Che Guevara

Che Guevara

Almost everyone knows that I began my career as a doctor a few years ago. When I began to study medicine, most of the concepts that I now have as a revolutionary were absent from my store of ideals. I wanted to succeed just as everyone wants to succeed. I dreamed of becoming a famous researcher; I dreamed of working tirelessly to aid humanity, but this was conceived as personal achievement. I was - as we all are - a product of my environment.

After graduating, due to special circumstances and perhaps also to my personality, I began to travel throughout America. Except for Haiti and the Dominican Republic, I have visited all the countries of Latin America. Because of the circumstances in which I made my trips, first as a student and later as a doctor, I perceived closely misery, hunger, disease - a father's inability to have his child treated because he lacks the money, the brutalization that hunger and

permanent punishment provoke in man until a father sees the death of his child as something without importance, as happens very often to the mistreated classes of our American fatherland. I began to realize then that there were things as important as being a famous researcher or as important as making a substantial contribution to medicine: to aid those people.

But I continued to be, as we always remain, a product of my environment and I wanted to aid those people with my personal effort. Already I had traveled much - at the time I was in Guatemala, Arbenz's Guatemala - and I began to make some notes on the norms that a revolutionary doctor should follow. I began to study the means of becoming a revolutionary doctor.

Then aggression came to Guatemala. It was the aggression of the United Fruit Company, the State Department, and John Foster Dulles - in reality the same thing - and their puppet, called Castillo Armas. The aggression succeeded, for the Guatemala people had not achieved the degree of maturity that the Cuban people have today. One day I chose the road of exile, that is, the road of flight, for Guatemala was not my country.

I became aware, then, of a fundamental fact: To be a revolutionary doctor or to be a revolutionary at all, there must first be a revolution. The isolated effort of one man, regardless of its purity of ideals, is worthless. If one works alone in some isolated corner of Latin America because of a desire to sacrifice one's entire life to noble ideals, it makes no difference because one fights against adverse governments and social conditions that prevent progress. To be useful it is essential to make a revolution as we have done in Cuba, where the whole population mobilizes and learns to use arms and fight together. Cubans have learned how much value there is in a weapon and in the unity of the people. So today one has the right and the duty of being, above everything else, a revolutionary doctor, that is, a man who uses his professional knowledge to serve the Revolution and the people.

Now old questions reappear: How does one actually carry out a work of social welfare? How does one correlate individual effort with the needs of society? To answer, we have to review each of our lives, and this should be done with critical zeal in order to reach the conclusion that almost everything that we thought and felt before the Revolution should be filed and a new type of human being should be created.

Our universities produced lawyers and doctors for the old social system, but did not create enough agricultural extension teachers, agronomists, chemists, or physicists. In fact, we do not even have mathematicians. Consequently we have had to innovate.

In many cases our universities do not even offer the required resources. On a few occasions a very small number of students go into such fields. We have found a technological vacuum because there was no planning, no direction on the part of the state that considered the needs of our society.

We believe that the state is capable of understanding the needs of the nation; as such, then, the state must participate in the administration and direction of the university. Many people oppose this vehemently. Many consider it a destruction of university autonomy.

This is a mistaken attitude. The university cannot be an ivory tower, far away from the society, removed from the practical accomplishments of the Revolution. If such an attitude is maintained, the university will continue giving our society lawyers that we do not need.

There are two possible paths that the university can take. A number of students denounce state intervention and the loss of university autonomy. This student sector reflects its class background while forgetting its revolutionary obligation. This sector has not realized that it has an obligation to workers and peasants. Our workers and peasants died beside the students in order to attain power.

It is dangerous to maintain this attitude. The fact is that larger questions are involved here. Great strategic links are being developed abroad to destroy our Revolution. Those forces are trying to attract all those who have been hurt by the Revolution. We do not refer to the embezzlers, criminals, or the members of the old government; we are thinking of those who have remained on the margin of this revolutionary process, those who have lost economically but support the Revolution in a limited way.

All these people are dispersed throughout different social classes. Today they can express their discontent with freedom. National and international reactionaries want to strengthen their forces by attracting these people and making a front to bring economic depression, an invasion, or who knows what.

The issue of autonomy which is being fought so furiously is creating the very conditions that we should avoid. Those are the conditions that reactionaries can use effectively against the Revolution. The university, vanguard of our struggling people, cannot become a backward element, but it would become so if the university did not incorporate itself into the great plans of the Revolution.

There are no unalterable tactical and strategic objectives. Some- times tactical objectives attain strategic importance, and other times strategic objectives become merely tactical elements. The thorough study of the relative importance of each element permits the full utilization, by the revolutionary forces, of all of the facts and circumstances leading up to the great and final strategic objective: the taking of power.

Power is the sine qua non strategic objective of the revolutionary forces, and everything must be subordinated to this basic endeavor.

But the taking of power, in this world polarized by two forces of extreme disparity and absolutely incompatible in interests, cannot be limited to the boundaries of a single geographic or social unit. The seizure of power is a worldwide objective of the revolutionary forces. To conquer the future is the strategic element of revolution; freezing the present is the counterstrategy motivating the forces of world reaction today, for they are on the defensive.

In this worldwide struggle, position is very important. At times it is decisive. Cuba, for example, is a vanguard outpost, an outpost which overlooks the extremely broad stretches of the economically distorted world of Latin America. Cuba's example is a beacon, a guiding light for all the peoples of America. The Cuban outpost is of great strategic value to the major contenders who at this moment dispute their hegemony of the world: imperialism and socialism.

Its value would be different if it had been located in another geographic or social setting. Its value was different when prior to the Revolution it merely constituted a tactical element of the imperialist world. Its value has increased, not only because it is an open door to America but because, added to the strength of its strategic, military and tactical position, is the power of its moral influence. "Moral missiles" are such a devastatingly effective weapon that they have become the most important element in determining Cuba's value. That is why, to analyze each element in the political struggle, one cannot extract it from its particular set of circumstances. All the antecedents serve to reaffirm a line or position consistent with its great strategic objectives.

Relating this discussion to America, one must ask the necessary question: What are the tactical elements that must be used to achieve the major objective of taking power in this part of the world? Is it possible or not, given the present conditions in our continent, to achieve it (socialist power, that is) by peaceful means? We emphatically answer that, in the great majority of cases, this is not possible. The most that could be achieved would be the formal takeover of the bourgeois superstructure of power and the transition to socialism of that government which, under the established bourgeois legal system, having achieved formal power will still have to wage a very violent struggle against all who attempt, in one way or another, to check its progress toward new social structures.

Guerrilla warfare has been employed on innumerable occasions throughout history in different circumstances to obtain different objectives. Lately it has been employed in various popular wars of liberation when the vanguard of the people chose the road of irregular armed struggle against enemies of superior military power. Asia, Africa, and Latin America have been the scene of such actions in attempts to obtain power in the struggle against feudal, neo-colonial, or colonial exploitation. In Europe, guerrilla units were used as a supplement to native or allied regular armies.

In America, guerrilla warfare has been employed on several occasions. As a case in point, we have the experience of Cesar Augusto Sandino fighting against the Yankee expeditionary force on the Segovia of Nicaragua. Recently we had Cuba's revolutionary war. Since then in America the problem of guerrilla war has been raised in discussions of theory by the progressive parties of the continent with the question of whether its utilization is possible or convenient. This has become the topic of very controversial polemics.

Almost immediately the question arises: Is guerrilla warfare the only formula for seizing power in all of Latin America? Or, at any rate, will it be the predominant form? Or simply, will it be one formula among many used during the struggle? And ultimately we may ask: Will Cuba's example be applicable to the present situation on the continent? In the course of polemics, those who want to undertake guerrilla warfare are criticized for forgetting mass struggle, implying that guerrilla warfare and mass struggle are opposed to each other. We reject this implication, for guerrilla warfare is a people's war; to attempt to carry out this type of war without the population's support is the prelude to inevitable disaster. The guerrilla is the combat vanguard of the people, situated in a specified place in a certain region, armed and willing to carry out a series of warlike actions for the one possible strategic end - the seizure of power. The guerrilla is supported by the peasant and worker masses of the region and of the whole territory in which it acts. Without these prerequisites, guerrilla warfare is not possible.

We consider that the Cuban Revolution made three fundamental contributions to the laws of the revolutionary movement in the current situation in America. First, people's forces can win a war against the army. Second, one need not always wait for all conditions favorable to revolution to be present; the insurrection itself can create them. Third, in the underdeveloped parts of America, the battleground for armed struggle should in the main be the countryside.

Sugar cane has been part of the Cuban picture since the sixteenth century. It was brought to the island only a few years after the discovery of America; however, the slave system of exploitation kept cultivation on a subsistence level. Only with the technological innovations which converted the sugar mill into a factory, with the introduction of the railway and the abolition of slavery, did the production of sugar begin to show a considerable growth, and one which assumed extraordinary proportions under Yankee auspices.

The natural advantages of the cultivation of sugar in Cuba are obvious, but the predominant fact is that Cuba was developed as a sugar factory of the United States.

North American banks and capitalists soon controlled the commercial exploitation of sugar and, furthermore, a good share of the industrial output of the land. In this way, a monopolistic control was established by U.S. interests in all aspects of a sugar production, which soon became the predominant factor in our foreign trade due to the rapidly developing monoproductive characteristics of the country.

Cuba became the sugar-producing and -exporting country par excellence; and if she did not develop even further in this respect, the reason is to be found in the capitalist contradictions which put a limit to a continuous expansion of the Cuban sugar industry, which depended almost entirely on North American capital.

The North American government used the quota system on imports of Cuban sugar not only to protect her own sugar industry, as demanded by her own producers, but also to make possible the unrestricted introduction into our country of North American manufactured goods. The preferential treaties of the beginning of the century gave North American products imported into Cuba a tariff advantage of 20 percent over the most favored of the nations with whom Cuba might sign trade agreements. Under these conditions of competition, and in view of the proximity of the United States, it became almost impossible for any foreign country to compete with North American manufactured goods.

The US quota system meant stagnation for our sugar production. During the last years the Cuban productive capacity was rarely utilized to the full, but the preferential treatment given to Cuban sugar by the quota also meant that no other export crops could compete with it on an economic basis.

Consequently, the only two activities of our agriculture were cultivation of sugar cane and the breeding of low-quality cattle on pastures which at the same time served as reserve areas for the sugar plantation owners.

Unemployment became a constant feature of life in rural areas, resulting in the migration of agricultural workers to the cities. But industry did not develop either, only some public service undertakings under Yankee auspices (transportation, communications, electrical energy).

Mass struggle was utilized throughout the war by the Vietnamese communist party. It was used, first of all, because guerrilla warfare is one expression of the mass struggle. One cannot conceive of guerrilla war when it is isolated from the people. The guerrilla group is the numerically inferior vanguard of the great majority of the people, who have no weapons but express themselves through the vanguard. Also, mass struggle was used in the cities as an indispensable weapon for the development of the struggle. It is important to point out that never during the period of the struggle for liberation did the masses give away any of their rights in order to get some concession from the regime. The people did not talk about reciprocal concessions but demanded liberties and guarantees, which brought inevitably in many sectors a crueler war than the French would have waged otherwise. This mass struggle without compromises - which gives it its dynamic character - gives us fundamental elements with which to understand the problem of the liberation struggle in Latin America.

Marxism was applied according to the concrete historical situation of Vietnam and because of the guiding role of the vanguard party, faithful to its people and consequently to its doctrine, a resounding victory was achieved over the imperialists. The characteristics of the struggle, in which territory had to be given to the enemy and many years had to pass in order to achieve final victory, with fluctuations, ebb and flow, was that of a protracted war. During the entire struggle one could say that the front lines were where the enemy was. At a given moment, the enemy occupied almost the entire territory and the front was spread to wherever the enemy was. Later the lines of combat were delimited and a main front was established. But the enemy's rear guard constituted another front; it was a total war and the colonialists were never able to mobilize their forces with ease against the liberated zones. The slogan "dynamism, initiative, mobility, and quick decision in new situations" is in synthesis the guerrilla tactic. These few words expressed the tremendously difficult art of popular war.

Escape was impossible. The room had but one barred window in the rear. There were troops all around the schoolhouse. No, the soldier was only complying with his orders. The Bolivians didn't want any prisoners. They wanted the guerrillas dead. I turned without saying anything and went back into the room where Che lay, his arms and legs trussed together.

The place was small-about eight feet long and ten feet wide with mud walls and earthen floor. The tiny window was the sole source of light. There was a single, narrow door also facing the front. Che lay next to an old wooden bench. In the rear of the room, just across from him were the bodies of Antonio and Arturo.

I examined him more closely than I had before. He was a wreck. His clothes were filthy, ripped in several places and missing most of their buttons. He didn't even have proper shoes, only pieces of leather wrapped around his feet and tied with cord.

I stood above Che, my boots near his head, just as Che had once stood over my dear friend and fellow 2506 Brigade member, Nestor Pino. Captured at the Bay of Pigs, Pino was beaten by Castro's soldiers when he told them that he was not a cook or radio operator but the company commander of a paratroop battalion. His body battered, he lay on the earthen floor of a seaside hut taking the kicks and blows. Suddenly, they stopped.

Pino opened his eyes and saw a pair of polished boots next to his face. He looked up. It was Che Guevara, staring coolly down at him. Che spoke as matter-of-factly as if he was telling a child tomorrow is a school day. "We're going to kill you all," he said to Pino.

Pino had survived his ordeal. Now, the situation was reversed. Che Guevara lay at my feet. He looked like a piece of trash.

I said, "Che Guevara, I want to talk to you."

Even now he played the role of comandante. His eyes flashed. "Nobody interrogates me," he replied sarcastically.

"Comandante, " I said, somewhat amazed that he had chosen to answer me at all, "I didn't come to interrogate you. Our ideals are different. But I admire you. You used to be a minister of state in Cuba. Now look at you - you are like this because you believe in your ideals. I have come to talk to you."

He looked at me for about a minute in silence, then agreed to speak and asked if he could sit up. I ordered a soldier to untie him and got him propped onto the rickety wooden bench. I got him tobacco for his pipe.

He would not discuss tactical matters or technical things. When I asked him about some of his specific operations, he responded by saying only, "You know I cannot answer that."

But to more general questions, like "Comandante, of all the possible countries in the region, why did you pick Bolivia to export your revolution?" he answered at length.

He told me he had considered other places - Venezuela, Central America, and the Dominican Republic were three he named. But, he added, experience had shown that when Cuba tried to foment unrest so close to the U.S., the Yanquis reacted strongly and the revolutionary activities failed.

So, Che continued, since countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua were "too important to Yankee imperialism, and the Americans hadn't allowed us any success there, we figured that, by picking a country so far from the U.S. it wouldn't appear to present an immediate threat, the Yanquis wouldn't concern themselves with what we did. Bolivia fulfills that requirement.

"Second," he added, "we were looking for a poor country-and Bolivia is poor. And third, Bolivia shares boundaries with five countries. If we are successful in Bolivia, then we can move into other places-Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay."

He told me he believed that he'd lost support in Bolivia because the people were too provincial. "They cannot see their revolution in broad terms-as an international guerrilla movement working for the proletariat-but only as a regional issue," he said. "They want a Boliviano comandante, not a Cuban, even though I am an expert in these matters."

We talked about Cuba. He admitted to me that the economy was in a shambles, largely because of the economic boycott by the U.S. "But you helped cause that," I told Che. "You-a doctor-were made president of the Cuban National Bank. What does a doctor know about economics?"

"Do you know how I became president of the Cuban National Bank?" he asked me. "No. "

"I'll tell you a joke." He laughed. "We were sitting in a meeting one day, and Fidel came in and he asked for a dedicated economista. I misheard him - I thought he was asking for a dedicated comunista, so I raised my hand." He shrugged. "And that's why Fidel selected me as head of the Cuban economy. "

He refused to talk about what he had done in Africa although, when I said we'd been told he had a ten thousand-man guerrilla force, but that his African soldiers were a disaster, he laughed sadly and said, "If I'd really had ten thousand guerrillas it would have been different. But you are right, you know - the Africans were very, very bad soldiers."

He refused to speak badly about Fidel, although he damned him with faint praise. Actually, Che was evasive when Fidel's name came up. It became apparent to me that he was bitter over the Cuban dictator's lack of support for the Bolivian incursion. Indeed, that Che admitted how bad the Cuban economy was represented an indictment of Fidel's leadership, even though he did not specifically criticize him.

