Guevara’s speech to the United Nations in 1964 were shown as part of the presentation. In this historical speech, Guevara challenged the First World to stop the arms race and halt the nuclear threat of the Cold War. In this speech, he also denounced apartheid in South Africa and the U.S. military presence in Vietnam.

During this speech, Guevara stated that Cuba would support any Third World nation that sought independence as guaranteed by the United Nations charter.

According to literature handed out by the ALAS prior to the presentation, Guevara’s outspoken political presence put him on top of the Pentagon’s most wanted list. He was executed in 1967 by U.S. sponsored Bolivian troops. After having his hands sawed off as proof of his death, his body was taken by Bolivian authorities to Vallegrande and displayed for the world to see. His body was then secretly buried in Bolivia, undetected for 30 years.

A speech given by Fidel Castro, Cuban leader and long time friend of Guevara’s, 10 days after the announcement of Guevara’s death, was also shown in the presentation.

“If we wish to express what we expect our … men to be, we must say, without hesitation, ‘Let them be like Che,'” said Castro. “If we wish to express what we want our children to be, we must say from our very hearts as ardent revolutionaries, ‘We want them to be like Che.'”

Guevara’s remains were discovered in 1997 and shipped to Cuba where the Cuban government held a seven-day funeral service in commemoration of their martyr. It was this event that was documented by Ugalde and shown as part of the slide show presentation.

Ugalde’s photographs are testament to the wishes of Castro made 30 years prior as they capture the Cuban people’s still-thriving reverence for Guevara. From school children wearing blue handkerchiefs symbolic of an allegiance to the revolution, to former “compañeros” of Guevera, all were photographed by Ugalde, paying tribute to Guevara.

Ugalde mentioned that the procession did not rest once during the seven-day event, directing the audience to note that a picture showing long lines of people holding flowers for Guevara was taken during the early morning hours.

Ugalde closed the presentation by directing attention to a banner that read the words he believed to be the cornerstone of Guevara’s message, (translated from Spanish), “A true revolutionary is one who is guided by a true sense of love.”