Personalities

Personality of Che Guevara

personality-of-che-guevara-main-picture
Name
Nationality
Profession
Born -
Died -


Personality of Che Guevara

 

 “The true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary who does not have this quality.”

 

A prominent communist figure in the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara went on to become a guerrilla leader in South America. Born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna on 14 June 1928, in Rosario, Argentina, to parents Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna. While his parents were upper-class, they, too, were quite radical; his father even said once that the blood of “Irish rebels” flowed through his veins. Originally known as Ernestito within his family, Ernesto would eventually adopt the name Che – a word that translates to “hey, you” in Argentina – in the early 1950s, and would become known as this worldwide.

At a very young age, Che developed asthma, which resulted in him not attending school until the much later age of nine years old. The family moved away from Buenos Aires to Alta Gracia so that the best treatment, diet, clothes, and lifestyle could be given to Che. It is believed that Che exhibited high levels of discipline Compared to other children of his age group.

During this period of his life, he was homeschooled due to the risk of an asthma attack and is said to have read voraciously. His house contained thousands of books related to politics, art, and world history, which Che consumed richly. Over time, his parents had several other children, resulting in him growing up as the eldest of five.

Che was known to have had an ambitious and aggressive personality type in his younger years. He was also often ill, which is possibly the reason for his competitive personality. He ended up taking up sports like rugby, cycling, athletics, and shooting, which he could channel his energy into.

Although he toyed with the idea of studying engineering, he eventually ended up studying medicine following the death of his grandmother, which caused him deep grief and agony. He then devoted all his time — nearly fourteen hours a day — to quickly finish studying what was required of him at medical school. While the programme would usually take three years, he completed the entire course within a year due to his grit and determination.

He completed his syllabus at the beginning of December and at the end of the month, Che decided to undertake a tour across Latin America with his friend Alberto Granado. On 29 December 1950, Che set out on his motorbike named ‘La Poderosa II’ (in English, ‘The Mighty One II’) from the city of Cordoba. Che and Alberto engaged in charity work such as helping out leper communities in various cities. Following the trip, Che returned to Argentina and resumed his studies again.

In August of 1952, Che returned to Buenos Aires and was granted his degree from the University of Buenos Aires. The very next year, Che left Buenos Aires to visit Bolivia, where, at that time, a national crisis was taking place. According to his friend Carlos Ferrer, Che’s interest in politics began during this trip. In Bolivia, he realized the complicated nature of politics and learned of what was happening around him in further detail, which resulted in him beginning to take a deep interest in the political climate he was experiencing.

Experiencing Guatemala during the 1954 coup d’état changed how Che viewed the United States of America. It was during this time that he experienced animosity towards the USA due to the downfall of the Árbenz regime carried out by the CIA at the behest of the United Fruit Company. Around the same time, Che encountered Fidel Castro and other exiles. He then went on to train in guerrilla warfare in Mexico, soon becoming Comandante Guevara and acting as Fidel Castro’s right-hand man during the Cuban revolution in 1956. During this time, Che displayed contradictory aspects of his personality, such as showing warmth and care for those who were fighting alongside him, but simultaneously injuring messengers, defectors, and moles. His leader characterised him as a courageous and clever man, but he also often displayed carelessness. Fulgencio Batista, the dictator of Cuba, fled in 1959, after which Castro’s regime claimed power. La Cabaña prison was Che’s responsibility during this time, and he had to personally oversee the execution of the prisoners of war from the previous regime; he would sit on the top of a wall and encourage firing squads to shoot the prisoners.

Despite his military success, Che found that he was not a good leader in the economic sense. Despite being appointed president of the Cuban National Bank in 1959, Che’s continued distaste for money could be seen through his official signature on banknotes, for which he used his popular nickname rather than his legal name. However, his Cuban Literacy Campaign initiative helped more than seven hundred thousand people learn to read and write.

Che Guevara is revered by millions across the world for his revolutionary acts and thoughts. His self-sacrifice for the cause he believed in is a note-worthy feat.

Depth of Che Guevara’s Personality

 

I am one of those people who believes that the solution to the world’s problems is to be found behind the Iron Curtain.”

 

che-guevara-2nd-pictureChe Guevara was a man who was led by his morals first and foremost. He stood by his ideals even during the direst of times, so much so that he sacrificed his life for what he stood by. He led the Cuban Revolution solely through his grit and determination. He championed the cause of the working class and protested against capitalism and imperialism. He believed that revolution was the only way that the world he lived in was going to change.

Che was a communist, a Marxist revolutionary, and he looked the part. According to Søren Kierkegaard, there are two types of heroes: one type of hero who led through action, and another type who espoused intellectual thoughts. Che Guevara was a combination of the two. He was an intellectual as well as a man of action. He was personified as a man of violence, chaos, earnestness, exploration, and self-consciousness.

Guevara has also been compared to Friedrich Engels as he shared the same calm and analytical style of penning his thoughts, as well as a deep interest in international politics. However, Che Guevara was a fighter and a risk-taker as well as an intellectual.

He became a symbol not only in Cuba and Argentina, but also across the globe. This is because he was a man of a rare personality. Unlike many philosophers and intellectuals, he not only spread theoretical knowledge, but acted upon it, too. He was a militant and a man of action, practicing what he preached. There are many revolutionaries in history, but Che Guevara was transparent and open, accessible through his writings and his ideas, and living like the common man There is a reason he was known by Sartre as “the most complete man of his time”.

Che possessed an extraordinary creative flair and could profoundly express himself like many poets, writers, artists, musicians, and actors. Through his words, it is also evident that he possessed great wit and could talk excessively but charmingly, drawing attention to himself when in a crowd His personality exuded optimism, and his positive outlook meant that he seemed able to overcome any kind of hardships and difficulties that came his way. He was known as the ‘life of the party’ and was constantly the centre of attention when he spoke. However, although his thoughts and ideologies led him to become a great inspiration to many, his extremely extroverted and sociable personality could lead him to become directionless if he did not take care to be disciplined.

Che used his creativity to his benefit. It would have allowed him to lead a carefree life of pleasure, but he instead chose to channel this creativity into efforts for what he saw as the greater good, which is an admirable quality – it can be easy for naturally creative people to squander their talent if they do not take the time and effort required to nurture it.   However, the wide variety of experiences that Che went through – from exciting adventures to distressing hardships – provided a balance to his life that guided his personality when his potential may otherwise not have been fully realised. What is truly admirable about this personality is that he used his talents to uplift the down-trodden and to change the way people perceived both Latin America and the working-class population. He was anti-US imperialism and resisted authority, firmly standing by his principles. During guerrilla warfare, he did not give up despite knowing the challenges that would come his way.

Che’s personality was also emotional and vulnerable. He had the tendency to withdraw completely when he was hurt, and he had the habit of getting cynical when in despair. However, to hide that he was upset, Che would crack jokes or turn sarcastic.

Other facets of his personality were entrepreneurial, ambitious, dynamic, and progressive. Che was constantly striving to live up to his principles and ideologies. His ambitions were driven by his self-discipline, his determination, and his drive. He did not back down in the face of adversity, and he aimed to be an inspiration to those around him. Although he held himself to impossibly high standards, he expected the same of others around him as well. Some who worked with Che and his friends say that he could occasionally be harsh as a result of these expectations. Unlike many contemporary philosophers and intellectuals, Che appeared to not just spout ideologies, but to do his best to abide by them too.

His determination often tended to become stubbornness, which was a problem when it caused him to cling to projects or ideas that had become outdated. His creative side and artistic ability also led him to be quite sensitive to those around him and towards situations that needed sensitivity, which earned him the respect those around him. He became known for being understanding, compassionate, and a high achiever; calm and contemplative, rather than being prone to emotional turmoil. However, he was also something of a mystery to those around him. Profoundly independent, Che did not open up easily to others and he frequently seemed withdrawn. He would end up revealing parts of his character over time in conversation, but was not typically prone to small talk, preferring more intellectual conversation; indeed, when truly interested in the subject, he was an enthusiastic speaker.

Che was also aware of how he appeared to others. In some periods of his life, he appeared to have little care for how he dressed; however, at others, he seemed to be exceptionally mindful of his attire. This allowed him to establish particular connections depending on what the situation called for. Regardless, he had a very commanding presence.

From a psychological point of view, Che could be seen developing his adult personality very early on. Children usually start developing their personality around the age of six. Having been exposed at a young age to ideas of radicalness, revolution, and political control, it is possible that young Che’s psyche was shaped and developed in a way that made him more sensitive to world events and led him to take a personal interest in such matters. He also grew up in a household where he was free to express his views and was not bound by religious fundamentalism – his parents were not conservative. He stood out among his peers, be it in his mannerisms, dress sense, hygiene, or even his illness. Throughout his childhood he was often sick and asthmatic, which could have further strengthened his resolve to become someone who took part in physical activities – indeed, he often pushed himself to attempt things that many healthier people would not have done, perhaps due to feeling a need to compensate for his illness.

While Che initially appears to go against the tendency for firstborn children to be conservative, this is perhaps not entirely true. While being politically left-liberal – perhaps due to the influence of his parents, who were of a similar ideology – Che was conservative in the sense of sticking rigidly to his beliefs and morals, being unwilling to change them for anyone. As previously mentioned, he held both himself and others to incredibly high standards. Whether regarded and respected, or detested and dreaded, people seemed to be universally interested in him.

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire, Che Guevara is classified as personality type ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving), sometimes referred to as the Campaigner. People with an ENFP personality type are constantly curious about the deeper meanings behind ideas, people, and the world around them; for them, pursuing happiness and achieving a sense of individuality are top priorities. True to this, Che developed a strong sense of his identity at a young age and eventually dedicated himself to a struggle for freedom for all people, regardless of their backgrounds. He found inspiration in travelling and relied heavily on self-expression, primarily through his diaries. He was also extremely extroverted and thrived on making connections with others. Psychologists have also theorised that ENFPs cause more trouble at school than any other personality type, which was certainly true for Che – he is known to have caused both his teacher and his peers a lot of trouble while growing up.




Tales of Childhood 

 

Celia de la Serna, the mother of Che Guevara came from a wealthy, noble, and distinguished Spanish lineage. Her own father was an ambassador, a landowner, and a congressman. Although Celia’s parents died when she was still extremely young, this did not impact the family’s wealth, and she received a generous inheritance at the age of twenty-one.

Che’s father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, came from a similarly wealthy lineage. His great-grandfather had in fact been one of South America’s wealthiest men. However, unlike in Celia’s family, the wealth had diminished over the years. As indicated by his surnames, the family’s lineage on this side was mixed between Spanish and Irish.

che-guevara-parents

Che Guevara’s parents

Celia and Ernesto married on 10 November 1927; the following June, Che was born. However, it is said that his actual birthday is 14 May, with Celia concealing his actual date of birth for fear of people knowing that she was pregnant three months prior to her marriage to Ernesto. The couple traveled to Rosario for the birth, where she allegedly faked the birth certificate and told her family members that Che was a premature baby.

Che’s first sibling, his sister Celia, was born the following year in 1929. His first brother Roberto followed three years later in 1932, with second sister Ana Maria and second brother Juan-Martin arriving in 1934 and 1943, respectively.

che-guevara-with -his-father-and-his-sister

With his father and sister Celia, in San Isidro, Buenos Aires -1930

In May 1930, Celia took her son Che swimming at night, after which he suffered a bout of coughing. This was initially diagnosed as bronchitis and, despite several treatments, his affliction continued. Che’s father Ernesto blamed the illness on Celia, causing some tension within the home.

