Today in 1964 revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guervara addressed the 19th General Assembly of the United Nations. He came as the Cuban Minister of Industry but spoke little of industry and more of the “imperialist” oppressor of Cuba – the U.S.
Guervara, 35-years-old at the time, spoke in Spanish wearing his revolutionary garb and spoke of the plight of the oppressed though he sounded as a man of privilege who was the beneficiary of a good education. It was here that Guevara spoke the iconic words “Patria o muerte!” (Patriotism or Death).
The revolutionary urged the end of the U.S. embargo, that was just in its infancy and that continues to live today. Guevara also pleaded with the U.S. to stop all its “subversive activities, launching and landing of weapons and explosives by air and sea, organization of mercenary invasions, infiltration of spies and saboteurs… .” He also asked for the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Guantanamo naval base and return of that land to Cuban rule – that has yet to happen.
The U.S. delegation led by ambassador Adlai Stevenson watched as Guervara made his case against the “imperialist” U.S. There is no record of then President Lyndon Johnson attending the U.N. General Assembly.
Guevara faced head-on the wrath of the U.S. for post-revolutionary Cuba aligning itself with the Soviet Union and the nationalization of American-owned property in Castro-led Cuba. After receiving numerous rebukes while speaking, Guevara returned to Cuba a hero.
The revolutionary hero who took on the U.S. on their own soil was executed in the jungles of Bolivia some five years later.
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