The Revolutionary Life Of Che Guevara History Essay
Ernesto Che Guevara is universally renowned for his critical involvement in the success of the Cuban revolution. Venerated for his cause, he is considered by many to be a legendary hero whose name is equivalent to rebellion, revolution, and socialism. Others, however, see him as a ruthless murder. Regardless, his life as a revolutionary leader is an appealing subject that has been portrayed in a variety of books and films. This paper explains the story of Che Guevara, including his early life in Argentina, his motorcycle trips, his joining Fidel Castro’s army, his commitment to the revolutionary cause and the day he met his end in Bolivia. The paper also synthesizes and analyzes his contributions not only to the Cuban revolution but also to the world as a whole. Additionally, an investigation into his sinister part of life is also explored.
The Revolutionary Life of Che Guevara
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, commonly referred to as “El Che,” “Che Guevara,” or just “Che,” is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and distinguished revolutionaries who ever lived. Famous for his legendary revolutionary life as well as his utter willingness to fight and die for his beliefs, Che Guevara has become the world’s icon of rebellion and struggle against social injustice, slavery, and ethnic discrimination. As a matter of fact, he was selected by Time magazine as among “the most influential people of the 20th century,” according to the website www.globalresearch.ca (December 19, 2010). Throughout history, few has died yet never ceased to have a profound impact on the living like he did, especially now that his revolutionary ideals, which he once lived by and died fighting for, have made their way to attract the contemporary men and women of the 21st century all over the world with the help of a variety of easily accessible means.
It is the aforementioned reasons that formed the basis of numerous studies on Che Guevara’s revolutionary legacy. However, rarely has any researcher included in their studies the approach from the opposite point of view. That is, although universally admired, exceptionally by people in Latin America, Che Guevara also receives serious vilification and criticisms from “people in high places and in Cuban-exile communities throughout the Americas” who still have deep hatred for Cuban socialist government in general and for Guevara’s critical part in this system in particular (Harris, 2010, p.xiii). Some do not even hesitate to portray him as “a ruthless dictator and opponent of freedom” (Vega, 1997).
This research paper still analizes the legendary revolutionary life of Che Guevara, from the early days when he set out to pursue his adventurous dream on a motorbike till the very end when he was mercilessly yet valorously executed. But more importanly, a quantitative analysis of how his devotion ultimately affects Cuban society and the world’s perpective as a whole is presented. In addition, as aforesaid, a darker and more sinister side of Che Guevara’s so-called legacy in which he is hated and reviled will also be discussed.
Ernesto Guevara, or Che Guevara as we all know him, was the Argentinean-born leader of the Cuban revolution. Born on June 14, 1928 in Rosario, Argentina, Che was the eldest of five children of a liberal, middle-class family. However, according to a different source, Julia Constenla, Che’s actual date of birth was May 14 which was a month prior to the date stated in his birth certificate (Anderson, 1997, p. 3769). Constenla, who claimed she was told my Che’s mother, Celia de la Serna y Llosa, strongly asserted that when Che was conceived, Celia and Che’s father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, were not married; therefore, they had to alter the certificate and kept this a secret in order to avoid criticisms not only for themselves but also for their dear son.
As aninfant, Che Guevara, or Tete as he was called by his family at the time, had suffered from serious asthmaticcondtionssince 1930, which kept haunting him interminably throughout his revolutionary life. His family was then, at his father’s suggestion,relocated to Alta Garcia, a mountain resort town near Cordoba. Full of hope that the new place’sdrier climate would help improve Che’s health, his father, thought that it would be best if he stayed and spent his youth there, and so he did.