This disharmony translates to a “free spirited” atmosphere in their house. Their social rules and norms were lax, the children were allowed to mingle with anyone they liked, and most of all, Celia became an independent woman of her own right. The headmistress of the children’s school at that time said that Celia was one of the first women to drive her own car and wear trousers.

The family was also considered secular. Ernesto had grown up in a household that was not religious, and Celia, although she had grown up in a more traditional home, was more spiritual than religious. The family was known to spend their money freely by employing household staff, going on summer vacations, and hosting dinner parties. They lived lavishly for a while in Alta Garcia before Ernesto found himself a paying job; they then spent the remainder of their lives living on Celia’s inheritance.

 

 

 

 

Che was rarely – if ever – disciplined by his parents. He soon learned that he could avoid punishment by running away and hiding until his parents’ worry for him overcame their initial anger. However, neighbours would report that Che chose to escape into the surrounding countryside to find some peace from his parents’ arguments. Both Ernesto and Celia were known to be short-tempered and, paired with the family’s lack of economic stability due to Ernesto’s inability to find a job, fights between them were commonplace. Sources also later revealed that Ernesto’s continual unfaithfulness to his wife was also a major contributor to the tensions between the couple.

 

young-che-guevara-with-his-iblings

Young Che Guevara with his siblings

By the time Che was nine years old, the Alta Garcia authorities insisted that Celia enroll him in school. His homeschooling provided him with a solid foundation to his education, with his literacy skills meaning that he was permitted to skip the first grade and enter straight into the second grade. However, he was still a year older than his classmates. He started causing trouble to draw attention to himself, such as sipping ink from the bottle and breaking streetlights. From early on, it became apparent that Che had a mind of his own and preferred to forge his own path rather than bowing to authority. He also battled with anger issues that would follow him into adulthood; although he learned over time to resort to sharp sarcasm, it was not beyond him to start a physical fight if his temper got the better of him.

While his relatives tended to call him ‘Tete’, to his friends he was ‘Fuser’, ‘Chencho’, or ‘They recall him as a striking youth who was very sure of himself, excitable, naughty, and brave. His willingness to prove himself – to do almost anything – could have been in part due to an underlying need to prove himself as being just as good if not better as his friends despite his continued health issues.

 

 

 

 

Although his friends occasionally had to take him home due to an asthma attack, he remained determined to not let it restrict him and to keep up with those around him. Enrique Martin, a friend from his teenage years, remembered him as a “genuine friend when someone needed him” and as a “magnetic individual” who “never blew up over two minutes”. According to Martin: “We as a whole regarded and respected him for his thoughtfulness”. The principal of his grade school, Elba Rossi de Oviedo, recalled him as a “wicked kid” but also as a “savvy and free individual” who “had the characteristics needed for leadership”, remembering that “Many kids followed him during break. He was a pioneer, however not an egotistical individual. Here and there he climbed trees in the schoolyard.”

Che’s parents encouraged all of their children to be freethinkers and gave them a significant opportunity to ponder a wide range of subjects. As previously noted, he did not grow up in a religious household: when his parents did discuss religion, it was to mock the hierarchical nature of the Roman Catholic Church, and they asked that their children be excused from religious classes in school. Although he had been baptized as a newborn to satisfy his parents, Che was never confirmed and received no strict religious guidance. His parents – in particular, his father – were wary of the culture of the Church and believed that their children should not be hidden from the dangers of life that they would inevitably come to face later in life.

che-guevara-as-a-boy-at-around-age-six-argentina-1934

Che Guevara as a boy, at around age six. Argentina, 1934

Although his talent to pick up new things often seemed remarkable, Che was not an extraordinary student as he was not solely focused on his grades; his true interests really lay outside of school. Climbing, football, and rugby were all great passions of his. Chess also grew to be a primary interest of his, and he became a talented player who competed in tournaments. He was similarly enthusiastic about reading, having inherited both his father’s interest in philosophy and history – particularly the works of Jules Verne – and his mother’s passion for fiction, verse, and reasoning. At an early age, he had already worked his way through practically every book in his parents’ moderately sized home library.

Even in his early childhood, Che was exposed to an exceptionally politicized climate. The first political event that made an impact on him was the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. His parents held Republican sympathies and became close friends with two Spanish Republican families who had fled Spain for Argentina, looking for refuge from the Nationalist regime being put into place by General Francisco Franco. Around this time, Celia’s sister Carmen came with her two children to live at the Guevara household while her husband, the Communist poet Cayetano Córdova Iturburu (also known as ‘Policho’), took up a role as foreign correspondent in Spain for the newspaper Critica. Carmen would read every letter that her husband sent to the family; along with the Spanish books and newspapers he sometimes sent, these firsthand accounts raised much more awareness in young Che than other sources could have. Seeing so many people around him so emotionally invested in the cause, Che found himself becoming increasingly invested too.

 

che-guevara-family

Che Guevara’s Family

The Guevara family was also fiercely opposed to Nazism. Ernesto founded a local section of Acción Argentina and enrolled then eleven-year-old Che in its youth branch. This was an anti-fascist organisation that, amongst other activities, raised funds for the Allies, spread information about Allied wartime advances, and opposed Nazi penetration in Argentina. Meanwhile, Celia founded a committee to send food and clothing to Free France and the Free French Forces, the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War. Of the couple, Celia was the more radical in her political perspectives, whereas Ernesto had more libertarian moderate tendencies than his unquestionably liberal wife.




 

Into Adolescence 

 

During his time at Colegio Nacional Dean Funes, Che’s troublemaking tendencies and disregard for authority persisted. He would brazenly correct his teacher’s mistakes and engage in risky stunts. When he needed to get away from his crowded home, he often escaped to the house of his aunt Beatriz, who would spoil Che during his childhood by sending him plenty of gifts; she would also encourage him to study well and provide medicines to help manage his asthma.

As their finances grew more stable, the Guevara family moved to Córdoba in 1943. It was during his time in the city that Che began to think more independently and to form his own opinions, influenced in part by witnessing the continual fighting of his parents before they finally separated in 1947. It was also in Córdoba that Che met Alberto Granado, with the two soon forming a close friendship despite the six-year age gap. Granado was, at that time, a first-year student with strong interests in wine, girls, literature, and rugby; indeed, he was captain of the rugby team when Che joined.

che-guevara-s-family-1945

Che Guevara’s Family – 1945

June 1943 saw the beginning of a political crisis in Argentina when conservative President Ramón Antonio Castillo was overthrown by a team of military officers and replaced with General Pedro Ramírez. Declaring a state of emergency, he silenced the press, postponed elections endlessly, and interrupted the regular workings of the nation’s universities, and detaining or expelling students and faculty members who dared to speak out against him. Many young people took to the streets in protest, including Alberto Granado, leading to mass arrests without bail. Granado even asked Che who was merely fifteen years old at the time, if he wanted to join the protests. However, Che saw these protests as a waste of time. He demanded a revolver from Alberto to join the protest.

Granado was eventually granted bail. The bond between the two young men did not waver despite Che’s refusal to join in the protests. Given his usual risky behaviour, it was considered somewhat unusual that he had refused to participate in an important political cause against authority. However, it was apparently common for Che to disengage from politics during this period of his life. Those who knew him during that time described him as a someone with no interest in politics and no defined political ideologies.

Argentinian social norms were still heavily determined by Catholic doctrines at the time, which meant that topics like sex were still considered traditionally taboo. However, this did not mean that it did not happen. Boys of Che’s age usually visited brothels or pursued girls who belonged to a lower social class, because their own power and status gave them an upper hand in such situations. Many of these young women were the family mucama, or the house help. Che himself was involved with the mucama of his friend Carlos ‘Calica’ Ferrer, a woman called ‘La Negra’ Cabrera. Between 1945 and 1946, he also shared a brief romance with his cousin Carmen Iturburu based upon their shared interest in poetry and literature.

During his five years at Colegio Nacional Dean Funes, Che became infamous for his anti-establishment behaviour, with records showing that he received ten warnings for such rule breaking as leaving the campus after curfew. However, despite this, his grades remained intact. He had an affinity for geography, mathematics, and history. His range of reading also grew exorbitantly, with Jack London, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Pablo Neruda among his most-read authors. He was considered an intellectual and he could hold conversations about the personalities he read quite efficiently.

By the time he left secondary school, Che had ‘formed into an incredibly alluring youngster: thin and broad shouldered, with dim earthy colored hair, serious earthy colored eyes, clear white skin, and an independent, simple confidence that made him appealing to young ladies’”.  By the age of seventeen, he had built up a tough demeanor and capricious disposition that was evident through his scorn for custom and social etiquette, but also  a knack for simultaneously charming his teachers and peers with his unpredictable remarks and conduct. He also bragged about how rarely he took a shower and changed his garments, which led to him acquiring the nickname among his companions of ‘El Chancho’ (in English, ‘the pig’) for his unkempt appearance and reluctance to wash. However, what the vast majority of his friends did not know was that washing and showering frequently brought on Che’s asthma attacks, especially if the water was cold.




 

Che’s Adulthood

 

che-guevara-in-gordoba-1951

At Estancia Malagueño, 14 km west of Córdoba, around 1951.

In 1946, Che began working in a laboratory while studying. This was a paid position at Córdoba’s Dirección Provincial de Vialidad, a public works that was responsible for the roads in the province. His work consisted of running quality checks on the construction materials used by the company. This inspired Che to pursue studies in engineering. Thanks to his father’s influence, he got into and passed a special course in this field in Vialidad alongside Granado. After their graduation, the two were appointed to jobs in different areas within the province.

However, Che was eventually inspired to change his direction due to a personal tragedy. While in the middle of an assignment, he received news that his grandmother was on her death bed, and he rushed home to be by her side. Watching his grandmother suffer in agony, he decided to abandon his budding career in engineering and pursue medicine.

 

 

While studying medicine at university, Che began to take an even deeper interest in philosophy and literature, especially on the topics of social behaviour and sexuality. He continued to devour the works of authors like Freud and Bertrand Russel and showed interest in social philosophy. As he started reading further, he began to take an interest in socialist movements. He started to study both fascism and Marxism, including the works of Mussolini and Stalin respectively, and scoured Lenin’s speeches and ‘The Communist Manifesto’. Whenever he read a philosopher, he made a note of their biography in his diary; it is said that he had dozens of such biographies in his notebook. However, for all the reading he did about socialism and communism, he did not seem to take any liking to any particular political standing; Instead, he appeared to be a person who preferred to watch from the sidelines.

Che cultivated a passion for debate and discussion during this period of his life and constantly tested his knowledge by debating with family and friends over various topics such as philosophy, politics, and ethics. Although Che’s ideologies began to take a new form during this time, no one identified this new world view of his as Marxist. His difference in thinking was attributed to the way he was raised in a secular household and his errant personality.

che-guevara-as-medical-student-argentina-circa-1950

Che Guevara during his days as a medical student. Argentina. Circa 1950.

His political perspectives were somewhat patriotic in nature as he was anti-American and anti-imperialist, but he was also very disparaging of the Argentine Communist Party and its youth organisation at the university for their sectarianism. While he was not a Marxist, he did by this time have an exceptional interest in Marx’s philosophies and in communist ideas. At this phase of his life, he was an astute free thinker. By the time he reached his twenties, Che was characterised as a misfit who the vast majority of his companions and colleagues found difficult to label, but attractive and charming with it. The way he dressed was outlandish and peculiar, but he did it intentionally as a sign that he was not confirming to society’s expectations and norms.

