He is the Savior of the poor and oppressed, the champion of the working people. Che Guevara is one of the most influential and controversial figures of the 20th century. Che is a Marxist revolutionary and pioneer of the Cuban Revolution. His distinctive image extends to love, intellectual and blood-spattered struggles. His ‘Guerrillero Heroico’, has become a symbol of worldwide rebellion and he has become the ultimate face of martyrdom and dissent.
He was a leader during his lifetime and became a legend after his death. Not long after his death, Che Guevara’s legacy as a global counter-cultural icon transcended his political roots and shaped the social, political, and cultural landscape of the world. He is the immortal soul of the revolutionaries.
The early history of Che Guevara
Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born on June 14, 1928, in a middle-class family in Argentina. Even when he was young, he was stern and restless. Something that seemed to flow in the blood of the Irish rebels in his veins. Despite his asthma, he excelled in athletics and had an amazing natural attachment to philosophy, mathematics, engineering, poetry, history, and political science. Also, Che Guevera did not forget to read the books regularly.
In 1948, Che Guevera entered the medical school in Buenos Aires, where he completed his medical degree in 1953. In 1951, he took a vacation from medical school for nearly a year and traveled across South America on a motorcycle with his close friend, Alberto Granado. This journey marked the beginning of his revolutionary life.
“The Powerful” motorcycle ride
The nine-month motorcycle journey, which began in December 1951, influenced Che Guevara’s worldview. In other words, this journey made him a revolutionary. The journey began on a motorcycle and became known as “The Powerful“. They traveled from Argentina to Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. On his visit to Latin America, he observed the poverty of its people and concluded that revolution was the ultimate solution to its elimination.
His memoirs during the tour were placed as a magazine entitled “Motorcycle Diary: Notes on a Latin American Journey (2003)”. However, his family has published it after his death. The magazine Diaries (2004) also produced a film based on this magazine.
Guevara’s visit to Guatemala in 1953 was another significant event in his life. At this point, Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz led a progressive regime seeking to bring about a social revolution. In the meantime, the US, with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), overthrew the Auburns regime in 1954. This event convinced Guevara that the US would always oppose progressive left governments. This was the main reason for his plans to bring socialism through a worldwide revolution. Because of this event, Guevara became a dedicated Marxist in Guatemala.
The Cuban Revolution
After that, with the collapse of Jacobo Arbenzso’s social revolution, Che traveled to Mexico from Guatemala. There he met Cuban brothers Fidel and Raul Castro, who were trying to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. On December 2, 1956, Guevara joined Fidel Castro’s July 26 campaign in the Cuban Orient, where an army of 81 men (including Guevara) landed. However, Batista’s army identified them immediately and attacked and wiped out. Several wounded survivors, including Che Guevara, reached the Sierra Maestra, where they became the nucleus of a guerrilla army. They then organized and fought successfully and building up their broken power.
After several years of guerrilla warfare, Fidel Castro’s victorious forces entered Havana on January 8, 1959, and liberated the Cuban Batista’s forces under his command. During the war, Che was a physician, an excellent guerrilla leader, and be a close friend of Castro.
After that, Guevara became a Cuban citizen and serves several months in La Cabana Prison. There he oversaw the rehabilitation of men who were considered enemies of the revolution. He was prominent in the newly formed Marxist government. He served as chief of the Industrial Department of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform, president of the National Bank of Cuba, and minister of industry.
However, he also launched his revolution beyond Cuba. Having never pursued his own personal gain, Che explained a vision of a new socialist citizen who would work for the good of society. It is a concept that he himself developed. However, as Cuba became a client state of the Soviet Union, he became increasingly frustrated. He then proceeded with his revolution for the oppressed people and chose Bolivia as his battleground.
Death is not the end of the revolution
In the autumn of 1966, Che Guevara secretly moved to Bolivia to create and lead a guerrilla group in the Santa Cruz region. After several initial battles, he and his team were constantly fleeing from the Bolivian army.
On October 8, 1967, a group of Bolivian troops, with the assistance of CIA advisers, managed to completely suppress the insurgency. Guevara, who was wounded in the attack, was captured and shot, according to Guevara’s biographer John Lee Anderson, who reported that Guevara and several of his colleagues had been buried in a mass grave near the city of Vallegrande in central Bolivia.
At the age of 39, the humanitarian revolutionary was shot and killed. However, his revolution would remain intact in the hearts of the people.
A word about Che
Che Guevara is immortal. He will live in the hearts of the revolutionaries forever as a powerful symbol. It is somehow bigger in death than his life.
“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” – (Fidel Castro)