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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Radical Che

Thus, we laughed when we read recently in the newspaper that Evo Morales, the new president of Bolivia, said he was “following in the footsteps of Che Guevara.”1 Either the fellow has a sense of humor or he does not know much about Che.

Like all world improvers, Che claimed a remarkable ability to look into the future and then improve it before it happened. Of course, we all try to peek ahead and try to avoid traffic collisions and bad restaurants, but only a chump thinks he knows best how to improve the entire planet.

Still, who are we to argue with success? Che has become one of the best‐selling brands of all time. At the Sundance Film Festival, the audience gave a standing ovation to the film Motorcycle Diaries, which recounts the story of the young Che's goofball adventures.2 That towering intellectual Mike Tyson has a picture of him tattooed on his abdomen. Even some of Evo Morales's Bolivian voters apparently pray to “Santo Che” in the hope that he will intervene with the heavens to make it rain.

But if ever there was anyone who got what he deserved, it was Che. On October 9, 1967, a Bolivian firing squad put Che against the wall of a schoolhouse in La Higuera. “Don't shoot!” he whimpered. “I'm Che! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!”3

But while the Russians had let their young revolutionaries escape a number of times and whereas the Cubans had opened the doors of the cell that held Fidel Castro and let him out years before his term was served, the Bolivians ...

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