Being just under eighteen years old at the time of Argentina’s 1946 presidential elections, Che was not able to cast a vote. However, just like many rebellious students at the time, Che did not support the eventual winner Juan Perón; instead, his views have been described as ‘a-Perónism’. Despite, this, Che studied Perón astutely, considering how his personality and leadership style could be described as somewhat Machiavellian, and concluded that one could become a leader by manipulating the power they held in order to achieve political success. In Argentina, Che noticed, one could gain power by exhibiting strong leadership qualities and using force to get one’s way. Despite his own lack of support for Perón – and, indeed, his family’s opposition to the new President – Che purportedly told his family’s servants that they should support Perón themselves, as his strategies would help their social class.

 

Che Guevara’s relationship with his father was much closer than that he had with his mother, who he treated more mindfully and chivalrously, particularly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy in 1946. She managed the family in Buenos Aires much as she did in Córdoba and Alta Garcia — she appeared to completely neglect social etiquette and housekeeping yet liberally offered casual accommodation to all kinds of visitors. There were almost no furnishings and few enhancements in the house, with books strewn all over the place and devices in the kitchen that gave electric shocks due to an ongoing short circuit in the electrical wiring.

In one of the study halls of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, there is a photograph of Che with his classmates during this period of his life. Assessing this photograph offers a few insights into Che’s contemporary character, perspective, and connections. It depicts twenty-eight white coated students organised in three rows of various heights; in the foreground is an exposed cadaver with a chest incision, lying on a metal table. The students’ expressions vary, but Che can clearly be seen grinning at the camera from the third row. He is the only male student not to be wearing a tie, although he is wearing a white shirt – likely to be the white nylon shirt that he referred to as ‘La Semanera’ (‘the weekly one’) as it was the only one that he owned and so only washed it once a week as he wore it so constantly.

berta-tita-infante

Berta “Tita” Infante

Of the three young women in the class photo, one is Berta ‘Tita’’ Infante, with whom Che had a profound yet platonic relationship. Having met in an anatomy course, they grew to be exceptionally close friends, meeting frequently to study together and talk about their problems. While it appears that Tita was looking for something deeper than friendship, this seemed to be more than Che wanted from the bond, or perhaps more than he was willing to offer at the time. Indeed, he had built something of a reputation as a womaniser, being known to learn to dance in order to get closer to women and not caring about possible age differences between himself and the girls he seduced. However, his friendship with Tita survived past medical school, and he kept in touch with her even after he left Argentina, contacting her nearly as often as he did his mother and Aunt Beatriz.





 

Romantic Endeavors of Che Guevara

 

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”

 

ernesto-with-girlfriend-maria-chichina-del-carmen-1952

Ernesto with girlfriend Maria Chichina del Carmen the daughter of baron Ferreira 1952

Che fell in love for the very first time with sixteen-year-old María del Carmen Ferreyra – nicknamed Chichina – who he met at the wedding of his cousin, Carmen Ibaturu. Belonging to an established and wealthy Argentine family, Chichina was heiress to the Ferreyra empire. The attraction was mutual, and the relationship soon grew more serious, with Che often visiting Chichina in Córdoba. He seemed to be hopelessly infatuated with her and expressed a desire to marry her.

Despite his unruly, somewhat eccentric appearance, the Ferreyra family seemed to initially welcome him. However, cracks began to appear in the relationship. Chichina’s parents began to disapprove of the bond between Che and their daughter, and the differences in age and social class also drove a wedge between them.

 

 

 

 

The distance between them was also a continual strain. At the beginning of 1951, in need of money, Che paused his studies and took up employment was a medical attendant on oil tankers and merchant ships. Between February and June of that year he set out on excursions to, from, and around Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Caribbean Islands. As well as having the opportunity to experience life at sea, Che was afforded plenty of time to focus on preparing for his upcoming medical exams ahead of resuming his place at university towards the end of June 1951. However, he and Chichina were separated for an extended period.

Following his return to his studies, Che began to discuss the idea of a yearlong journey across South America with his friend Alberto Granado. Burnt out from his demanding studies – just as Granado was from his job – Che was attracted to the idea of adventure and excitement; it could also offer a reprieve from the resistance Chichina’s parents were putting up against their relationship. However, Che’s suggestion that their honeymoon be spent travelling across Argentina in a motor caravan perhaps signaled the beginning of the end of their relationship. While Chichina continued to see Che for a while, the rift was not resolved and eventually the romance died down.

 

Days of Work

 

While studying medicine, Che worked several part-time jobs. The longest of these was an unpaid position as a research assistant to Dr. Salvador Pisani, who was researching the treatment of asthma and related issues. Alongside this, Che also started his own businesses, such as selling shoes door-to-door. Another endeavour saw him formulating his own cockroach poison; however, this had to be halted quite quickly as those involved in its manufacture fell ill because of it.

carlos-calica-ferrer

Carlos “Calica” Ferrer

Shortly after returning to Buenos Aires in 1952, Che was awarded his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires. As soon as his studies were completed, he began to plan a trip with his friend Carlos Ferrer, known as Calica. Their plan was to work in Bolivia and then head to Europe but ultimately did not work out as intended – in fact, Calica ended up travelling to Venezuela instead, where he stayed for ten years before finally returning to Argentina.

Calica and Che were not as aligned in their political views, interests, and disposition as Alberto Granado and Che had been. Indeed, at the beginning of the trip, Che had a vague intention of joining Alberto in Caracas, Venezuela; however, he also had ideas of later making a trip to Europe and then possibly Asia. In practice, he changed his itinerary in Ecuador, going instead to Guatemala and then on to Mexico two years later.

 

 

As Ricardo Gott notes in the prologue to Che’s travel journal, the encounters Che has on this trip changed him from ‘a withdrawn and passive spectator’ to ‘a full-fledged progressive, looking for an ideology through which to comprehend the world, and impassioned in his want to make a prompt move to transform it’.

On 7 July 1953, Che and Calica set out on the first leg of their journey: the 1,600-mile train trip from Buenos Aires to La Paz, Bolivia. As Ricardo Gott explains in his book, ‘his mother and father would not see him again for six years’ and ‘at that point their itinerant child had gotten renowned all through the world as ‘Che’ Guevara, the guerrilla fighter who had battled with Fidel Castro to carry progressive change to Cuba’. It would be another eight years before he himself would visit his country again, returning in 1961 as one of the main leaders of the new progressive regime in Cuba, now a globally renowned personality.

Ernesto and Calica crossed from northern Argentina into southern Bolivia at La Quiaca, close to where Ernesto would – around thirteen years later – set up a headquarters for the progressive guerrilla development that he believed would free the whole territory of South America.




Travel Sagas of Che Guevara

 

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.”

 

map-of-che-guevara-trip-with-granado

Map of Guevara’s trip with Alberto Granado.

Che was eager to travel. His father wrote that, with time, he came to understand that ‘his fixation on voyaging was simply one more piece of his enthusiasm for learning’. Be that as it may, Che concealed this inspiration for his initial trips by speaking nonchalantly about them, saying that his primary motivation to travel was his zeal for exploring and adventures. However, his trips from 1953 to 1954 actually had much more serious motivations behind them, especially the ones to South and Central America.

Travelling provided Che with a safe haven in which he could express himself and had the freedom to do what he wanted. In essence, travelling was freedom for him. In January 1950, at the end of his third year in medical school, Che took his motorcycle and explored within Argentina, towards Córdoba. He planned to go from there to San Francisco del Chanar where Granado was working in a hospital for people with leprosy. Che convinced Granado to join him on his trip as Granado himself had a motorbike too so could travel alongside him. After venturing alone to explore further north, Che eventually turned back and returned home, bringing this initial trip to an end.

In December 1951, when Che was just one year short of completing his practitioner training, he and Granado chose to set out to explore all of Latin America. Their famous motorcycle tour finally began on 4 January 1952; it spanned several countries but began with their departure from Córdoba on ‘The Mighty One II’. Che’s ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ (Guevara, 1995), published several decades after his death, give a unique perspective on this adventure, as well as shedding light on Che’s character as his perspective on the world around him developed.

 

 

 

 

However, contrary to the title, a large portion of the trip was not made by motorbike. Indeed, after their motorbike gave up on them in Chile, Che and Granado would use any mode of transport accessible at the time: horses, railways, trucks, ships, boats, rafts, planes, and, obviously, their own feet. Shortly after their trip began, the two also found themselves struggling to save their resources. It became a contention among the young men to see who could outdo each other in the art of labor for survival. They did end up succeeding and were given shelters in people’s houses, barns, or garages. Che’s clear and brief records in his journal give the reader an opportunity to visualize his contemplations, see the world through his eyes, and take a glimpse into his soul. They offer the chance to gain an insight into the man he was during this journey, long before he became recognised as one of the most significant radicals in modern world history.

 

From Buenos Aires, Che and Granado ventured out to the Atlantic shore of Argentina and then south across the Pampas, eventually crossing the Andes into Chile. As previously mentioned, it was in Chile that their motorbike would break down – after increasing issues during their crossing of the Andes and southern Chile, it finally gave up as they approached Santiago, leaving them to walk the remainder of the way. With no cash, they had to beg, freeload, and work various unskilled temporary jobs to pay their way north through Chile into Peru. From Peru, they headed to Colombia, and eventually to Venezuela. En route, Che was affected by the problems he saw in each country: social injustices, abuse, racial and ethnic segregation. He likewise came to see the common threads between the nations he visited, such as sociohistorical conditions and similar wants and desires.

che-guevara-and-alberto-grandao-on-a-raft

Che Guevara and Alberto Grandao on a raft

Che’s family had been stunned to learn that he intended to pause his studies in order to travel for an entire year. When his father asked about his seemingly serious relationship with Chichina, Che replied: “If she truly adores me, she will wait for me.” He regularly wrote to his father with accounts of his travels. Ernesto would reflect later that he had been somewhat tricked by the exceptionally laidback way in which his son discussed his trip and did not initially truly comprehend Che’s motivations, instead accepting his explanation that he was curious about the continent and eager to see it. In the prologue he composed for the ‘Motorcycle Diaries’, Ernesto said that he came to understand through Che’s letters and journals that he ‘was following a genuine missionary drive which never left him’ and had a ‘knowledge of his own destiny’. However, the use of the term ‘missionary’ is perhaps not truly applicable: at this time, Che was not concerned with spreading a specific philosophy or view, instead being very mainstream in his reading. Although he was very liberal and conscious of the social contrasts he saw during his travels, there is next to no proof at this point of any deeper drive that one would typically associate with a ‘missionary’.

