Don't cry for Evita, weep for Che

Maggie Jaffe (mjaffe@MAIL.SDSU.EDU)
Sat, 8 Feb 1997 17:33:19 -0800

Dear Sixties People:

The other night I caught the hot new musical, *Evita*. Although I never
saw the original play, I certainly knew about it, as well as about the
real-life Evita and her role in Argentine politics. I assumed that Evita's
characterization would be whitewashed or at least subsumed by the Madonna
glitz. To my surprise, it was Che's characterization which was by far the
more problematic. For one thing, Che appears in various guises-a waiter, a
worker, a polo player-everything except what he actually was: a
revolutionary emerging from the ruling classes. Where's the beret, the
famous cigar, the intensity of purpose? But Che's kiss on Evita's coffin
just about did it for me. I blurted out, "Che would never kiss Evita!"
much to the embarrassment of my student-companion, a political science
major. Sure this is only a movie, and a musical to boot, but what is it
about the revolutionary spirit of Che that Hollywood finds so threatening
after all these years?

Along those lines, I would recommend Marcel Ophuls' four-hour documentary,
*Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie* which raises a few
frightening points about Nazi complicity in the tracking and execution of
Che. In fact, the film details how Bolivian political leaders were paid
for and kept in power by escaped Nazis as long as the Bolivians maintained
a strong anti-communist commitment. I assume that US intelligence was
aware of this as well.