Washington Times Front Page: The new Che movie, HRF, and the Historical Record
WASHINGTON, DC (January 27, 2009)—Human Rights Foundation (HRF) chairman Armando Valladares is extensively quoted in a review of the film Che, published in today’s Washington Times by reporter Sonny Bunch. Che, directed by Steven Soderbergh and released on January 24, depicts the life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary best known for his friendship with Fidel Castro. What the film does not depict, however, are the violent tactics Guevara used to crush opposition and dissent to Fidel Castro’s revolution—leaving behind a bloody legacy in Cuba.
Actor Benicio del Toro, who portrays Guevara, walked out of an interview with the Times’s Sonny Bunch after refusing to address the film’s inaccurate portrayal of the historical record and the human rights violations committed by Guevara. Valladares, a survivor of Cuba’s concentration camps, stresses that the film threatens to obscure the reality of Guevara’s extremism and the scores of human rights violations he committed in pursuit of revolutionary ideals. “Che Guevara executed dozens and dozens of people who never once stood trial and were never declared guilty,” Valladares said.
Del Toro maintains that Guevara was simply “for capital punishment.” “That characterization is as absurd as saying that the murders carried out by Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pinochet, Somoza, and Ortega are understandable because these dictators were for capital punishment,” says Valladares.
HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.