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Che Guevara, the making of a revolutionary

Originally known as Banesto Guevara de la Serna Che Guevara was an expert on tactics and the theory of guerrilla warfare during the Cuban revolution of the late 1950s, and a leading Communist. His execution by Bolivian soldiers led him to be regarded worldwide as a hero and a martyr, and a symbol of leftward leaning anti-imperialism and radicalism.

In a family of five children Che was born the eldest, to a fairly well-to-do family with left wing political views. Physically he was held back by asthma, but he did not allow this to hold him back and he became an excellent athlete as well as a first class scholar. During his vacations he travelled extensively throughout South America and saw at first hand the extreme poverty that many people lived under. He concluded that violent revolution was the only answer to their problems, and that this struggle had to be conducted worldwide, on behalf of the entire Latin American peoples.

In 1953 Jacobo Arbenz was was the leader of a Progressive regime in Guatemala which was dedicated to social revolution. The overthrow of Arbenz in a coup that was assisted by the American CIA convinced Guevara that the USA was implacably opposed to leftist governments and it was this realisation that set him on his path to attempt to bring socialism by means of nothing less than full scale worldwide revolutionary methods.


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From Guatemala he travelled to Mexico and there he met up with Fidel and Raul Castro who were political exiles from their native Cuba, and who were plotting to overthrow Cuba's dictator Fulgencio Batista. He threw his lot in with them, and joined Castro's forces which landed in Cuba in the province of Oriente in November or 1956. Eventually discovered by Batista's army the small force was almost completely annihilated but although wounded Guevara was able to escape along with a handful of survivors and they finally reached the safety of the Sierra Maestra where they formed the nucleus of a small but growing guerrilla band which seized weapons from the dictator's army. Within two years Guevara had become one of the most trusted of Castro's aides and the gorilla War that he helped wage resulted in Baptista's overthrow.

A victorious Castro marched his army into Havana on the second of January from 1959 and immediately set up a Marxist regime. Guevara was offered, and accepted, Cuban citizenship and occupied a number of posts in the new Cuban government working for agrarian reform, trade and finance. He used his prominent position on the world stage to attack American foreign policy, and imperialism in all its many forms. Around April of 1965 he disappeared from public life and exactly what he did for the following two years was a matter of some secrecy although it is suspected that he worked in the Belgian Congo helping the Patrice Lumumba Battalion in its civil war struggle.

In late 1966 he slipped into Bolivia and led and organised a group of guerrillas in the Santa Cruz area. His time was running out however: on the eighth of October 1967 a Bolivian army commando force attacked his group and practically wiped it out. Guevara was wounded and captured, and then shot on the following day: the legend then began.

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