News Analysis

The Che Guevara quote that incensed Miami’s Catholics

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio cribbed an infamous communist militant’s catchphrase during a speech to striking airline workers on Thursday. “¡Hasta la victoria siempre!” the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful proclaimed, which means: “Until victory, always.” These are the words Che Guevara spoke when he left Cuba to foster revolution in South America.

As expected, conservative media outlets went ballistic. “Fidel Castro’s right-hand man oversaw the murder of tens of thousands,” the New York Post’s editorial board noted. And Guevara had a special animus against Catholics. “I am not Christ,” Guevara once said, but “all the contrary of a Christ … I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or any other place.” He meant it. When Guevara ran the Cuban penal system, Catholic priests were routinely condemned to the gulags for no other crime than being a priest.

De Blasio, whose Catholic mother rejected the faith and who describes himself as “spiritual but not religious”, claims he didn’t know the origin of the phrase. That’s highly dubious: he honeymooned in Cuba (in violation of US law), holds a Master’s degree in Latin American history, and spent time in Nicaragua during the late 1980s supporting the Sandinista government, whose founders were inspired by and friends of Guevara.

To make matters worse, de Blasio was speaking in Miami, home to America’s largest enclave of families who emigrated from Cuba to escape the Castro regime. Much of this community is deeply religious, as devout Catholics were forced to flee the country’s violently anti-Christian communist government. After this PR nightmare, they are not likely to view de Blasio as Commander-in-Chief material.