One of Che’s first stops on his tour had been to the seaside resort of Miramar, where he bade farewell to Chichina, who was staying with an aunt. He took her a puppy, to whom he had given the name ‘Comeback’ in an attempt to signify his intention to return to her. It had not been easy to transport the puppy, who had almost died more than once on the trip by refusing to eat and falling off of the motorcycle. This would, to some extent, appear to be an omen of what was to come. Che attempted to secure Chichina’s promise to wait for him and her golden bracelet as a memento to take with him. However, she gave him neither, instead giving him $15 to buy her a scarf when he and Granado reached their final intended destination of USA. He set back out with Granado after eight days; until then, Granado had been concerned that Che may have a change of heart and remain behind.

miramar-buenos-aires-province

Miramar, Buenos Aires Province

Around half a month later, in the Andean mountain resort of Bariloche, Che found a letter from Chichina waiting for him at a nearby post office where he had arranged to receive his post. In this letter, she told him that she had chosen not to wait for him. He later wrote in his journal: ‘I read and re-read the incredible letter. Suddenly all my dreams of home, bound up with the eyes which saw me off in Miramar, were shattered, apparently for no good reason’. Although crushed by the experience, he overcame his initial need to compose ‘a tearful letter’ with the realisation that it would be futile to pursue her and to try to change her mind. He added, ‘I thought I adored her until this second when I understood I was unable to feel, I needed to think her back once more’.

Che and Granado encountered Chilean doctors on their travels, from whom they learned more about leprosy. This inspired them to pass themselves off as experts in the disease, with considerable success: they gained some fame based on their claim, and were hailed in Valdivia as experts, with an article being written about them. They were offered free accommodation and meals and were entertained by locals in the area. However, they also began to provoke annoyance among some of their hosts. Both men would dance with married women while their husbands looked on, and once they accidentally shot their host’s dog in the leg.

 

 

 

Although they had intended to head to Easter Island, no ships were bound for that destination for a few months, so they instead decided to stowaway on a ship to northern Chile. From there they continued on to Machu Picchu and the Inca Valley, relying on the generosity of people en route who would host them. Che witnessed the plight of locals working in American-owned mines firsthand during this journey, as well as American disregard for the indigenous culture. This contributed to his anti-American stance, a sentiment that evoked deep anger within him.

While in Lima, Che and Granado met Dr. Hugo Pesce, the founder of the Huambo Leprosarium and a member of the Peruvian Communist Party since the 1920s. They bonded over discussions of leprosy, politics, philosophy, and physiology, and Che and Granado spent a while working in Pesce’s hospital. Che took great inspiration from Dr. Pesce, who he considered to be the first man he had met who combined a medical background with high principles and a devotion to the common good.

Throughout his excursion into the more underprivileged northern region was a view that Argentina’s contemporary superficially European culture, was ‘a lavish façade under which the nation’s actual soul lay; and that spirit was spoiled and ailing’. It was from this area of the nation that ‘the Argentine Indians, ordinarily known as to as coyas, and the

mixed blood cabecitas negras (‘little black heads’) fled in consistently expanding numbers, filling the urban areas looking for work and setting up shantytowns like the one before the Guevara’s’ home in Córdoba’. They were the class of indigenous workers and day labourers often referred to as descamisados (in English, ‘the shirtless ones’) who Argentina’s white, fashionable population exploited and scorned, and who Juan Péron and his wife Eva – better remembered as Evita – vowed to consolidate into the country.

Che noted in his journal that ‘Chile offers financial conceivable outcomes to anybody ready to function as long as he’s not from the low class’, since the nation had enough mineral assets (copper, iron, coal, tin, gold, silver, manganese, nitrates, and so forth) to make it a modern force. Nevertheless, he saw that ‘the primary concern Chile needs to do is to get its tedious American companion away from its, a Herculean undertaking, at any rate until further notice, given the gigantic US venture and the simplicity with which it can carry monetary strain to bear at whatever point its inclinations are undermined”.

From Chuquicamata, Che and Granado caught a ride to the Outskirts of Peru. During their time in the country, they embraced the habit of hitching rides on the trucks transporting individuals and cargo between the main towns. Upon arrival at their destination, they would then ask if they could stay for the time being in the gatekeeper stations of the Peruvian Civil Guard (the nation’s paramilitary public police power) or in the clinics. These travels brought them into close contact with Peru’s indigenous people, who formed a large part of the populace; they perceived how the indigenous people of the Peruvian altiplano (high level) were exploited and abused, an issue that persists to this day.

In Tarata, Che wrote in his journal about how the indigenous population of the neighbourhood (the Aymaras) ‘are not the very proud race that time after time ascended against Inca rule and constrained them to keep a perpetual armed force on their fringes’; rather, their spirits had been crushed by the Spanish Conquest and hundreds of years of frontier control. He noticed that ‘they stare at us submissively, frightfully, totally apathetic regarding the rest of the world’, and ‘some give the feeling that they go on living just in light of the fact that it’s a habit they can’t give up’.

After they left Tarata, they travelled by truck with a schoolteacher who had been fired by the public authority since he was a member of the liberal American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) party. As he had indigenous ancestry, he appeared to know a great deal about Peru’s indigenous societies and customs. He told Che and Granado about the hostility between the indigenous people, whom he respected, and the mestizos (a term used to describe people of mixed ancestry with an indigenous and white European background), whom he considered ‘wily and weak’, despite the fact that he was also cowardly.

As indicated by Che: ‘The teacher’s voice took on a peculiar propelled reverberation at whatever point he talked about his Indians . . . furthermore, it changed to profound distress when he talked about the Indians’ current conditions, abused by modern day technologies and the impure mestizos’. The teacher explained the need to build schools for the indigenous population that would instruct them to ‘value their own world’ further and that would ‘empower them to assume a helpful part inside it’. He also talked about ‘the need to change entirely the current arrangement of education’, which he said, ‘on extraordinary event it offers Indians instruction (training, that is, as indicated by the white man’s standards), just fills them with shame and disdain, leaving them unfit to help their kindred Indians and at a huge inconvenience in a white society which is unfriendly to them’.

Che made regular references in his journal to the situation of the indigenous population and to the treacheries and segregation they endured because of the whites and mestizos. When he and Granado visited the stunning Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, he likewise noticed how the North American sightseers gave next to no consideration to how the indigenous people lived. In spite of the fact that he and Granado made the trip to the remains on the second-class train used only by the local indigenous people, Che noticed: ‘The sightseers going in their comfortable railcars can just have the vaguest thought of how the Indians live, gathered from a fast look as they whizz by our train which needs to stop to allow them to pass’. He also later berated the wealthier individuals in Peru and their expectations of their indigenous workers ‘to carry anything heavy, set up with any discomfort’.

By the time Che returned to Buenos Aires from this trip, the storekeeper had learned about the exciting and educational nature of the excursion and was taken aback by it. He asked Che to give him a letter confirming that he had made such a trip using the specific brand of motorbike that he rode. This letter, alongside an image of Che sitting on his motorbike, was distributed in a nearby sports magazine as an ad for this model of motorbike. They went on to the San Pablo leper colony, where Granado ended up staying to work at. Che, however, carried on back home as he had to complete his medical studies.

che-guevara-with-hit-motorcycle-la-pedorosa

Che Guevara with hit motorcycle La Pedorosa

‘The Motorcycle Diaries’’ uncover Che’s developing political awareness and his initial leanings toward communism as he witnessed firsthand the pervasive unfairness throughout Latin American society. However, what is most striking about diaries is that Che never bragged about his new-found social consciousness, nor did he seem to possess the saviour complex that is commonly associated with missionaries and evangelists. He had a powerful urge to help people, but he did this apparently without any expectation.

“The Motorcycle Diaries” were turned into a moving 2004 biopic by famous producer, director, and actor Robert Redford. Well-known Mexican actor Gael García Bernal stars in the lead role of Che, alongside Argentine actor Rodrigo de la Serna – who is in fact related to Che through his mother’s side – as Granado. Following the production of the film, García Bernal is quoted as saying of Che: ‘He’s an individual that changed the world and he has truly forced me to change the rules of what I am’.

che-and-aleida-during-a-trip-to-bayamo

Che and Aleida during a trip to Bayamo.

In preparation for the adaptation, Redford had made a trip to Havana to acquire consent from Che’s widow Aleida March, who keeps information, data, and official papers on Che. Redford later travelled back to Cuba for a special screening of the final film, which was attended by Aleida, Che’s children, and the then eighty-four-year-old Alberto Granado, as well as old friends and people who had worked closely with him during the Cuban insurgency. The film was generally positively met by the crowd. Redford later said: ‘I could nearly died in that seat at the point when I heard individuals sniffing and crying and I thought possibly they’re so annoyed with me that either I’m not going to leave, or they loved the film, which they did’.

 

 

 

As his journals and the film reveal, Che took responsibility for educating himself about Latin America through his travels, but also learned a lot about himself at the same time. As a youth meandering around the continent, he figured out how to enjoy travelling for days on end with practically no cash, without taking regular baths and wearing clean clothes, and without ever really knowing when he would eat next or where he would stay the night. He gained a full experience of how to survive independently without any comforts, a lesson that would prove invaluable in helping him to later thrive as a guerrilla fighter and survive several days at a time without food, water, showers, or proper clothing.




 

Guatemala and Mexico Excursions

 

I could become very rich in Guatemala but by the low method of ratifying my title, opening a clinic, and specialising in allergies. To do that would be the most horrible betrayal of the two ‘I’s’ struggling inside me: the socialist and the traveller.”

 

Che wrote in his journal: ‘The thought [of going to Guatemala] was hidden there some place, it just required that little push for me to make up my mind.’ Initially, Calica planned to go with Che to Guatemala via Panama. However, they encountered issues when trying to acquire visas to sail from Guayaquil to Panama, so Calica departed for the Ecuadorean capital of Quio with the intention of waiting for Che there. Che, meanwhile, was stuck in Guayaquil with Gualo García, who was similarly attempting to organise a visa and passage to Panama. After much difficulty – and Che selling the vast majority of his possessions to fund his stay and his visa – they finally succeeded; however, by this point, Calica had departed Quito for Colombia.

The journey would take Che and García several weeks around Panama and Costa Rica, meaning that they did not arrive in Guatemala until late December 1953. During this time, Che met Juan Bosch, the well-known progressive patriot head of the Dominican Republic, the exiled Venezuelan political pioneer Rómulo Betancourt, and the Costa Rican Communist pioneer Manuel Mora Valverde. Much as Che had done with Granado, he and García would travel by foot or hitchhike, and also caught a ride on a boat nicknamed the Pachuca. While searching for a ride in Costa Rica, a vehicle with Boston University tag holders stopped for them; inside was Ricardo Rojo and two Argentine companions, who were on their way to sell their vehicle in Guatemala. After several mishaps – including money issues, lack of shelter, and many tire failures – they finally arrived in Guatemala City, where they were lucky enough to find lodgings in a hostel that did not require payment upfront. They celebrated Christmas Eve at the home of a Guatemalan farmer and his Argentine wife, but Che ended up suffering a prolonged asthma attack over the next week that lasted until New Year’s Eve.

Rojo introduced Che and García to Hilda Gadea Acosta, asking if she could help the two find a place to live. Hilda was an economist and a well-connected member of the APRA and was one of many who had come to Guatemala from Peru seeking political refuge from the regime of General Manuel Odría. Through her role for the Guatemalan government, she was able to introduce Che to several high-ranking officials. The pair quickly grew close.

 

Meeting Hilda

 

che-guevara-and-hilda

Che Guevara and Hilda

Although Hilda noted that Che, in his comfortable, casual clothes, looked much more like a student than a professional, she came to realise through their discussions that he was actually quite accomplished. Her first impression – the negative view that he appeared ‘superficial, self-absorbed and proud’ – was tempered a few days later by the realisation that his mannerisms during their first meeting were due to his dislike for asking for favours and because he was experiencing an asthma attack. This revelation changed her assessment of him, and she “felt an exceptional concern for him on account of his condition.”