Che and I talked for about an hour and a half until, shortly before noon, I heard the chopper arrive. I went outside and discovered that Nino de Guzman had brought a camera from Major Saucedo, who wanted a picture of the prisoner. That was when I purposely screwed up the Bolivian's camera, but had Nino de Guzman snap a picture of

Che and me using my own Pentax. It is the only photograph of Che alive on the day he died.

Back inside, we resumed our conversation. Che expressed surprise that I knew so much about him, and about Cuba. "You are not a Bolivian," he said.

"No, I am not. Where do you think I am from?"

"You could be a Puerto Rican or a Cuban. Whoever you are, by the sorts of questions you've been asking I believe that you work for the intelligence service of the United States."

"You are right, Comandante," I said. "I am a Cuban. I was a member of the 2506 Brigade. In fact, I was a member of the infiltration teams that operated inside Cuba before the invasion at the Bay of Pigs."

"What's your name?"

"Felix. Just Felix, Comandante." I wanted to say more, but I didn't dare. There was still a slim possibility that he might get out of this alive, and I didn't want my identity to escape with him.

"Ha," Che answered. Nothing more. I don't know what he was thinking at the moment and I never asked.

We started to talk about the Cuban economy once again when we were interrupted by shots, followed by the sounds of a body falling to the floor. Aniceto had been executed in the adjoining room. Che stopped talking. He did not say anything about the shooting, but his face reflected sadness and he shook his head slowly from left to right several times.

Perhaps it was in that instant that he realized that he, too, was doomed, even though I did not tell him so until just before 1 P.M.

I had been putting off the inevitable, shuttling between Che's room and the table where I was photographing his documents. I was taking pictures of his diary when the village schoolteacher arrived.

"Mi Capitan?"

I looked up from my work. "Yes?"

"When are you going to shoot him?"

That caught my attention. "Why are you asking me that?" I asked.

"Because the radio is already reporting that he is dead from combat wounds."

The Bolivians were taking no chances. That radio report sealed Che's fate. I went down the hill, into the schoolhouse and looked Che in the face. "Comandante, " I said, "I have done everything in my power, but orders have come from the Supreme Bolivian Command..."

His face turned as white as writing paper. "It is better like this, Felix. I should never have been captured alive."

When I asked him if he had any message for his family, he said, "Tell Fidel that he will soon see a triumphant revolution in America." He said it in a way that, to me, seemed to mock the Cuban dictator for abandoning him here in the Bolivian jungle. Then Che added, "And tell my wife to get remarried and try to be happy."

Then we embraced, and it was a tremendously emotional moment for me. I no longer hated him. His moment of truth had come, and he was conducting himself like a man. He was facing his death with courage and grace.

I looked at my watch. It was one in the afternoon. I walked outside to where Mario Teran and Lieutenant Perez stood. I looked at Teran, whose face shone as if he had been drinking. I told him not to shoot Che in the face, but from the neck down. Then I walked up the hill and began making notes. When I heard the shots I checked my watch. It was 1: 10 P.M.

Che was dead.

On April 20, 1976, the CIA agent who had orchestrated the hunt for Che Guevara in Bolivia, retired. The brief ceremony, during which he was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor, was held in his Miami home. He had refused to accept it from Director George Bush at Langley because he considered Bush a political appointee who was wet behind the ears when it came to covert actions.

Upon retiring Ramos resumed using his true name, Felix I. Rodriguez, which had been mothballed during his years of agency service. Rodriguez, who resembles Desi Arnaz, had belonged to the landed gentry in pre-revolutionary Cuba, and he carried a personal grudge against Castro. In 1961 while training with Brigade 2506 before the Bay of Pigs invasion, he volunteered to assassinate Fidel. He said that the CIA presented him with "a beautiful German bolt action rifle with a powerful telescopic sight, all neatly packaged in a custom-made carrying case." The weapon had been presighted for a location where Castro made frequent appearances. But after several abortive attempts to infiltrate Cuba, the mission was abandoned."

Rodriguez went on to a number of assignments under his JM/WAVE case officer, Thomas Clines. During the October 1962 Missile Crisis he was poised to parachute into Cuba to plant a beacon pointing to a Russian missile site, but the crisis passed. He became communications officer in Nicaragua for Manuel Artime's Second Naval Guerrilla, which was conducting hit-and-run raids to soften up Cuba for a second invasion. He went on to lead helicopter assault teams in Vietnam.

But by his own account Rodriguez's most magnificent moment came when he lifted off in a helicopter from La Higuera, Bolivia, on October 9, 1967, with Che Guevara's body lashed to the right skid. "On my wrist was his steel Rolex GMT Master with its red-and-blue bezel," he recounted. "In my breast pocket, wrapped in paper from my loose-leaf notebook, was the partially smoked tobacco from his last pipe."

It was the Secret Warrior's dream come true. But after becoming a CIA pensioner Rodriguez still couldn't shake the anticommunist demons that drove him. Even before he was officially disconnected from the CIA he flirted with trouble. It should have been a red flag that Tom Clines, who was still on active duty manning the Cuba Desk at Langley, was offering him a private deal. Rodriguez accepted and rode herd on a shipment of arms consigned to the Christian militia, the CIA's favorite faction in war-torn Lebanon.

Whether Rodriguez knew it or not his paycheck came from Edwin P. Wilson, yet another JM/WAVE alumnus now doing a long stretch in federal prison for illegal arms sales to Libya. Both Clines and Theodore Shackley, who had been station chief at JM/WAVE during the heady sixties, continued dealing with the corrupt Wilson and wound up with blighted careers. It was a particularly bad tumble for Shackley, who wore bottom-bottle glasses and was dubbed the Blond Ghost because his past was largely blank. Insiders had touted the Blond Ghost to succeed the Chief Spook, George Bush, as director.

With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 it was bombs away again. Rodriguez drew up a paramilitary battle plan aimed at decimating the Salvadoran insurgent units that were becoming increasingly successful against government regulars. In his memoirs Rodriguez speaks deferentially, almost obsequiously, about the tinhorn Salvadoran generals he convinced to go along with his plan, turning a blind side to the fact that they moonlighted with death squads and were the guns for hire of the ruling extremist oligarchy. In Washington Rodriguez took his proposal to Donald Gregg, who had been his CIA boss in Vietnam and who had become George Bush's national security adviser. Gregg arranged a fireside chat with Bush, whom Rodriguez had earlier spurned, and the two became pen pals. In the end Rodriguez's plan, which featured Apocalyse Nowstyle helicopter gunship raids, went operational.

Inexorably Rodriguez was drawn into Oliver North's resupply network to the Nicaraguan Contras, which used funds diverted from secret arms sales to Iran. Also inexorably he wound up testifying before Congressional committees when the lid blew off and exposed the ring of former military and agency brass who had charged more bucks for the bang. On the stand Rodriguez denied briefing Bush on the weapons smuggling, and indignantly rejected accusations that he had solicited millions in drug money to finance the Contras.

But Rodriguez had his star-shell moment when the independent counsel probing the Iran-Contra affair asked, "Did you participate in Operation Mongoose to kill Castro with an exploding cigar?"

"No, sir, I did not," he responded. "But I did volunteer to kill that son of a bitch in 1961 with a telescopic rifle."

Eighteen years ago, Thom Hartmann and I began writing a book about the battles of President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert F Kennedy, against the Mafia and Fidel Castro. In 2005, using new information from almost two dozen people who worked with John and Robert Kennedy-backed up by thousands of files at the National Archives-we exposed for the first time JFK's top-secret plan to overthrow Castro and invade Cuba on December 1, 1963. "The Plan for a Coup in Cuba" (as it was titled in a memo for the joint Chiefs of Staff) would include a "palace coup" to eliminate Castro, allowing a new Cuban "Provisional Government" to step into the power vacuum. The coup would be supported by a "full-scale invasion" of Cuba by the US military, if necessary.

However, even as JFK's secret plan was nearing its final stage, he had two emissaries making last-ditch attempts to avoid a potentially bloody coup and invasion by trying to jump-start secret negotiations with Fidel Castro. One long-secret November 1963 memo about those negotiations states that "there was a rift between Castro and the (Che) Guevara ... Almeida group on the question of Cuba's future course." Che Guevara is still widely known today, perhaps even more than in 1963. But most people in the United States have never heard of Che's ally against Castro, Juan Almeida, even though in 1963 he wielded more power inside Cuba than Che himself. In some ways, Almeida was the third most powerful official in Cuba in 1963, after Fidel and his brother Raul - and even today, in 2006, the CIA lists Juan Almeida as the third-highest official in the current Cuban government.

In this new edition, we can now reveal for the first time that Almeida wasn't just allied with Che against Castro in November of 1963: Almeida was also allied with President Kennedy. In 1963, Juan Almeida was the powerful Commander of the Cuban Army, one of the most famous heroes of the Revolution - and he was going to lead JFK's "palace coup" against Fidel. Commander Almeida had been in direct contact with John and Robert Kennedy's top Cuban exile aide since May of 1963, and both men would be part of Cuba's new, post-coup Provisional Government. By the morning of November 22, 1963, Almeida had even received a large cash payment authorized by the Kennedys, and the CIA had placed his family under US protection in a foreign country.

The "Plan for a Coup in Cuba" was fully authorized by JFK and personally run by Robert Kennedy. Only about a dozen people in the US government knew the full scope of the plan, all of whom worked for the military or the CIA, or reported directly to Robert. The Kennedys' plan was prepared primarily by the US military, with the CIA playing a major supporting role. Input was also obtained from key officials in a few other agencies, but most of those who worked on the plan knew only about carefully compartmentalized aspects, believing it to be a theoretical exercise in case a Cuban official volunteered to depose Fidel.

Che Guevara (1928 - 1967)

Che Guevara © Che Guevara was an Argentinean-born, Cuban revolutionary leader who became a left-wing hero. A photograph of him by Alberto Korda became an iconic image of the 20th century.

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, known as Che Guevara, was born on 14 June 1928 in Rosario, Argentina into a middle-class family. He studied medicine at Buenos Aires University and during this time travelled widely in South and Central America. The widespread poverty and oppression he witnessed, fused with his interest in Marxism, convinced him that the only solution to South and Central America's problems was armed revolution.

In 1954 he went to Mexico and the following year he met Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Guevara joined Castro's '26th July Movement' and played a key role in the eventual success of its guerrilla war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Castro overthrew Batista in 1959 and took power in Cuba. From 1959-1961, Guevara was president of the National Bank of Cuba, and then minister of industry. In this position, he travelled the world as an ambassador for Cuba. At home, he carried out plans for land redistribution and the nationalisation of industry.

A strong opponent of the United States, he guided the Castro regime towards alignment with the Soviet Union. The Cuban economy faltered as a result of American trade sanctions and unsuccessful reforms. During this difficult time Guevara began to fall out with the other Cuban leaders. He later expressed his desire to spread revolution in other parts of the developing world, and in 1965 Castro announced that Guevara had left Cuba.

Guevara then spent several months in Africa, particularly the Congo, attempting to train rebel forces in guerrilla warfare. His efforts failed and in 1966 he secretly returned to Cuba. From Cuba he travelled to Bolivia to lead forces rebelling against the government of René Barrientos Ortuño. With US assistance, the Bolivian army captured Guevara and his remaining fighters. He was executed on 9 October 1967 in the Bolivian village of La Higuera and his body was buried in a secret location. In 1997 his remains were discovered, exhumed and returned to Cuba, where he was reburied.

Early Life

Ernesto was born into a middle-class family in Rosario, Argentina. His family was somewhat aristocratic and could trace their lineage to the early days of Argentine settlement. The family moved around a great deal while Ernesto was young. He developed severe asthma early in life the attacks were so bad that witnesses were occasionally scared for his life. He was determined to overcome his ailment, however, and was very active in his youth, playing rugby, swimming, and doing other physical activities. He also received an excellent education.

According to Jean Paul Sartre, Guevara was: &ldquothe most complete human being of our time.&rdquo Presumably, Sartre was unaware of the guerrilla&rsquos homophobia and racism. Guevara was open about his contempt and hatred of capitalism and the United States in particular. He pointed out that America couldn&rsquot claim to be a democracy when there was discrimination against black people and because the Ku Klux Klan existed.

The problem is, Guevara was possibly a racist himself. After the victorious Cuban Revolution in 1959, he said: &ldquoWe&rsquore going to do for blacks exactly what blacks did for the revolution. By which I mean: nothing.&rdquo During his first journey through Latin America, he wrote that Africans had maintained their racial purity because of their &ldquolack of affinity with bathing&rdquo an ironic statement given his notoriously poor personal hygiene. He also said: &ldquoThe black is indolent and a dreamer spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink.&rdquo His attitude is very similar to that of slaveholders in the United States.

Guevara also referred to Mexicans as &ldquoa band of illiterate Indians.&rdquo One might try to excuse his comments as being borne out of frustration for his failure in the Congo. However, these comments were made long before he campaigned in Africa. Indeed, the fiasco in the Congo showed how little he really understood the people he campaigned with.

He surmised that the Congolese were not revolutionary and were satisfied with their lot. He continually whined about the lack of leadership amongst the Congolese along with their apparent incompetence. One issue was that the black Cubans perceived themselves as superior to the Congolese and treated them with contempt. It is hardly surprising that relations between the two groups of people were soon strained to breaking point. Some commentators believe Che&rsquos comments should be taken in the context of the time which meant he was not racist.

Want to receive our latest podcasts, articles and more via email?

Sign up to receive our newsletter!

Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day.

Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences

Sign up to our free newsletter

Even so, this was a happy time. The strict discipline and violence of guerrilla warfare did not deter Che: he took to them enthusiastically. He even liked the dirt. “Our noses were completely habituated to this type of life,” he wrote cheerfully. “The hammocks of guerrilla fighters are known for their characteristic, individual odour.” Despite Che’s lifelong disinclination to wash, owing to his striking good looks he was constantly pursued by women. During the Cuban revolutionary war he met his second wife, Aleida, who would become the mother of four of his children.

After Batista was ousted on 1 January 1959, the first government installed by Fidel Castro was somewhat right of centre. It was not a foregone conclusion that Raúl and Che would win Fidel over to the far left. During the revolutionaries’ first 16 months in power, Fidel made repeated attempts to cooperate with the US. As his approaches continued to be rebuffed, Raúl and Che’s influence grew. Fidel finally declared the Cuban revolution socialist on 16 April 1961, when he knew the CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion was on its way and all hope of reconciliation with Washington was lost. He sought the protection of the other superpower: the Soviet Union.

The Cuban-Soviet alliance went badly for Che. His admiration for Stalin was received frostily by Khrushchev’s administration, and he became increasingly vocal about his preference for Chinese-style communism. Raúl, who was fully on board with the Soviet style, was embraced. Raúl and Che fell out during the run-up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and in 1964 Fidel agreed that Che should leave Cuba, to act as an overseas ambassador for the revolution.

In December 1964 Che represented Cuba at the UN, at his most charismatic in combat fatigues, smoking a fat cigar in his delegate seat. But in Algeria a few months later he gave a speech in brazenly pro-Chinese terms, offending Cuba’s Soviet patrons. Che was hustled back to Cuba for secret talks. Reportedly, Raúl accused him of the gravest sin in Soviet communism’s book: Trotskyism.

Devotion and suffering

Che was no longer welcome inside the Cuban government, but continued to enjoy Fidel’s arm’s-length patronage. He became a roving revolutionary in Congo, then Bolivia. But his revolution failed to travel. In 1967, he was captured by state forces in Bolivia and summarily executed.

If Che Guevara were to examine his own legacy 50 years on, he would have much cause for disappointment. The revolution for which he died fizzled out. Many communist states jettisoned that ideology in the late 1980s and 1990s. Though China’s Communist Party still has a tight grip on power, its economy has been reformed along capitalist lines. Under Raúl Castro – who has moved from the far left to a considerably more liberal position than his late brother
Fidel – there have been gradual reforms to Cuban communism too, though the easing of relations with the US has reversed since Donald Trump took office.

Che might have been gratified to see socialism revived in Latin America, for example in Venezuela. It seems unlikely he would have been put off by the extreme measures taken by President Nicolás Maduro against his opponents.

For his part, Maduro claims to be a proud follower of Che Guevara. To much of the rest of the world his rule in Venezuela may not look like liberation. But the world is now in flux, with the extremisms of the past taking new forms and returning in ways that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. The violent revolutions favoured by Che may not have disappeared forever.

