Che – The Man of Cuban Uprising

Che Guevera(born Ernesto Guevara). To a few, he’s a symbol of uprising and to a few he’s a godless butcher. Nevertheless, he is regarded highly instrumental in liberation of Cuba. Born to Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna y Llosa on June 14, 1928, Che grew to become an avid reader, athlete, rugby player and cyclist. He had diverse academic interests ranging from philosophy, mathematics, engineering to political science, history and archaeology.

During his high school (in Cordoba), Che planned to pursue engineering but his grandmother’s death from cancer in 1947 and plaguing asthma he suffered from are supposed to have drawn him towards medicine. He was accepted to the Faculty of Medicine at University of Buenos Aires. It was during these years that he began to travel.

In 1950, he set off on a bicycle to explore Argentina. He then stopped in Cordoba and visited his long-time friend Alberto Granado. He met several lepers and hobos in remote areas and realized the gap between the affluent and the destitute. Leaving his studies behind accompanied by Alberto, he traveled through Peru, Columbia, Venezuela on their motorcycle La Poderosa II (“The Mighty One”) in 1952. He worked as a nurse in a leper colony where he discovered the misery and poverty that prevailed in Latin America. Eventually, he returned home to Argentina in 1952 and finished medical school in 1953.

Though he graduated as a doctor, his experiences with the substandard living conditions in South America had shifted his focus to help and assist the needy. That being so, Guevara set out to Bolivia and then landed in Gautemala. He had trouble finding a job and resorted to taking on odd jobs and studying Marxism. In June 1954, shortly after his arrival, CIA-trained coup invaded Gautemala and overthrew the Arbenz government. This caused Guevara to believe that a revolution is necessary to improve the lives of the poor and led him to join brigades of revolutionaries to retake Gautemala. He was identified as a Marxist by the Government; he sought refuge in the Argentine embassy before travelling to Mexico. While in Gautemala, Guevara met Hilda Gadea, a Peruvian revolutionary. She was behind his inclination to Marxism.

Guevara acquired livelihood as a physician in Mexico and Hilda joined him soon. (In June 1955) His Cuban friend Nico Lopez arranged a meeting between Guevara and Raul Castro who arrived in Mexico after being freed from prison. Fidel Castro fled Cuba in July and asked Guevara to join the revolution against Batista’s government in Cuba to which he readily agreed. On the 25th of November, he, along with 81 other men trained for guerilla warfare left for Cuba on board a yacht GRANMA. The Cuban army spotted the arrival of the Granma on Dec 2nd, 1956 and ambushed the revolutionaries 4 days later. Less than 20 of those survived the assault and took refuge in the Sierra Maestra Mountains of Cuba. Over a period of 2 years the army grew in size and Guevara became an integral part of the rebellion. He was the brain behind Fidel Castro’s guerilla warfare. Fidel promoted him to commander of the Eighth Column, which captured the city of Santa Clara in the largest war in Cuban Revolution in 1958. As a result, Batista fled the country with his family on January 1, 1959 (and the Cuban Revolution successfully ended).

Fidel’s troop took over Havana and set up the government.  Guevara held several posts: He served as the head of National Institute of Agrarian Reform, president of the National bank of Cuba during 1959-61. He became the head of the Ministry of Industry in 1961. He was appointed as the commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison to organize trials of the Batista officials most of which ended in execution. Che was dubbed as a murderer but he believed that execution is the revolutionary justice the people of Cuba needed. He drove Cuba towards industrialization and played a key role in aligning Cuba with the Soviet Union which affected the trade with America. His attempt to structure Cuba’s economy around industry was deterred by the lack of funds and technology. In 1965, when he realized that he’s not happy as a government worker and dropped out of public sight in March.

Guevara left Cuba to spread the revolution all over the world. His next destination was Congo(now Zaire) where he attempted to organize a revolution against the government. When his attempts turned futile, he returned to Cuba in 1966 in order to prepare for the liberation of Bolivia. Guevara and his comrades were denied support by the Bolivian communists and this venture saw a failure too. Meanwhile, the CIA was pursuing his troop and by October, 1967 the Bolivian army was closing in on them.

In an ensuing battle, on October 8, 1967, Guevara was captured wounded and taken to a schoolhouse in La Higuera where he was executed the next day. His death marked a rebirth in the history of revolution which kindled the spirit of Che across the world. Che Guevara has since become an icon of revolution and is very much alive.

“Hasta la Victoria Siempre. Until victory, forever.”

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