Ireland: Over 200 people at public meeting on Che Guevara

Audience hear about Che’s uncompromising stance against capitalism and imperialism

Over 200 people crammed into the ballroom at Wynn’s Hotel, in Dublin city centre, on Tuesday night, 9 October. They came to hear CWI Secretary, Tony Saunois, speak on Che Guevara and the fight against capitalism today. The event was part of a series of meetings throughout Ireland which the Socialist Party is organising to mark the 40th anniversary of Che’s execution in Bolivia, in 1967.

We knew that a good attendance was likely, as we had received some phone calls asking if the meeting was open to all, if there was an entrance fee etc. However, we were still surprised at the meeting starting time and a queue formed outside the ballroom. As people piled into the room, its large windows needed to be opened for air ventilation. A large group could not get inside and had to listen from the hallway.

Different age groups were present but most were between 25 and 50 years.

Inevitably for a meeting with a Latin American theme, there was a large section of international visitors or immigrants at the meeting. The bulk of people who attended came from Ireland, and many were new to political meetings.

As expected for an evening weekday meeting, the turnout of school students and teenagers was not very high but Socialist Youth, in Dublin, is holding a special meeting for young people, at a more suitable time, this coming Saturday afternoon.

The large attendance demonstrated the lasting attraction of Che, as a symbol of struggle. The meeting showed a real appetite for discussion. If someone wanted to mark Che’s anniversary, this meeting was ideal, as it took place on the date of his execution. Many people also commented on the impact and quality of our full-colour advertising poster.

Self-sacrifice and courage

Tony outlined the self-sacrifice, courage and uncompromising stance that Che Guevara took against capitalism and imperialism, his connection to the masses and his openness to political ideas. He showed Che’s legacy, including outlining the superior healthcare system that exists in Cuba. Tony explained how Che opposed officials taking perks and privileges in Cuba and how he opposed the crystallization of a bureaucracy after the revolution. Undoubtedly, Che would have opposed the bureaucratic control and lack of democracy in Cuba, today.

While Tony explained that the CWI felt Che’s focus on guerilla struggle, instead of being based on the working class and mass struggle, was an important mistake, Che’s commitment to break with capitalism and to establish socialism, was precisely the programme necessary, not only for the masses in Latin America, but also internationally.

Joe Higgins, the former Socialist Party TD (MP) also spoke at the packed meeting, and linked Che’s ideas to the struggle in Ireland, today. Thirty nine people signed up for more information on the Socialist Party and nine people signed up that night to join the party. We also sold out of Tony’s book, Che Guevara – Symbol of struggle.

Other meetings on Che Guevara also proved successful. At meetings, 35 attended in Belfast, 40 in Cork, 22 in Galway, 25 at the University of Limerick and more meetings are due.

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October 2007