Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
November 20, 2006
The Che Guevara memorial is the must-see of Santa Clara - an impressive monument bearing a statue of Che in classic military pose atop a series of huge plinths, set in a huge plaza. Opposite the memorial are a series of hoardings, each one bears a typical slogan of the revolution - these ones celebrating the life and ideal of Ernesto Guevara. In front of these is a paved parade ground (marches are held every year here to commemorate the revolution and the death of Guevara) and then - bizarrely - two lanes of traffic cut across the plaza (though the traffic is usually light) and you come to the memorial.
What is great is that you can climb all over the memorial (the steps are high though) and there are inscriptions in various places (in Spanish but with English translations next to many of them). Most poignantly is a black block on which is engraved the words of Guevara's final letter to Fidel Castro in which he re-affirms his beliefs and talks of his admiration for the President. If you move round to the rear of the memorial you can go in to the mausoleum where not only Guevara but other revolutionaries who perished in Bolivia alongside Guevara are buried. The tombs look almost alike - this is a "classless" system after all - but there is a tiny shaft of light glinting about Guevara's tomb. The mood is sombre and reverential - photography is not permitted inside the mausoleum. I saw this as a kind of pilgrimage and was disappointed by those people who were not respecting the atmosphere by talking loudly and having to be asked not to film.
Next door to this is an exhibition space devoted to Che Guevara in particular but with special emphasis on the Bolivian campaigns and on the importance of the battle of Santa Clara to the Revolution in Cuba - however, most key exhibits are housed in Havana. One rather amazing exhibit is the photograph of Guevara disguised as a Peruvian diplomat which was used on fake documents intended to get him to Bolivia. This is a serious though celebratory monument to Cuba's most famous adopted son. it is not a "tourist attraction" which is meant to entertain, nor is it the place to buy souvenirs. It was, perhaps, the most memorable part of my trip to Cuba - a place for Cubans to remember the man who gave so much not just for them but for other peoples in countries where he travelled to continue his work. It is a humbling experience to visit the mausoleum of such a great man. Entrance to the museum and mausoleum is free.
From journal Santa Clara - A Monumental Place
Jersey City, New Jersey
July 9, 2004
From journal Santa Clara
Hasselt, Limburg, Belgium
November 7, 2000
From journal Hasta siempre Commandante