Moreover, it was this severe illness that drove him to be homeschooled, in 1934, by his mother who maintained left-wing political views just like his father (Bethel, 2003). Being closely attached to his mother from day till night, Che was gradually subject to her radical left-wing political perspectives. Deeply influenced by his parents’ views, alongwith an enormous library containing a plethora of controversial and leftist works available at home, Che soon discovered his political beliefs as a naturally developed interest.Of all the leftist literature, he showed particular interests in the works, especially poetry, of Walt Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca, Antonio Machado, and especially Pablo Neruda (Hart, 2004, p. 98). It was later confirmed by his father that he began to explore Marxist and other socialist literary works at home (Bethel, 2003), during the presidency of Juan Peron, who ultimately was the greatest inspiration of Che. However, his homeschooling finally came to an end in 1937, when the 9-year-old Che Guevara was able to enrol in a primary school and continued his education at the third grade.
Sick as he was, Che Guevara was described tobear a “restless” characteristic, which his father referred to as “the blood of the Irish rebels” (Lavretsky, 1976, p. 5). It was this trait that boosted his will to conquer his ailment by occupying himself with tense physical exercises. As a result, he became a superb athlete, distinguished himself at swimming, football, golfing, and shooting, and was widely recognized for his outstanding rugby performance as well as his aggressive style of play for the sports club CUBA, or Club Universitario de Buenos Aires (Cain & Growden, 2006, p. 293), in turn giving him the nickname “Fuser,” which is a contraction for “El Fuibundo” and “de la Serna,” which is his mother’s first name.
After graduating from Colegio Nacional Dean Funes high school in 1946, the Guevara family again relocated to Buenos Aires, where Che Guevara, at the age of 20,got accepted into the University of Buenos Aires a year later.In order to get a better understanding of asthma, the very ailment that plagued him for all his life, as well as cancer, the disease that led his grandmother to death, Che Guevarawas set on studying for a degree in medicine. However, this determination did not last very long. As the study went on, there was an overwhelming desire to take a break and travel the world that eventually caused him to put his education on hold until 1953 when he returned to finished his medical degree. Details of these trips, which play a vital part in forever changing his point of view in the society, along with his revolutionary activities, will be covered later in the following section.
Che Guevara had two marriages, the first being with Hilda Gadea Acosta, an exiled Peruvian Marxist. The wedding took place in August 8, 1955, while Hilda was carrying their first and only offspring, Hilda Beatriz. They soon went their seperate ways after 4 years of marriage, which in turn led Che Guevara to have a destined encouter with Aleida March, who later became his second wife onJune 3, 1959. The couple was so in love that they traveled together, fought together, and more importantly, had a close-knit family with four children together.
Throughout his revolutionary life from 1955 to 1967, the career of Che Guevara had varied greatly (Bethel, 2003). After joining the Cuban revolutionary army led by Fidel Castro in 1955, Che Guevara quickly got promoted to head of the industrial department of the Instituto Nacional de la Reforma Agraria, or the Cuban National Institute of Agrarian Reform on October 7, 1959, which was not long before he was made president of the Cuban National Bank on November 26. Appointed as head of the Ministry of Industry of Cuba in 1961, Che Guevara’s career seemingly advanced non-stop until 1965, when he suddenly forsook all of his duties and decided to stay out of sight. A year later, however, Che continued on his revolutionary quest in Bolivia as a guerilla leader, which was a complete failure leading to his capture and execution on October 8, 1967.
Che Guevara’s Revolutionary Activities
Despite being born and growing up in Argentina, Ernesto Che Guevara associated with Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution in the armed struggle as well as in the construction of Cuba’s socialism. In 1967, Che Guevara died while leading the guerrilla movement in Bolivia at the age of 39. Then, he has become an immortal legend, a symbol of revolutionary heroism and international spirit, as well as a symbol of national liberation struggle of the oppressed peoples of the world. Thus, there are many legendary stories about his revolutionary activities.
On January 1, 1950, Che Guevara began his first journey with a bike mounted motor. The journey, which crossed the Pampas plains in the north, has a length of 4,500 km. In this area, he had lived and assisted those who got infected by leprosy for a period of time, and worked in a group to build national highways in Argentina.
