Nowhere is social and ideological philosophy more important in Latin American countries, where a wide range of political characters have sought to provide a better life for their countryman. Most countries find their revolutionaries within their own population, with leaders having first-hand knowledge of the corruption and devastation of their people. Latin America is singular, however, in the ability of political and historical figures being able to transcend country borders in order to provide all Latin Americans with freedom.
Ernest “Che” Guevara is one such figure. A philosopher, doctor, guerrilla, political leader, and author, Guevara was one of the shining lights of the Cuban Revolution, and the father of modern guerrilla warfare.
Who They Were
Ernesto Guevara was born in Argentina, the oldest of a family of five children in a family with leftist leanings and political sympathies for revolutionaries and rebels. He was known for being extremely well read, as his childhood home boasted a massive library that hosted works by Marx, Sartre, Lenin, Verne, and others.
Guevara graduated from Buenos Aires University with a medical degree, but his life took an unexpected turn after two motorcycle road trips he would embark on changed the way he saw his country and the world. His first-hand accounts of the massive poverty and misery he discovered on the ninth month journey were chronicled in diaries Guevara kept, and later helped shape the legend that is Che Guevara.
What They Did
Che Guevara began his life’s work in Guatemala, where he treated patients caught in a right-wing rebel movement against the progressive government in charge. The years spent as a doctor in these clinics emboldened Guevara, who began speaking out against right-leaning agendas, most notably that of the United States. As a dedicated Marxist, he began speaking on the importance of communism, equality, and protection for all citizens.
Guevara would go on to have an influential hand in Latin American politics, most notably as a commander of rebel forces during The Cuban Revolution in 1959. His tactics were instrumental in the 2 year war against the dictator Fulgencio Batista, and after the Castro brothers seized power, he was given diplomatic duties.
After years in Cuba, Guevara moved on to the Congo and Bolivia, spreading his guerrilla tactics to blossoming revolutions. Guevara died in Bolivia in 1967.
What Made Them Famous
For many, the legend of Guevara is embodied in pop culture by the photograph taken by Alberto Korda which features Che in a beret with his long hair, but this is not the only legacy he left to history. His written works are considered integral to Latin American history, especially his work “Guerrilla Warfare” (1961). Younger generations know Guevara best through his diaries of his road trip, which were made into a film called “The Motorcycle Diaries.”
The legend of Che Guevara thrives on his passion for equality and justice for all, and for this reason, he remains a historical figure.