Mmegi Blogs :: Remembering Che Guevara
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Tuesday 12 December 2017, 23:51 pm.
Remembering Che Guevara

This past Monday the world commemorated the legacy of one of the greatest revolutionaries to emerge from Latin America, Che Guevara. October 6, 2017 marked the 50 years since he was executed in southern Bolivia, near the barren and desolate village of La Higuera, by the Bolivian Army, with the blessings of the United States (US) government.
By Solly Rakgomo Thu 12 Oct 2017, 10:03 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Remembering Che Guevara

Although more commonly referred to by the nickname Che, Che Guevara was actually born Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna. He was born on June 14, 1928 into a middle class liberal family in the small town of Rosario in Argentina.

He had a left-leaning, and literary family life before beginning his studies in medicine at Buenos Aires University in 1948. Two years later, Guevara started the first of two motorcycle journeys through Latin America which in successive years would help shape his political views and sense of purpose. Guevara became convinced (as documented in his Motorcycle Diaries) during his journeys that the solutions to the widespread poverty and oppression he had witnessed were armed revolution and communism. Furthermore, his tutelage in revolutionary thought came from his experiences amongst the leprosy patients of Venezuela and the tin miners of Bolivia, amongst the revolutionaries of Argentina and the 1954 coup in Guatemala. Reality radicalised him. Only later would he recount that he had been influenced by, as he put it, ‘the doctrine of San Carlos’, his sly reference to Karl Marx. As a renowned author, Che penned treatises on Marxism and guerrilla warfare, and sought to export socialism worldwide. The legacy of Che Guevara is constantly evolving in the collective imagination. As a ubiquitous symbol of counterculture worldwide, Guevara is one of the most recognisable and influential revolutionary figures of the 20th century. Like Trotsky, Guevara was a revolutionary theorist of considerable talent, and his writings on culture, politics and revolution are all of interest and relevance.

Guevara is widely  known for his role in the Cuban revolution of 1959, which witnessed Fidel Castro’s removal of Fulgencio Batista as the country’s head of State.

The two first met in Mexico City almost five years earlier, where Guevara had moved in 1954. Having joined Castro’s “26th July Movement”, which was aimed at seizing power from Batista, Guevara rose to become a key figure in the revolution and was duly appointed as president of the National Bank of Cuba and minister of industry following its success. From this position, he was able to roll out domestic plans for land redistribution and the nationalisation of Cuban industry. He travelled around the world as an ambassador for the country. Guevara guided the Castro government towards closer alignment with the Soviet Union


through his diplomacy, which would prove a crucial relationship for Cuba throughout the Cold War as Castro sought to prevent the US from interfering in the country.

Lauded by some, lamented by others, Guevara’s name has become synonymous with rebellion, revolution and socialism. Guevara was later to be found attempting to repeat his socialist revolution elsewhere in the world, first in Congo. Che Guevara’s expedition in the Congo, though ill-fated, stands as a crucial example of anti-imperialist solidarity. It is documented by David Siddon that before leaving Cuba for Congo and later Bolivia, Che wrote a farewell letter to Castro, which was read out in public in Havana six months later, in October, declaring he would extend the Cuban Revolution’s influence: He is said to have remarked “other nations are calling for the aid of my modest efforts. I have always identified myself with the foreign policy of our Revolution, and I continue to do so.” This demonstrated his zeal and feeling that his destiny called for him to export the revolution and lead a guerrilla movement in Africa. It later proved an impossible dream as there was no success which Guevara blamed on lack of revolutionary spirit, discipline and ethic by his Congolese comrades.

He disappeared from public awareness for a period of time, before reappearing in Bolivia where he crossed the border under a false identity in1966. Che firmly believed that Bolivia’s geographic location was ideal to start a revolution, that here is the heart of South America from which the movement could spread throughout the region. Because of Che’s presence in Bolivia, Cuban, Bolivian, Peruvian and Argentine citizens joined together to fight.

His force was however weakened, and on October 8 Che fought his last fight against the army and was later captured and finally killed on October 9, 1967.

Those who adore Che says he left behind a legacy of what can be  termed “Guevarism” which is a theory of socialist revolution and a military strategy of guerilla warfare associated with Marxist revolutionary ideals. The ideals of Che were of an alternative to capitalism that is somewhat closer to the ideals of socialism - and thus the ideals of Che Guevara - were of a society based on common ownership and collaborative decision-making. Long live the revolutionary spirit of Comrade Che!


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