According to the “Che – Mot hanh trinh cuoc doi” (2012), in October 1951, Che reunited with a close friend Alberto Granado in Córdoba, then he suggested they made the trip to North America together. Not long after that, on December 29, 1951, they started their journey to other Latin American countries with Alberto’s motor (Poderosa II 500 cubic centimeters). They went through most of the countries in this region. Two months later, they were in Chile and continued to go through Bolivia and Peru. In Peru, Che Guevara, together with Alberto, visited the people living with leprosy. After that, they went along the Amazon River to go to Colombia and Venezuela on the raft named Mambo Tanga. In Venezuela, they separated. Alberto stayed for caring leprosy patients while Che returned to Argentina to complete his college program. In his travelling diary named “Motorcycle Diaries”, Che showed his huge changes within himself. The journey formed his compassion for the poor people and the spirit of fierce anti-imperialism.
After his college graduation on June 16, 1953, Guevara continued his journey back to Latin America with Carlos Calica Ferre, one of his childhood friends in Córdoba. The trip started on July 7, 1953. They took the train to go to Bolivia before coming to Lapaz capital on the 24th of the month (Ferrer & Smith, 2005). At that moment, the political situation in this country is very tense. A few months later, they traveled around Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and then stayed in Guatemala for about 9 months. There, he met Hilda Gadea, an exiled Peruvian woman, who became his wife later. She introduced Guevara and his friend to a group of Cuban exiles in the revolutionary group M-26-7 (26 of July Movement), in which Nico Lopez was a person who later gave him the nickname “Che”. After the time working in a hospital, Guevara moved to Mexico. There, in July 1955, he was introduced to Fidel Castro Ruz, and not long after that meeting, he voluntarily participated in the expeditionary group of the Cuban.
In April 1956, he began the military training along with other Cuban people and was one of the best students. Two months later, on June 24, Che and Fidel and other Cuban exiles were arrested by Mexican authorities and detained in Miguel Schultz. On July 31, they were released from prison and resumed the training. Subsequently, Che, as a member of the guerrilla’s general staff, together with 82 others, returned to Cuba on the ship named Granma on November 25, 1956. After that, on December 2, they had secretly landed on the island of Cuba.
After arriving in Cuba, they won many crucial victories. On July 21, 1957, Che was promoted to Major by Fidel Castro, and was assigned to establish one of the Army rebels. Only a month later, on August 30, he led his troops to the victory of the battle of El Hombrito.
In the article “Che Ernesto Guevara” (Nosotro, 2010), it was mentioned that in August 1958, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuesgos led their troops to launch the invasion from the west of the island. They marched 554 miles in 47 days with the lack of the military. According to an agreement later, to keep the forces, Che had to unify the command of the troops against the Batista regime. They began to attack on Santa Clara, an economic center as well as an important transport hub. On August 31, 1958, the rebels captured Santa Clara. This led Batista regime quickly into doom. Batista had to flee abroad and start an exile life. On January 4, 1959, Che, along with other rebel commanders, entered La Havana as the winners.
After his great contributions, Ernesto Che Guevara was awarded the Cuba citizenship. This decision was supported by Cuban people. After the new revolutionary government was established, he was chosen as one of the three leaders (Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Raul Castro) of this country. On October 8th, 1959, he was appointed to the head of the agriculture of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform. In this position, Che decided to confiscate all of the private property land. On November 26, he was selected as a chairman of the National Bank.
The first position of Che, before becoming the chairman of the Cuba National Bank, after the national liberation in 1959, was the commander of the Havana Prison. According to the article named “Che Guevara: A cold killing machine motivated by hate” (Rollings, 2008), during six months, he gave the death penalty for between 180 and thousands of Batista prisoners. In April 1960, he concurrently held the commander of the revolutionary armed forces training. In February 1961, after being the Minister of Industries, Guevara decided to put hundreds of state-owned enterprises under the control of the government. At that time, he also resolved lots of matters affecting Cuba.
In March 1963, when serving as a key leader in the Cuba state apparatus, Che decided to resign from all his positions including the Cuban citizenship to continue to devote his life to the fighting for freedom of oppressed people (Guevara, 1965). This decision was given at the right time when his career was at the peak of success, so there was some doubt. There were many ideas that behind Che’s leaving was the coercion of Fidel Castro and Raul Castro. However, in the letter sent to President Fidel which was read in the establishment ceremony of Communist Party of Cuba, Che Guevara made it clear that his resignation was completely voluntary, following his heart of freedom, peace and dedication for the revolution of human liberation from oppression and injustice.