As previously mentioned, Hilda was politically well-connected, as were her friends. Through Hilda, Che became acquainted with a vast range of interesting and fascinating individuals, including Guatemalan government officials and political activists, as well as those who – like Hilda – had come to Guatemala seeking asylum due to political persecution.

Che and Hilda soon developed a strong bond, particularly as he opened up to her about his relationship with Chichina and his bond with his family. She was struck by the warmth and fondness with which he spoke about them, noticing that ‘his bond with his mom was profound’. In talking about his mother, Che told Hilda that ‘the old woman got a kick out of the chance to go around with a lot of scholarly ladies’ and ‘they may end up being lesbians’, yet she noticed that he generally talked with ‘a tone of profound respect and profound love for the old woman’. Che’s clear adoration for his family, Hilda said, caused her to value his humanity; he was consistently ‘liberal and delicate’ despite the irreverent way he described both them and himself.

 

 

 

 

 

She was also intrigued by his opinions on the legitimate part of specialists in Latin America, who he felt ‘ought not be spoiled experts, dealing with just the special classes’; instead, he felt that their insights and abilities should be focused on bringing an end to the illnesses caused by the extraordinary destitution experienced by the majority of the district’s inhabitants.

Che had originally intended to join Granado in Caracas but changed his mind after visiting Bolivia as he was driven instead to learn about progressive political conditions across the continent; in particular, he was engrossed in the extreme changes being embraced by the Guatemalan government. It is critical to note that it was this 1953 excursion to Bolivia that set him on the path that would eventually lead to his death in this same country in 1967.




Political Awakenings

 

Che’s trip to Bolivia was the first time truly witnessed the complicated side of politics, which sparked an even deeper interest in it for him. Soon after, he left for Peru, where he met a pair of Cubans who had been exiled from Moncada after the assault that took place in Santiago de Cuba. Here, he learned about Fidel Castro and the story of how Castro overthrew the regime of Fulgencio Batista by storming into the military garrison.

After arriving in Guatemala in December 1953, Che involved himself heavily with politics. Although his original plan was to work as a doctor, he was unsuccessful in finding a job and also battled with illness. It was a time of political upheaval for many nations in Latin America, and so Che came on to the scene in particularly tumultuous circumstances. Che continued to spend most of his time with Hilda Gadea. The couple would discuss the Bolivian revolution, the Soviet Union, and psychoanalysis for hours on an end. Soon, Hilda became pregnant, which led to the pair marrying on 18 August 1955. The next summer, their daughter, Hilda Beatriz Guevara Gadea was born. A letter written to his aunt Beatriz in 1954 established the political ideology that Che Guevara had adopted. He was staunchly anti-capitalist, anti-American and was developing into a revolutionary.

che-with-his-first-wife-hilda-gadea

Che with his first wife, Hilda Gadea

During his marriage to Hilda Gadea, Che met Fidel Castro. Their meeting during that time would eventually take Che to great heights and make him an eminent figure. He was highly influenced by Castro and so decided to join him in the armed struggle in Cuba. In June 1956, Castro and Che were arrested by Mexican police at the Santa Rosa ranch in Chalco alongside many other Cubans for taking part in a Cuban revolutionary struggle.

Che served a month in jail; after Castro was released from detention, their preparations began again and were soon in full swing. A group led by Castro was formed in November 1956, of which Che was a part. Che’s role was head of health services; he was a lieutenant and a part of the rebel forces. =On 5 June 1957, Che was appointed as the commander of the rebel army, which fought several battles against the dictatorship in the Sierra Maestro mountains. Undeterred by a lack of weapons and soldiers, Che successfully led the army from Sierra Maestro and enhanced the war efforts in Central Cuba.

The last stretch of his mission of invasion, which Fidel Castro entrusted to Che, was completed by October 1958. Under Che’s orders, the guerrilla fighters entered Santa Clara as part of the rebel offensive drive in December 1958. The Fulgencio Batista empire finally fell on New Year’s Day, 1959. Che was awarded Cuban citizenship by birth for his efforts in winning the war. With that, the Cuban revolution began to enter a calm phase.

Following the revolution, Che played a role in Castro’s government and contributed to its policies. Factories, banks, and businesses were quickly targeted for nationalisation. The leadership also aimed to ensure all Cubans could access healthcare, employment, and affordable housing. This was in line with Che’s hope for the nation to put aside what he perceived as its outdated attitudes and embrace the creation of ‘el Hombre Nuevo’ (in English, ‘the New Man’): a new being that put aside prejudices and selfishness, instead focusing on cooperation towards equality. Che was clearly an idealist and would not back down from his principles. He had a flair for taking action and was known to be organised and decisive. He was also perceived to be well-suited to the guerrilla life, which was not bound by common, everyday laws; this was perceived to be both a positive and a negative trait.

ernesto-guevara-with-his-children-aleida-camilo-celia-and-ernesto

Ernesto Guevara with his children, Aleida, Camilo, Celia and Ernesto

Che’s personal life experienced upheaval as well. Without Hilda’s knowledge, Che became involved with another woman, Aleida March. Indeed, Hilda only found out when Che asked for a divorce following her arrival in Cuba. Having lived with Aleida since late 1958, he married her on 2 June 1959, just a few weeks after his divorce from Hilda was finalised. Che went on to have a further four children with Aleida: Celia, Camilo, Celia, and Ernesto.

che-guevara-and-wife-aleida-march-on-honeymoon

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and Wife Aleida March on Honeymoon

Che was alternately said to be extremely kind to some, but extremely harsh to others, and although his followers were impressed with him, they also feared him. As previously noted, he expected others to live up to the same incredibly high standards that he set himself. As he lived through deprivation and hardship, and made sacrifices for his goals, so too did he expect others to do the same without complaint. This approach to his principles that perhaps also supported Che in overseeing executions at La Cabaña prison following the revolution, with his death toll ranging from fifty-five to 105 depending on the source. Accounts similarly vary on his approach to the executions, with some claiming he was enthusiastic about them, and others claiming that he attempted to pardon as many prisoners as he could. In a letter dating from early 1959, Che described the executions as a ‘necessity’; whatever his approach, it could be suggested that he saw the completion of them as a duty he would not shirk. It has been said that even his enemies admired his tenacity.

Inspired by his success in the Cuban revolution, Che later came to the decision to participate in the struggle for the Congo. Following much consideration, he departed for the Congo in 1965 on a fake passport. However, things did not go according to plan. His already fragile health was severely affected when he contracted a tropical fever and also suffered from dysentery; coupled with increasingly more frequent asthma attacks and a huge loss on body weight, Che’s rapidly declining health began to take a toll on his mental state as well. With little confidence in the Congolese forces, he began to lose self-control, experiencing intense emotional outbursts.

His low confidence and morale began affecting his Cuban camp, and while it became increasingly evident that they were preparing to leave, Guevara was insistent that he wanted to stay behind and support the struggle. However, by November 1965, he conceded and left the Congo.

Prior to his departure, Che had written a farewell letter intended to be made public only in the event of his death, in which he praised the Cuban revolution but stated he would dedicate himself to revolutionary efforts across the world; however, Castro had published it already. This made Che reluctant to return to Cuba. Instead, he spent time keeping a low profile in Dar es Salaam and later in Prague, compiling his memoirs of his experiences in the Congo and meeting with exiled Argentine President Juan Perón during this time. Eventually, he travelled in secret to Cuba in late July 1966, meeting with Castro and visiting his wife. However, this was only a temporary stop – by the following year, he would be in Bolivia.

 

Che’s Final Mission in Bolivia

 

“The question is one of fighting the causes and not just being satisfied with getting rid of the effects.”

 

che-guevara-on-the-cbs-talk-show-face-the-nation

Che Guevara on the CBS talk show Face the Nation. New York City. Dec. 14, 1964.

Che’s final mission was to Bolivia, in the core of South America. Bolivia is a nation with a spectacularly varied landscape and climate. With the Andes traversing the country from north to south, snow-covered mountains stand in stark contrast to expanses of tropical swamps, swathes of subtropical dry forests, and stretches of salt flats.
Prior to deciding on Bolivia as his destination, Che had considered a few different nations, including Peru and his own native Argentina – in particular, he was drawn to his homeland, having anticipated unrest there for several years. However, the circumstances were not conducive to action at that time. Two years earlier, in 1964, a Cuban-supported and Che-motivated guerrilla power had endeavoured to build itself up in northern Argentina, but the efforts had petered out disappointingly within a few months. Che’s close friend, fellow Argentine Jorge Masetti, had planned the efforts with Che from mid-1963, with the aim of establishing a chain of guerrilla forces from northern Argentina to Peru. However, Masetti and his forces found themselves crushed by the unforgiving climate of northern Argentina, with those who did not succumb to starvation or exposure being taken prisoner or executed by Argentine police and military; Masetti himself went missing and was never seen again. As such, Argentina was not an attractive prospect to Che in 1966.

che-guevara-1952

Che Guevara, laughing on the first day of peace after the Cuban Revolution. – Cuba, 1952

Peru was no more ideal. That year had seen the nation elect a regular citizen government with a modestly reformist program. Additionally, the government and military had successfully stifled a few scattered guerrilla uprisings during the previous two years. Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil were all considered briefly by Che, but dismissed. Eventually, Bolivia was selected as his target based on it having the most progressive potential of all the considered nations. Furthermore, it had distinct geographical advantages, bordering on Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru.

Che had briefly spent time in Bolivia in 1953, when he had visited alongside with friend Calica; the initial impression of the country that he forged then no doubt influenced his decision in 1966. During his first visit, Bolivia had been infused with a real sense of eager progressiveness. Around a year prior, a large group of miners, land workers, and deserters from the Bolivian armed forces had revolted and overthrown the existing military system. By the time Che arrived, the old regime seemed a thing of the past: mines had been nationalised, the old armed forces had been disbanded, and workers had reclaimed significant swathes of land following changes to agrarian laws by the new government. It seemed a time of celebration, and labourers were often seen in uniforms of the progressive civilian army.

 

However, this initial optimism had subsequently been undermined by corrupt government officials and commanders within the armed forces, who were willing to accept bribes and be influenced by US forces including the CIA. Che’s information on Bolivia seems to have stemmed from a few communists from the nation who had helped previously with Masetti’s mission, as well as from José María Martínez Tamayo (known as Papi), who was sent ahead to Bolivia to lay the groundwork for Che’s arrival. Many of these Bolivian socialists had received military training in Cuba, and assured Papi that the nation was ready for a Cuban-style revolution – all they needed was Cuba’s backing. They portrayed the nation as being disillusioned with the militaristic system overseen by President Barrientos, and that people were already fighting to bring about its downfall. They told him of Bolivia’s solid custom of progression, its disdain for the USA’s predominant presence in the country’s economic and military affairs, and how the mining settlements were key sources of disobedience.

At long last, they confirmed what Che and the Cuban insight administration had strongly suspected: that the Bolivian security and military powers were maybe the most insufficient and poorly coordinated in Latin America. Due to the military’s disclosure of their fundamental base, Che and his men had to pull out into a moderately confined territory. He had initially intended to have his power work across a zone deliberately arranged with reserves of provisions and fortified bases, but these plans were thrown into disarray by this revelation. Instead of following careful plans, Che and his men were forced to navigate a territory which they knew next to nothing about, and where they had difficulty locating adequate food and shelter.

