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Back in June of 1928 at Rosario, Argentina, Celia de la Serna y Llosa, who had lost her parents as a child and had been raised by her religious aunt and her older sister, Carmen de la Serna, gave birth to Ernesto Guevara de la Serna. Her husband, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, whose family was liberal, anti-Nazi and anti-Peronist, and not very religious was an construction engineer who had lived because of his work at the territory of Misiones, which is now a Province, before he got married with Celia. After Ernesto Guevara de la Serna had been born, his family (at that moment only made up of himself, and his parents) moved to Buenos Aires, to then proceed to go back to Misiones, where the common worker lived under conditions similar to that of a slave. Ernesto Guevara Lynch recalls that this might have been the reason why his son, now known as El Che, started to feel the tickle against social status discrimination. Not that he ever lived as a young at Misiones, but might have heard from what his family told. The reason El Che did not get to live neither allow his father to go back to Misiones was that the asthma he suffered since the beginning of his days was increased by the climate of Misiones, so his family was obligated to settle in Alta Gracia, Cordoba. Every time his family tried to return to Buenos Aires, El Che's asthmas attacks sent them back to Alta Gracia.
At his teen years, El Che began to read books from authors such as Sartre, Pablo Neruda, Ciro Alegría, and Karl Marx's Das Kapital. El Che read every book in his father library before he turned into an adult, and he too was a good student. Celia and Ernesto had four more children, all younger than El Che. They all grew up in a country life style, since their house was in the hills, so after school they all went running and into the forests and played with other kids. These other kids lived a lower quality life than El Che, because although the Guevara de la Serna Family wasn't an extremely rich family, they had everything they needed, while their children's friends lived in a very cruel poverty. According to el Che's father, this was the first first-hand contact el Che and his other children had with the poverty lived because of the injustice of the rich living carelessly, getting richer and ignoring the poor. Meanwhile, el Che always fought against the asthma that might have held back any other child but him, which gave him a strong character, however not a bitter one.
After he finished his high school years, in 1945 he went to live to Buenos Aires where he had moved with his family to, having finally gained the ability to control his asthma enough. There he studied medicine in the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). He became interested in politics during those years, but wasn't siding to any party. Before he graduated, in the year 1951, he went on a motorcycle trip around Latin America visiting Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela with his friend Alberto Granados. The journey opened his eyes about the situation of lower class status people and was crucial for the awakening of his social conscience and his dedication to eradicate this situation. During this trip, he almost chose to retire since the beginning when his motorcycle almost slides off in a cliff. However, with perseverance he and his friend, Alberto got to experience first-hand what common people of Latin America and the world experience due to the injustice performed by the class statuses discrimination. This changed Ernesto Guevara de la Serna completely and it was just the beginning of his life journey.
After being a witness of the American intervention in Guatemala in 1954, El Che became convinced that the only way to bring change was by fierce revolution. He wrote in a letter to his home: "Along the way, I had the opportunity to pass through the dominions of the United Fruit, convincing me once again of just how terrible these capitalist octopuses are. I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won't rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated." El Che met Hilda Gadea in Guatemala, who he married in 1955 and had one daughter with. Afterwards Guevara was arrested with Fidel Castro in Mexico for a short time. During that time he had already joined Castro's revolutionaries to overthrow Batista in Cuba. In 1956 they loaded 38-feet long motor yacht called Granma full of guerrillas and weapons and sailed to Cuba.
During the Cuban Revolution of 1956-1959, el Che became a commander in the Rebel Army. The goals of the Revolution changed from being just of overthrowing Batista and freeing the people of Cuba from the dictatorship, to a broader goal based social and economic movement, which included agrarian reform as one of its main leaseholder. A large part of the Guerilla forces led by el Che and Castro, sometimes above 80 percent of it, were peasants, some homeless, and all abused by feudal land arrangements of Cuba before the Revolution. Many of the farmers worked day in and day out for just barely enough to support a family. Nearly all the peasants were diseased or malnourished. This fact led el Che and Castro to understand the need for the reform program instituted soon after the Revolution was accomplished, while they were still fighting the Revolutionary War.
In the mountains of Cuba in March of 1958, El Che met Aleida, a 24-year-old revolutionary fighter, and she became el Che's second wife in 1959. He continued to write his diary and composed also articles for El Cubano Libre. A selection of el Che's articles, which he wrote between 1959 and 1964, were published in 1963 as “Pasajes de la Guerra Revolucionaria”. For the media Cuba was a hot subject, papers sent reporters to the mountains to make stories of the revolutionaries. At the same time when el Che was in the mountains, his uncle was Ambassador to Cuba.
El Che rose to the rank of major and led one of the forces that invaded central Cuba in the late 1958. After the conquest of power in January 1959 el Che gained fame as the leading figure in Castro's government. He attracted much attention with his speeches against imperialism and US policy in the Third World. He argued strongly for centralized planning, and emphasized creation of the 'new socialist man'. In his famous article, 'Notes on Man and Socialism', he argued that "to build communism, you must build new men as well as the new economic base." From 1961 to 1965 el Che was minister for industries, and director of the national bank, signing the bank notes simply 'Che'. He traveled widely in Russia, India and Africa, meeting the leading figures of the world, among others Jawaharel Nehru and Nikita Khruschev. El Che was also the architect of the close relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union. Although good relationships with Moscow become the cornerstone of Castro's foreign policy, el Che followed the emergence of the Maoists. In 1965 el Che made public his disappointments in Algiers and described the Kremlin as "an accomplice of imperialism".
In 1966 el Che turned up incognito in Bolivia where he trained and led a guerrilla war in the Santa Cruz region. El Che had manifested that the guerrilla needs full help from the people of the area, it is an indispensable condition, but it seems like el Che failed to win the support of the peasants and his group was surrounded near Vallegrande by American-trained Bolivian troops. "The decisive moment in a man's life is when he decides to confront death," El Che once said. "If he confronts it, he will be a hero whether he succeeds or not. He can be a good or a bad politician, but if he does not confront death he will never be more than a politician." After El Che was captured, Captain Gary Prado Salmón put a security around him to be sure that nothing happened. El Che told him, "don't worry, captain, don't worry. This is the end. It's finished." (from the document film 'Red Chapters,' 1999) . El Che was shot in a schoolhouse in La Higuera on October 9, 1967, by Warrant Officer Mario Terán of the Bolivian Rangers at the request of Colonel Zenteno. Guevara's last words were according to some sources: "Shoot coward, you are only going to kill a man”.
El Che's death struck people all around the world. Not only was he a revolutionary leader or doctor but he was a symbol of honesty, perseverance and dedication. None of his other revolutionary partners (famous ones) showed the honesty and strength to be true to themselves despite the changes or the power. None of them kept on believing on the principles of revolution for the best of the people. Che did, and Che got killed because he did not trust the other leaders. Anyhow, Che was more than what they could have thought him for. His death left a hole in the hearts of those who believed in him. When his death was known worldwide, it all mourned. We have to look at Che not as a t-shirt logo or a logo for any brand but as the ideal he helped to grow and settle in the world. Che was simply a man, but who made himself a legend. El Che vive!
- Rodriguez Herrera, Mariano. Las Huellas del Che Guevara. Mexico: Debolsillo, 2004.
- Jones, Bonesy. "Ernesto ‘Che' Guevara: The biography project" Popsubculture: An independent reference resource
- PopSubCulture(dot)com. 1999 - 2004. PopSubCulture(dot)com. December 13th, 20001 February 24, 2008 <http://www.popsubculture.com/pop/bio_project/ernesto_che_guevara.html>