In early April 1963, Che and some others left Cuba and came to Congo. There, they pulled out after their failed plans (November 1965). In March 1966, he went to Prague (Czechoslovakia), and then secretly returned to Cuba (July 1966) to plan the campaign for Bolivia. In November 1967, Che and his comrades used fake passports to go to La Paz (the capital of Bolivia). In La Paz, they secretly formed a guerrilla group, with the aim of creating a pilot nuclear struggle for liberating Latin America. After 11 months of the campaign, whose details were recorded in his diary which was later popularized as “The Bolivian Diary of Ernesto Che Guevara,” his organization was gradually exposed, which finally led to failure.
With the ambush tactics, Che’s organization won some small battles. However, the head quarter and activities of the organization were exposed because of the insiders. Thus, to avoid the enemy raid, the organization decided to relocate the base, so his organization was isolated. Due to the disease and lack of food, they had to kill horses and donkeys, which were previously their means of transport, to eat. Che’s comrades eventually died while he was living with asthma and was always in danger because of the lack of medicine. Finally, he was captured on October 7, 1967 when trying to find the way out of the forest in the Quebrada del Yuro. On October 9, he was executed by a joint CIA-Bolivian task force. Subsequently, Barrientos government buried his corpse, and thirty years later, on October 17, 1997, his body and six others’ were found and exhumed in a mass grave. Then, they were brought to Cuba and buried in Santa Clara, where Che had crucial victories that decided the success of the Cuban Revolution (Llosa, 2007).
The main causes that led to the failure of the Bolivian campaign were probably that Che’s organization was not believed and supported by Bolivian people, and did not actually link the struggles. In addition, the forces were weak, the equipment was rudimentary, and the strategies and tactics were not appropriate, while the enemy was powerful. Furthermore, the time was not ripe for a widespread and successful revolution.
In spite of this defeat, the reputation of Ernesto Che Guevara and his influence spread throughout not only Latin America but also the world day by day. He has become a symbol of the struggle, of the kindness against poverty and oppression in order to bring justice to other people.
Che Guevara’s Contribution to the Society
For centuries, the hero Che Guevara is considered as a living legend, a symbol of the revolutionary hero of all peoples in the world, not just in Cuba and other Latin American countries. After being executed by the Bolivian army, he was regarded as a martyr by generations of leftist worldwide, and his image became an icon of leftist radicalism and anti-imperialism. He is always a true revolutionary, a true man of the 20th century and much later, for today and the future generations to follow.
Guevara’s contribution to the Cuban Revolution. Che Guevara was the leader of the Communist Revolution in Cuba, and also the hero of the most prominent leaders of the country Cuba attached to him. In a review of the book “Che Guevara: A revolutionary life” (n.d) by Jon Lee Anderson, the author emphasized that Che Guevara played a vital role not only in the seizure of power in 1959 but also in the social revolution which ultimately turned Cuba into a communist nation. It was his tactical mastermind, his experience in guerrilla warfare, his brilliant leadership of the guerrilla force and his socialist ideologies that lead to the success of the Cuban revolution.
In 1950, Che Guevara decided to go on his first trip through Latin America to explore different parts of the continent. In this trip, Che witnessed many people who had to live in severe poverty and atrocious medical conditions, without any interference from the government. He also experienced the sight of exploitation, inequality, marginalization and penetration of mainly the United States. From these experiences, Che decided to seek the truth and fight for justice. He believed that the task was to turn these people into people with weapons in their hands to liberate themselves. “No weapon cannot do anything” – This thinking of Che Guevara was confirmed and approved by the Cuban rebel Fidel Castro, a political exile who was preparing a plot to overthrow the Cuba dictatorship of Fulgencio Bastista, in their long-awaited meeting at Mexico city in 1955 (Richards, n.d.). Fidel and Che shared their revolutionary ambitions. They were set against the tide of revolution that swept across the world during the middle of the twentieth century. It was the story of two men who shared a common goal, became brothers in arms, and finally made an epic decision between their friendship and beliefs. After this meeting, Guevara decided to embark upon Fidel Castro’s quest to overthrow the corrupt dictatorship of Batista in Cuba.
