Freddy Pérez Cabrera (Granama International)
Santa Clara – Che has something which places him in all parts of the world. He can be seen every day in the happiness of a child who aspires to be like him, in the hope of a people, in the bands of a flag, in the heart of a young person or atop a hill. Not even his enemies have been able to remove the figure and example which emanates from Ernesto Che Guevara, the Heroic Guerrilla, 46 years after his death, October 8, 1967, in Bolivia.
His presence is particularly felt in the Cuban province of Santa Clara. More than three million people from all parts of the world have visited the niche where his remains were placed, people who have shed tears, whispered the lines of a poem or made a commitment before the niche.
Over the years, hundreds of people have donated more than 800 objects of particular sentimental value to the Memorial Museum where the remains of Che Guevara and his compañeros in struggle in Bolivia rest.
Among them is a letter recently sent by an Argentine boy nicknamed Coni, expressing a deep love for Che, as well as the hatred he feels for his assassins, and promising to come some day to his eternal resting place.
There are poems, songs, personal gifts, flowers, flags, medals, candles, drawings, and the key with which a Chilean patriot managed to escape from prison during the bloody Pinochet dictatorship, among other objects related to the Heroic Guerrilla.
In the visitors book, opened October 17, 1997, when Che’s remains arrived in the province, are two phrases of great value, one written by Fidel affirming “¡Hasta la victoria siempre!;” while Raúl dedicated to him a “¡Hasta siempre Comandante!” And also present is the memory of the unforgettable visit to the Memorial of Comandante Hugo Rafael Chávez Friás.
Another example of the impact Che, hero of the battle of Santa Clara, is demonstrated by students from the Camilo Cienfuegos Military College who, every October 8 and 16th (the date of the arrival of Che’s remains in Santa Clara), serve as honor guards to the combatants of the Las Villas Front, at the mausoleum.
Before the eternal flame which constantly illuminates the Mausoleum, José Alejandro Martín Rodríguez, a second year student at the college, affirmed that his heart felt as if it were bursting with the emotion he felt.
His honor guard partner, Javier Alberto Valencia, said that he had never participated in any event which moved him as much. “I have never felt so close to the man of whom I said so many times when I was small, that I wanted to be like him.”
Giustino Di Celmo, father of Fabio Di Celmo, a young Italian fatally wounded in a terrorist attack in Cuba, “History never comes back in such an overwhelming way as when one enters this place, because there one feels the cries of combat, the galloping hooves of Rocinante or the crackling of victorious machine guns.