"Even my son goes on about Che"
October 8, 2004 5:09 AM   Subscribe

"We can't be too purist about these things"
Slate: I know there is a conspiracy theory saying that David Atlee Phillips—the Miami CIA station chief—was involved with the assassination of JFK.
Howard Hunt: [Visibly uncomfortable] I have no comment.
Slate: And there were even conspiracy theories about you being in Dallas the day JFK was killed.
Hunt: No comment.
Laura Hunt: Howard says he wasn't, and I believe him.
E. Howard Hunt talks about Guatemala, the Bay of Pigs, Dealey Plaza. And what really happened to Che Guevara. (more inside)
posted by matteo (14 comments total)
my favorite part:

Slate: What did the Americans want to do with Che?

Hunt: We wanted deniability. We made it possible for him to be killed.

Slate: Do you think anybody back then was thinking this guy would become a cult figure, that he might be more trouble dead than alive?

Hunt: No, nobody had the foresight for that. … What I thought was great foresight was that the Bolivian colonel had Che's hands cut off.

Slate: Why did he do that?

Hunt: So he couldn't be identified by fingerprints. That was a pretty good idea—if you don't want somebody identified. People still shiver a little when they think about hands being cut off.


Laura Hunt: [Interjects] For all we know, Felix [Rodriguez] did shoot him.

Hunt: It was just important that it was done.

Slate: Maybe Rodriguez arranged for the Bolivians to do the killing and then took credit?

Hunt: What we certainly didn't want was a public monument to Che. We wanted his memory to vanish as soon as possible. But it never did. Even my son goes on about Che

posted by matteo at 5:11 AM on October 8, 2004

I really don't understand the left's infatuation with Che considering he was all but a mass murderer:
During his term as commander of the fortress from 1959-1963, he oversaw the executions of hundreds of political prisoners and regime opponents (estimates range from 500 to 1700). Many individuals imprisoned at La Cabana, such as poet and human rights activist Armando Valladares, allege that Guevara took particular and personal interest in the interrogation, torture, and execution of some prisoners.

That coupled with his failure in Bolivia (or anywhere else outside of Cuba) to get nothing more than a few university students to join him in his "peasant uprising" makes him him more failure than legend.

The man was a wannabe Stalin-lite.
posted by PenDevil at 6:05 AM on October 8, 2004

yeah but he was better looking

for anyone interested in che, let me recommend the swedish documentary sacrificio, about the man who betrayed che guevara. it's most excellent.
posted by mr.marx at 6:24 AM on October 8, 2004

The man was a wannabe Stalin-lite.

That would explain why he left a top government job in Cuba to go fight (and die) in Bolivia with a bunch of dirt-poor guerillas.
posted by magullo at 6:31 AM on October 8, 2004

I really don't understand the left's infatuation with [insert revolutionary figure here] considering he was all but a mass murderer...

I'm just saying...
posted by iamck at 7:02 AM on October 8, 2004

The rise of Che as a cult figure and the moral decay of the left: cause and effect or just coincidence?
posted by Mick at 7:08 AM on October 8, 2004

The rise of Che as a cult figure and the moral decay of the left: cause and effect or just coincidence?

Mick, it's the fluoride, didn't you get the memo? 'Moral Decay', good grief...
posted by GriffX at 7:10 AM on October 8, 2004

che, alcohol & hot lesbian sex
posted by mr.marx at 7:21 AM on October 8, 2004

it's the fluoride, didn't you get the memo?

even more ironic if you consider that fluoride was supposed to help prevent decay
posted by matteo at 7:28 AM on October 8, 2004

Slate ran an excellent article called Don't aplaud the Motorcycle Diaries last week from Paul Berman. So I think they, all in all, are on the right side of this Che issue.
Hunt ran the coup in Guatemala.
He was in the core group of Bay of Pigs planners.
He did time for his role in the Watergate break-in.
I read this interview this morning knowing pretty well what I'd hear about these topics. Nothing he said shocked, surprised, or offended me. It was exactly what I'd expect.

Until this bit that Matteo excerpted which comes at the very end. He squirms and refuses to comment on CIA involvement in the Kennedy assasination.

I have never subscribed to the CIA did it version of Kennedy's death. But Jesus, the guy says Guatemala was great, Che's death was perfect, Bay of Pigs could have been better, Nixon rocks without batting an eye.

And then, he won't talk about Kennedy, even in generalities. What the fuck is that?
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:47 AM on October 8, 2004

And he talks right before that of leaving the CIA because it was swarming with Democrats. Oh, the horror.

His own son goes off about Che? This guy helped create the cult. Way to go.
posted by raysmj at 7:51 AM on October 8, 2004

The Motorcycle Diaries seems like an odd idea for a movie to me. It's a "making of the man" movie, where many people don't know who "the man" is. I bet most Americans probably know almost nothing about Che Guevara except for that one iconic picture. Without that context it seems like just another buddy road trip/coming-of-age movie.

Going Upriver, on the other hand, seems like a more interesting movie to me because most Americans know who the central figure is, so the story of his formative years is more relevant.

Disclaimer: I'm not endoring either of the movies or their subjects, just wondering about their appeal to moviegoers.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:38 AM on October 8, 2004

Slate: Some 200,000 civilians were killed in the [Guatemalan] civil war following the coup, which lasted for the next 40 years. Were all those deaths unforeseen?

Hunt: Deaths? What deaths?

I guess brown bodies don't count. (See Iraq for another data point.)

I am an atheist and a secular humanist, but Howard Hunt makes it impossible for me to deny that there is such a thing as pure evil in this world.
posted by oncogenesis at 11:15 AM on October 8, 2004

hi matteo!
posted by troutfishing at 11:39 AM on October 8, 2004

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