Guevara began his career as a revolutionary in earnest when he signed up with Fidel to serve as a physician in the invasion army of 82 men (Richards, n.d.). Of these, Guevara was the only person who was not a Cuban native He assumed a position of influence which, together with his revolutionary goals and tactical brilliance, served to greatly support the revolution’s cause. Guevara became Castrol’s chief lieutenant and distinguished himself as a resourceful and fearless tactician who not only was capable of ordering the execution of traitors and spies but also deeply cared for the welfare of his troops (“Guevara”, 2008). It was also mentioned in the article that with Castro’s forces pressing in, Bastista had to flee the country on New Year’s Day. It was the result of defeating a 30,000 strong and professional army by Castro’s 3,000 guerrillas. The rebel force gradually gained in strength, took the weapons and ammunition from Batista’s troops, won the support of the local and got new recruits. At the time, Guevara became Castro’s right hand, one of the few who got his complete trust.
Che Guevara was one of the first of the rebel forces to arrive gloriously in Havana on January 4, 1959, and claimed the capital for the revolutionary forces (Bethel, 2003). After this, Castro’s victorious troops entered Havana, and established a Marxist government; Guevara officially became a Cuban citizen. As one of the best lieutenants in the Cuban revolution, Guevara’s reputation expanded very fast, not only in Cuba but also all over the world. He became a symbol of struggle for freedom and justice. Stories of his courage and leadership spread so rapidly that he was considered to be one of the most important figures in the revolution itself.
In the new government established by Castro, Guevara served in a number of important positions. It was mentioned in a research named “Ernesto Che Guevara’s contribution to socialist political economy, industrial organization and economic development in Cuba 1959-1965” (n.d.) by Helen Yafe that in this period, Che Guevara was central in driving the structural changes which transformed Cuba from semi-colonial underdevelopment to independence and integration into the socialist bloc. Helen Yafe also listed some important positions and contributions of Che Guevara to the Cuban government system: Purging the old army; Agrarian Reform Law; Forging unity between internal revolutionary forces – a process leading to the creation of what is today the CCP and UJC. Additionally, he was the first one to lead an overseas mission to expand trade and relation, according to Helen Che went to Yugoslavia and described it as decision-making imperialism with socialist allocation of the earnings and the rivalry among companies would alter the socialist fortitude.
Che Guevara became Head Department of Industrialization during nationalizations; Head of the National Bank – all financial institutions were nationalized. He prepared in secret to change the country’s banknotes to prevent the financing of the counter-revolution and control inflation. In February 1961, he became Cuba’s first Minister of Industries. The objective of Ernesto Che Guevara in the economic reform of Cuba was obvious: to stir the financial system of Cuba away from its reliance on the trade of sugar with the United States particularly and on the export of sugar, generally (Bethel, 2003). This clear objective itself helped Cuba to be independent and started integration into the socialist bloc.
To emphasize this remarkable step, in a speech by him, Guevara eloquently stated that the socialist learned and gained knowledge due to the struggle, and they developed into revolutionaries because of revolution, they became aware of the reality all the way through the experience. The socialist also read the situation in Cuba where must be having a popular armed force to stand up fighting against the armed puppets of the imperialist and called people upon to join the force and crush the oppressors.
His spirit of fighting encouraged not only Cuba but also all the peoples in the world. Besides, it is clear that Guevara’s contributions to the Cuban revolution were very considerable. With just a limited number of guerrilla soldiers, Che Guevara helped Fidel Castro to take over an entire country. After the old government was overthrown, Che continued to help Castro make his mind that communism was the right path for Cuba. He assisted Castro in quickly industrializing the country, setting up social reforms to try, and essentially making Cuba a better place to live for its citizens. He became the icon of the Cuban revolution; the architect of the Cuban Stalinist counter-revolution; the ruthless anti-imperialist fighter who was willing to sacrifice his own life for the sake of another country. The name Che Guevara will always be the pride of Cuba.
