If it had been shot for a movie, this scene would not be wasted.
It is June 1956 (between 20 and 24), Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara are in the separations of the Miguel Schultz prison, in Colonia San Rafael.
They have been detained in Mexico City (now CDMX) by the Mexican police in response to the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, who knows that both are conspiring against his government from national territory.
As described by Paco Ignacio Taibo in his book “Ernesto Guevara, also known as El Che”, “the investigation at this stage is being carried out by Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios, a former captain of the Mexican Army less than 30 years old, chief of control of information from the Federal Security Directorate, the political police of the Ministry of the Interior, a feared organ of a conservative government, persecuting radicals and not characterized by its sympathies for Latin American exiles ”.
Taibo’s narration is forceful: “Gutiérrez Barrios noticed that he was in front of ‘decent people’ and gave them a delicate treatment ‘to avoid a confrontation’, the interrogations vary from kindness to brutality”.
And although the famous Mexican writer and current director of the Economic Culture Fund (FCE) does not give details of the type of abuses towards the guerrilla and the Commander of the Cuban Revolution, other sources assure that both were victims of Arturo’s persuasive methods. Negro ”Durazo (character from the Mexican criminal Olympus), pure Tehuacanazo, blows that do not mark the body, but how they hurt, combined with electric shocks to the testicles.
One would have to imagine Che and Castro shouting at the harassment, beatings and insults. Holding cane, as the Cubans say, without breaking.
It remains to be seen how they reacted when asked: who finances them, communists? Why do they recruit and train guerrillas in Mexico? Among many other things.
That, let’s say, would be THE SCENE of a great movie about Che that until now has not been filmed.
Because it is not to highlight a violent moment, but an event of great relevance from which it is not known well what exactly happened and from it derived the subsequent fall of the Batista dictatorship, the consolidation of the Cuban Revolution and, much later, fate of Fidel’s dictatorship in power.
That ex-President Lázaro Cárdenas put his hands there for his release, that no way, that there was also the hand of President Adolfo Ruiz Cortinez, too.
Che confessed in the separos that he was a communist, that they did train guerrillas on a ranch in Chalco, and that they did intend to overthrow Batista. Then…?
Gutiérrez Barrios, another character of whom there is not a good biography to date, later became Secretary of the Interior and “important contact” in the future diplomatic relationship between Mexico and Cuba.
“The incident is over and I don’t want it to leave traces of resentment in the Cubans against Mexico. Prison and mistreatment are part of our trade as fighters ”, Castro would later declare.
In itself, this reads (and is interpreted) as a cinematic plot that, it seems, is forgotten at the bottom of a drawer.
Outside of Steven Soderbergh’s outstanding 2008 film, divided into two parts: Che: The Argentine and Che: Guerrilla, which is the most successful fiction about the Che-Castro dumbbell, the rest of the filmography on both of them boils down to “recreating” what has already been recreated in great detail in hundreds of biographies.
There it is still a pioneer That!, by Richard Fleischer (The Singer of Jazz, Conan the barbarian), in which Omar Sharif played the Argentine in a revisionist film of the tense relationship with Fidel Castro regarding the plan to expand his revolutionary echo in a then Latin America plagued by dictators.
54 years after his murder of malsalva in a rural school in Bolivia, in an operation coordinated by the CIA, Che Guevara is more than a figure to whom the seventh art is due.
The passage of time keeps him alive because new generations continue to be touched by his spirit and he, it seems, looks at them haughtily like the photo “Guerrillero Heroico”, by Alberto Diaz “Korda”.
His fictions and documentaries
FICTIONSCHE! (1969) Omar Sharif plays the Argentine in a film directed by Richard Fleischer that, in a way, paints the protagonist as a fascist.
DIARIOS DE MOTOCICLETA (2004) The Mexican Gael García was chosen by the director Walter Salles to give life to the young Che on his adventure to discover Latin America.
CHE, EL ARGETINO / CHE, GUERRILLA (2008) Benicio del Toro provides a masterful characterization of the revolutionary in Steven Soderbergh’s film divided into two parts that records his glory and decline with a decent production.
A BULLET FOR CHE (2012) The Uruguayan film, directed by Gabriela Guillermo, reflects on the attack perpetrated by the CIA against Che (Fernando Dianesi) on August 17, 1961 in which an academic whose wife was trying to unravel the truth died .
DOCUMENTALESCHE, DIARIO DE BOLIVIA (1994) Directed by Richard Dindo, it is an adaptation of the text written by Che himself.
CHE, UN HOMBRE NUEVO (2010) This is a reconstruction by Tristán Bauer of Che Guevara’s thought through audio recordings, home films, texts and archives.
EL CHE (2017) Paco Ignacio Taibo, very much in his style, explains, in an audio-visual way, his monumental book “Ernesto Guevara, also known as El Che”.
CHE: CAMINOS, HUELLAS, ENIGMAS (2018) Production by Russia Today in Spanish to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the character’s death. It was awarded internationally.
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What the cinema has not shown about the life of ‘Che’ Guevara – La Prensa de Monclova