When Heroic Guerrilla became famous, it was an image associated with martyrdom. If Che Guevara’s revolution had failed, that did not matter: his devotion and suffering were the point. Millions of people have held his image aloft on banners, worn it on T-shirts, daubed it on walls, referenced it on album covers, printed it on to mugs and keyrings – though few have subscribed to his authoritarian views. Recommodified for every cause, Che has become a universal symbol of revolution without context. For a man who spent his life searching for a context in which to start his revolution, perhaps that is poetic justice.

Alex von Tunzelmann is a historian and writer, author of Red Heat: Conspiracy, Murder and the Cold War in the Caribbean (Simon & Schuster, 2011)

The Inconvenient Truth Behind Revolutionary Icon Che Guevara

As the literal face of revolution, Ernesto Guevara — you probably know him by his familiar nom de guerre, Che — is hard to miss. His bearded, semi-beatific mug can be found anywhere that people long to bring down oppressors and prop up the little guy. And in a lot of places, too, where it's simply cool to wear Che on a T-shirt.

As a real flesh-and-blood revolutionary, though, Che Guevara was not all that. His short, clench-fisted life battling "the man" was littered with more defeat than victory, and pockmarked throughout (something his millions of admirers often forget) with some dastardly, decidedly unheroic criminal acts. Even his death, at age 39 in 1967, was in reality just sad and unceremonious, hardly the stuff of, say, Scottish hero William Wallace.

Still, in death, this unquestioned thorn in the status quo's side has become the inescapable symbol of everything that dreamers think a revolutionary should be: strong, principled, a threat to the rich and powerful, a champion of the weak, a leader of the downtrodden.

"In the course of my professional interest in revolution, I've been all over the world. Peru. Colombia. Mexico. Pakistan. Multiple trips to Afghanistan. Iraq. Cambodia. Southern Philippines. All over the place," says Gordon McCormick, who has taught a course on guerrilla warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, for almost 30 years. "No matter where you go, you see photos of Che. This guy has an international appeal, particularly in Latin America. You can go down to Mexico and you see cars driving around with mudguards with his image on them. He's everywhere. He is a motivator for would-be revolutionaries the world over."

Who Was Che Guevara?

Born in Argentina to well-to-do left-leaning parents, Guevara early on developed an unquenchable reading habit that included poetry and the classics. In his early 20s, he traveled throughout South America, where he was introduced to the plight of the poor and working class. (The 2004 movie "The Motorcycle Diaries" chronicled one of his trips.)

Guevara returned to Argentina to complete a degree in medicine, then headed out for more travels around Latin America. The poverty he witnessed, and the often corrupt and unseeing governments throughout the area, led him to embrace the ideas of Marxism and revolution.

It wasn't until 1955, though that Guevara finally had a chance to act on his burgeoning revolutionary ideas. While in Mexico City working as a doctor, Guevara met Cuba's Fidel Castro. After a long night of discussions, Guevara agreed to help Castro in his fight to overthrow the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

On Jan. 1, 1959, Castro and his revolutionary army pushed Batista out of power. Guevara, as comandante of Castro's second army column, moved into Havana the next day. A new Cuba was born, and Guevara became — perhaps more than Castro — the world's most recognized revolutionary.

The Real vs. Romanticized Che Guevara

Castro immediately put Guevara in charge of doling out justice against Batista loyalists who remained in Cuba, and that's where the romanticized image of Che begins to fray. Reports vary, but as supreme prosecutor on the island, Guevara was responsible for executions that numbered in the dozens — at least — and may have been in the hundreds, or maybe more. For those familiar with Che, it was not out of character. During the revolutionary war, Che also was said to have executed deserters, many by his own hand.

For all who lift up Che as an example of the righteous revolutionary, there are those — many Cuban American exiles — who see him only for what he did to their beloved Cuba. Author Humberto Fontova in "Exposing the Real Che Guevara: And the Useful Idiots who Idolize Him:"

Jon Lee Anderson, who wrote what many consider the definitive biography of Che in 1997, titled "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life," addressed Che's brutality in the introduction to the graphic version of his biography in 2016:

Guevara Tries to Extend His Power Beyond Cuba

A few months after taking over, Castro appointed Guevara to head the new government's agrarian reform, among other posts. But Guevara, a full-fledged hero of the revolution, soon grew tired of the daily grind of governing.

"Castro, his objective was to win in Cuba, govern the country. Che Guevara could care less. He was a complete failure as a bureaucrat. Didn't like it. Didn't do a good job," McCormick says. "He was, in his own mind, and actually in fact who he was . an international action figure.

"He had created this role for himself. He, in a sense, had created his own identity. And then he lived by it. And in that sense was authentic. He actually was authentic."

The Cuban Revolution pushed Guevara into a position of international prominence. He spoke before the United Nations, in his trademark military fatigues, in 1964. He traveled all over the world. But he was a revolutionary without a revolution.

When he jumped back into the trenches as a kind of revolutionary soldier of fortune, Guevara's passion and authenticity, the loyalty he commanded among his followers, did not translate into victory. A trip to support insurgents in the Congo in 1965 lasted seven months and ended in total failure.

And his decision to take a small band of soldiers to help in Bolivia's uprising put an end to Guevara.

"It is ironic that Che Guevara comes down to us as a model of the ideal revolutionary, on the one hand," McCormick says, "and yet his theory of revolution — as demonstrated by what occurred in Bolivia, and prior to that in Congo, and arguably should have happened in Cuba — is a theory of failure."

The Death of Che Guevara

Guevara took about 50 men to support a revolutionary army against the Bolivian government, and quickly slipped deep into the jungles of the country to employ the guerrilla tactics he had used in Cuba and elsewhere (as described in his book "Guerrilla Warfare," originally published in 1961).

But his strategy and tactics were doomed almost from the start. He didn't recruit a single local to help in his fight, largely because no one in his group spoke the dialect of the Bolivians in that part of the country. He failed to coordinate with the communist party there. And he probably didn't realize that it wasn't just the Bolivians that he was fighting. The U.S. had supplied, trained and supported many of the forces employed against the Bolivian insurgents.

After several months of skirmishes and the death of several of his men, a wounded and bedraggled Guevara was captured by the Bolivian army Oct. 8, 1967. He was executed under orders from Bolivian President René Barrientos, on the afternoon of Oct. 9, 1967. According to a U.S. Department of Defense intelligence report, Guevara said to his executioner — a young Bolivian sergeant who had volunteered to shoot the prisoner — "Know this now, you are killing a man."

After the execution, his body was flown to a nearby town, where it was put on display at the local hospital. His hands were dismembered and flown to Argentina for fingerprint verification. He then was buried in an unmarked grave. Guevara's remains weren't discovered until a retired Bolivian general told the author Anderson of their location in 1995.

It is, as McCormick points out, the perfect coda to a modern-day Greek tragedy.

"And then, of course, at the very, very end of the play, he is killed in cold blood. Face to face. And according to eyewitness reports, takes it in stride," says McCormick, who wrote a paper on Guevara titled "Ernesto (Che) Guevara: The Last "Heroic" Guerrilla," in 2017. "It's the perfect tragedy. And you don't have to know Greek tragedy, or even know a lot about what happened to Che Guevara, to at some visceral level to appreciate that quality.

"It resonates with people. I think that explains in part his enduring appeal, even among those who in no way respect his politics or even many of his methods."

Che's Dual Legacy

Boxer Mike Tyson has a prominent Che tattoo. So does Argentine football star Diego Maradona. Omar Sharif portrayed Che in a 1969 film, and Benicio Del Toro did so to acclaim in 2008. Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen once sported a runway bikini with Che's image on it. His face has adorned T-shirts and been on countless storefronts. It's been on "South Park" and on "The Simpsons."

Guevara, these days, is the personification of utter cool to all those who want to defy the establishment. Yet that image doesn't do him justice. In its simplicity, it is not just.

Che Guevara was an intellect, a poet, a physician, a visionary a leader. "He smiles, he's well-educated, he's well read, he has a sense of humor," McCormick says. "He's the kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a tequila with and share a cigar."

But more than any of that, Che Guevara was a true revolutionary. That's not to be forgotten.

"The guy's a killer. He's absolutely ruthless. He is absolutely ruthless, which is part and parcel to who in fact he made himself to be," McCormick says. "He is a first-generation international revolutionary fighting against 'the man.' And he has to be ruthless. It's not an act. That is what makes him authentic."

The iconic portrait of Guevara that has launched so many T-shirts (and now memes) — eyes cast upward, omnipresent beret atop a head of scraggly hair and mottled beard, a slightly angry expression on his face — was shot by Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, who later changed his name to Alberto Korda. He was a fashion photographer recruited temporarily into duty as a journalist for a Castro speech in March 1960. The portrait, which is in the public domain, is a slightly cropped version of the original.

The UN, Which Che Guevara Almost NUKED, Honors Che Guevara on His Birthday

“On this day (June 16) was born Ernesto Guevara De la Serna, known as 'Che,' in Rosario, Argentina. Let us remember this person (and quite fondly, the Tweet seems to imply) by watching his historic speech at the UN General Assembly December 1964.” (Tweet from UNESCO en Español, June 16).

If the (Nuclear) missiles had remained in Cuba we would have fired them at the heart of the U.S., INCLUDING NEW YORK CITY!” (Che Guevara to Sam Russell of The London Daily Worker, Nov. 1962.)

Alas! UNESCO, whose mission statement says in part: “Our purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom,” does not include Che’s entire speech of Dec. 9, 1964 in their celebratory birthday tweet. Here’s the portion they “overlooked”:

Certainly we execute! And we will continue executing as long as it is necessary! This is a war to the death against our revolution’s enemies!” (Che Guevara, Dec. 9, 1964 to an ovation while addressing the hallowed halls of the UN General Assembly.)

Those executions Che boasted about at the UN in 1964 (murders, actually execution implies a judicial process) had reached about 16,000 by the time of Che Guevara’s boast, the equivalent, given the relative populations, of almost half a million executions in the U.S. (This figure comes from “The Black Book of Communism,” by the way, written by French scholars and published in English by Harvard University Press, neither representing a bunker of “embittered-right-wing-Cuban-exiles-with an ax-to-grind.”)

But this is hardly the first time the UN has shown affection for modern history’s foremost apostle of nuclear war. In fact, a few years ago the United Nations office in Geneva, the home of its Human Rights Council, showcased a giant photograph of Che Guevara in its halls, as revealed by a U.N. watchdog group: “Hillel Neuer, the executive director of U.N. Watch, tweeted the picture of the photograph from the building in Switzerland.”

And lest anyone think the UN ovation for Che in 1964, the honorific picture of Che at the UN in 2013, and the tweet this month were flukes:

At a ceremony in Havana in July, 2013, UNESCO honored Che Guevara by enshrining his writings in its hallowed “Memory of the World Register.” The ceremony even included several members of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s family!

“UNESCO’s work is part of our support for freedom of expression as an inalienable human right set down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” declares the UN’s mission statement.

But not far from where this UNESCO/Guevara ceremony took place Cubans were being starved and beaten in pestiferous torture chambers for the crime of quoting the UN Declaration of Human Rights in public.

“UNESCO is known as the intellectual agency of the United Nations," which stands for “Protecting freedom of expression: an essential condition for democracy, development and human dignity,” reads the UN charter.

But not far from where this UNESCO/Guevara ceremony took place, the regime being honored by UNESCO burned hundreds of books and documents in a ceremony slightly less spectacular than the one hosted by Joseph Goebbels in Berlin’s Opera Square in 1933. The bonfire was accompanied by the beating and jailing of the owners and purveyors of these works. The Castroite bonfire was fueled by such works as Orwell’s Animal Farm, the works of Martin Luther King and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

“I plead with Fidel Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off [Cuba’s] independent librarians,” entreated none other than Ray Bradbury at the time. “And to release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people.”

But instead of heeding Bradbury, for the crime of stocking some of the world’s bestselling books (along with the UN Declaration of Human Rights), the Stalinist regime honored by UNESCO condemned the Cuban librarians to prison terms similar to the one a South African judge handed Nelson Mandela for planting bombs in public places. “As to the disposition of the books, magazines and pamphlets they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness,” ruled the Castroite “judge.”

“As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote 'the free flow of ideas by word and image,' UNESCO works to foster free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online. This foundation is why UNESCO today promotes policies for press freedom and the safety of journalists,” reads the UNESCO charter.

But the regime whose co-founder the UN honored this month in Geneva holds the honor, according to the Paris-based “Reporters Without Borders," of (consistently) being among the world’s top ten jailers and torturers of journalists.

“Our purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom,” declares the UNESCO charter.

“We reject any peaceful approach!" declared the man the UN honored in Geneva this month.

“If the nuclear missiles had remained [in Cuba] we would have fired them against the heart of the U.S. including New York City."

"Hatred is the central element of our struggle!…hatred that is intransigent…hatred so violent that it propels a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him a violent and cold-blooded killing machine…We reject any peaceful approach. Violence is inevitable. To establish Socialism RIVERS OF BLOOD MUST FLOW!….The victory of Socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims!” (Thus spaketh the icon of flower-children, of those who habitually accuse Republicans of “hate-speech!” and of the United Nations.)


"Pop's depersonalization and standardization simplified Che's image and helped align him with the masses, at the same time certifying his image as everyman. Pop's aesthetic pushed towards absolutely unambiguous and uninflected meaning and repeatability. Warholian Pop deals with outlines and surfaces rather than full chiaroscuro. This reduction of the real world provided the perfect vehicle for distancing the image from the complexities and ambiguities of actual life and the reduction of the political into stereotype. Che lives in these images as an ideal abstraction."

Walk through any major metropolis around the globe and it is likely that you will come across an image of Che Guevara, most commonly a stylized version of Korda's iconic Guerrillero Heroico. An archetype, capable of endless visual regeneration which, depending on your opinion, either helps tell the story of 20th century visual literacy or kitsch banality. According to Hannah Charlton, editor of Che Guevara: Revolutionary and Icon, "By the 1990s the global market saw the emergence of what Naomi Klein has called a "market marsala"—a bilingual mix of North and South, some Latin, some R&B, all couched in global party politics." [5] By embodying corporate identities that appear radically individualistic and perpetually new, the brands attempt to inoculate themselves against accusations that they are selling sameness. The next stage is to present consumption as a code, where mega brands, supposedly reflecting the "indie" values of their purchasing audience, can do so with a knowing irony that of course the buyer can remain seemingly untouched by the corporate values underpinning the transaction. [5]

Enter Che: the 1960s symbol of student revolution, the all-pervasive ascetic gaze used to add allure and mystique to a product, because either a sophisticated audience is savvy enough to distinguish between revolution and commerce while enjoying the irony, or oblivious of who he is or what he represents. This began the metamorphosis from Che the martyred resistance fighter beloved by many, and Che the violent Marxist revolutionary despised by others, to his dual paradoxical position in the global corporate capitalist culture. The commodification of the image has been ongoing since his death, and since the late 1990s has seen a resurgence. UCLA art historian David Kunzle, has described the phenomenon by noting "if you go to Havana today, you will not see Che with a gun, you will see him with a rose or a dove. He's become the Gandhi of Cuba." [6]

This abiding 'renaissance' of Che's visage, is chronicled by filmmaker and Guggenheim scholar Trisha Ziff, who explores the genesis, continuing adaptation, and history of Che Guevara's famous image in the 2008 documentary "Chevolution". [7] In another documentary titled Personal Che (2007), filmmakers Adriana Marino and Douglas Duarte document the numerous ways that people around the world re-create Che in their own image. [8]

Hannah Charlton hypothesizes that "appropriating the aura of Che for brand building, has now given rise to a new resurgence of "Che-ness" that transcends branding in its global appeal. In the shifting complexities of intercultural values, in the search for universal images that can speak across borders and boundaries, today's global image of Che is the most successful." [9] The Che face, more than any other icon according to Charlton, can keep accruing new application without relinquishing its essence – a generic and positive version of anti-status quo and liberation from any oppressive force, and a general, romantic, non-specific fantasy about change and revolution. [9]

"Some argue that history has transformed Che's revolutionary image into just another fashion accessory. It is tempting for those of us on the left to feel uncomfortable with his popular appeal rather like music fans who, when their favorite underground band hits the big time, moan that they've 'gone commercial' . I don't see it that way. If only 10 percent of the people who wear the image know what he stood for, that is still many millions. Overwhelmingly, they are also young people, with their hearts set on making the world a better place. Indeed, in my experience, many more than 10 percent have a very good idea of what he stood for . If Che's image seems to be everywhere, that is because what he fought and died for is more fashionable than ever."