Che’s thoughts and feelings during the campaign were meticulously recorded in what would later come to be called ‘The Bolivian Diary’’, with entries spanning from 7 November 1966 to 8 October 1967, the day he was captured. In his entries, Che talks about the harrowing difficulty of trying to stay one step ahead of the army in the rough terrain of the Bolivian jungle. The toll the mission was taking on him can be seen in his emotional outbursts, such as one incident where his frustration caused him to stab his horse in the side; he acknowledged his tendency to lose his cool but stated that that would change.

Nevertheless, it was perhaps Che’s will to succeed that helped maintain his faith in their chances of success despite the odds. Possibly he considered how high the odds had been stacked against himself, Castro, and the other survivors of the Granma catastrophe, and how they had survived all the same. As shown through his diaries, he believed that an ability to overcome hardships was a true mark of one’s character. Where another individual may have forsaken the mission as impossible, Che kept going; indeed, even until the very end, he believed his work would succeed.




Death of a Revolutionary

 

che-guevara-last-picture

Che Guevara’s last picture

On 8 October 1968, the Bolivian Special Forces raided Che’s guerrilla encampment in the Yuro ravine. Che was wounded in the ensuing battle, and, according to the account of Bolivian forces, surrendered upon finding his gun had been rendered useless. Félix Rodríguez, a Cuban exile and CIA adviser to the Bolivian army, recorded an account of Che’s capture. In it, he described Che’s bedraggled appearance, mentioning that his clothes were torn, and his feet were covered with leather sheaths tied with cord rather than shoes.

Che was bound and taken to the schoolhouse of the nearby village of La Higuera, where he was to be held prisoner. Despite his injuries, appearance, and the overall situation, Rodríguez reported that Che remained implacable, reflective, and analytical until the very end. Academic Gordon H. McCormack mentions in his work that Che even showed glimpses of his well-known sardonic sense of humour. Upon hearing from Rodríguez that he would be shot in the same way as two of his comrades earlier that morning, Che was calm. His last requests were that Castro be told that he would soon see a triumphant revolution in America, and that his wife Almeida should remarry and try to find happiness.

the-body-of-ernesto-che-guevara

The body of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine-born hero of Latin American revolutionaries and six other guerillas are on public display 10 October 1967 in Vallegrande. Guevara was captured by Bolivian forces and CIA agents 08 October and shot dead the next day. “Che” Guevara, the 39-year-old firebrand, was formerly the confident of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. In 1965 he left to establish guerrilla groups in Latin America.
# Le corps d’Ernesto “Che” Guevara, ainsi que ceux de six autres gu?rilleros sont expos?s ? la presse internationale par des militaires boliviens le 10 octobre 1967 ? Vallegrande. Le “Che”, d’origine argentine, apr?s avoir pris part ? la R?volution cubaine et lanc? ? partir de 1965 des foyers insurrectionnels en Am?rique Latine, a ?t? pourchass? par l’arm?e bolivienne ? l’aide d’agents de la CIA. Captur? le 08 octobre, il fut ex?cut? le lendemain et enterr? dans le secret. (FILM) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read MARC HUTTEN/AFP/Getty Images)

 

The orders were carried out on the following day, 9 October 1967, when Che was executed by gunshot at the age of thirty-nine years old. Rather than shooting him in the head as would be usual, the decision was made to aim at the rest of his body in an attempt to make it appear as though he had died in combat. His hands were cut off and preserved in formaldehyde as proof of his capture and execution. However, it would not be until 17 October 1997 that the rest of his remains would be located, exhumed, and returned to Cuba alongside the remains of six other comrades who had died alongside him.

Several thousand people met the motorcade transporting the remains of Che and his comrades home. In his commemoration speech, Castro said, “Why did they think that by killing him, he would cease to exist as a fighter? Today he is in every place, wherever there is a just cause to defend. His unerasable mark is now in history and his luminous gaze of a prophet has become a symbol for all the poor of this world”. This was followed by a 21-canon salute in Havana and air raid sirens being set off along the island.

Che was buried with the highest military honours available in Cuba. A museum dedicated to him stands at the site of his burial. A candle lit by Castro burns constantly in his memory there.

 

The Influence of Che Guevara

 

“The ultimate and most important revolutionary aspiration: to see human beings liberated from their alienation.

 

In contemporary Latin America, Che is often seen as a symbol of opposition to US imperialism, with his values being hailed as a form of resistance to the domination of the USA. Even today, he continues to be incredibly pertinent to the current political landscape and a relevant figure for the left wing of Argentine politics. His perspectives and progressive lifestyle continue to find respect and admiration among new political pioneers and rank-and-file political activists in this field.

Many find Che’s vision of a communist future and ideas on how to construct it to be directly relevant to their endeavours to overcome political and social inconsistency and neocolonialism. The idea of an assembled, free, and communist Latin America that Che presented provides continued inspiration for those striving to establish a sustainable and equitable socialist society today. His progressive ideals have therefore lived on decades after his death.

A clear indication of just how much has changed in the area over the years can be seen in Bolivian President Evo Morales deciding to honour Che with the 1997 erection of a monument in La Higuera to mark where he had been executed; the memorial has since become something of a tourist attraction. Following a significant gathering in Córdoba, Argentina, of MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market) to which Cuba was invited, Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro made a noteworthy journey to Alta Gracia to visit Che’s childhood home. Presently known as Villa Nydia, the working-class home has stood since 2001 as a gallery dedicated to Che. When they arrived on 22 July 2006, a crowd of a few thousand called out to them both by name, shouting: “¡Se siente! ¡Se siente! ¡Guevara está presente!”— in English, “One feels it! One feels it! Guevara is present!”




Legacy of Che Guevara

 

“I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting.”

 

Che left a great legacy behind, one that has only increased in the years following his 1967 execution. At the public memorial for Che held in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana following his death, Castro proclaimed Che’s legacy when he stated:

“On the off chance that we need a model of an individual that doesn’t have a place with our time however, to the future, I state from the depth of my heart that such a model, without a solitary stain on his lead, on his activities, or his conduct, is Che!”

What Castro stated in his speech has since undoubtedly come trye: both in Cuba and worldwide, Che has become, to many, a courageous model of the entirely dedicated progressive, the selfless person who devotes his life for the benefit of all to bring about a superior future for mankind. In communist Cuba, he is revered as an ideal example of the sort of person Cuba’s communist society aims to prepare for the 21st century and beyond. Despite over forty years having elapsed since his death, Che and his legacy still hold an extraordinary significance for so many.

Banners showing Che’s representation still frequently appear in almost every significant city on the planet. The Che on these banners and pamphlets is a gallant figure, with his distinct facial hair, beret, and piercing eyes that have come to be automatically associated with this radical beliefs and life.

In huge numbers of these mass-manufactured pictures of Che Guevara, the heroic face that peers out from them by one way or another appears to consolidate in one human face all the races of humankind. In many of these mass-manufactured depictions of Che, the heroic face that peers out from them could almost appear to consolidate all races of humankind. His eyes and moustache could seem Asian, while the obscurity of his composition appears to be African, and the state of his nose and cheeks are unmistakably European. This could perhaps go some way to clarifying why he has become a symbol for revolutionary political activists, guerrillas, rebels, liberal students, and scholarly people in every nation, and why, for instance, his face is frequently the sole white one to show up alongside those of other progressive legends in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

After Che’s death and throughout the following decade, liberal students, intellectuals, and progressive developers worldwide continued to cite Che’s well-known quote: ‘The obligation of each progressive is to make the transformation’. They accepted, as did Che, that revolutions are brought about by those who are eager to act, not by those waiting indefinitely on suitable conditions or for orders from Communist leadership, such as that of the Soviet Union or China. Indeed, the press of many Communist countries frequently referred to the young liberals involved in these developments as ‘Guevarist radicals’. However, this was not taken as an insult even if intended as such – the targets of such names saw Che’s principles as a viable alternative to the lukewarm reformism of moderate communist and social leftist alliances in areas such as Europe.

 

Reasons for Lack of Support for the Bolivian Mission 

 

“Imperialism has been defeated in many partial battles. But it remains a considerable force in the world, and we cannot expect its final defeat through effort and sacrifice on the part of all of us.”

 

che-guevara-santa-clara-1952

Argentinian-born Cuban revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara (1928 – 1967) during the battle of Santa Clara. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

One reason Che’s guerrilla development neglected to get any major help in Bolivia is most Bolivians at that time had accepted that their nation had just gone through a huge upheaval of public freedom. In spite of the fact that Che visited Bolivia not long after the National Revolution of 1952, he failed to see either at that point or later how much significance the Bolivians connected to this occasion. Indeed, for some Bolivians, the insurgency of 1952 was held in the same respect as many Cubans regarded their own revolution. Since Che did not comprehend this reality — and in light of the fact that his Bolivian sources did not pass on this knowledge to him — he accepted his guerrilla development would be able to benefit from the antagonism and discontent that he expected the Bolivian public must feel toward their political rulers.

In fact, the National Revolution was seen as giving the Bolivian masses – for the first time in their history – what they saw as a genuine stake in contributing to the political and social framework of their country. Despite the military overthrow of 1964 and the subsequent loss of the intensity that the 1952 revolution had created, the changes brought about by the unrest were still proceeding when Che and his forces arrived in 1967. These advancements profoundly affected the personality of Bolivian governmental issues and contributed significantly to the improvement of a feeling of public awareness among Bolivia’s provincial masses.




How Che Guevara Contributed to Guerrilla Warfare

 

che-guevara-with-fidel-castro

Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro (left) lights his cigar while Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara (1928-1967) looks on in the early days of their guerrilla campaign in the Sierra Maestra Mountains of Cuba, circa 1956. Castro wears a military uniform while Guevara wears fatigues and a beret. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Che’s thoughts regarding unrest and guerrilla warfare are meticulously recorded in his diaries and are required reading for those interested in developing their understanding of this. His 1961 book ‘La Guerra de Guerrillas’ (in the 1985 English translation, ‘Guerrilla Warfare’) is one of the most prominent discourses on close quarters combat across the world. Alongside specific articles he authored – in particular ‘Guerra de Guerrillas: Un Metodo’ (‘Guerrilla Warfare: A Method’, distributed in Gerassi 1968, pp. 266-79) – this book gives a full summary of progressive guerrilla warfare and is to a great extent dependent on the Cuban experience. It had influenced progressive developments throughout not only Latin America, but also the rest of the world, and has propelled numerous extreme gatherings to adopt the same Foco theory that could be seen in the actions of Che, Castro, and their comrades in the Sierra Maestra of Cuba. Another similarly notable work was his authentic record of the Cuban progressive war, ‘Pasajes de la Guerra Revolucionaria’ (‘Episodes of the Revolutionary War’). All of this knowledge was made possible by Che’s habit of taking time away from others to record his daily perceptions of the journey or an encounter with an enemy.

the-rebels-of-sierra-maestra

The Rebels of Sierra Maestra in the jungle, including Fidel and Raul Castro and Che Guevara. Cuba, 1958

Che held a deep-seated conviction that the Cuban Revolution stood as proof that the peoples of Latin America could free themselves from domineering rule if they took up guerrilla combat. In ‘La Guerra des Guerrillas’, he posited that the revolution had made three essential commitments to progressive ideas in Latin America. Firstly, the Cuban experience demonstrated that well-known, unpredictable powers could win a battle against an expert armed force. Secondly, it demonstrated that it is not essential to wait until all the necessary conditions for transformation are in place; instead, guerrilla warfare could in fact bring about some of these conditions. Thirdly, Che believed that Cuba showed that a revolution in Latin America – a vast area with a huge population overall – should initially focus itself on rural regions rather than urban areas to ensure success. Che asserted that the first two of these commitments disproved contentions of individuals who professed to be radicals but refused to take action due to an expectation of failure against an expert armed force and/or a lack of required ‘target conditions’ for unrest.

