Why does Chicano Park have images of Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara?

4 09 2017

By Abel Macias

September 4, 2017

These questions are important in light of the current conditions that we find ourselves in. As we have seen, Donald Trump has given rise to those who believe in White Supremacy and racial hatred. Many of these Neo-Nazi and White supremacist groups feel emboldened by the Trump presidency and secure in coming out of the shadows and expressing their racist views in public.

It was this atmosphere of embolden racism that caught the attention of the Chicano/a/x community when they heard rumors that Neo-Nazis were coming to attack their park. It was the terrorist attacks in Charlottesville that made people feel a heightened sense of urgency and vigilance when they heard someone dared to step foot in Chicano Park to do anything that was perceived as disrespectful.

In essence the community was not having it and is feed up with racist attacks against Mexicans and all people of color.

The response was great, three to five hundred people showed up to defend the park. People drove in from out of town to lend their support. There were Chicanos, Chicanas, Chicanx, socialist, anarchist, Whites, Blacks, Natives and many others who came out in mass to defend the park and its murals.che_guevara_y_fidel_castro

But what murals were under attack and scrutiny? It appears White supremacist and Neo-Nazis don’t like Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra because they were communist. They also tried to equate an ancient Native American symbol which they stole to represent their fascist regime in Nazi Germany.

But what is wrong with communism and why can’t we determine for ourselves who we choose as our heroes? The Chicano community has every right to sympathize with communism, socialism or any other ideology that it feels meets the needs of our community. Who are outsiders to say what we can or can’t believe in? This is the essence of self-determination and what we have been fighting for since those murals were painted back in 1973.

Who was Fidel and why does he deserve a place in Chicano Park? Without getting into a very long history lesson, we should know that Fidel was a revolutionary leader that overthrew the Cuban government in order to bring about change for the people. Because he beat overwhelming odds in defeating the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista who was backed by the United States, he is a hero. He was and is an inspiration to the people who feel they can never win a battle with a more powerful force. But he proved that wrong, he was a shining example of how organization, determination, faith and perseverance can beat all odds.

One of the people who helped Fidel defeat the Batista dictatorship was Dr. Ernesto Che Guevara. Che was an Argentinian by birth, but left his country after studying to become a medical doctor to travel Latin America. He met Fidel in Mexico where the Cuban was making plans to reenter his country with a small group of revolutionaries in order to take power. After their successful overthrow of the dictatorship and implementation of the new government, Che decided to go to Bolivia in order to help build another revolutionary army to overthrow the Bolivian government. Unfortunately, he was unaware the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States was sending support to the Bolivian government in order to stop another revolution in Latin America. Che was assassinated by Bolivian forces with the assistance of CIA operatives stationed in the country.

So to the Chicano Movement in the 1960s Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were heroes in the fight against U.S. Imperialism and Capitalism. These two systems are the same that continue to oppress Chicanas/os today. And it is for that reason that we defend the legacy, imagery and murals painted in Chicano Park. Because even if people do not know the history that is represented in some of the figures and icons that are in Chicano Park they know that no right wing racist or Neo-Nazis are going to come into the park and destroy or deface the murals that we fought for.

Yesterday, was an amazing example of how the people came together to defend what is ours. Now we must continue to organize ourselves and study the legacy of Fidel, Che and many others who fought to make a better world. If we learn anything from these great heroes, we should learn that they analyzed the conditions they were under in order to make strategic decisions that would lead to victory in the face of great odds.

Onward Mi Gente

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!



6 responses

4 09 2017
Luis Gimez

Great article Abel, thanks for sharing!

4 09 2017

Glad you enjoyed. Please share.

4 09 2017
4 09 2017
Barbara Huntington

Good article. Thanks

25 01 2018

Greetings Abel! And congratulations for your brilliant article. I just want to make a comment about this sentence : “They also tried to equate an ancient Native American symbol which they stole to represent their fascist regime in Nazi Germany.” I guess you want to talk about the swatiska, right? I didn’t know the swatiska was a Native American symbol. I thought the swatiska is rather a hindu religious symbol. Thanks to you, I learned something today. I live in France but I am not of Hispanic origin. My nickname refers to sub-commander Marcos for whom I have a great admiration and also in solidarity with all the colorful people who suffer from racism all over the world. Have a nice day!

28 01 2018

Yes you are correct. It has origins in several ancient spiritual beliefs. Hindu is one, but it is also found in native american iconography. It may not mean the same thing, but is stilled based in ancient beliefs.

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