"There's something about that man in the photo, the Cuban revolutionary with the serious eyes, scruffy beard and dark beret. Ernesto "Che" Guevara is adored. He is loathed. Dead for nearly 40 years, he is everywhere – as much a cultural icon as James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, perhaps even more so among a new generation of admirers who've helped turn a devout Marxist into a capitalist commodity."

  • A French businessman has Che Perfume by Chevignon, "Dedicated to those who want to feel and smell like revolutionaries." uses the image of Che Guevara in one of their shoe ad campaigns.
  • In 2008, Romanian auto maker Dacia (a subsidiary of Renault) produced a new commercial advertising their new Logan MCV station wagon titled "revolution". The ad, utilizing actors, begins with Fidel Castro's arriving at a remote villa, where he finds a host of other modern era revolutionaries, and ends with his standing on the back patio, where Che Guevara tells Karl Marx that "it is time for another revolution". Marx responds, "Che, it's about what people need." [12]
  • In Peru and in Strängnäs station, one can purchase packs of El Che cigarettes (ultra lights). [13]
  • "El Ché-Cola" donates 50% of their net profits to NGOs, and has the slogan: "Change your habits to change the world." [14]
  • In 1970, the Italian company Olivetti utilized Che's image for an ad celebrating its creative sales force. It read, "We would have hired him". [15]
  • Smirnoff vodka attempted to use the image of Che Guevara in an advertising campaign in 2000, but was stopped in court by photographer Alberto Korda, who took the original iconic image. [citation needed]
  • For an advertising campaign, Taco Bell dressed up a chihuahua like Che Guevara and had him state: "Yo quiero Taco Bell!", Spanish for: "I want Taco Bell!" When asked about the allusion to Che, Taco Bell's advertising director, Chuck Bennett, stated: "We wanted a heroic leader to make it a massive taco revolution."

– David Kunzle, author of Che Guevara: Icon, Myth, and Message [16]

  • The New York-based distributing company Raichle Molitor utilized a "Che look-alike contest" in order to create marketing buzz for their line of Fischer's Revolution skis. In defending their reasoning, product manager Jim Fleischer stated that "the Che image, just the icon and not the man's doings, represented what we wanted: revolution and extreme change." [6]
  • In an advertisement for Jean Paul Gaultier sunglasses circulated in Europe in 1999, Che is painted as a Frida Kahlo-type landscape, in front of a blazing desert sun. [5] (which was the camera used by Alberto Korda to capture Guerrillero Heroico) has used an image of their camera with Che's red star to advertise their "revolutionary camera."
  • The offices of the Financial Times in London, features a large poster of a Che-esque Richard Branson greeting visitors in a beret, while pronouncing "We live in financial times". [17]
  • In November 2008, The Bobblehead LLC company released a limited edition of 100 Che Guevara bobbleheads. Creator and owner Rick Lynn announced that it had been a "long time dream" to create the hand painted and custom designed pieces, which will be hand signed and numbered as a collectors item. [18]
  • In December 2008, the Tartan Army began selling t-shirts with "Scotland's favorite son" Robert Burns in the mould of the iconic image of Che Guevara. The proceeds will go to organizations that assist disadvantaged and chronically ill children in countries the Tartan Army visit. [19]

Businesses / restaurants Edit

"40 years after his death Che is as much a marketing tool as an international revolutionary icon. Which raises the question of what exactly does the sheer proliferation of his image – the distant gaze, the scraggly beard and the beret adorned with a star – mean in a decidedly capitalist world?"

  • The Russian capital, Moscow, features a Club Che, which is a vibrant Latin American-themed club staffed by Cuban waiters. [21]
  • The Russian city of St. Petersburg features a Cafe Club Che (lounge, bar, & jazz club) where patrons can get their hands on a shot of Cuban rum and a fine Cuban cigar at the drop of a military beret. [22] features a Che Guevara-themed nightclub, where the waiters dress in uniformed black berets. [15]
  • The Slovenian capital Ljubljana contains a Che Bar, where images of the man decorate every wall and surface. contained a restaurant named Che Wap, specializing mostly in ćevapi, but has since then closed.
  • San Diego features Che Cafe on the UCSD campus. [23] , features a Café CHé, whose walls "take you through the life of the iconic revolutionary leader." [24] , a district of downtown Bucharest, Romania, features the popular bar, El Grande Comandante, [25] which is made to look like a "basement shrine to Che Guevara." [26] , Nigeria features a Che Lounge & Steakhouse, where Che's face appears on every square inch of glass available, on the menus, the waiters' t-shirts and lapel pins. [27]
  • The city of London Ontario features a decidedly marxist decor and is named after Che Guevara. [28]
  • The capital city of North Macedonia, Skopje features a restaurant called Casa Cubana [29] that has Latin American-theme with food and cocktail drinks (mojito, Cuba libre etc.)The walls are decorated with the Cuban flag and photos of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Camilo Cienfuegos and also there are hosted parties with Latin music.

"Possibly more than the Mona Lisa, more than images of Christ, more than comparable icons such as The Beatles or Monroe, Che's image has continued to hold the imagination of generation after generation."

  • British pop artist Sir Peter Blake has referred to Guerrillero Heroico as "one of the great icons of the 20th century." [31]
  • Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick converted Korda's picture into a high contrast stylized drawing, which since has become iconic and is frequently seen in silkscreen or stencil art.
  • The Cuban Ministry for the Interior building features a large, stylised outline of Che's face above the phrase "Hasta la Victoria Siempre" (Direct translation to English: "Until victory, always"). [32]
  • In 1996, Argentine/American artist Leandro Katz displayed his "Project For The Day You'll Love Me" exhibit in Harlem, New York. The accumulative series of installations dealt with Freddy Aborta's 1967 mortuary photograph of Guevara and included a 41-foot-long (12 m) timeline of the revolutionary's life. Furthermore, Katz interprets Alborta's photo in a series of photomontages, which also include paintings of a dead Jesus Christ. [33]
  • In 2005 an exhibition examining the Korda portrait titled Revolution & Commerce: The Legacy of Korda's Portrait of Che Guevara, was organized by Jonathan Green and Trisha Ziff for UCR/California Museum of Photography. This exhibition has traveled to International Center of Photography, New York Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
  • Cuban artist José Toirac has exhibited a piece titled Requiem, which contains a video of the dead bullet-riddled body of Guevara, which Toirac tortuously pans, inch by inch. The video, which serves as a quasi religious meditation, is shown inside a mausoleum-type enclosure. [34]
  • The cover of the January 1972 edition of National Lampoon magazine features a parody of the Alberto Korda's iconic photo in which Che is hit in the face with a cream pie.
  • A parody of the famous Che Guevara poster was used on the cover of the March 2008 edition of MAD Magazine, with Alfred E. Neuman's head replacing Guevara's.
  • American artist Trek Thunder Kelly has a 2005 painting titled Che Guevara: The Instigator, which features the famous guerrilla in a spoofDolce & Gabbana ad. [35]
  • French assemblage artist Bernard Pras created a 2007 composite work modeled after Guerrillero Heroico. [36]
  • The 2009 Contact Photography Festival at Toronto's Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art featured a piece titled "Dancing with Che" by artist Barbara Astman. The work comprised a series of 50 photographs wherein Astman dances in a Che Guevara t-shirt, for the benefit of her Polaroid's timed shutter. [37]
  • Manhattan's International Center of Photography held a 2006 exhibit titled "Che ! Revolution and Commerce."
  • The Montreal Museum of Fine Art used Guevara's image to advertise their 2004 expose titled Global Village: The 1960s.[15]
  • The Italian artist Luca Del Baldo has six paintings featuring the post-mortem face of Che Guevara. [38]
  • In October 2007, the Frieze Art Fair unveiled a life size bronze statue by Christian Jankowski in London's Regent's Park. [39] The piece, which in 2008 was also displayed in New York City's Central Park, [40] portrays a well known Barcelona street performer [41] dressed as Che Guevara.
  • In January 2009, artist Juan Vazquez Martin, who fought alongside Che Guevara during the Cuban Revolution, held an exhibition with 13 of his paintings in Derry, Northern Ireland. The Guevara inspired works were shown as part of the Bloody Sunday commemoration weekend. Martin stated that he was "emotional" and "inspired" during his visit, upon seeing a mural celebrating Che Guevara's Irish connection to the Bogside. [42]
  • A picture of Che Guevara hung in John Lennon and Yoko Ono's kitchen [43]

Body art Edit

    football legend Diego Maradona had a tattoo portrait of Che Guevara on his right arm.
  • Former Heavyweight Boxing champion Mike Tyson, who has a tattoo of Che Guevara on his rib, in 2003 described Che as "An incredible individual. He had so much, but sacrificed it all for the benefit of other people." [44]
  • Former English professional footballerDarren Currie has a large tattoo on the left side of his stomach of Che Guevara. When asked about the motivation for the piece, Currie stated that he had been reading Che's book since he was 14, and that he "admired the way he went out of his way about things." [45]
  • Argentine Juan Sebastián Verón, the 2008 South American Footballer of the Year, has a tattoo of Che's face on his shoulder. When his S.S. Lazio won the 1999 Serie A championship, some of the team's Italian fans who initially didn't like the tattoo, came into the dressing room and kissed it. [46]
  • Former Italian footballerFabrizio Miccoli has a large Che Guevara tattoo on his left calf. [47] As a result, when he played for Ternana Calcio from 1998 to 2002, the team's fans would unveil a large stadium sized banner bearing the image of Che along with Moccoli's club shirt and the hammer and sickle. [48]
  • Swedish Olympic boxer Kwamena Turkson has the image of Che Guevara tattooed on his arm. [49]
  • Former South African footballer, Mark Fish, who helped his country to its African Cup of Nations victory in 1996, has a tattoo of Che Guevara. [50]

In comedy Edit

  • American comedian Margaret Cho, on the cover of her stand-up act Revolution (2003) combines her face into an obvious appropriation of Che Guevara's famous graphic-portrait.

In films Edit

"Che Guevara was an amazing character. He's a person that changed the world and really forces me to change the rules of what I am."

Actors who have portrayed Che Guevara:

    in El Che Guevara (1968) in Che! (1969) [52] in the World Forum/Communist Quiz sketch in the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Spam" (1970). in the World Forum/Communist Quiz sketch during the concert film Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) in Evita (1996)
  • Miguel Ruiz Días in El Che (1997)
  • Alfredo Vasco in Hasta la Victoria Siempre (1999) in Fidel (2002)
  • Karl Sheils in Meeting Che Guevara & the Man from Maybury Hill (2003) in The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) in The Lost City (2005)
  • Martin Hyder in The Mark Steel Lectures: Che Guevara (2006)
  • Sam G. Preston in The True Story of Che Guevara (2007) in Che (2007) in Che (2008)

Other Edit

"I think anyone who buys a t-shirt of Che has gotta be cool. If I see someone with a Che t-shirt, I think, 'He's got good taste'."

  • In John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. (1996), Cuervo Jones, a fictional character played by the Greek-French actor Georges Corraface, was clearly based on Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
  • In the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp depicting Hunter S. Thompson awakens from an adrenochrome overdose and stands in front of a picture of Che Guevara stuck to a Mexican flag. Benicio del Toro who co starred in the film (and would later play Che Guevara in Che), has stated that Thompson kept a "big" picture of Che in his kitchen. [54]
  • In the 2003 documentary Breakfast with Hunter, acclaimed author Hunter S. Thompson can be seen in several scenes wearing different Che Guevara t-shirts.
  • Actress Lindsay Lohan dons a Che Guevara t-shirt in one scene of the 2004 film Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. [55] actor Rajat Kapoor was made up to resemble Guevara in the 2009 Bollywood thriller Siddharth-The Prisoner. In describing the reasoning, director Pryas Gupta stated that the central concept of the film is "freedom from the complexities of life" while remarking "who better than Che Guevara, to represent that spirit." [56] utilizes Richard Dindo's documentary Ernesto Che Guevara: The Bolivian Diaries to form his own 1997 avant-garde film titled Utopia. The film juxtaposes Che's vehement opposition to imperialism, with the importing of low wage Mexican laborers in the California desert to farm the Imperial Valley. [57]
  • The 1983 Yugoslavian film Kako sam Sistematski Uništen od Idiota (How I Was Systematically Destroyed by an Idiot), directed and co-written by Slobodan Šijan, prominently revolves around the ideas of Che Guevara. In the film, the character Babi Papuška, played by Danilo "Bata" Stojković, is searching for a real revolutionary society and a real revolution. The film opens and closes with Babi reciting a poem at rallies in Che's honor. [58]
  • Leandro Katz's 1997 film essay El Día Que Me Quieras (The Day You'll Love Me) is a meditation on Freddy Alborta's famous post-mortem photo of Che Guevara. Katz deconstructs and re-photographs the famous picture while drawing comparisons to the classic paintings of Mantegna's"Dead Christ" and Rembrandt's "The Anatomy Lesson". [59][60]
  • The 2008 Telugu film, Jalsa, starring Pawan Kalyan and directed by Trivikram Srinivas borrowed Guevara's look from his famous photograph to model Kalyan's look in the 2nd half of the film as a Naxalite. Kalyan himself is a follower of Che and suggest Srinivas to use Guevara's ideologies in the movie

In games Edit

"Rebels and activists the world over still take inspiration from Guevara. But the image has lost something Che's face on a poster in 1968 isn't quite the same thing as it is on a mousepad 40 years later. Perhaps it is precisely that loss – the shedding of Che's radicalism and ideological rigor – that renders him so supremely marketable today."

  • The design of Zeus Bertrand, Kantaris' right-hand man in Time Crisis: Project Titan, features more or less identical resemblances with Che Guevara.
  • His exploits during the Cuban Revolution were very loosely dramatized in the 1987 video game Guevara, released by SNK in Japan and "converted" into Guerrilla War for Western audiences, removing all references to Guevara but keeping all the visuals and a game map that clearly resembles Cuba. As a result of its rarity, original copies of the "Guevara" edition of the Japanese Famicom edition go for high amounts on the collectors' market.
  • The 2001 construction and management simulation computer game Tropico allows players to govern a tropical island while amidst a theme similar to that of Cuba after the Cuban revolution. Players may either design their own "El Presidente" character or select one from a list of pre-made historical figures, one of which is Che Guevara.
  • The box art for Just Cause, (the 2006 videogame for PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 2) imitates the famous photograph of Che Guevara taken by Alberto Korda. The main character in the game of Rico Rodriguez is also based on CIA agent Félix Rodríguez, who was present for Che Guevara's capture and eventual execution in Bolivia.
  • On November 16, 2008, a new world record for the number of dominoes toppled in one turn was set in the Netherlands. The 4,345,027 falling dominoes tumbled for two hours and along with other images, revealed a portrait of Che Guevara. [63]
  • On April 29, 2004, one of the largest simultaneous chess games in history was played with 13,000 boards set up in front of the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba. The games of chess, which was Guevara's personal favorite, included the participation of President Fidel Castro. A similar event took place again in 2007 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Che's death in Bolivia, when 1,500 chess boards were played at once. Villa ClaraGrandmasterJesus Nogueiras dedicated the chess extravaganza to Che, remarking that "there will always be Grandmasters thanks to the revolution that Che helped make a reality." [64]
  • In 2009, it was announced that GlobalFun would be releasing a mobile phone game titled El Che. Described as a "great looking, action packed, freedom fighting excursion into the historical battles of Sierra Maestra, Bueycito and Santa Clara", El Che allows cell phone users to choose from an arsenal of assault rifles, shotguns, grenades and rocket launchers, while you attempt "to bring peace to impoverished Cuba." [65]
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Che is referenced several times in the audio briefings, and several aspects of his persona are discussed. Additionally, the main character, Big Boss, resembles Che in both appearance and ideology, leading other characters in-game to point out the resemblance.
  • In the 2010 first person shooter, Call of Duty: Black Ops one of the multi-player maps available for the player to play is named "Havana" and shows many different pieces of art painted on walls including at least one of Jim Fitzpatrick's version of Guerrillero Heroico.
  • A 2013 Cuban-made PC video game titled Gesta Final: Camino a la Victoria (Final Fight: Road to Victory) is based on Che Guevara and Fidel Castro's exploits during the Cuban Revolution. [66]

In literature and publications Edit

"As the possibility of real political change recedes, people do need symbols of resistance it makes them feel better, and Che is that par excellence. Yes, he was handsome. Yes, he died young. But I would say more important than any of those things, he was a rebel."