He accepted that a core of thirty to fifty men could set up and unite a radical guerrilla force  in any nation of Latin America, giving they were resolved, had the participation of each individual, and had the required information on the territory where they would be working. Che also suggested that individuals should be aware that it is impossible for them to achieve social and monetary changes through peaceful methods before they have helped an insurrectionary guerrilla movement. In addition, he contended that where an administration has ascended to control by some type of well-known assent, including false decisions, and keeps up an image of protected lawfulness at any cost, it is difficult to build up and combine a guerrilla force on the grounds that a considerable amount of individuals will accept that there is some chance of improving their social and financial conditions through lawful methods.

fidel-castro-and-ernesto-che-guevara-1960

Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara. Havana, Cuba, 1960

Che could not help but contradict those who argued that radical warfare in Latin America relied basically upon the political assembly of the dissatisfied metropolitan masses in the urban areas. He felt that it was undeniably more difficult to complete a successful revolt in urban areas where the established powers and police can be successfully used, rather than in rural regions where customary soldiers are helpless before a profoundly versatile guerrilla power upheld by the country populace. The help of the citizens, according to Che, is the key element required for guerrilla combat. Indeed, he defined guerrilla battle as a battle of the individuals, driven by a fighting vanguard (the atomic guerrilla power) against the powers of the decision theocracies (elites) and their unfamiliar benefactors (the U.S. government and the transnational enterprises with interests in the Third World). In this way, in Che’s view, the guerrilla power does not hold onto power alone; rather, it provides an impetus that moves the individuals themselves to also wage war, ousting the established system. In ‘La Guerra de Guerrillas’, Che wrote that without the help of the individuals, a guerrilla power is just a wandering group of vagabonds. He noticed that both guerrillas and vagabonds have similar attributes: homogeneous participation, regard for their chiefs, mental strength, information on the territory, and enthusiasm for the right strategies to utilise against mathematically prevalent powers. However, they contrast in one crucial regard: one has the backing of individuals and the other does not. Therefore, vagabonds are inevitably chased down and wiped out, whereas guerrilla powers, which rely on the help of the individuals, can crush an expert armed force, and achieve the ruin of even the harshest system.

che-on-a-fishing-trip-with-fiedel-castro

Che on a fishing trip with Fiedel Castro

A guerrilla power, according to Che, wins the help of the majority in provincial zones to a great extent by supporting their complaints. This implies that the guerrillas should introduce themselves as crusaders with the goal of righting the wrongs of the overarching social structure. Che accepted that the significant complaints shared by the rural masses all through Latin America emerged from the centralisation of land ownership to a small group of rich elites. This of course meant that the vast majority of the working class did not possess the land on which they lived and worked. Thus, he saw land ownership change as the major question to be utilised by guerrilla powers in their push to win the help of the rural masses. Ultimately, Che argued that the guerrilla fighter should be an agrarian progressive who utilises the proletariat’s craving for land as the reason for assembling its help. He additionally accepted that any progressive guerrilla power should be the soul of the individuals, and that the ethical conduct of the guerrillas should keep in mind the end goal of individuals seeing them as the builders of the social changes that they advocate. As per Che, guerrilla fighters must continuously practice unbending restraint and never grant themselves a solitary abundance or shortcoming. This implies guerrillas should be monks whose moral conduct procures them the regard and adoration of the neighborhood population.

Che also wrote that it is the obligation of guerrillas to give specialised monetary and social help to the lower classes. Along these lines, they create a close relationship with the working class, which permits them to win their trust and confidence. When this relationship has been accomplished, the guerrillas’ assignment then becomes to instruct the working class in the principal significance of armed combat as the only way that they can free themselves from their current situation of misuse and mistreatment. Che upheld that that the effective execution of this assignment brings into reality a genuine people’s war and the unavoidable decimation of the existing system.




Current Popularity of Che Guevara Outside of Latin America

 

“Our youth must always be free, discussing and exchanging ideas concerned with what is happening throughout the entire world.”

 

Many spectators of Che’s contemporary fame outside of Latin America rush to point out that his iconic picture has become a worldwide brand, frequently without any philosophical or political significance when it is used to sell or portray certain items. They often excuse his continued popularity as a case of ‘young adult radical sentimentalism’ and people taking revolutionary behaviour to be stylish.

 However, despite his image having become undeniably very profitable, it still has clear political significance – sometimes even to an excessive level. In one instance, it was removed from a CD cover in the USA after market research indicated that some compared Che to Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden. Target Corporation, the huge retail organisation that had been circulating the item in question, issued a public apology for selling it and pulled it from the shelves.

Even in the USA – the focal point of many worldwide enterprises – Che still finds political admirers. When asked once about why his father was still often demonised by American enterprises and academics, Che’s son Camilo responded: “He is a demon for the U.S. government and American multinationals”. He also stated that, even so, “numerous North Americans appreciate and regard El Che” and “they fight foul play in American culture under his pennant”.

 Indeed, images of Che line the U.S.-Mexican border as an indicator of activism; despite the fact that he was not Mexican, Che has been adopted as a symbol by some Mexican activists within the USA in their fight for social equality and fair education opportunities. As such, Che’s picture can also be viewed as a reference to the current U.S. migration strategy. Camilo likewise accurately noted that some within the USA try to lift their nation’s financial barricade against Cuba and declare their solidarity with the island.

che-guevara-havana-cuba-march-1960

Havana, Cuba. March 5, 1960.

Many well-known scholars have put forth a valiant effort to demystify and explain the significance of the continued ubiquity of Che, particularly among young people, including Régis Debray in France, Jorge Castañeda in Mexico, Alvaro Vargas Llosa in Peru, Pacho O’Donnell in Argentina, and others. British-born liberal intellectual Christopher Hitchens was also among this group, having supported the Cuban uprising in the 1960s but considered himself a recovering Marxist later in life. In a 1997 article on Jon Lee Anderson’s biography of Che and Che’s posthumously published ‘Motorcycle Diaries’, Hitchens contended that Che’s persistent fame is a contemporary example of devoted and sentimental admiration. He put forth that ‘Che’s notable status was guaranteed in light of the fact that he fizzled. His story was one of fight and combat, and that is the reason it is so enticing. Had he lived, the fantasy of Che would have since a long time ago kicked the bucket’. Many scholars in the US and Europe also support this view. In this way, they guarantee that Che ‘has a place more with the sentimental convention than the progressive one’, since ‘to suffer as a sentimental symbol, one should not simply pass as a youngster, however pitiful the death’; as indicated by Hitchens, ‘Che fulfils both models’.

 

 

However, it could be argued that there is a false premise in this proposal, as Che was already thirty-nine years old when he died; although he undoubtedly passed away before his time, he was not particularly young. Moreover, it could be contended that Hitchens and other scholars of this view neglect to understand the continued political and philosophical significance of his legacy.

 The waving flags, the graffiti on the dividers, the banners, the T-shirts, the recordings, the films, the books, the leaflets, the photographs, the tunes, the tattoos, and the calls of “¡Che Vive!” on the lips of individuals around the world: all of these give overpowering proof that Che Guevara speaks to an amazing image of  one of – if not the – most exceptional models in modern history of protection from treachery, imbalance, misuse, and political control. Additionally, this remains valid for individuals in a real sense far and wide. Che continues to be a mainstream saint for some individuals — all things considered — for the same explanation that Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, in his late 40s, said that he appreciated Che: “I respect Che in light of the fact that he battled for his beliefs and for equity,” and “he didn’t simply think about conventional individuals, he made their battle his own” (Rieff 2005).

 As photography curator and filmmaker Trisha Ziff insightfully noticed: “Che’s famous picture bafflingly returns at whatever point there’s a conflict over foul play [and] there is nothing else in history that serves thusly” (Lotz 2006). More than anything else, as Ziff recognises, Che is an image of resistance to government and “eventually, you can’t take this importance out of the picture.” Ziff is correct in stating that the importance of Che’s picture is that of the guerrillero heroico — the brave guerrilla fighter against colonialism, and especially the U.S. government.

You may buy here some of the best books refer to Che Guevara. Recommended by Motto Cosmos:

 

Che Guevara’s best Mottos

 

  1. A country that does not know how to read and write is easy to deceive.
  2. A new era will dawn in Africa, when the impoverished masses of a nation rise up to rescue their right to a decent life from the hands of the ruling oligarchies.
  3. A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the paredón.
  4. As long as imperialism exists it will, by definition, exert its domination over other countries. Today that domination is called neocolonialism.
  5. At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.
  6. Be realistic, demand the impossible!
  7. Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.
  8. Chess is an effective means to educate and train the human intellect.
  9. Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.
  10. Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional politicians.
  11. Democracy is not compatible with financial oligarchy, with discrimination against Blacks and outrages by the Ku Klux Klan.
  12. Democracy is not compatible with financial oligarchy.
  13. Direct aggression against Cuba would mean nuclear war. The Americans speak about such aggression as if they did not know or did not want to accept this fact. I have no doubt they would lose such a war.
  14. Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.
  15. Each spilt drop of blood, in any country under whose flag one has not been born, is an experience passed on to those who survive, to be added later to the liberation struggle of his own country. And each nation liberated is a phase won in the battle for the liberation of one’s own country.
  16. How can it be “mutually beneficial” to sell at world market prices the raw materials that cost the underdeveloped countries immeasurable sweat and suffering.
  17. How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?
  18. I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.
  19. I am not Christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am 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
  20. I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting.
  21. I finally felt myself lifted definitively away on the winds of adventure toward worlds I envisaged would be stranger than they were, into situations I imagined would be much more normal than they turned out to be.
  22. I have never considered myself an economist.
  23. I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won’t rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated.
  24. I knew that the moment the great governing spirit strikes the blow to divide all humanity into just two opposing factions, I would be on the side of the common people.
  25. I knew that when the great guiding spirit cleaves humanity into two antagonistic halves, I will be with the people.

 

 

Che Guevara’s best Quotes from Motorcycle Diaries

 

  • “Many will call me an adventurer, and that I am… only one of a different sort: one who risks his skin to prove his truths.”
  • “We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.”
  • “Be realistic, demand the impossible!”
  • “I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.”
  • “And then many things became very clear… we learned perfectly that the life of a single human being is worth millions of times more than all the property of the richest man on earth.”
  • “The walls of the educational system must come down. Education should not be a privilege, so the children of those who have money can study.”
  • “I knew that when the great guiding spirit cleaves humanity into two antagonistic halves, I will be with the people.”
  • “There is no other definition of socialism valid for us than that of the abolition of the exploitation of man by man.”
  • “There are no boundaries in this struggle to the death. We cannot be indifferent to what happens anywhere in the world, for a victory by any country over imperialism is our victory; just as any country’s defeat is a defeat for all of us.”
  • “The revolution is made through human beings, but individuals must forge their revolutionary spirit day by day”
  • Words that do not match deeds are not important.
  • “I will always dream and will never stop until I am dead.”