Guevara’s contribution to Latin American and the world. Before Che Guevara joined the Cuban revolution with Fidel Castro in Mexico, he gained a great amount of experience during his trips through Latin America and associated with many leftist movements. Observing the poverty, exploitation, inequality, marginalization here, Che Guevara was urged to find the truth and fight for justice. His disgust at the inequality and strong desire to fight for its eradication was indisputably an honorable and admirable cause. “The duty of a revolutionary was to make revolution” (Che Guevara about Cuban Revolution, 2003), Che liked to say. Indeed, his passion for balancing inequalities throughout Latin America is honorable and worthy of praise.
After glorious victories in Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara still attempted to spread revolution. As the new Cuba is isolated on the world stage, and increasingly comes to rely on Soviet aid, Che looks to spread the Latin American revolution. In 1966, Guevara traveled on to Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia, where he joined and became a leader of a communist guerrilla movement attempting to overthrow the country’s military government (Bethel, Kari, 2003). Sadly, his strategy that was so fortunate in Cuba, failed in both Congo and Bolivia. In 1967, Che Guevara was murdered by state forces as US representatives look on. His last words are reported ro be, “I know you have come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man” (Bethel & Kari, 2003).
Although the two rebellions which he tried to make in Congo and Bolivia was failures, Ernesto Che Guevara has become the great representation of a enthusiastic revolutionary, willing to give his life to find success for the rebellion. Moreover, Che Guevara’s contributions played an essential parts to the socialism and imperialism, as well as his enduring political legacy and his involvement to the speculation and strategy of guerrilla warfare. Che Guevara’s ideas is said to be having the crucial relation on the Cuban rebellion and all the revolutionary events following in Latin America and some parts of the word (Saunois, 1997). Che’s protection of these ideas as a means of struggle to be taken up all over Latin America placed them right at the centre of a discussion in the revolutionary socialist movement throughout that continent and beyond. The Cuban rebellion, particularly the parts of it contributed by Ernesto Che Guevara, has numerous lessons for the insurrection in opposition to the over utilization, or exploitation in other words, which is happening commonly today, in almost every part of the world. In addition, Che Guevara also happened to be renowned in the West for his disagreement to every type of neocolonialism, and the attacks on United States foreign strategy (Saunois, 1997). Che Guevara created an international proletarian spirit that had motivated the desire for freedom of Latin America and all countries over the world.
Until now, more than forty years after Che Guevara’s death, his name and image remain popular. To some Che Guevara is idolized as a man of the people, a freedom fighter for the downtrodden, who gave his life in the struggle to free peoples of the world to live in a better civilization. In 1997, Che Guevara’s T-shirts which demonstrated his portraits had been worn widely by lots of people in Europe and South America, especially the Latin America, and it turned out to be very well-liked these days all over the world. He is an icon for millions people who want a world free of poverty and oppression, the symbol of struggle and justice, and some even considered him as “a modern day Robin Hood.” Che Guevara is, as confirmed in the Time magazine, included in the list of the most 100 powerful persons in the world. His legend has continuously rising since his passing away in 1967, and the revolutionary ideals he spent most of his life on at the present appeal to a young generation of the twenty-first century. When speaking about that revolutionary legend, Nelson Mandela expressed his admiration and respect to Che, as his life inspired every human being that has the love for freedom.
