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What makes a legend... [page 6]

Che GuevaraErnesto "Che" Guevara - revolutionary with a cause
Ernesto Guevara was an asthmatic right from his childhood. The family had to move from the city of Rosario where Ernesto was born on 14th June 1928 to Alta Gracia situated in the province of Cordoba, Argentina. Though he would earn the reputation later of a fearless revolutionary, none of these traits reflected in his early years. He had no time for student movements or interest in politics. Instead, he excelled in sports and read voraciously on Marx, Lenin and Freud. He studied medicine at the university in Buenos Aires and while at college, he went on an exploratory tour of Argentina provinces on a bicycle. In 1953, he completed his studies to qualify as a dermatologist. His academic record would suggest that here was a specialist doctor in the making. But Ernesto viewed things differently.

During the National Revolution, he went to Bolivia, from then on to Guatemala. Around that time the socialist government of Arbenz fell and that meant Ernesto had to move again. This time, in 1954 he went to Mexico and worked in the government hospital. In 1955, he first met Fidel Castro, then in exile and who shared with him his plans to invade Cuba along with other Cuban revolutionaries undergoing training in guerrilla warfare. Ernesto found in Fidel Castro the leadership qualities required to succeed in the revolution. He joined the group and commenced his military training and his future was very much decided by that move. By now he was referred to as "Che" which was Italian for "Chum" or "Buddy".

Che was quick to learn the ropes in commando warfare and in 1956 they invaded Cuba. He was made Commander in 1957 and when the war ended a year later, he had played a major role in the triumph of the revolution to the extent of being accepted firstly, as a Cuban and as a national hero. Fidel Castro made him his second in command in the new Cuban government. He married Aledia March in 1959 and as President of the National Bank of Cuba he traveled through Asia, Africa and Yugoslavia signing trade pacts and treaties on its behalf.

Che's leaning more towards the Mao Tse-tung kind of communism and his attacks against the USSR policies, which he believed were imperialistic, didn't go down well with Fidel Castro who decided to keep Che under wraps. But so far as he was concerned, this was the beginning of the end. For many months, Che was noticeably missing from the political scene in Cuba and instead was in the Congo. In 1965, a few months after he was dropped by the Castro regime, he bid farewell by resigning from all official positions of the Cuban government in a letter given to Fidel Castro wherein he stated that he had fulfilled his duty in the Cuban revolution. In 1966, Che arrived in Bolivia with an intention of leading a communist guerrilla movement against the Bolivian Armed Forces with the co-operation of the United States of America training the outfit.

In October 1967 after months of clashes, Che is surrounded by the Bolivian army and makes one last attempt to battle out but to no avail and is captured, severely wounded. A few days later the Bolivian army executes him and his body is cremated in a mass grave, though the official release states, "he died as a result of his wounds".

Thirty years later, on 13 July 1997 Che's ashes are brought to Havana and amongst those present to receive the remains were Fidel Castro and other senior Cuban officials. On 17th October 1997, Che Guevara is reburied in Santa Clara, Cuba and Castro and thousands of Cubans attended the ceremony. Prior to this, a weeklong tribute was paid to the great revolutionary and hundreds and thousands filed past Guevara's remains. Meanwhile, in the Bolivian village of Vallegrande where Che Guevara was buried 30 years ago, 550 miles east of the country's capital La Paz, thousands attended festivities paying tribute to the man who became a symbol of the poor all over the world. Ernesto "Che" Guevara - the world records the heroism of this great legend of our times.

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