 

 

Che Guevara Quotes

 

  1. A country that does not know how to read and write is easy to deceive.
  2. A new era will dawn in Africa, when the impoverished masses of a nation rise up to rescue their right to a decent life from the hands of the ruling oligarchies.
  3. A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the paredón.
  4. A smoke in times of rest is a great companion to the solitary soldier.
  5. Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world.
  6. Above all, try always to be able to feel deeply any injustice committed against any person in any part of the world. It is the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary.
  7. Americans are given the sole option of electing their jailer for four years and sometimes do him the honour of re-electing him.
  8. And then many things became very clear… we learned perfectly that the life of a single human being is worth millions of times more than all the property of the richest man on earth.
  9. As long as imperialism exists it will, by definition, exert its domination over other countries. Today that domination is called neocolonialism.
  10. At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.
  11. Be realistic, demand the impossible!
  12. Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.
  13. Chess is an effective means to educate and train the human intellect.
  14. Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.
  15. Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional politicians.
  16. Democracy is not compatible with financial oligarchy, with discrimination against Blacks and outrages by the Ku Klux Klan.
  17. Democracy is not compatible with financial oligarchy.
  18. Direct aggression against Cuba would mean nuclear war. The Americans speak about such aggression as if they did not know or did not want to accept this fact. I have no doubt they would lose such a war.
  19. Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.
  20. Each spilt drop of blood, in any country under whose flag one has not been born, is an experience passed on to those who survive, to be added later to the liberation struggle of his own country. And each nation liberated is a phase won in the battle for the liberation of one’s own country.
  21. Every day People straighten up the hair, why not the heart?
  22. Every person has the truth in his heart. No matter how complicated his circumstances, no matter how others look at him from the outside, and no matter how deep or shallow the truth dwells in his heart, once his heart is pieced with a crystal needle, the truth will gush forth like a geyser.
  23. Everyday you have to fight so that love for humanity can be transformed into concrete deeds, into acts that set an example, that mobilize.
  24. Guerrilla warfare is used by the side which is supported by a majority but which possesses a much smaller number of arms for use in defense against oppression.
  25. How can it be “mutually beneficial” to sell at world market prices the raw materials that cost the underdeveloped countries immeasurable sweat and suffering.
  26. How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?
  27. I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.
  28. I am not Christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am 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.
  29. I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting.
  30. I finally felt myself lifted definitively away on the winds of adventure toward worlds I envisaged would be stranger than they were, into situations I imagined would be much more normal than they turned out to be.
  31. I have never considered myself an economist.
  32. I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won’t rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated.
  33. I knew that the moment the great governing spirit strikes the blow to divide all humanity into just two opposing factions, I would be on the side of the common people.
  34. I knew that when the great guiding spirit cleaves humanity into two antagonistic halves, I will be with the people.
  35. I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.
  36. I now know, by an almost fatalistic conformity with the facts, that my destiny is to travel.
  37. I think with regards to solutions, there are solutions, and I think there is only one. we have said repeatedly to the government of the United States that we do not want anything but to forget us, that they do not consider us even for good or evil.
  38. I wanted to take part in the liberation of even a small piece of enslaved Latin America.
  39. I will fight with all the weapons within my reach rather than let myself be nailed to a cross or whatever.
  40. I would rather die standing up to live life on my knees.
  41. If any person has a good word for the previous government that is good enough for me to have him shot.
  42. If they attack, we shall fight to the end. If the rockets had remained, we would have used them all and directed them against the very heart of the United States, including New York, in our defense against aggression. But we haven’t got them, so we shall fight with what we’ve got.
  43. If we had to kneel in order to live in peace, U.S. government will have to kill us before.
  44. If you ask me the image of Latin America, there are sorne countries which oppress their peoples much more, and among the less – least oppressive, among those with which we could have perfectly normal relations without any difficulties – we could have Uruguay, Chile, maybe Costa Rica. But the U.S.. do not permit us.
  45. If you have the capacity to tremble with indignation every time that an injustice is committed in the world, then we are comrades.
  46. If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.
  47. Imperialism has been defeated in many partial battles. But it remains a considerable force in the world, and we cannot expect its final defeat save through effort and sacrifice on the part of all of us.
  48. In a revolution one wins or dies, if it is a real one.
  49. In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm.
  50. It is a revolution that came to power with its own army and on the ruins of the army of oppression.
  51. It is an illusion to think that the matter can be resolved through words.
  52. It is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory.
  53. It is not just a simple game, it is a weapon of the revolution.
  54. It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them.
  55. It’s a sad thing not to have friends, but it is even sadder not to have enemies.
  56. It’s not my fault if reality is Marxist.
  57. Justice remains the tool of a few powerful interests; legal interpretations will continue to be made to suit the convenience of the oppressor powers.
  58. Let the world change you and you can change the world.
  59. Let’s be realistic. Let’s do the impossible!
  60. Let’s liquidate all the atomic bases in Cuba and in the U.S. and we are in complete agreement with that.
  61. Man truly achieves his full human condition when he produces without being compelled by the physical necessity of selling himself as a commodity.
  62. Man truly achieves his full human condition when he produces without being compelled by the physical necessity of selling himself as a commodity.
  63. Many will call me an adventurer – and that I am, only one of a different sort: one of those who risks his skin to prove his truths.
  64. Once again I feel beneath my heels the ribs of Rocinante. Once more, I’m on the road with my shield on my arm.
  65. One does not necessarily have to wait for a revolutionary situation: it can be created.
  66. One has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness.
  67. One must endure without losing tenderness.
  68. One must have a large dose of humanity, a large dose of a sense of justice and truth in order to avoid dogmatic extremes, cold scholasticism, or an isolation from the masses. We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity is transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.
  69. Our youth must always be free, discussing and exchanging ideas concerned with what is happening throughout the entire world.
  70. Peaceful coexistence cannot be limited to the powerful countries if we want to ensure world peace.
  71. Perhaps one day tired of circling the world I’ll return to Argentina and settle in the Andean lakes if not indefinitely then at least for a pause while I shift from one understanding of the world to another.
  72. Real revolutionaries adorn themselves on the inside, not on the surface.
  73. Revolution cleanses men, improving them as the experimental farmer corrects the defects of his plants.
  74. Revolutions are not exportable: revolutions are created by oppressive conditions which Latin American countries exercise against their peoples.
  75. Silence is argument carried out by other means.
  76. Socialism is young and has made errors. Many times revolutionaries lack the knowledge and intellectual courage needed to meet the task of developing the new man with methods different from the conventional ones – and the conventional methods suffer from the influences of the society, which created them.
  77. The best form of saying is doing.
  78. The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese.
  79. The desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals serves no purpose if one works alone.
  80. The fact of the attempted suicide by Augusto Martinez was explained in a concise and exact form by our government in a communique. There is absolutely nothing else to add.
  81. The first commandment for every good explorer is that an expedition has two points: the point of departure and the point of arrival. If your intention is to make the second theoretical point coincide with the actual point of arrival, don’t think about the means – because the journey is a virtual space that finishes when it finishes, and there are as many means as there are different ways of ‘finishing.’ That is to say, the means are endless.
  82. The fundamental principle is that no battle, combat, or skirmish is to be fought unless it will be won.
  83. The guerrilla band is not to be considered inferior to the army against which it fights simply because it is inferior in fire power.
  84. The interests of the IMF represent the big international interests that today seem to be established and concentrated in Wall Street.
  85. The myth of the self-made man, has to be profoundly hypocritical: it is the self-serving demonstration that a lie is the truth.
  86. The negro has maintained his racial purity by his well known habit of avoiding baths,.
  87. The negro is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.
  88. The problem of peaceful transition to socialism, we do not discuss it as a theoretical question. But in America it is very difficult, and it is nearly impossible. That is why specifically in America we say that the road to the liberation of peoples, which will be the road of socialism will go through bullets in almost all countries.
  89. The question is one of fighting the causes and not just being satisfied with getting rid of the effects.
  90. The Revolution is made by man, but man must forge his revolutionary spirit from day to day.
  91. The revolution is made through human beings, but individuals must forge their revolutionary spirit day by day.
  92. The state sometimes makes mistakes. When one of these mistakes occurs, one notes a decline in collective enthusiasm due to the effect of a quantitative diminution in each of the elements that make up the mass. Work is paralyzed until it is reduced to an insignificant level. It is time to make a correction.
  93. The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.
  94. The ultimate and most important revolutionary aspiration: to see human beings liberated from their alienation.
  95. The university should color itself black and color itself mulatto — not just as regards students but also professors. Today the people stand at the door of the university, and it is the university that must be flexible. It must color itself black, mulatto, worker, peasant, or else be left without doors. And then the people will tear it apart and paint it with the colors they see fit.
  96. The victory of Socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims!
  97. The walls of the educational system must come down. Education should not be a privilege, so the children of those who have money can study.
  98. The word that most perfectly describes the city of Cuzco is evocative. Intangible dust of another era settles on its streets, rising like the disturbed sediment of a muddy lake when you touch its bottom.
  99. The world must not only be interpreted, it must be transformed. Man ceases to be the slave and tool of his environment and converts himself into the architect of his own destiny.
  100. There is no other definition of socialism valid for us than that of the abolition of the exploitation of man by man.
  101. This is not a story of heroic feats, or merely the narrative of a cynic; at least I do not mean it to be. It is a glimpse of two lives running parallel for a time, with similar hopes and convergent dreams.
  102. To accomplish much you must first lose everything.
  103. To execute a man we don’t need proof of his guilt. We only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him. It’s that simple.
  104. To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.
  105. War is always a struggle in which each contender tries to annihilate the other. Besides using force, they will have recourse to all possible tricks and stratagems to achieve the goal.
  106. We are not the ones who create revolutions. It is the imperialist system and its allies, internal allies, the ones who create revolution.
  107. We are overcome by anguish at this illogical moment of humanity.
  108. We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.
  109. We do not have elections. But the great majority of the Cuban people supports its government.
  110. We have denounced in all assemblies, in all places where we have had the opportunity to speak, the illegality of flights and the fact that there is a base against the will of the Cuban people.
  111. We have no right to believe that freedom can be won without struggle.
  112. We must do away with all newspapers. A revolution cannot be accomplished with freedom of the press.
  113. We must not return to the practice of hiding our defects so they may not be seen. That would be neither honest nor revolutionary.
  114. We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity is transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.
  115. We said that each time a country is liberated it is a defeat for the world imperialist system. But we must agree that the break is not achieved by the mere act of proclaiming independence or winning an armed victory in a revolution. It is achieved when imperialist economic domination over a people is brought to an end.
  116. We travel just to travel.
  117. What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two: melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land.
  118. When forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law, peace is considered already broken.
  119. Whenever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms.
  120. While envisaging the destruction of imperialism, it is necessary to identify its head, which is no other than the United States of America.
  121. Words that do not match deeds are not important.
  122. Words without deeds are worthless.
  123. Wrapped in a police blanket, I watched the rain and smoked one black cigarette after another.
  124. You know, comrade Pachman, I don’t enjoy being a Minister, I would rather play chess like you, or make a revolution in Venezuela.
  125. Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates. Instead they must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service. The very spirit of rebellion is reprehensible.
  126. Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates. Instead they must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service. The very spirit of rebellion is reprehensible.
  127. Youth should learn to think and act as a mass. It is criminal to think as individuals!

Please rate this

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.