Books Edit

  • To coincide with the 40th anniversary of his execution, Che in Verse reproduced 134 poems and songs from 53 countries about the enigmatic revolutionary. The book examines how Che was celebrated or remembered from before his death to the present day, and also explores Guevara's own interest in poetry. It reveals among other things considerable interest in the Argentine revolutionary among radical writers in the US, and contains 19 poems by North American poets, including Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, John Haines, Greg Hewett, Michael McClure and Thomas Merton.
  • In the novel I, Che Guevara by John Blackthorn (a pen name of former Senator Gary Hart), Guevara returns to Cuba under an alias during its first ever democratic election. Espousing an ideology of direct democracy and a government run exclusively via New England-style town meetings, he sponsors a professor's grassrootsthird party run for President of Cuba, opposing both the Communist Party and a Cuban American/White House-backed right-wing party.
  • Guevara's image is on the cover of the book The Rebel Sell.
  • Robert Arellano's 2009 novel Havana Lunar is set during the 1992 Special Period in Cuba, and tells the story of Manolo Rodríguez, a doctor who in spite of being estranged from the Communist party, idealizes their revolutionary principles and talks to a Che Guevara portrait in his home. [67]
  • In Lavie Tidhar's short story, "The Lives and Deaths of Che Guevara", published in the anthology Solaris Rising, ed. Ian Whates, 2011, Che is cloned multiple times, allowing him to fight (and die) in numerous 20th century revolutions, from Apartheid South Africa to the Lebanese Civil War and beyond.

Comics Edit

  • Vida del Che ("Life of Che", 1968), written by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and illustrated by Enrique and Alberto Breccia. A biographical Historieta (comic book) published as a graphic novel only three months after Che Guevara's assassination it was subsequently banned by the military dictatorship self-styled as "Argentine Revolution" (1966–1973) and the whole edition was kidnapped. [68] The original drawings were saved by Enrique Breccia, and it was finally republished in 2008. [68]
  • Pastores ("Shepherds", 1985), written and illustrated by Horacio Altuna.
  • Che: una biografía gráfica ("Che: a graphic biography" 2010), written by Sid Jacobson and illustrated by Ernie Colón.
  • The Last Days of Che Guevara (2014). Red Quill Books published this radical graphic novel of Che's life written by Italian journalist Marco Rizzo and illustrated by Lelio Bonaccorso. [69]
  • In the memoir Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, the main character dressed up as Che as a child and played with her friends, who portrayed other revolutionaries.

Magazines Edit

  • Che was featured on the cover of the edition of August 8, 1960 of Time, which declared Guevara "Castro's Brain". [70]
  • Time magazine named Che Guevara one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century, while listing him in the "heroes and icons" section. [71]
  • The May/June 2006 cover of Communication Arts magazine features yellow and black stencil outline of Che, but his beret star is replaced with a Nikeswoosh logo, and he is wearing the iconic white headset of an iPod. Release of the cover overloaded the magazine with both positive and negative responses, while generating more newsstand sales than any issue in the magazine's 50-year history. [72]
  • The December 2008 issue of Rolling Stone Argentina features Che's well known Guerrillero Heroico image on the cover. [73]
  • The cover of Issue 8 of AkzoNobel's A Magazine features a variant of Jim Fitzpatrick's famous portrait of Guevara. [74]

In music Edit

"And if there's any hope for America, it lies in a revolution, and if there's any hope for a revolution in America, it lies in getting Elvis Presley to become Che Guevara."

  • Jazz bassist Charlie Haden composed a piece titled "Song for Che" after Guevara was killed. While performing with Ornette Coleman in Portugal in 1971, Haden dedicated "Song for Che" to the Black Peoples Liberation Movements of Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau in protest against the Estado Novo (Portugal) authoritarian regime. The next day, Haden was arrested by the PIDE and imprisoned and interrogated for possibly a day or two, before being rescued by the Cultural Attache from the American Embassy. [75] band The (International) Noise Conspiracy's musical inspiration was stated to be the above Ochs quote.
  • Upon hearing the news of Guevara's leaving Cuba to start new revolutions in other countries, Cuban musician Carlos Puebla composed "Hasta Siempre, Comandante." Since then it has been covered by numerous artists including the Buena Vista Social Club. French singer Nathalie Cardone produced a modern rendition of the song titled "Hasta Siempre" as an ode to honor Guevara. Cardone's single sold over 800,000 copies in France alone. [76]
  • Folk singer Judy Collins composed a ballad titled "Che" as an ode to Che Guevara after his death. The song was then remixed into an "intense rhythmic interpretation" for a 2009 tribute album titled Born to the Breed by artist James Mudriczki. Collins singled out this song as one of her favorite tracks, while describing Mudriczki's rendition as "marvelous". [77]
  • The German composer Hans Werner Henze dedicated his 1968 oratorioDas Floß der Medusa as a requiem for Guevera.
  • In 1968, Scottish songwriter Ewan MacColl composed the song "The Compañeros" in honor of Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. His wife Peggy Seeger also wrote "A Song for Che Guevara."
  • The Spanish punk rock group Boikot, released a 1997 CD titled La Ruta del Che. Upon release of the album, a band member told the newspaper El País that "Guevara represents a universal concept of revolution, I believe we all carry a Che inside us, a way of making our own revolution." [6]
  • In 1987, the French rock band Indochine mentions Che Guevara in the song "Les Tzars".
  • Grammy Award-winning Carlos Santana wore a Che Guevara shirt to the 2005 Oscar awards.
  • The cover of Madonna's 2003 album American Life emulates Guerrillero Heroico, as she revealed to the Italian version of Top of the Pops. Madonna cited Che as a "revolutionary spirit" while adding that although she does not "necessarily agree with The Communist Manifesto, she believes that "there are aspects of socialism which are good", and that she "likes what (Che) stood for". [78]
  • In rapper Jay-Z's Black Album, the track "Public Service Announcement" contains the line "I'm like Che Guevara with bling on / I'm complex."
  • "Indian Girl" by The Rolling Stones has a lyric referring to Che. "Mr. Gringo, my father he ain't no Che Guevara, And he's fighting the war on the streets of Masaya" aka (Tom Morello) references a quote from Che Guevara – "Liberators do not exist, the people liberate themselves" – in the music video for the song 'Road I Must Travel.'
  • In rapper Nas's album, 'Stillmatic there is a controversial track named "My Country" that pays tribute to Che Guevara and others who were murdered by the United States. , a third wave ska/reggae band, released a 1997 album with a song called "Doctor Che Guevara." [62]
  • David Bowie's album, Lodger featured an inside sleeve containing one of the famous photographs of Guevara's corpse surrounded by his executioners.
  • In Richard Shindell's 2004 album Vuelta the track "Che Guevara t-Shirt" tells the story of an illegal immigrant imprisoned after 9/11 who may be kept in jail forever because he carries a photo of his girlfriend wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt.
  • On the track "It's Your World" from the rapper Common's 2005 album Be, the artist states "Wish I was free as Che was."
  • In Pet Shop Boys' song "Left to My Own Devices" they mention with irony "Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat".
  • The artist Immortal Technique has made several references to Guevara in his songs (No Me Importa, Internally Bleeding) and has performed many times while wearing a shirt bearing his image.
  • In the Manic Street Preachers song, "Revol", there is the lyric "Che Guevara, you're all target now".
  • The song "Hammerblow", off the Cherry Poppin' Daddies album Susquehanna, is a story-song about an underground Marxist uprising a character in the song tells the narrator ""We haven't gone extinct/Unlike Che Guevara, Marx and Pravda"", assuring that though said revolutionaries may be gone, the movement continues.
  • American rock band Chagall Guevara, took their name from artist Marc Chagall and Che Guevara, to imply the concept of "revolutionary art."
  • The Australian punk band the Clap has a song called "Che Guevara T-Shirt Wearer" featuring the chorus lines of "you're a Che Guevara T-shirt wearer, and you have no idea who he is."
  • American folk singer-songwriter Richard Shindell often introduces performances of his song "Che Guevara T-Shirt" with a story of the irony of the t-shirts. The song features Shindell lamenting on how "Che the great anti-capitalist revolutionary" has had his name and image thoroughly co-opted by the shirt makers not for revolutionary purposes but to make money for the company owners i.e. the capitalists. [80]
  • The band Rage Against the Machine has assorted band apparel with Che's image on it and recommends Guevara's manual "Guerrilla Warfare" in their liner notes. They also released a single called "Bombtrack" bearing Che's image and tour with a Guevara banner draped behind them while onstage. [6]
  • On October 12, 2007, musicians from the Chilean community and Grupo Amistad, performed songs dedicated to Che at a memorial celebration in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. [81]
  • The Brazilian rock band Sepultura performed at Havana's "José MartíAnti-Imperialist Tribune" in July 2008, while also visiting the memorial to Che Guevara. [82]
  • American punk rock band Against Me! have a song called "Cliché Guevara" on their album As the Eternal Cowboy. rapper Rhymefest (whose birth name is 'Che' in honor of Guevara) titled his 2009 album "El Che", describing the overall theme as a "journey with a revolutionary."
  • Artist Dana Lyons mentions Che Guevara in his song Cows with Guns.
  • American noise rock band Che Guevara T-shirt [83] named themselves after the phenomena outlined in this article, specifically the irony that a Marxist inspired guerilla is now used to sell Capitalist products.
  • In July 2009, Cuba's best known folk musician Silvio Rodríguez announced that had written a new song titled "Tonada del albedrio" (Tune to Free Will) intended to "rehabilitate" the image of revolutionary Che Guevara from being an "international super-brand". According to Rodriguez the new song on his upcoming album "Segunda Cita" (Second Date) returns the emphasis and meaning of Guevara's life to "his struggle against imperialism, his love of being a revolutionary and his concept of socialism." [84]
  • In October 2009, French alternative rock artist Manu Chao played two tribute concerts in Cuba (at Havana University and Sandino Stadium in the city of Santa Clara) to mark the 42nd anniversary Guevara's assassination. Chao was accompanied in Havana by Polish designer Jacek Wozniak, who joined several Cuban artists to paint a large mural dedicated to Che's memory. [85]
  • Song "List do Che" (literally "Letter to Che") by Polish alternative rock band Strachy na Lachy mocks the fact that capitalists make great profit from communism-oriented revolutionst's image
  • Che appeared in an episode of Epic Rap Battles of History and battled Guy Fawkes. He was portrayed by Robert Rico.

Songs in tribute Edit

"We've considered Che a fifth band member for a long time now, for the simple reason that he exemplifies the integrity and revolutionary ideals to which we aspire."

– Nathalie Cardone,
sang modern version of Hasta Siempre [76]

"He looked a lot like Che Guevara
Drove a diesel van
Kept his gun in quiet seclusion
Such a humble man."

In television Edit

  • Che Guevara himself was a guest on Face the Nation with Tad Szulc in 1964.
  • In the now canceled Fox television series Dark Angel, the main character's (Jessica Alba) assumed name is Max Guevara, a reference to Che in her quest to liberate her own race of people, as well. [original research?]
  • In an episode of the animated sitcom King of the Hill, Bobby's activist friend wears a Che Guevara T-shirt.
  • In an episode of American Dad!, Stan's son is brainwashed by a communist to follow communism, after his dad ignores him. When his dad enters his room and sees communist apparel everywhere, he begins to rip them down. When he gets to a picture of Che he says "This we can agree on. Planet of the Apes was a fine picture".
  • Kyle wears a Che Guevara T-shirt in the South Park episode "Die Hippie, Die".
  • In the first season, the opening sequence of The Boondocks featured main character Huey Freeman stylized in the likeness of Che Guevara. A poster of Che Guevara was also seen in his room in the episode "The Passion of the Ruckus".
  • In the anime Eureka Seven, the character Stoner resembles Che.
  • In the anime Zoku Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei, Nami finds a shirt with Che Guevara's face on it and Chiri tries to give history lessons from Che in episode 12.
  • In the anime series Heat Guy J, a poster of Che Guevara hangs on a wall in Daisuke's room.
  • In the anime 009-1, the Plaza de la Revolución with Che Guevara's face on it appears in a background shot in episode 12.
  • In That '70s Show, the character Steven Hyde often wears a Che Guevara t-shirt. wears a Che Guevara shirt as host of the PBS special The '60s Experience. held a forum titled 'the Legacy of Che' where they proclaimed that: "Che Guevara was a pop icon of mythic proportions."
  • In The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)", the Tito Puente's mambo club is called "Chez Guevara", a reference to Che. [original research?]
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Trouble With Trillions", when Homer goes to Cuba there is a wall with a mural that reads "Cerveza el Duffo o Muerte" (Duffo beer or death), which is a parody of Cuban Motto "Patria o Muerte" (Homeland or Death) and shows a picture of Che Guevara holding a can of beer.
  • In the Serbian television series Vratiće se rode, Švaba has a poster of Che Guevara in his bedroom. , a Total Nonstop Action Wrestling tag team, show clips of Che Guevara in their entrance video.
  • In the pilot episode of Mission Hill, there is a picture of Che in the background of a classroom.
  • In the movie Lost and Delirious, the character Paulie has a Che Guevara poster over her bed.
  • In an episode of The Venture Bros., "Dia de Los Dangerous!" Dr. Venture's "colleague" is named Ernesto Guevara.
  • When British comedy and TV star Ricky Gervais (of The Office) brought out a DVD of his politics live stand-up show in 2004, he chose to represent himself on the cover as Che Guevara.
  • In episode 6 of the British teen drama Skins, the character James Cook (played by Jack O'Connell) runs for class president by presenting himself mocked up as Che Guevara. [citation needed] gifted Benicio del Toro a modified Che T-shirt bearing his own image when del Toro appeared on a January 2009 broadcast of The Colbert Report, to promote the film Che. [87]
  • The 2009 ABC animated comedy The Goode Family parodies a liberal family whose dog is named "Che". Abhorring meat consumption, the Goode Family (whose car bumper also features the face of Che Guevara) force their dog Che to follow a vegan diet, which forces him to supplement his appetite by eating small creatures and neighborhood cats. [88]
  • A character on the German soap opera Lindenstraße, "Dr. Ernesto Stadler", was named (by his leftist father) after Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Both Ernesto and his brother Jimi (named after Jimi Hendrix) are quite conservative.
  • While describing character Hideo Kuze in Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, Motoko Kusanagi compares him to Che, as well as to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mohandas Gandhi.
  • In the 2011 South Park episode "The Last of the Meheecans", a street vendor in Mexico is selling a stylized version of the Che t-shirt bearing the image of "Mantequilla".
  • An episode of "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" aired in May 2016 and was heavily influenced by Guevara's anti-American rhetoric. Several quotes from Guevara were left at the murder scenes by the episode's spree killers.

In theatre Edit

Musicals/plays Edit

  • In the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Evita, the narrator and main protagonist is a revolutionary based on Che Guevara. Though never referred to by his name "Che" in the musical itself, the character is identified as "Che" in the libretto, and in the title of one song "The Waltz for Eva and Che", wherein he cynically tells the story of Eva Perón, and the two finally confront one another during the Waltz. David Essex originated the role in London and Mandy Patinkin on Broadway (and Ricky Martin in the 2012 Broadway revival), and Antonio Banderas played it in the 1996 film version. Marcelino Quiñonez wrote and performed a 2007 play titled El Che, about the revolutionary. The Spanish language drama portrays the human side of Guevara as a father and friend, and debuted in 2009 as part of Phoenix, Arizona's Teatro Bravo series. [89] wrote and performed a play titled School of the Americas which focuses on Che's last few hours alive. The play starring John Ortiz as Che, imagines Che's final conversations, mainly with a young and fairly naive female schoolteacher, in the one-room village schoolhouse where he is imprisoned before his execution. The play was featured in New York City 2006–2007 and later San Francisco 2008. [90]

Other plays featuring a Che Guevara character include:

  • Guerrillas, by Rolf Hochhuth, production: 1970
  • Che Guevara, written by Zhang Guangtian, productions: 2007 Beijing China, 2008 China Art Institute. [91]

Opera Edit

  • In 1969 a Dutch opera premièred at the Theater Carré titled Reconstructie. Een moraliteit. The project was the collective work of the well known Dutch and Belgian composers and writers Reinbert de Leeuw, Harry Mulisch, Peter Schat, Hugo Claus, Louis Andriessen, and Misha Mengelberg. Inspired by Mozart's Don Giovanni, the opera mostly deals with Che's Bolivian period and then shortly after Guevara's portrayed assassination, workers slowly re-construct a huge statue of Guevara on stage. [92]

Oratorio Edit

  • The German avant-garde composer Hans Werner Henze created a requiem about Guevara, Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of Medusa). It was produced in Hamburg, 1968. Notwithstanding the participation of famous singers like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Edda Moser it caused a scandal, complete with scuffles and police repression. Since, it has been repeatedly staged (and recorded) successfully, i.a. by the conductor Simon Rattle.

