The World

“Go with the flow” on the Paran- River….for today’s Geo Quiz.

The Paran- starts in southern Brazil.

16-hundred miles later it empties into an estuary called the Rio de la Plata. That splits Argentina and Uruguay…..

But before spilling into the Atlantic ocean..the Paran- passes thru Argentina’s third largest city.

This city, 200 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, is the one were after today.

The city has a couple of famous native sons: The man who led Argentina’s independence struggle, Manuel Belgrano for one

And for another – Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Che’s birth, the city just dedicated a tall bronze statue of “El Che,” as he’s known in Spanish.

So exercise some revolutionary spirit — raise your fist and shout out the name of Che Guevara’s home town.

There’s no time like the present to answer today’s Geo Quiz. The answer is Rosario. The Argentine city has erected a new monument to its best-known native son, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Ian Mount tells us how it all came about.

Three years ago, Buenos Aires artist Andres Zerneri came up with the idea of a people’s monument to Che Guevara.

Zerneri: “Se presentaba esta paradoja, que raro que en Argentina no hay un monumento al Che.” translation: “It seemed like a paradox-very strange-that there was no monument to Che in Argentina.”

So Zerneri designed a statue and called for donations of bronze keys to melt for the sculpture. Over 14,000 people from around the world sent keys-some 6,600 pounds of bronze. Zerneri asked every donor to vote where the monument should be installed. Buenos Aires came in third. A small town where the young Guevara used to recover from asthma was second. And Che’s birthplace of Rosario took the gold. Or the bronze, really.

Zerneri: “Normalmente, el poder elige?” translation: “Normally, the powers that be choose who to honor and forces that on the people. The idea here was to do it in the opposite way.”

A caravan of 2,000 people in 50 buses came from Buenos Aires to take part in the dedication of the statue in the newly baptized Plaza Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Che’s daughter Aleida was there, as were local politicians and Zerneri. And, this being Argentina, a crew of local soccer fans adopted a soccer chant for the occasion. Beyond the festivities, however, Argentina has never fully embraced Guevara. While some Rosario residents support the statue and Guevara’s ideas, others find his revolutionary rhetoric uncomfortable. And others don’t care: they just hope the statue will help the city economically.

“Yo creo que es bueno, positive?” Taxi driver Enzo Lemos says that the statue should help revive Che’s history for those who don’t know it, or at least will generate some tourist money. Standing on a corner across from the monument, Socorro, a housewife, has another take on the statue: it’s not revolutionary enough.

“Pierde la fuerza porque?” The statue doesn’t show Che’s power because it doesn’t portray him with a gun, she says. And a few blocks away, clothing store owner Susana Menares repeats a common Argentine refrain: Guevara should have used his talents to help his own country, not Cuba.

“We don’t like the politics of Castro”, she says. And he didn’t do anything for our country. For himself, for other things, but not us. For Zerneri, the simple fact that the statue exists in a public place suggests a sea change in Argentina, towards at least accepting-if not embracing-Guevara as one of its own.

“Quizas, quizas en a Argentina?” translation: “In Argentina, there may be more people who dislike him than like him. But in recent years that’s changing. For those who are a little frightened by Che, at 80 years of his birth his image is a little more acceptable. Because at this point, he’s definitely dead.”

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