Ché Guevara’s house is for sale, and we want to buy it
By Federico N. Fernández, courtesy of Fundación Internacional Bases
Fundación Internacional Bases, a think tank headquartered in Rosario (Argentina), wants to purchase the house in which Ché Guevara was born. Located in the center of Rosario, the apartment is on the second floor of a lovely French neoclassicist building.
The purchase of the property won’t be easy. The price is a major issue to begin with. The owners, both self-proclaimed admirers of Ché, are asking for US $400,000 for the 220-square-meter apartment. This price is well above the average for the area, though. According to real estate agents, it should not exceed $260,000.
But the difficulties do not end here. In addition to the hefty asking price, the current owners want to impose certain conditions on the potential buyers. On the one hand, they demand that the buyers “respect the figure of Ché.” On the other, the apartment should “maintain the function it has had until now.”
Since the house is located in a residential building, it cannot function as a museum or have premises open to the public. However, after furnishing it in the style of the 1920s (Ché was born in 1928), the current owners made it available to the city, province, Argentine and Cuban authorities “for official visits and protocol activities.”
Consequently, our proposal has to meet both the excessive price that the owners want and their demands regarding Ché’s memory and everything he represented.
Down goes the greenback
We here at Fundación Internacional Bases would like to negotiate the amount to be paid. It starts with the fact that it is an affront to the figure of Ché Guevara that the price is expressed in US dollars. It is an offense that we cannot tolerate. Therefore, we want to offer some alternatives.
Firstly, we thought that we could pay for the operation in Cuban pesos. Cuba has two national currencies: the Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Both are basically useless off the island. And in Cuba itself they cannot do much either, given the basic material deficiencies provoked by the communist system.
Despite all this, we believe that it would be just fair if the transaction were made in any of the Cuban junk currencies and that the sale proceeds be exclusively spent on Cuban “goods and services.”
Incidentally, we must bring to the attention of the sellers that Ché himself was appointed by Fidel Castro as president of the Cuban Central Bank. Carlos Alberto Montaner points out that as a consequence of Guevara’s monetary policies “the Cuban peso, which for decades had maintained parity with the dollar, began to sink in the midst of a growing inflationary process.”
Using the Cuban peso, then, is another way to honor Ché’s memory.
But we know that for a negotiation to come to fruition, we have to be flexible. So we want to suggest other alternatives.
From the Venezuelan “crypto” to the North Korean skyscraper
One of Cuba’s greatest current allies is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It occurs to us that if the Cuban peso does not convince sellers we could pay in Petro, the alleged cryptocurrency launched by Nicolás Maduro in 2018.
Just as innovators and cryptographers have been developing coins like Bitcoin, the Venezuelan government has its own “cryptocurrency.” The Petro is supposedly related to Venezuelan reserves of oil, gold and diamonds. However, experts claim that the Bolivarian cryptocurrency has been utterly rejected internationally and lacks real utility.
It also seems to us petty bourgeois that the price the current owners are asking is governed by the supply and demand of the Argentine market. We believe instead that the price of the square meter should be governed by the realities of the full-blown socialist economies of Cuba or Venezuela.
If the metric is Cuba, since there is no private property there, the price should be zero and the current owners should simply transfer ownership of the property to us free of charge.
We understand that this may be too radical.
So a better metric could be Caracas prices. In the Venezuelan capital, property prices have fallen 75 percent in the last 20 years, tanking to an appalling US $350 per average square meter.
Furthermore, given the large number of people emigrating due to the economic situation, real prices can fall even deeper. “When someone makes the decision to emigrate, they basically ‘give away’ their property, perhaps for ten thousand dollars. That property, even with the current low prices, should be worth no less than eighty thousand,” explains a Caracas-based real estate agent.
In other words, to be consistent with their own beliefs, the owners of Ché Guevara’s birth house should be content with basically “giving away” the apartment.
Finally, and understanding that perhaps receiving a payment in Cuban pesos and Petros may not be so tempting, we want to offer you a trade.
In Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea’s fairy tale communist paradise, lies the tallest unfinished building in the world. Known as the “Hotel of Doom,” the pyramid-shaped skyscraper is over 300 meters tall and was designed to house at least 3,000 rooms, as well as five revolving restaurants with panoramic views. It is, however, empty and incomplete since 1987.
The advantages of this trade for the owners of Che’s apartment are huge. While the 220 m2 of Guevara’s birth house only allow to pay tribute to his figure, the North Korean skyscraper offers plenty of space to celebrate the life of the work, not only of Ché, but of similar figures. Thus, other genocidal tyrants like Stalin, Pol Pot, Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Fidel Castro, Nicolás Maduro, and Kim Yong Ill could have their museums, too.
We are convinced that the current owners of Ché’s birth house will be thrilled by either the cash, crypto or trade proposals that we have made. So, we want to clear up any doubts regarding the preservation of his legacy. In fact, at Fundación Internacional Bases we think it is very important to make it very clear what kind of person Ché really was.
The house has five rooms (four bedrooms and a living-dining room) plus service units. Therefore, we propose the following use of spaces:
- Bedroom #1 destined to commemorate all the people murdered by Guevara, who declared himself in favor of shootings and summary executions.
- Bedroom #2 used to narrate his devastating time in office both at the Cuban Ministry of Industry and the Central Bank.
- Bedroom #3 with a study of the failures of Ché when he tried to export violence to Congo and Bolivia (this last “adventure” led to his death.)
- Bedroom #4 with a memorial for the results of the communist system Ché helped to impose on Cuba: 10,000 killed, 80,000 drowned balseros, and 1.5 million political exiles.
- Living-dining room used for a permanent display of the typical communist meal: the empty plate.
We here at Fundación Internacional Bases believe that this proposal makes the economic offer that the owners of the birth house of Ché morally deserve, combined with the fair remembrance a criminal like Ernesto Guevara should have.
Federico N. Fernández is a Senior Fellow at the Austrian Economics Center and President of the Fundación Internacional Bases.