"I don't want people to use my father's face unthinkingly. I don't like to see him stitched on the backside of a pair of mass-produced jeans. But look at the people who wear Che T-shirts. They tend to be those who don't conform, who want more from society, who are wondering if they can be better human beings. That, I think he would have liked."

In celebrity fashion Edit

    Singer songwriter, Black Lives Matter activist, wore t-shirt [94] Singer songwriter, dressed in costume [95] Argentinian leader, wore t-shirt [96] Songwriter, most memorable hit Black Magic Woman by Fleetwood Mac [97] British comedian, wore t-shirt. Gervais says: "I wasn't political six months ago, and now there's nothing else in the world but politics,” the Brit, 55, admitted. “I honestly haven't felt this way since I was 16 and wearing Che Guevara T-shirts, and protesting against nuclear weapons.” [98] Victoria Secret model, wore t-shirt [99] Married to Tom Brady, modeled Che Guevara bikini [100]
  • Supermodel Gisele Bündchen donned a bikini adorned with Che Guevara's image for the São Paulo fashion week in July 2002.
  • During the October 7, 2002, Vanity Fair photo shoot of the Osbourne family by Annie Leibovitz, son Jack Osbourne is wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt.
  • Model/actress Elizabeth Hurley was spotted in 2004 clubbing in London with a $4,500 Che-embroidered Louis Vuitton handbag. [101]
  • In 2004, the New York Public Library's gift shop featured a Che Guevara watch. The ad for the watch stated: "Revolution is a permanent state with this clever watch, featuring the classic romantic image of Che Guevara, around which the word 'revolution'-revolves."
  • Actor Johnny Depp wears a pendant of Che Guevara around his neck, as can be seen on the February 2005 cover of Rolling Stone. he has also been seen wearing his t-shirt [100] was spotted in July 2006 adorning a Che Guevara t-shirt, leading London tabloids to proclaim him "Havana Henry".
  • Rapper Jay-Z, who raps in one of his songs "I'm like Che Guevara with bling on", commonly is seen wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt.

– Trisha Ziff,
producer of the 2008 documentary Chevolution [102]

  • In June 2010, Che's daughter Aleida Guevara, opined at a two-day Che related conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that the "ubiquitous exploitation" of Che Guevara's image on t-shirts and paraphernalia would have made her revolutionary father laugh, while joking that "He probably would have been delighted to see his face on the breasts of so many beautiful women." [103]
  • A store called La La Ling in Los Angeles sells a Che Guevara onesie for babies and love-sleeve tee for kids.
  • The Onion offers a satirical shirt with Che Guevara himself wearing a Che Guevara shirt. The accompanying sardonic advertisement refers to the "iconic" image as "scarcely seen" since the days when Guevara "freed thousands from the restrictive yoke of T-shirt selection." [104]
  • The international retail store Urban Outfitters offers a "Che Cigar" graphic t-shirt, featuring a famous photo of the guerrilla smoking. The item is marketed with the accompanying tag line "kick back with a smoke with Che Guevara." [105]
  • The Italian company Belstaff offers a "Trialmaster Che Guevara replica jacket", a wax cotton, 4 pocket, belted, classic motorcycle jacket – offered as "a perfect replica" of the one worn by a youthful Ernesto Guevara during his famous motorcycle journey across Latin America. [106]

Political imagery Edit

"The guy's face is shorthand for 'I'm against the status quo.' He's politics' answer to James Dean, a rebel with a very specific cause."

  • In February 2008, a minor internet-based "controversy" emerged when a local news report in Houston, Texas, featured the independently funded office of Cuban-American Maria Isabel, a volunteer staffer for the then Barack Obama presidential campaign. [108] Some conservatives and Obama political opponents were angered when the clip portrayed that Isabel had used a large Cuban flag superimposed with the image of Che Guevara to decorate her office. [109] For his part, Obama addressed the issue and called the flag's presence "inappropriate." [110]
  • In July 2008, Colombian secret agents posing as leftist rebels were able to rescue Ingrid Betancourt and 15 other hostages held by FARC guerrillas. Part of the ruse involved the agents posing as fellow rebels by wearing Che Guevara t-shirts (considered a heroic figure by the Marxist inspired insurgents). [111]
  • During a November 2008 interview with Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, he disclosed that a band of his rebels refer to themselves as the "Group of Che" and insist on wearing Che Guevara t-shirts as their uniform. [112]
  • Hong Kong legislator and activist Leung Kwok-hung aka "Long Hair", exclusively wears his trademark Che Guevara t-shirts during his numerous protests. [113]Shepard Fairey, has stated that when he designed the two-tone red and blue stylized portrait of then presidential candidate Barack Obama, his "inspiration" was Alberto Korda's portrait of Che Guevara. [114]
  • In April 2009, Poland's equality minister, Elzbieta Radziszewska, proposed an amendment to the present Polish law prohibiting the production of "fascist" and "totalitarian propaganda". Critics of the addition worry that it could extend to punish those wearing the popular Che Guevara t-shirts or CCCP (USSR) jackets. If passed, many of Communism's leading figures (and thus presumably Che) would have their images outlawed for public use, with those guilty facing a two-year prison sentence. [115]
  • The May 2009 issue of Paper magazine featured a portfolio of ideas on how to rebrand the USA. One campaign by Alex Bogusky of Crispin Porter & Bogusky showed President Barack Obama wearing a T-shirt on which there is the familiar image of Che Guevara – altered to show Guevara wearing a T-shirt bearing the famous Shepard Fairey portrait of Mr. Obama and the word "Hope." [116]

Political praise Edit

"Despite the spectacularization of the image of Che, what remains compelling are the many instances worldwide which the photograph persists as a rallying point for political struggles. To articulate resistance, to define local rebellions, to announce solidarity with others, activist artists will undoubtedly continue to remake, reclaim and recontextualize Korda's photograph."

    begin every day of class with a salute and pledge of: "We will be like Che!" [118]
  • Former South African President Nelson Mandela in 1991 on a visit to Havana declared that: "Che's life is an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom. We will always honor his memory." [119]
  • American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, in a 1984 visit to the University of Havana declared: "Long live our cry of freedom. Long Live Che!" [120]
  • One week before his own assassination on October 15, 1987, in a speech marking the 20th anniversary of Guevara's execution, Burkina Faso's revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara (himself coined "Africa's Che") [121] declared: "ideas cannot be killed, ideas never die." [122]

– Orlando Borrego, close friend of Che's in Cuba, 1997 [62]

  • Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (who fought alongside Che during the Cuban revolution) proclaimed that Guevara was "a flower prematurely cut from its stem" who "sowed the seeds of social conscience in Latin America and the world." [123] He also remarked that Che's "luminous gaze of a prophet has become a symbol for all the poor" [124] and that "today he is in every place, wherever there is a just cause to defend." [125]
  • Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez performed several symbolic acts of solidarity with Guevara, which included laying a wreath in remembrance of the 40th anniversary of his death at his Mausoleum, naming a state-funded adult education programme "Misión Che Guevara", and granting doctors of the Venezuelan public health system a 60 percent pay raise in "honor of Che", who was a physician. [126]
  • After winning President of Bolivia in 2006, Evo Morales installed a portrait of Che Guevara made from coca leaves in the presidential palace. [127] At a ceremony the following year marking the 40th anniversary of his execution, Morales declared "the ideals and actions of Commander Ernesto Guevara are examples for those who defend equality and justice. We are humanists and followers of the example of Guevara." [128]
  • In October 2007, Irish Republicans in Derry, Northern Ireland and Sinn Féin organized a weekend celebration on the "life and legacy" of Irish-Argentine Che Guevara. The weekend featured numerous events including a meeting on freeing the "Cuban Five" and a youth discussion in Pilots Row, while concluding with the unveiling of a new Che Guevara mural in the Bogside. [130]
  • On November 9, 2007, the British House of Commons held an early day motion proposed by John McDonnell and signed by 27 other members of parliament which read: "This House notes that 9 October marks the 40th anniversary of the murder of Ernesto Che Guevara in Bolivia further notes the inspiration that Che Guevara has brought to national liberation movements and millions of socialists around the world and believes that the sustained social gains of the Cuban revolution and the government of Evo Morales in Bolivia are fitting tributes to his legacy." [131]
  • After attending a private screening of Steven Soderbergh's 2008 biographical film Che, British politician George Galloway professed that "no one could be more alive – his image, his example, his spirit, is abroad in every struggle throughout the world." Galloway ended his praise by stating that "Guevara radiates out from the photos a goodness, with the power to move millions forever." [132]
  • In September 2009, Croatian President Stjepan Mesić visited and placed a wreath at Che's grave site in Santa Clara, Cuba. Afterwards during his remarks President Mesic referred to Guevara as "a symbol of struggle and an example for young people who wanted a better and more just society", before noting that "Che Guevara's ideals have transcended Latin America's borders, he has become an example for all who are dreaming about a better world." [133]

"Saint Ernesto" in Bolivia Edit

"It's like he is alive and with us, like a friend. He is kind of like a Virgin Mary for us. We say, 'Che, help us with our work or with this planting,' and it always goes well."

Che Guevara's unlikely transformation into a "sanctified" figure began immediately after his execution. Susana Osinaga, the nurse who cleaned Guevara's corpse after his execution reminisced that locals saw an uncanny physical resemblance to the popularized artistic portrayals of Jesus. According to Osinaga, "he was just like a Christ, with his strong eyes, his beard, his long hair", adding that in her view he was "very miraculous." [135] Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, notes how among the hospital's nuns, and a number of Vallegrande women, the impression that Guevara bore an extraordinary resemblance to Jesus Christ quickly spread leading them to surreptitiously clip off clumps of his long hair and keep them for good luck. [136] Jorge G. Castañeda, author of Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara, discerns that "the Christ-like image prevailed" stating "it's as if the dead Guevara looks on his killers and forgives them, and upon the world, proclaiming that he who dies for an idea is beyond suffering." [137]

Eleven days after Guevara's execution, journalist I. F. Stone (who himself had interviewed Guevara), drew the comparison by noting that "with his curly reddish beard, he looked like a cross between a faun and a Sunday-school print of Jesus." [138] That observation was followed by German artist and playwright Peter Weiss' remark that the post-mortem images of Guevara resembled a "Christ taken down from the cross." [139] Che's last moments and the connection to Christian iconography was also noted by David Kunzle, author of the book Che Guevara: Icon, Myth, and Message, who analogized the last photo of Guevara alive, with his hands bound, to an "Ecce Homo." [140]

In August 1968, French intellectual Régis Debray, who was captured in Bolivia while living with Che Guevara, gave a jailhouse interview where he also drew the comparison. According to Debray, Che (an atheist) "was a mystic without a transcendent belief, a saint without a God." Debray went on to tell interviewer Marlene Nadle of Ramparts Magazine that "Che was a modern Christ, but I think he suffered a much harder passion. The Christ of 2,000 years ago died face-to-face with his God. But Che knew there was no God and that after his death nothing remains." [141]

Beginning with the 30th anniversary of Che's death, as Western reporters returned to Bolivia to report on commemorations, they began to notice that Che Guevara had been transfigured and "canonized" by the local Bolivian campesinos. No longer was he Che Guevara the guerrilla insurgent, but he was now viewed as a "Saint" by locals who had come to refer to him as "San Ernesto de La Higuera" (Saint Ernesto of La Higuera). [143] Accompanying his "Sainthood" came prayers for favors and legends of his ghost still walking the area. [143] This prompted the development of the 2006 film San Ernesto de la Higuera produced by Isabel Santos, which won best short documentary at the 5th International Film Festival of Human Rights. [144]

As the 40th anniversary of Che's execution approached in 2007, journalists returned to discover that in Bolivia, images of Che now hung next to images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Pope John Paul II. [135] Additionally, columnist Christopher Roper observed that "in Bolivia, Che's murdered body was now compared to John the Baptist, [135] while Reuters reported that in many homes, Che's face competed for wall space with a host of saints of the Catholic Church. [134] A new legend also became known, when the Los Angeles Times reported that some rural campesinos now believed that if you whisper Che Guevara's name to the sky or light a candle to his memory, you will find your lost goat or cow. [145]

A host of local campesinos went on record to journalists from The Guardian about this phenomenon as well. Melanio Moscoso, of La Higuera stated "we pray to him, we are so proud he had died here, in La Higuera, fighting for us. We feel him so close", [135] while Freddy Vallejos, of Vallegrande, proclaimed "we have a faith, a confidence in Che. When I go to bed and when I wake up, I first pray to God and then I pray to Che – and then, everything is all right. Che's presence here is a positive force. I feel it in my skin, I have faith that always, at all times, he has an eye on us." [135] Remi Calzadilla, a resident of Pucara, claimed that praying to Che had helped him regain the ability to walk, adding that "now every time I speak to Che I feel a strong force inside of me." [135]

The laundry where Guevara's corpse was displayed to the world's press in Vallegrande is now a place of pilgrimage as well, with hundreds of personal messages transcribed and carved into the surrounding walls from admiring visitors. In large letters above the table where Che's dead body once lay, an engraving now reads "None dies as long as he is remembered."

Outside Bolivia Edit

"The resemblance to aspects of Christ's life on earth can be easily traced in the life of Che. Both were doctors – Christ as miracle healer, Che as the trained physician, and were active as such, even or especially so when they were fighting, doctoring when others were resting or escaping. Both men were particularly concerned with leprosy, the disease of the downtrodden and outcast, as The Motorcycle Diaries (books and film) have reminded us in the case of Che. Like Che, Jesus was an egalitarian, a communist in terms of owning little and sharing all, and his disciples were bidden to hold all in common. Both were strict disciplinarians, who insisted on individuals leaving families, friends and privileges behind to join them, sacrificing comforts and, if need be, their own lives."

  • The Church of England caused some controversy in 1999, when they drew comparisons of Jesus to Che Guevara on a red and black poster titled "Che Jesus", which bore the slogan: "Meek. Mild. As if. Discover the real Jesus." [147] In response to the controversy Reverend Peter Owens-Jones of the Church Advertising Network (CAN) who designed the ad stated "We are not saying that Jesus was communist, but that he was revolutionary. We are exploiting the image of revolution, not the image of Che Guevara." [148]
  • Che Guevara appears as the Christ figure in a mural called "The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes" in Stanford University's Latino Dorm (Casa Zapata). [49]
  • Actor Benicio del Toro who played Guevara in the 2008 biographical film Che, compared the guerrilla leader to Jesus Christ, stating "I think Che had perseverance and morality . being the underdog and fighting against injustice and standing up for the forgotten moved him so hard. Kind of like Jesus, in a way – only Jesus would turn the other cheek. Che wouldn't." [53]

"Curse of Che" Edit

Many of the rural campesinos in the small Bolivian town of Vallegrande, where anthropologists retrieved Che's remains in 1997, firmly believe that there exists a "curse of Che". [149] This belief exists because six of the Bolivian politicians and military officers who share responsibility for Guevara's death have since died a violent death. They were murdered, died in accidents, or in the case of Bolivian President René Barrientos were killed in a helicopter crash. In addition, General Gary Prado, who arrested Guevara, became paralyzed after a shot went off from a gun he was handling and hit his spine. [149]

"I see a direct link between Che's love of rugby and our love of rugby and his desire to see change and our desire to see change. Of course his crusade involved overturning corrupt government, changing society and fights to the death – ours is simply to prove we are worthy rugby players who deserve to be treated equally. He was an Argentinian rugby man through and through and we are proud to number him among our predecessors. I like to think he would enjoy the strides we have made."

