3 Sept 2010

Hugo Blanco 'ecologist your mother'

In 1963 the great Che Guevara praised a guerilla leader from Peru. Nothing unusual in that you might think, after all he was himself an Argentinian who helped to liberate Cuba, fought in Africa and died attempting to free Bolivia.

However only once did Che praise a leader of Trotsky's Fourth International. Daggers were drawn between two sides of the fallout among the Soviet leaders of the 1930s and to praise a Trotskyist was heresy for followers of the Cuban revolution.

Che said: "Hugo Blanco is the head of one of the guerilla movements in Peru. He struggled stubbornly but the repression was strong.

"I don't know what his tactics of struggle were, but his fall does not signify the end of the movement. It is only a man that has fallen, but not the movement. "One time, when we were preparing to make our landing from the Granma, and when there was great risk that all of us would be killed, Fidel said: 'What is more important than all of us is the example we set.'

"It's the same thing, Hugo Blanco has set an example."

However the story did not end here. While tragically Che is no longer with us, far from having fallen Blanco survived. I know because he emails me most days.

It's the most astonishing feeling to receive an email from a contemporary of Che, a man whose story of struggle continues today.

When I wrote a book on anti-capitalist economics I had no idea who Blanco was, but I came across a wonderful quote from him.

"At first sight environmentalists or conservationists are nice, slightly crazy guys whose main purpose in life is to prevent the disappearance of blue whales or pandas.

"The common people have more important things to think about, for instance how to get their daily bread ... However there are in Peru a very large number of people who are environmentalists ... they might reply, 'ecologist your mother,' or words to that effect ...

"Are not the town of Ilo and the surrounding villages which are being polluted by the Southern Peru Copper Corporation truly environmentalist?

"Is not the village of Tambo Grande in Pirura environmentalist when it rises like a closed fist and is ready to die in order to prevent strip-mining in its valley?"

A friend noticed the passage, told me he knew Blanco and gave me an email.



Dani said...


What time will the meeting in Birmingham be? I saw the venue on the Socialist Resistance site, but no time. TIA

Derek Wall said...

6Pm on the saturday

Dani said...

Thanks. See you there, if I can persuade my son to go too!

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