Che Guevara, Cuban revolutionary leader of Argentine origin

Che Guevara Biography

Che Guevara was a Cuban revolutionary leader of Argentine origin who became a hero of the left.

Che Guevara

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A photograph of him by Alberto Korda became an iconic image of the 20th century. A Marxist revolutionary allied with Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution.

Synopsis of Che

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, known as Che Guevara, was born on June 14, 1928 in Rosario, Argentina, into a middle-class family.

He studied medicine at the University of Buenos Aires and during this time he traveled extensively in South and Central America.

The widespread poverty and oppression he witnessed, combined with his interest in Marxism, convinced him that the only solution to the problems of South and Central America was armed revolution.

He helped Fidel Castro overthrow the Batista government in the late 1950s, and then held key political positions during Castro’s regime.

Guevara later became involved in guerrilla actions elsewhere, including in Bolivia, where he was captured and executed in 1967.


Che Guevara was born into a middle-class family. He was tormented by asthma in his youth, but still managed to distinguish himself as an athlete.

He also absorbed the leftist views of his family and friends, and his teenagers became politically active, joining a group that opposed the government of Juan Perón.

After graduating from high school with honors, Guevara studied medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, but left school in 1951 to travel around South America with a friend.

The poor living conditions he witnessed on his nine-month trip had a profound effect on CheGuevara, and he returned to medical school the following year, intending to care for those in need. He received his degree in 1953.


However, as Guevara’s interest in Marxism grew, he decided to abandon medicine, believing that only revolution could bring justice to the people of South America.

In 1953, Che Guevara went to Guatemala, where Jacobo Arbenz headed a progressive regime that was trying to provoke a social revolution (at that time Guevara acquired his nickname, from a verbal mannerism of the Argentines who punctuate his speech with the interjection che).

The overthrow of the Arbenz regime in 1954 in a US-backed coup. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) persuaded Guevara that the United States would always oppose progressive leftist governments.

This became the cornerstone of his plans to bring about socialism through a world revolution. It was in Guatemala that Guevara became a dedicated Marxist.

By 1955, Guevara was married and living in Mexico, where he met Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl, who were planning to overthrow the government of Fulgencio Batista.

They were preparing an attempt to overthrow the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Che Guevara joined Fidel Castro’s Movimiento 26 de Julio, which landed a force of 81 men (including Guevara) in the Cuban province of Oriente on December 2, 1956.

Batista’s army against Che

Immediately detected by Batista’s army, they were almost annihilated. The few survivors, including the wounded Che Guevara, reached the Sierra Maestra, where they became the nucleus of a guerrilla army.

The rebels slowly gained strength, seized the weapons of Batista’s forces and gained support and new recruits.

Che Guevara had initially arrived as the force’s doctor, but he had also trained in the use of weapons, and became one of Castro’s most trusted assistants.

In fact, the Guevara complex, although trained as a healer, also, at times, acted as the executioner (or ordered the execution) of alleged traitors and deserters.

He recorded the two years of the overthrow of Batista’s government in Pasajes de la guerra revolucionaria (1963; Recuerdos de la Guerra Revolucionaria Cubana, 1968).

After Castro’s victorious troops entered Havana on January 8, 1959, Fidel Castro took control of Cuba and placed Guevara in charge of La Cabaña prison, where it is estimated that perhaps hundreds of people were executed under Guevara’s extra-judicial orders.

He was later appointed president of the national bank and minister of industry, and did much to help transform the country into a communist state.

The Cabaña

Guevara spent several months in La Cabaña prison, where he supervised the executions of people considered enemies of the revolution.

Che Guevara became a Cuban citizen, as prominent in the newly established Marxist government as he had been in the revolutionary army, representing Cuba on many trade missions.

He also became well known in the West for his opposition to all forms of imperialism and neo-colonialism and for his attacks on U.S. foreign policy.

He served as head of the Industrial Department of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform, president of the National Bank of Cuba (famous for its disdain). For capitalism by signing currency simply “Che”), and the minister of industry.
During the 1960s.

He defined Cuba’s policies and his own views in many speeches and writings. Especially “El socialismo y el hombre en Cuba” (1965; “El hombre y el socialismo en Cuba”, 1967).

An examination of the new mark of Cuba communism, and a very influential manual, La guerra de guerrillas (1960; Guerrilla Warfare , 1961).

The Theory

The last book included Guevara’s delineation of sula teoría del foco (foquismo), a doctrine of revolution in Latin America drawn from the experience of the Cuban Revolution and based on three main principles:

  1. The guerrilla forces are capable of defeating the army.
  2. It is not necessary that all the conditions for making a revolution be in place to start a revolution, because the rebellion itself can provoke them.
  3. The field of underdeveloped Latin America is suitable for armed combat.

Che Guevara set forth a vision of a new socialist citizen who would work for the good of society rather than personal gain, a notion he embodied through his own hard work.

He often slept in his office and, in support of the volunteer program he had organized, spent the day not working in a sugar cane field.

However, he became increasingly disillusioned when Cuba became a client state of the Soviet Union and felt betrayed by the Soviets when they withdrew their missiles from the island without consulting Cuban leaders during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Che Guevara began to seek support in the People’s Republic of China and its leader Mao Zedong and as an example.


In the early 1960s, Che Guevara also served as Cuba’s ambassador, traveling the world to establish relations with other countries, especially the Soviet Union, and was a key player during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

He also authored a manual on guerrilla warfare, and in 1964 he delivered a speech to the United Nations condemning U.S. foreign policy and apartheid in South Africa.

A strong opponent of the United States led the Castro regime into alignment with the Soviet Union. Cuba’s economy weakened as a result of U.S. trade sanctions and failed reforms.

During this difficult time, Che Guevara began to fall apart with the other Cuban leaders. He later expressed his desire to spread the revolution to other parts of the developing world, and in 1965 Castro announced that Guevara had left Cuba.


In 1965, with the Cuban economy in ruins, Guevara left his post to export his revolutionary ideologies to other parts of the world.

Che Guevara then spent several months in Africa, particularly in the Congo, trying to train the rebel forces in guerrilla warfare.

His efforts failed and in 1966 he secretly returned to Cuba. From Cuba he traveled to Bolivia to lead the rebel forces against the government of Rene Barrientos Ortuño.

With the help of the United States, the Bolivian army captured Che Guevara and his remaining fighters.

He was executed on October 9, 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 buried again.


Since his death, Che has become a legendary political figure. His name will often be equated with rebellion, revolution and socialism.

Others, however, remember that he could be ruthless and order the execution of prisoners without trial in Cuba.

In any case, Che Guevara’s life remains a subject of great public interest and has been explored and portrayed in numerous books and films.

Including The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), starring Gael García Bernal as Guevara. The biographical Che in two parts (2008), in which Benicio Del Toro portrayed the revolutionary.

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