  • During a match, footballer Cristiano Lucarelli scored a goal for the Italy national football team and stripped off his Azzurri shirt to reveal a t-shirt bearing the image of Che Guevara. The move identified him strongly with his then favorite and now current team Livorno, whose supporters brandish left-wing paraphernalia at matches to celebrate the city's long tradition of socialism. [151]
  • Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. wore a Che t-shirt during one installment of his 2009 HBO series Mayweather–Marquez 24/7".
  • The Hapoel Tel Aviv Football Club, considered the "standard bearer of the Israeli left", utilizes the image of Che Guevara in an array of ways. At home matches, fans unroll banners emblazoned with the face of Che Guevara. [152]
  • Fans of Celtic F.C. in Glasgow, a team heavily associated with Irish Republicanism, use Che Guevara's image in a number of ways, especially on flags. Often reference is made to Che Guevara's Irish ancestry. In 2008, the Black County Celtic Supporters Club became known as the Black Country Che Guevara Celtic Supporters Club. [153]

"With the recent and euphoric globalization, the image of Che prevails as an activist icon amongst many in the Western World. Within the indigenous Zapatistas in Chiapas, the image of Che blends in with that of Christ, Virgin Mary, truck drivers, vendettas, taggers, commercialists, popular musicians, and gangsters of Mexico and other countries. These people wear him as an accent on their clothing and stickers on their vehicles, as if the image still maintained its primitive innocence."

  • Bolivia features a 'Che Guevara Trail' which is overseen by Care Bolivia and the Bolivian Ministry of Tourism. The trail leads by road from the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, via the Inca site of Samaipata, onto the villages of Vallegrande and La Higuera (the 'holy grail' for Che pilgrims). The tour allows visitors to travel just as Che and his comrades did – by mule or on foot through rocky forested terrain – or in four-wheel-drive vehicles along unpaved roads. The trail visits places of historical interest including the site of Che's guerrilla camp, the school where after 11 months as a guerrilla he was captured and killed, and his former grave. Visitors also are able to meet local people who met or traveled with Guevara. [155]
  • Cuba also offers a '14-day "Che Guevara Tour", (organized in collaboration with the Ernesto Che Guevara center in Havana) – which allows travelers to follow the historical footsteps of Che Guevara in his guerrilla struggle to oust Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
  • Journey Latin America, offers a three-week escorted Motorcycle Diaries tour from Buenos Aires to Lima. The company also offers tailor-made trips to any of the locations along the Guevara-Granado route.
  • The Cuevas de los Portales (Portales Caverns) Caves, located within Guira National Park in Cuba's westernmost province of Pinar del Río, features Guevara's headquarters during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. His original table, chairs, and iron bed still remain in the cave, which is open to visitors. [156]

Monuments and memorials Edit

"Guevara is everywhere. He is being reborn. And nowadays, he has won. You will see."

  • An average of about 800 international visitors each day make the trek to Che Guevara's mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba. The site, which contains a 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) bronze statue of Guevara, also includes his remains, a museum of his exploits, and an eternal flame in honor of his memory. [158]
  • In Venezuela, along the Andean mountain highway near the city of Mérida, an 8-foot glass plate bearing Guevara's image is erected near the top of El Aguila Peak. Guevara visited the spot in 1952 during his travels through South America, which he recorded in his diary. [159] , the city of Che's birth, features an Ernesto "Che" Guevara plaza. The centerpiece is a 13-foot bronze "Monument to Che" statue of Guevara, cast from thousands of donated and melted-down keys. [160]
  • In Alta Gracia, Argentina, the home where Guevara lived part of his childhood and teenage years, was turned into a museum in 1997. Titled "Villa Nidia", the museum features a sculpture depicting a young Ernesto at the age of 12, along with a tree in the backyard brought in from Cuba in October 2002 on 35th anniversary of Che's death. [161]
  • The Bolivian town of La Higuera (where Che was executed) hosts a statue of Guevara [162] as does the bus terminal in El Alto, Bolivia, which features a 23-foot scrap metal sculpture of his likeness. [163]
  • The Jintai Museum park in Beijing, China (where Guevara visited chairman Mao Zedong in 1960), is home to a sculpted bust of Che, designed by Chinese artist Yuan Xikun. [164]
  • A park along the Danube river in Vienna, Austria, features a 28-inch bronze bust of a bearded Che in his "trademark" beret. At the 2008 unveiling, the city's Social Democratic mayor Michael Haeupl proclaimed the statue "a symbol of Vienna's intention to eradicate poverty." [165]
  • In the autonomous community of Oleiros, Galicia, a ten-meter high outline of Guevara's face was constructed by Cuban artist Juan Quintani. The mayor of Oleiros, Angel García Seoane, promoted the 2008 project to "honor Che and all the revolutionaries of the world." [166]
  • When Che Guevara visited the Yahala Kele rubber estate in Horana, Sri Lanka, on August 7, 1959, as part of a Cuban state visit to study rubber planting methods, he planted a Mahogany tree. Fifty years later in 2009, the now large tree still stands, along with a small memorial at an adjacent bungalow showcasing Guevara's visit. Caretaker Dingiri Mahattaya, who met Che upon the visit as a young teen, remarked in 2009 that "this is the only surviving tree in the world that has been planted by Che Guevara." [167]
  • In 2009, the South African city of Durban, renamed Moore Road (in honor of colonial era British General Sir John Moore) to Che Guevara Road, in the revolutionary's honor. [168] This was followed by a statue [169] of Guevara being added to the gallery of "liberation struggle heroes" at Pretoria's Freedom Park. [170]
  • In Algiers, Algeria the main avenue along the seaside bears the name Che Guevara. Che visited the capital several times in the 1960s when Algeria was a symbol to African liberation movements after its war of independence from France, and according to the Latin American Herald Tribune, the guerrilla leader "is much loved by and well-known to Algerians." [171]

Gael García Bernal (played Che in The Motorcycle Diaries): "How would Ernesto feel about having his face all over the world on a T-shirt?"
Alberto Granado (travel mate of Che who accompanied him): "Well, knowing him, I think he wouldn't mind, especially if it was a girl." [172]

  • On May 15, 1960, Che Guevara competed against acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway at the "Hemingway Fishing Contest" in Havana, Cuba. The winner of the competition was fellow boat mate Fidel Castro. [174]
  • In October 2007, former Central Intelligence Agency operative Gustavo Villoldo, auctioned off a lock of Che Guevara's hair for $119,500 to Bill Butler. The purchaser describes Guevara as "one of the greatest revolutionaries of the 20th century", and thus intends to display the 3-inch tress in his Butler & Sons books store in Rosenberg, Texas. [175]
  • On December 14, 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw both of his shoes at President George W. Bush, as an "act of defiance" during a Baghdad press conference. When reporters visited his one-bedroom apartment in west Baghdad, they found the home decorated with a poster Che Guevara, who according to The Associated Press "is widely lionized in the Middle East." [176]
  • Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf owns a German Shepherd dog named "Che", in honor of the revolutionary. [177]
  • At the 2009 Groundhog Day celebrations, the groundhog "Staten Island Chuck" bit the finger of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. As a result, Brooklyn entrepreneur Devery Doleman began selling shirts showing Chuck "revolting against the plutocrat mayor", while donning a Che Guevara beret. Creator Doleman, proclaimed the bite an obvious metaphor, while decreeing "Bloomberg cares only about rich people. He's the Marie Antoinette of mayors." [178]
  • In protest of losing Shea Stadium for the newly built Citi Field, two New York Mets fans Dave Croatto and Ryan Flanders, created "Viva Shea" t-shirts. The phonetic word play inspired shirt features Che Guevara in blue over an orange background (Met's colors) and perched atop Guevara's head is a NY Mets baseball hat. [179]
  • In April 2009, Raymond Scott a 52-year-old British book dealer accused of stealing the 1623 first edition of William Shakespeare's works from Durham University in 1998, arrived in the Consett Magistrates' Court dressed as Che Guevara. [180]
  • A documentary about ChileanLGBT activist Victor Hugo Robles was screened at the 2009 Sundance film festival titled El Che De Los Gays (The Che of the Gays). Robles, nicknamed the "Che of the Gays", adopted the nom-de-guerre while a university student during the oppression of homosexuals under Augusto Pinochet. As part of his attire he paints his lips "fiery red", while donning a black beret with a Che-like star on the beret in homage (replaced by a starfish to symbolise his self described "effeminacy"). In describing the reasoning, Robles remarked that "I chose Che because he is the ultimate metaphor of a contemporary revolutionary." [181]
  • The University of Texas offers a course titled "Che Guevara's Latin America", in which students read two of Guevara's travel diaries and his memoir of the Cuban revolutionary war. The aim of the course is to have students analyze the "sudden revival of Che's image in pop culture throughout the world", study Che's own personal observations, and survey class relations in those countries mentioned in Che's memoirs (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico). [182]
  • As an act of internationalsolidarity, Cuba dispersed a group of medical doctors to the nation of Nicaragua in 2007. By the start of 2009, the unit titled the "Ernesto Che Guevara Brigade", were credited with treating 1,764,000 people, saving 363 lives, and operating on 3,893 patients. [183] There is also a Cuban supplied and staffed "Che Guevara Medical Brigade" serving in Haiti, composed of 575 doctors and health professionals. [184]

There are those, both supporters and detractors that object to the mass dissemination of Che's image in popular and counter-culture. His detractors dislike the widespread pictorial dissemination of someone they deem to be a "murderer" but also delight in the contradiction and/or irony of a Marxist being utilized as a Capitalist commodity. Conversely, some Che supporters object to the commodification or diminishing of his image by its use in popular culture, and resent those entrepreneurial companies who profit from and/or exploit his legacy viewing such marketing as an obvious conflict to Guevara's personal ideology.

Regardless of the varying sentiments, Jonathan Green director of the UCR/Museum of Photography believes that there is no escaping the influence of Che's symbolism, remarking that "we cannot get away from the context of Che Guevara, whether we like him or hate him, whether we called him a revolutionary or a butcher. The fact that he lived and died for the ideas in which he believed, penetrates constantly in the image." [185]

From an anti-Che perspective Edit

"The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster . The present-day cult of Che – the t-shirts, the bars, the posters – has succeeded in obscuring this dreadful reality."

Mexican author Rogelio Villareal has noted how "the famous image is not venerated by all . it has also been aged, laughed about, parodied, insulted, and distorted around the world." [187] Conservative Mark Falcoff has remarked that Guevara is "a cultural icon" not because of "his example for poor countries" but as a result of "his capacity to provoke empathy among the spoiled youth of the affluent West." [188] Historian Robert Conquest, of the Hoover Institution, has referred to such "empathy" and adulation among the young, as the "unfortunate affliction" of "adolescent revolutionary romanticism." [31] Sean O'Hagan of The Observer contends that the appeal to such empathy is one of superficiality, remarking that "if Che hadn't been born so good-looking, he wouldn't be a mythical revolutionary." [31] In the view of Ana Menéndez, author of the novel Loving Che, the fascination with Che is not with the man, but the photograph. [189] While herself acknowledging him as a "great idealist", Menéndez believes there is a "fallibility of memory", which leads many to "gloss over the fact that he was also a brutal man, the head of a firing squad in the opening days of the revolution." [189] Menéndez theorizes that such unsavory aspects are glossed over in the way one glosses over someone's flaws when in love. [189] Jazz musician Paquito D'Rivera, himself a Cuban exile who fled the island after a run-in with Guevara, has criticized the positive portrayal of Che by musicians such as Santana, by noting the strict censorship of music at the time deemed "immoral" and "imperialist" by the Cuban government. [190] In deference to such contradictions, Patrick Symmes, author of Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend, has hypothesized that "the more time goes by, the chicer and chicer Che gets because the less he stands for anything." [191] Barcelona museum director Ivan de la Nuez, in the 2008 documentary "Chevolution" describes the overall phenomena by observing that "Capitalism devours everything – even its worst enemies." [192]

From a pro-Che perspective Edit

"During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the "consolation" of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it."

Duke Latin American studies professor Ariel Dorfman hypothesizes that Che's been "comfortably transmogrified into a symbol of rebellion" precisely because those in power no longer believe him to be dangerous. [194] Dorfman suspects the attempt to subvert Che could backfire, positing that 3 billion people now live on less than $2 a day and thus "the powerful of the earth should take heed: deep inside that T shirt where we have tried to trap him, the eyes of Che Guevara are still burning with impatience." [194] Expressing a similar sentiment, director Jonathan Green acknowledges that "Che is turning over in his grave" because of the commercialization in Green's view, Che's visage also has the potential to be a "Trojan horse" of capitalist marketing, by embedding itself into pop iconography. In his example, corporations in their desperate drive to sell goods, create the opportunity for observers to see the "logo" and ask "who was that guy?" [185] Trisha Ziff, curator of Che! Revolution and Commerce believes that regardless of the "postmodern" diffusion, you can't disassociate Che from "radical ideas and change", nor can one control it. In Ziff's view, despite the endless array of merchandising, the symbol of Che will continue to be worn and have resonance. [185] Critical pedagogical theorist Peter McLaren theorizes that American capitalism is responsible for the Che phenomenon, stating that "the United States has a seductive way of incorporating anything that it can't defeat and transforming that 'thing' into a weaker version of itself, much like the process of diluting the strength and efficacy of a virus through the creation of a vaccine." [195] Neo-Marxist and critical theorist Herbert Marcuse argued that in the contemporary capitalist world there is no escaping such co-optation, theorizing that we are made "one-dimensional" by capitalism's single-minded orientation toward greed and growth. [80] Author Susan Sontag spoke of the potential positive ramifications of utilizing Che as a symbol, positing:

"I don't disdain the impact of Che as a romantic image, especially among newly radicalized youth in the United States and Western Europe if the glamour of Che's person, the heroism of his life, and the pathos of his death, are useful to young people in strengthening their disaffiliation from the life-style of American imperialism and in advancing the development of a revolutionary consciousness, so much the better." [196]

சே என்பது வியப்புச்சொல் ஆகும். இச்சொல்லை அர்சென்டீனர்கள், குவேரனி இந்தியர்களிடமிருந்து பழகினர் என்று கருதப்படுகிறது. அவ்விந்தியர், எனது என்ற பொருளில் பயன்படுத்துவர் என்று மானுடவியல் அறிஞர் கூறுவர். ஆனால், தென்னமரிக்கப் பாம்பாஸ் புல்வெளியினருக்கு வியப்பு, மகிழ்ச்சி, வருத்தம், நாணயம், அட்சேபம், அங்கீகாரம் போன்ற பல மனித உணர்வுகளை வெளிப்படுத்தும் சொல்லாக அமைகிறது. இடத்திற்கு ஏற்பவும், ஒலிப்புக்கு ஏற்றவாறும் அச்சொல் பயனாகிறது. இச்சொல்லின் மீதுள்ள பற்றால், கியூபா புரட்சியாளர்கள், 'சே' என்று செல்லமாக அழைத்தனர். அவரது பெற்றோர், அவரை 'டேட்டி' என்று செல்லமாக அழைப்பர்.

சே குவேரா 1928 ஆம் ஆண்டு சூன் மாதம் 14 ஆம் நாள் அர்கெந்தீனாவில் உள்ள ரொசாரியோ என்னும் இடத்தில் பிறந்தார். இசுபானிய, பாஸ்க்கு, ஐரிசிய மரபுவழிகளைக் கொண்ட ஒரு குடும்பத்தில் ஐந்து பிள்ளைகளில் இவர் மூத்தவர். இவரது குடும்பம் இடதுசாரி சார்பான குடும்பமாக இருந்ததால் மிக இளம் வயதிலேயே அரசியல் தொடர்பான பரந்த நோக்கு இவருக்குக் கிடைத்தது. இவரது தந்தை, சோசலிசத்தினதும், ஜுவான் பெரோனினதும் ஆதரவாளராக இருந்தார். இதனால், ஸ்பானிய உள்நாட்டுப் போரில் ஈடுபட்ட குடியரசு வாதிகள் இவர் வீட்டுக்கு அடிக்கடி வருவதுண்டு. இது சோசலிசம் பற்றிய இவரது கருத்துக்களுக்கு வழிகாட்டியது.