Che Guevara’s Negative Sides
Che Guevara is widely known as a generous, romantic and compassionate hero and he is also idolized by many people all over the world. According to Jean-Paul Sartre, Che was the most comple and perfect man of this era (Rawalpindi, 2006). However, there are arguments whether he only had the positive effects on human’s lives or Che Guevara had his negative side. Although he was widely known to be a doctor from his mother country Argentina the author of several books and articles, Justin Stamm (2009) has given his ideas that Ernesto “Che” Guevara never actually did graduate from any medical school or university. In reality, he quitted school to take part in the fomenting Marxist rebellion in Cuba funded by Soviet communist Russia. The complex character of Che Guevara has been shaped by the contradictions of his philosophy at different points in his life. So, what do we really know and understand about Ernesto “Che” Guevara? Is he really that complete and perfect hero of humanity? The answer is definitely no to the persons who regard him as a brutal killer and a racist.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara – a brutal murderer?
Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl! (Guevara, 2004)
Ernesto “Che” Guevara wrote the above statements in his famous “The Motorcycle Diaries”, and their effects are not quite similar with the former statements.
There are many opinions which criticize Che Guevara to be a coldblooded killer. In 2005, Alvaro Vargas Llosa stated in his article that Che Guevara was not ever afraid of his death, and he took other people’s deaths as lightly as his (Llosa, 2005). According to the article “Che Shows Only Glorifies Portrait of a Ruthless Killer” (Vega, 1997), Ernesto “Che” Guevara cannot be considered as a hero, because he ordered the death sentence of incalculable human beings while he is in control of the prison in Havana, and moreover, Ernesto “Che” Guevara denied the freedom to thousands of citizens, whom are considered by Che to be “deviants” or “anti-revolutionaries”. Those acts of Che Guevara cannot be accepted under any circumstances, as said by the author of this article.
Che always believed that rebellion cannot happen without violence. When Granado, Che’s young friend, told Che about his idea to create a pro-Indian political party by fairly winning election, in order to develop the Latin American politics, he responded to his young fellow that to have revolution, it is impossible if there are no gun shots (C. Guevara, 2004). This answer can be regarded as the signal of the upcoming things in the future. Che’s belief had been reinforced by his sincerity that because Arbenz had unsuccessful in killing and eliminate his potential enemies, he had lost all his power.
When he arrived in Cuba, the president of Cuba was Fulgencio Batista. Fidel Castro was the leader of the rebellious left; he and his comrades were ready to overthrow the Batista’s corrupt regime. Following the Batista’s regime overthrow in July 1959, Ernesto “Che” Guevara commanded a firing squad and set the “Labor Camp” across the country, which were modeled on the Soviet Gulags prison. In his essay, he stated that he did not need to have a fair assessment for anybody that opposed Castro’s Cuban revolution.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara order the death sentence to a hundreds of thousands of homeless Cuban, together with women and children, through those newly established “Labor Camp”. Che Guevara himself executed more than 200 people, and there is information from some historians that the real number is much bigger. Humberto Fontova stated in his piece of writing, Che and Castro even had humiliated the Nazis killing rate. According to Fontova, Che Guevara signed over 600 death warrants, only in three months in charge (Fontova, 2004). When discussing the negative effects of those “Labor Camp” across the country, Justin Stamm makes a comparison between this Soviet-backed regime and the Joseph Stalin’s regime and Adolf Hitler’s regime. He mentioned the much higher in number of people who are imprisoned compared to Joseph Stalin’s communist regime and the more people executed than Hitler’s regime, although Castro’s regime needed much less time (Stamm, 2009).
The diary in Sierra Maestra of Ernesto “Che” Guevara shows that Che shot Eutimio Guerra in January 1957, only for a reason that, he believed Guerra to be forwarding information (Gadea, 1972). Che Guevara often instructed his inferiors to kill the person if there is any doubt on him, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa. (Llosa, 2005).
Ernesto “Che” Guevara always dream of making “New Man” at any cost, even human lives. He insisted that “New Man” must be “built”, “developed” or “constructed”. This “New Man”, according to Che Guevara, should work only to the benefit of the whole mankind, not for anybody in particular.
