Ernesto “Che” Guevara
To some, Ernesto “Che” Guevara is a romantic revolutionary, guerrilla fighter, expounder of communist ideology, and a subculture pop icon. To others he represents a man who loved violence and was a false hero. Like many myths, if one digs deep enough, one might discover the bones of a common man at the bottom. In Ernesto Guevara’s case, he was a common man with a huge passion and gift for revolution. What turned the doctor to violence?
His turning point came after touring his native country of Argentina, and seeing the desperately poor there. It was at this point that he felt he had found his true calling. In his own words: “I wanted to help those people… for this task of organization, as for all revolutionary tasks, fundamentally it is the individual who is needed”. From that point on, Guevara dedicated his life to the revolutionary’s cause. What follows is a concise biography of Ernesto Che Guevara with highlights upon his Cuban accomplishments and his enduring legacy.
“Che is the Argentine word for “chum” or “buddy” . Later in life, Guevara would formally make Che part of his legal name. On 14 June, 1928, Che was born Ernesto Guevara in Rosario, Argentina. He was born into a “… middle-class family of Spanish-Irish descent… [who were] liberal, anti-Nazi… and not very religious” . Among his favorite childhood books are “… Sartre, Pablo Neruda, Ciro Alegría, and Karl Marx‘s Das Kapital”. Ernesto was home schooled at first, but later attended formal secondary school in Cordoba before moving on to the University of Buenos Aires in 1948 to study medicine.
In 1951, Che went on a fateful 4,000 mile motorcycle tour of south and central America’s rural areas where his encounters with the country’s poor would inspire his book The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey Around South America. Che’s discovery of the masses of starkly poor rural people would also inspire a lifetime of violent, communist revolution across the third world. In the following two years, Che became increasingly involved in protest and left-wing militant movements.
1953 and 1954 were eventful years for Che in that they led to Cuba and other Revolutionary activities. After joining the leftist regime of Jacobo Guzmán, which was overthrown in 1954, Che fled to Mexico City where, aside from landing work in the hospital, he met, among others, the Cuban, Fidel Castro. At this point, Che’s life takes a turn for Cuba.