வாழ்க்கை முழுவதும் இவரைப் பாதித்த ஆஸ்மா நோய் இவருக்கு இருந்தும் இவர் ஒரு சிறந்த விளையாட்டு வீரராக விளங்கினார். இவர் ஒரு சிறந்த "ரக்பி" விளையாட்டு வீரர். இவரது தாக்குதல் பாணி விளையாட்டு காரணமாக இவரை "பூசெர்" என்னும் பட்டப் பெயர் இட்டு அழைத்தனர். அத்துடன், மிக அரிதாகவே இவர் குளிப்பதால், இவருக்கு "பன்றி" என்னும் பொருளுடைய சாங்கோ என்ற பட்டப்பெயரும் உண்டு.

தனது தந்தையிடமிருந்து சதுரங்கம் விளையாடப் பழகிய சே குவேரா, 12 ஆவது வயதில் உள்ளூர் சுற்றுப் போட்டிகளிலும் கலந்து கொண்டுள்ளார். வளர்ந்த பின்பும், பின்னர் வாழ்நாள் முழுவதும் இவர் கவிதைகளின் மீது ஆர்வம் கொண்டிருந்தார். நெரூடா, கீட்ஸ், மாச்சாடோ, லோர்க்கா, மிஸ்ட்ரல், வலேஜோ, வைட்மன் ஆகியோரது ஆக்கங்கள் மீது இவருக்குச் சிறப்பு ஆர்வம் இருந்தது.

குவேராவின் வீட்டில் 3000 நூல்களுக்கு மேல் இருந்தன. நூல்களை வாசிப்பதில் அவருக்கு இருந்த ஆர்வத்துக்கு இது ஒரு காரணம் எனலாம். இவற்றுள், மார்க்ஸ், போல்க்னர், கைடே, சல்காரி, வேர்னே போன்றவர்கள் எழுதிய நூல்களில் அவருக்குச் சிறப்பான ஆர்வம் இருந்தது. இவை தவிர நேரு, காப்கா, காமுஸ், லெனின் போன்றவர்களது நூல்களையும், பிரான்ஸ், ஏங்கெல்ஸ், வெல்ஸ், புரொஸ்ட் ஆகியோருடைய நூல்களையும் அவர் விரும்பி வாசித்தார்.

அவரது வயது அதிகரித்த போது, அவருக்கு இலத்தீன் அமெரிக்க எழுத்தாளர்களான குயிரோகா, அலெக்ரியா, இக்காசா, டாரியோ, ஆஸ்டூரியாஸ் போன்றோருடைய ஆக்கங்களின் பால் ஈடுபாடு ஏற்பட்டது. செல்வாக்கு மிக்க தனி நபர்களின் கருத்துருக்கள், வரைவிலக்கணங்கள், மெய்யியற் கருத்துக்கள் போன்றவற்றை எழுதிவந்த குறிப்புப் புத்தகத்தில் இவர்களுடைய கருத்துக்களையும் அவர் குறித்து வந்தார். இவற்றுள், புத்தர், அரிஸ்ட்டாட்டில் என்போர் பற்றிய ஆய்வுக் குறிப்புக்கள், பேட்ரண்ட் ரஸ்ஸலின் அன்பு, தேசபக்தி என்பன குறித்த ஆய்வு, ஜாக் லண்டனின் சமூகம் பற்றிய கருத்துக்கள், நீட்சேயின் இறப்பு பற்றிய எண்ணங்கள் என்பனவும் அடங்கியிருந்தன. சிக்மண்ட் பிராய்டின் ஆக்கங்களாலும் கவரப்பட்ட சே குவேரா, அவரைப் பல வேளைகளில் மேற்கோள் காட்டியுள்ளார்.

கல்வி தொகு

1948 ஆம் ஆண்டில் மருத்துவம் படிப்பதற்காக சேகுவேரா, புவனஸ் அயர்ஸ் பல்கலைக் கழகத்தில் சேர்ந்தார். ஆனால் 1951 ஆம் ஆண்டில் படிப்பில் இருந்து ஓராண்டு விடுப்பு எடுத்துக்கொண்டு, அவரது நண்பரான ஆல்பர்ட்டோ கிரெனாடோவுடன் சேர்ந்து கொண்டு, மோட்டார் ஈருருளியில் தென்னமெரிக்கா முழுதும் பயணம் செய்தார். பெரு நாட்டில் அமேசான் ஆற்றங்கரையில் இருந்த தொழுநோயாளர் குடியேற்றம் ஒன்றில் சில வாரங்கள் தொண்டு செய்வது அவரது இப்பயணத்தின் இறுதி நோக்கமாக இருந்தது. இப்பயணத்தின் போது அவர் எடுத்த குறிப்புக்களைப் பயன்படுத்தி "மோட்டார் ஈருருளிக் குறிப்புக்கள்" (The Motorcycle Diaries) என்னும் தலைப்பில் நூலொன்றை எழுதினார். இது பின்னர் நியூ யார்க் டைம்சின் அதிக விற்பனை கொண்ட நூலாகத் தெரிவு செய்யப்பட்டது. பின்னர், 2004 இல், இதே பெயரில் எடுக்கப்பட்ட திரைப்படம் [7] விருதுகளையும் பெற்றது.

பரவலான வறுமை, அடக்குமுறை, வாக்குரிமை பறிப்பு என்பவற்றை இலத்தீன் அமெரிக்கா முழுதும் கண்ணால் கண்டதினாலும், மார்க்சிய நூல்களின் செல்வாக்கும் ஒன்று சேர ஆயுதம் ஏந்திய புரட்சி மூலமே சமூக ஏற்றத் தாழ்வுகளுக்குத் தீர்வு காண முடியும் என சே குவேரா நம்பலானார். பயணத்தின் முடிவில், இவர், இலத்தீன் அமெரிக்காவைத் தனித்தனி நாடுகளாகப் பார்க்காமல், ஒட்டு மொத்தமான கண்டம் தழுவிய விடுதலைப் போர் முறை தேவைப்படும் ஒரே பகுதியாகப் பார்த்தார். எல்லைகளற்ற ஹிஸ்பானிய அமெரிக்கா என்னும் சே குவேராவின் கருத்துரு அவரது பிற்காலப் புரட்சி நடவடிக்கைகளில் தெளிவாக வெளிப்பட்டது. ஆர்ஜெண்டீனாவுக்குத் திரும்பிய சேகுவேரா தனது படிப்பை முடித்து 1953 ஆம் ஆண்டு ஜூன் மாதத்தில் மருத்துவ டிப்ளோமாப் பட்டம் பெற்றார்.

பயணங்கள் தொகு

1953 ஜூலையில் மீண்டும் பயணமொன்றைத் தொடங்கிய சேகுவேரா, இம்முறை பொலீவியா, பெரு, ஈக்குவடோர், பனாமா, கொஸ்தாரிக்கா, நிக்கராகுவா, ஹொண்டூராஸ், எல் சல்வடோர் ஆகிய நாடுகளுக்குச் சென்றார். அதே ஆண்டு டிசம்பரில் சேகுவேரா குவாதமாலாவுக்குச் சென்றார். அங்கே மக்களாட்சி அடிப்படையில் தெரிவு செய்யப்பட்ட அரசாங்கம் ஒன்றுக்குத் தலைமை தாங்கிய குடியரசுத் தலைவர் ஜாக்கோபோ ஆர்பென்ஸ் குஸ்மான் என்பவர் நிலச் சீர்திருத்தங்களின் மூலமும் பிற நடவடிக்கைகளாலும் பெருந்தோட்ட (latifundia) முறையை ஒழிப்பதற்கு முயன்று கொண்டிருந்தார். உண்மையான புரட்சியாளனாக ஆவதற்குத் தேவையான அனுபவங்களைப் பெற்றுக்கொள்ளும் நோக்குடன் குவேரா, குவாத்தமாலாவிலேயே தங்கிவிட முடிவு செய்தார்.

குவாத்தாமாலா நகரில், சே குவேராவுக்கு ஹில்டா கடேயா அக்கொஸ்தா என்னும் பெண்ணின் பழக்கம் கிடைத்தது. இவர் பெரு நாட்டைச் சேர்ந்த ஒரு பொருளியலாளரும், இடதுசாரிச் சார்புள்ள அமெரிக்க மக்கள் புரட்சிகர கூட்டமைப்பு (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance) என்னும் இயக்கத்தின் உறுப்பினரும் ஆவார். இதனால் அவருக்கு அரசியல் மட்டத்தில் நல்ல தொடர்புகள் இருந்தன. இவர் ஆர்பென்சின் அரசாங்கத்தின் பல உயரதிகாரிகளைச் சேகுவேராவுக்கு அறிமுகப்படுத்தினார். அத்துடன் பிடல் காஸ்ட்ரோவுடன் தொடர்புகளைக் கொண்டிருந்தவர்களும், கியூபாவைவிட்டு வெளியேறி வாழ்ந்துவந்தவர்களுமான தொடர்புகளும் சே குவேராவுக்குக் கிடைத்தன. இக் காலத்திலேயே "சே" என்னும் பெயர் இவருக்கு ஏற்பட்டது. "சே" என்பது நண்பர் அல்லது தோழர் என்னும் பொருள் கொண்ட ஆர்ஜெண்டீனச் சொல்லாகும்.

சில காலத்தின் பின்னர் சே குவேரா தன்னை பிடல் காஸ்ட்ரோவின் போராட்ட இயக்கத்தில் இணைத்துக்கொண்டார். அவ்வியக்கம் 1959 இல் கியூபாவின் ஆட்சி அதிகாரத்தினைக் கைப்பற்றியது. அதன் பின்னர் கியூபாவின் மத்திய வங்கியின் தலைவராக 14 ஆண்டுகள் பணியாற்றினார்.அக்காலகட்டத்தில் கரந்தடிப் போர்முறை பற்றிய பல கட்டுரைகளையும், புத்தங்களையும் எழுதியிருந்தார். 1964 டிசம்பர் 11ம் தேதியன்று கியூபாவின் பிரதிநிதியாக ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் அவையின் 19 வது பொது அமர்வில் உரையாற்றினார். [9] பின்னர், கொங்கோ-கின்ஸாசா (தற்போது கொங்கோ ஜனநாயகக் குடியரசு) மற்றும் பொலிவியா போன்ற நாடுகளின் சோசலிசப் போராட்ட வளர்ச்சிக்கு தனது பங்களிப்பினை அளிப்பதற்காக 1965 ஆம் ஆண்டில் கியூபாவில் இருந்து வெளியேறினார்.

சே 1966ம் ஆண்டின் கடைசிகளில் கொரில்லாப் போரை வழி நடத்தும் பொருட்டு உருகுவே நாட்டு போலி பாஸ்போர்ட்டுடன் பொலிவியா நாட்டுக்குள் நுழைந்தார். பல காரணங்களால் பொலிவியா நாட்டைத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்தார் என்று நம்பப்படுகிறது. அமெரிக்கா பொலிவியாவைவிட கரிப்பியன் பேசின் நாடுகளே தங்கள் பாதுகாப்பிற்கு பங்கம் விளைவிக்கக்கூடும் என்று நம்பியதும், அதனால் அமெரிக்காவின் பார்வை பொலிவியா மீது அவ்வளவு தீர்க்கமாக விழவில்லை என்பதும் ஒரு காரணம் . இரண்டாவதாக பொலிவியாவின் ஏழ்மையும் அங்கு நிலவிய சமூக மற்றும் பொருளாதார நிலைகளும் எந்நேரமும் அங்கு புரட்சி வெடிக்க சாதகமாக இருந்தது . மூன்றாவதாக பொலிவியா ஐந்து பிற நாடுகளுடன் தன் எல்லையை பகிர்ந்து கொண்டிருந்தது . பொலிவியாவில் கொரில்லாப் போராட்டம் வெற்றி பெறுமேயானால் அதை மற்ற ஐந்து நாடுகளுக்கும் பரவச் செய்துவிடலாம் என்று குவேரா நினைத்தது. (ஆனால் ஃபிடெல் காஸ்ட்ரோ தன்னை வஞ்சித்து விட்டதாக சே குவேரா மிகவும் வருந்தியதாக 1998ம் ஆண்டு ஓய்வு பெற்ற பொலிவிய ராணுவ அதிகாரி ஒருவர் ஒரு பேட்டியில் கூறியுள்ளார்.

பொலிவியாவில் சி.ஐ.ஏ மற்றும் அமெரிக்க சிறப்பு இராணுவத்தினது இராணுவ நடவடிக்கை ஒன்றின்போது சே கைது செய்யப்பட்டார். பொலிவிய இராணுவத்தினரால் வல்லெகிராண்டிற்கு அருகில் உள்ள லா கிகுவேரா என்னுமிடத்தில் கேரி ப்ராடோ சால்மோன் என்பவரின் தலைமையில் [9] ஒக்டோபர் 9, 1967 இல் சே குவேரா கொல்லப்பட்டார். சாட்சிகள் மற்றும் கொலையில் பங்குபற்றியவர்களிடமிருந்து கிடைத்த தகவலின்படி, சட்டத்தின் முன் நிறுத்தப்படாமல் கொல்லப்பட்டது உறுதிப்படுத்தப்படுகிறது. கைதியாக அகப்பட்டு நின்ற நேரத்தில் கூட மரணத்தை வரவேற்றார். தன்னை கொல்ல வந்தவனைப் பார்த்தும் "ஒரு நிமிடம் பொறு நான் எழுந்து நிற்கிறேன் பிறகு என்னை சுடு" என்று கூறி எழுந்து நின்றிருக்கிறார்.(காலில் அப்போது குண்டடி பட்டிருந்தது)

அவரது மரணத்தின்பின், சே குவேரா உலகிலுள்ள சோசலிச புரட்சி இயக்கங்களினால் மிகவும் மரியாதைக்குரியவராக கொண்டாடப்படுகிறார். நினோ டி குஸ்மான் என்ற அந்த அதிகாரி குவேராவை சுட்டுக் கொல்வதற்கு முன்பு அவனிடம் நீண்ட நேரம் பேசிக் கொண்டிருந்ததாகவும் அப்போது சே அவனுடைய மனக்குமுறலை வெளியிட்டதாகவும் கூறினார். தான் பெரு நாட்டில் புரட்சி செய்ய முடிவெடுத்ததாகவும் ஆனால் காஸ்ட்ரோ தான் தன்னை வற்புறுத்தி பொலிவிய நாட்டில் கலகம் விளைவிக்கக் கூறியதாகவும் சே குவேரா கூறியதாக தகவல் வெளியாயிற்று. மேலும் சே குவேரா பெரு நாட்டின் விவசாயிகள் தன்னுடைய புரட்சிக்கு ஆதரவு கொடுத்திருப்பார்கள் என்றும் பொலிவிய நாட்டில் விவசாய மறுமலர்ச்சி திட்டத்தால் மக்கள் அவ்வளவு அதிருப்தியடையாததால் அவர்களின் ஆதரவு எதிர்பார்த்த அளவுக்குக் கிடைக்கவில்லை என்றும் கூறியதாக அந்த அதிகாரி கூறியிருந்தார்.)


Che Guevara's image is a popular design for clothing, so much so that Che's likeness has been known as "the face that launched a thousand T-shirts". [3] [4] Commentators have noted how the T-shirt is popular among younger adults, especially university students drawn to the rebelliousness associated with the icon. Richard Castle of the Brisbane Times wryly observes that "strolling down Brunswick Street or Chapel Street, it could be easy to think Che Guevara was the only man under 40 never to have worn a Che Guevara T-shirt". [5] The recent popularity of Che-related fashion has been attributed to economic troubles, which make Che's message more appealing. [6]

The image depicted on Che chic is based on the Guerrillero Heroico photograph. It is unknown when the photo was first used as a fashion design, [7] although it was first given an artistic rework in a series of 1967 posters by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick. [8]

The popularity of the trend has been criticised for downplaying Che's perceived flaws and romanticising his actions. Critics claim that youth support the icon without being aware of the controversial figure behind it, who has been accused of using violence as a means to achieve his objectives and supposedly "driving Cuba into economic disaster" by helping to overthrow the US-backed Batista dictatorship. [1] Critics have called the trend a "T-shirt fad". [9]

Members of the Cuban exile community have voiced opposition to Che chic and other depictions of Che as a pop cultural icon for the same reasons. [10]

Aleida Guevara, the eldest daughter of Che Guevara, has defended the fashion trend derived from her father's image, saying, "But look at the people who wear Che T-shirts. They tend to be those who don't conform, who want more from society, who are wondering if they can be better human beings. That, I think, he would have liked". [3]

Watch the video: Че Гевара. Победа будет за нами. Che Guevara. Hasta La Victoria Siempre