Nobody’s Hero: 9 Inconvenient Truths about Che Guevara

Che (centre) marches with Castro (far left) in a victory parade in Havana 1959. NY Daily News

7 – He Hated Homosexuals

Guevara was a notorious homophobe. He campaigned to have gay people placed in prison, and when they were interned, they were treated worse than the rest of the prisoners. According to one inmate, gays were treated like beasts, and they were the last to come out for meals.

If a gay prisoner committed even the slightly infraction, he was beaten mercilessly. Admittedly, Cuba’s LGBT rights record was bad before the revolution, but under Castro and Guevara, concentration camps were created and filled with homosexuals, dissidents, Afro-Cuban priests and anyone else accused of crimes against the revolution. He helped set up the infamous camp Guanahacabibes camp in 1960. One of the reasons why gay men were placed in camps is because they were deemed ‘unfit to serve’ their mandatory time in the Cuban military.

Che referred to these groups of people as ‘scum.’ He herded homosexuals, priests, dissidents and other ‘undesirables’ into buses and trucks where they were taken to the camps. A significant number of prisoners never returned as they were beaten, tortured, raped and murdered. In the camp where homosexuals were sent, there was a sign which said ‘Work Will Make You Men.’ It is obviously influenced by the infamous ‘work will set you free’ slogan on Nazi Concentration Camps.

Interestingly, it is alleged that Guevara wasn’t at all sure about his sexuality when he was a young man. There are suggestions that he was attracted to his companion on his first trip across Latin America but to be fair, there is no evidence that this is the case. Therefore, we have to assume that these are completely false tales.