When I made a journey though the pathways and back roads of the knowledge city known as Universidad de Panamá, I saw several signs. I shot three of them to cover this series at the request of a frequent reader and commentator of Lingua Franca.
The first sign is nothing to brag about, except the long and complicated name—Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Exactas y Tecnológicas (School of Natural Sciences, Exact Sciences and Technology. Its mascot is a cat. I would have preferred an owl instead, but that’s besides the point.
The second sign is the name of a street in honor of the current Rector, Avenida Doctor Gustavo García de Paredes. He certainly wants to be remembered by future generations of college students. The problem is, this sign can be replaced by the next Rector who also wants his name to be remembered as well. It has happened before. Human vanity is here to stay, I guess.
The third sign is about Communist leaders. It’s a classical theme in almost every university around the globe. In the idealistic minds of our young generation, names like Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, Lenin, Engels, Karl Marx and Che Guevara will always be revered. As they grow up, the names and their ideals begin to fade away and individualistic capitalism begin to creep in between the cracks.
A name which has endured the path of time is Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the fiery young doctor from Argentina who played a critical role in the Cuban Revolution which toppled Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Times Magazine wrote these words about Ernesto Guevara: “Though Communism may have lost its fire, he remains the potent symbol of rebellion and the alluring zeal of revolution.”
The mercurial iconic famous image of Argentinian Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara wearing a beret with a star affixed to it was taken by Alberto Korda, a Cuban photographer on March 5, 1960. He labeled it “Guerrillero Heróico. Since then, this image of Che Guevara has become a worldwide symbol of revolution and rebellion. It has been a rallying image in students’ revolts around the world. Korda’s real name was Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez.
One of Korda’s famous quotes was, “Forget the camera, forget the lens, forget all of that. With any four-dollar camera, you can capture the best pictures.” I feel relieved with Korda’s words. My camera’s price tag was a mere $249.00.
Now let’s take a look at the signs I mentioned earlier, before I forget. My memory is not as good as it used to be when I was forty years younger. Here we go.
Photograph of the sign of the School of Natural and Exact Sciences and Technology of the University of Panma. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photograph in honor of the current Rector of the University of Panama, Dr. Gustavo García de Paredes. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
A large poster with pictures of famous Communist leaders displayed at the University of Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
The names of the Communist leaders from left to right are: Fidel Castro, Leon Trotsky, Karl Marx, Lenin, Unknown and Ernesto Che Guevara.
I’ll bet fifty years from now, the picture of El Che with a lone-star beret will still be around in T Shirts, coffee mugs, posters, pens, camera ads and what have you. Some people were born to shine forever. This young man was one of them; he was only 39 when he was shot in an isolated village in Bolivia. Good Day.
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