Throughout the Cuban missile crisis, he was in support of a nuclear war because he assumed that an improved world could be built from the ashes, despite the consequences that it would cost millions of lives. The famous revolutionary pointed out that to protect a principle, Cuba was prepared toward an atomic war of huge destructiveness (Gavi, 1970). After the meet of Kennedy and the Soviet representatives, the event ended successfully and peacefully with the removal of the missiles. However, Che was not satisfied with this result, and both Castro and Che fell that they were betrayed by Soviet. Ernesto “Che” Guevara later spoke his thought to the British communist newspaper, in Cuba’s defense against the threats, they would have directed all the missiles to the United States, including New York (Llosa, 2005). At the United Nations some years afterward, Che Guevara expressed his true thought predictably, speaking as a Marxist, the coexistence between exploiters and the exploited is not attached to the peaceful coexistence along with countries.
After those obvious evidences above, the argument that Ernesto “Che” Guevara is considered to be a cruel and ruthless killer can be understood. In his famous “Message to the Tricontinental”, he summarized his murderous inspiration of justice and how he pictured the ideal soldiers should be. Due to the hatred, which is an factor of struggle, a soldier can go beyond his limitations and become a aggressive, useful cold killing machine (C. Guevara, 1967). It can be concluded that, Ernesto Che Guevara was willing to eliminate any one stood on his revolutionary way.
Ernesto Che Guevara – a racist? In early April 1963, Che and some of his fellows left Cuba to come to Congo as he participated in the anti-imperialist fighting there. He helped by offering his knowledge to the ongoing conflict in Congo and leaded and fought with a Cuban force of 100 Afro-Cubans including those black Congolese armed forces who he fought alongside against the enemies involved partly of White South African band of soldiers. However, in his very famous “The Motorcycle Diaries”, it is demonstrated that he had the aversion to the black. He expressed his racism that while the European was very improved and advanced thanks to the tradition of work and saving, even separately on his personal ambition, the black was very lazy and always be dreamy, and spent all of the low wage on alcohol and frivolity (C. Guevara, 2004)
Moreover, Che Guevara also showed his lack of belief in the Congolese’s ability of utilizing the guns in his Congo diary. He did considered the Congolese to know how to use the guns to defend against attacks from air as they did not know how to handle and did not even want to learn, due to their lack of discipline. (E. C. Guevara, 2001)
From all the findings above, it is clear that Ernesto Che Guevara is not a complete human or even a saint as people in some part of the world believe him to be. Although Che Guevara is regarded as a brutal murderer, an anti-black racist, and the Congo campaign was a failure, his contribution in the revolutionary movement of Congo in particular, of the world in general was enormous and it surely cannot be taken lightly due to his not completed side.
Che Guevara is probably one of the mostcontroversial yet iconic revolutionary leaders in the 20th century. He has become a martyr, an enduring legacy because of not only his undeniably pivotal role in the Cuban Revolutionary, but also his commitment to bringing about revolutions wherever needed. At the public tribute to Che in 1967, according to Harris (2010), Fidel Castro emotionally declared:
If we want a model of a person that does not belong to our timebut to the future, I say from the depths of my heart that such amodel, without a single stain on his conduct, on his actions, orhis behavior, is Che! (p. 193)
Some would worship him, and think of him as an inspiration that never ceases to fuel the fire of rebellion and revolution in the hearts of an entire generation in Latin America in particular and all over the world in general. Others, however, despise him and regard him as a failed communist who represented disastrous ideals. Furthermore, one cannot easily forget how ruthless a murderer he was when he mercilessly had his prisoners in La Cabaña prison executed, without giving them a fair trial.
Both opinions have their own valid points. It is entirely true that Che Guevara did everything he could out of pure sincerity and genuine care for the cause of liberation in Cuba and other nations in South and Central America as a whole. The fact that he lived by this principles and died a tragic death fighting for them is the undeniably proof of his commitment. Nonetheless, so deeply committed to the cause that he thought that the only solution to the problem of injustice of the world is by going through a communist revolution, and that he was the only one who was capable of accomplishing it, even if it meant eliminating those who would hinder his path, or sending his friends to the firing squad.
All in all, regardless of what opinion people might have, Che Guevara will not be forgotten anytime soon. His revolutionary life is living proof that there are things worth dying for, such as social justice or the pursue of freedom.
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