Thursday, October 04, 2007


Hey Che

Reviled or revered the name Che stirs up a hornets' nest of emotion. Growing up under the rightwing minority government in South Africa I was taught that Che was something like Satan's brother.
Since then I've learned more about the man and his deeds.
This year markes the 40th anniversary of his capture and execution. Enesto “Che” Guevara met his end a Bolivian jungle where he was attempting to spark a peasant uprising.

Some facts about Mr G:

  • Born in Argentina in 1928, Guevara became a Marxist after a motorcycle ride through South America opened his eyes to poverty when he was still a medical student.

  • Guevara witnessed the CIA-backed ouster of reformist President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. A year later, he met Fidel Castro in Mexico City and joined his revolutionary movement.

  • Guevara suffered from asthma but it did not keep him from playing a leading role in the guerrilla war that Castro waged from Cuba's Sierra Maestra mountains against dictator Fulgencio Batista, who fled the country on New Year's Day 1959.

  • The iconic image of Guevara gazing into the distance with long hair tucked into a black beret was taken in 1960 by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda at a memorial service for victims killed when a freighter loaded with Belgian weapons blew up in Havana's harbour.

  • Guevara was president of Cuba's central bank for 14 months. He signed all Cuban banknotes with his nickname “Che,” a common Argentine expression meaning “hey.”

  • Seeking to export revolution to Africa, Guevara joined the guerrilla fighters of Laurent Kabila in the Congo in 1965, but was disappointed with their incompetence and infighting and the short-lived Cuban expedition was a fiasco.

  • Guevara left for Bolivia in 1966 to start a new guerrilla movement with the idea of creating “two, three, many Vietnams” in Latin America.

  • He was captured on Oct 8, 1967, and executed the next day by the Bolivian army in a schoolhouse in La Higuera. His hands were severed so they could be used to confirm his identity, and he was buried secretly at an airfield.

  • Guevara's bones were dug up in 1997, returned to Cuba and placed in a mausoleum in Santa Clara, the site of his biggest military victory.

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