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The city of Galway in Ireland plans a monument to Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna y Lynch. That last word in his full nomenclature accounts for the honor. Che’s maternal grandmother, Ana Isabel Lynch, was descended from Patrick Lynch of Galway, who emigrated to Argentina as a young lad in the mid-1800s.
The City Council in heavily unionized Galway, where the Labour Party holds a majority, approved the plans for the monument unanimously. But the monument to union-buster Che Guevara was proposed and championed by city Councillor Billy Cameron, who boasts of his credentials as a “trade union activist.”
Cuba’s Stalinist regime (that to this day outlaws trade unionism) will fund the trade union-championed monument.
“By no means can Cuban workers go on strike,” declared Cuba’s “Minister of Industries” on June 26, 1961. “Cuban workers must adjust to life in a collectivist social order.” This Minister of Industries, in case you haven’t guessed, was Ernesto Guevara de la Serna y Lynch, famous “son” of union-loving Galway.
Don’t look for this on NPR or The History Channel, much less in your college textbooks, but among the first, the most militant, and the most widespread opposition groups to the Stalinism Ernesto “Che” Guevara imposed on Cuba came from Cuban labor groups.
And who can blame them? Here’s a report from the International Labor Organization on Cuba circa 1957: “One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class,” it starts. “Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8-hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans are covered by Social legislation, a higher percentage than in the U.S.”
In 1958, Cuba had a higher per capita income than Spain, Austria or Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the eighth-highest wages in the world. In the 1950s, Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco.
For obvious reasons, thousands of these men took up arms against Che Guevara. The MRP (Movimiento Revolucionario del Pueblo) was among these Cuban resistance groups of mostly laborers. Here’s how the FBI and CIA described them: “Heavily weighted labor membership, with socialistic leanings. Aimed for Castro overthrow from within; advocated nationalization of economy, agrarian reform, social reform.”
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