Posted Under: Media
Hari has now told us that people can sometimes express themselves unclearly in interview – hence the apparently rather frequent need to bend the truth about what was said.
One would think, however, that such considerations would be irrelevant to the task of writing a political biography of Che Guevara – after all Johann clearly did not interview Che. So I was interested to come across the following passage in Hari’s piece on Che, who by the time he came into government:
“Had hardened into a deranged fanatic, impervious to any arguments against him. The friend who had travelled with him on the famous motorcycle journeys, David Mitrani, was shocked when they met up in Havana, and repulsed when Che said they needed to cultivate “relentless hatred of the enemy that [should] impel us over and beyond the natural limitations of man and transform us into effective, violent, selective, and cold killing machines. This fanaticism reached its peak in October 1963….”
These words struck me as familiar. In fact they were never uttered in conversation, let alone to Dr David Mitrani. They were part of Che’s “message to the tricontinental” written by Che while he was fighting in Bolivia.
When it comes to political biography dates can matter. This veneration of hatred was expressed while Che was crippled with asthma and losing a hopeless Guerilla war in the Bolivian jungle. Che Guevara was, without doubt, a ruthless Stalinist. But falsifying conversations, and utterly changing the context in which things were said, is hardly good history.
Hari’s piece has a tragic and romantic ring to it. David Mitrani, the man who had travelled around Latin America on a motorcycle – with all of that youthful idealism – was now despondent to see what he had become. Except, Dr David Mitrani never was Che’s motorcycle companion. That was Alberto Granado, who was still alive when Hari’s piece came out, who lived out his life in Cuba for decades after the revolution and who might not have appreciated being implicitly roped in to Hari’s polemic. David Mitrani, meanwhile, was a doctor who Che had met while working at the General Hospital in mexico.
This happens to have been an article dealing with a subject where I had some expertise. As somebody who frequently enjoys Hari’s writings, I dread to think what else I have taken on faith.
To contact Reuben email firstname.lastname@example.org