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The cult of Che Guevara gets a boost this week as special events across Europe commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the revolutionary’s untimely death in Bolivia on October 9, 1967. In Derry in Ireland, a week of celebrations will include the unveiling on Saturday of a new mural of Che – complementing the long standing Che Guevara mural a little further up the Foyle valley in Strabane.
Che Guevara stock remains as high as ever among European socialists, not least in Andalucía (southern Spain) where knotty issues surrounding land tenure are still a popular grievance in some agricultural communities. Stop off in Marinaleda, just forty miles southwest of Córdoba, to catch the feel of a small town that has a passion for combative action against absentee landlords. A spark of revolutionary zeal permeates the town and is reflected in graffiti, street names and murals.
Other European socialist thinkers and politicians still mould the travel plans of more politically engaged travellers. There are larger than life figures of Lenin all across Europe (from Spitsbergen to St Petersburg) and even Stalin is eulogised in a new museum in Volgograd – and of course, in his home town of Gori in Georgia where a huge statue of Uncle Jo stands in the town’s main square.
Predictably Ulyanovsk, where Lenin lived as a kid, plays the Lenin card very strongly, but affection for Lenin is not just confined to Russia. There are good Lenin museums at Ulyanovsk, at Shushenskoye (where Lenin lived in exile and was married) and at Tampere in Finland.
The socialist flame has not been totally extinguished. Hasta la victoria siempre!