Ernesto ‘Che’ Rafael Guevara de la Serna was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, politician, author, physician, military theorist, and guerrilla leader. After his death, his stylized image became an ubiquitous countercultural symbol worldwide.
As a young medical student, Guevara traveled throughout Latin America and was transformed by the endemic poverty he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region’s ingrained economic inequalities were an intrinsic result of monopoly capitalism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution. This belief prompted his involvement in Guatemala’s social reforms under President Jacobo Arbenz, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow solidified Guevara’s radical ideology.
Later, in Mexico, he met Fidel Castro and joined his 26th of July Movement. In December 1956, he was among the revolutionaries who invaded Cuba under Castro’s leadership with the intention of overthrowing U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara soon rose to prominence among the insurgents, was promoted to Comandante, and played a pivotal role in the successful guerrilla campaign that deposed Batista. Following the Cuban revolution, Guevara reviewed the appeals of those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals. Later he served as minister of industry and president of the national bank, before traversing the globe as a diplomat to meet an array of world leaders on behalf of Cuban socialism. He was also a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on the theory and practice of guerrilla warfare, along with an acclaimed memoir about his motorcycle journey across South America. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to incite revolutions first in an unsuccessful attempt in Congo-Kinshasa and then in Bolivia, where he was captured with the help of the CIA and executed.
Alberto Korda’s famous photograph of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara entitled: Guerrillero Heroico (translates to: “Heroic Guerrilla“), was taken on March 5, 1960, in Havana, Cuba, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion. The photo was not published internationally until seven years later.
Hasta la Victoria siempre’!