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Submitted by on Mar 29, 2022

Ernesto “Che” Guevar was a revolutionary, surgeon, novelist, guerrilla commander, diplomat, and military strategist from Argentina. His stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural emblem of revolt and worldwide insignia in popular culture. He was a key role in the Cuban Revolution.

Guevara went around South America as a young medical student and was politicized by the poverty, starvation, and sickness he observed. Guevara’s growing desire to help end what he saw as the United States’ capitalist exploitation of Latin America led him to participate in Guatemala’s social reforms under President Jacobo rbenz, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow at the behest of the United Fruit Company solidified his political ideology.

Guevara later met Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico City, joined their 26th of July Movement, and went to Cuba on the yacht Granma with the goal of deposing Cuban tyrant Fulgencio Batista, who was backed by the United States. Guevara quickly advanced in the ranks of the guerrillas, was elevated to second-in-command, and was a key figure in the two-year guerrilla battle that toppled Batista’s rule.

Guevara played a variety of important roles in the new Cuban administration after the revolution. Reviewing appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals, instituting agrarian land reform as minister of industries, assisting in the spearheading of a successful nationwide literacy campaign, serving as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba’s armed forces, and traveling the world as a diplomat on behalf of Cuban socialism were among his accomplishments. As a result of his positions, he was able to play a key part in training the militia troops that fought the Bay of Pigs invasion, as well as delivering Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to Cuba prior to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Guevara was also a prolific writer and diarist, penning a landmark guerrilla warfare manual as well as a best-selling memoir about his adolescence spent riding a motorcycle throughout the continent. His experiences and studies of Marxism”Leninism led him to believe that imperialism, neocolonialism, and monopoly capitalism were to blame for the Third Global’s underdevelopment and dependency, and that the only solution was proletarian internationalism and world revolution. Guevara fled Cuba in 1965 to incite continental revolutions in Africa and South America, first in Congo-Kinshasa and then in Bolivia, where he was caught and brutally killed by Bolivian forces with the help of the CIA.

In a slew of biographies, memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs, and films, Che Guevara has been portrayed as both a respected and loathed historical figure. Guevara has become a definitive figure of many communist groups as a result of his imagined martyrdom, poetry invocations for class struggle, and ambition to build the consciousness of a “new man” driven by moral rather than material motives. His ideological opponents on the right, on the other hand, accuse him of supporting authoritarianism and advocating violence against political opponents.

Despite debates over his legacy, Time magazine ranked him one of the 100 most important individuals of the twentieth century, and the Maryland Institute College of Art cited an Alberto Korda portrait of him, titled Guerrillero Heroico, as “the most renowned photograph in the world.”

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