Symbol of Latin American Revolution
Ernesto Che Guevara is truly a great personality who has become one of the icons of rebellion in the 20th century. His image has retained its attractive romanticism because he did not revel in his power or popularity, he was completely honest with people, and he faithfully believed in justice. Not only was Che Guevara a practicing guerrilla soldier, as the masses used to see him, but he had also changed the essence and direction of the world socialist movement. Che Guevara remains an icon of revolution in the countries that build socialism, namely Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, and Cuba (Guillermoprieto 75). This paper focuses on Ernesto Che Guevara as the greatest Latin American revolutionary and discusses whether Fidel Castro’s Cuba has lived up to his ideals since the most famous Cuban guerrilla leader of the 20th century, a man of mystery and legend, Che Guevara is a symbol of the Cuban Revolution, and he truly represents the revolutionary spirit of Latin America. In her book Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America, Alma Guillermoprieto writes about Che Guevara as the hero of guerrilla, an inconceivable conformist, a living banner, and a symbol of revolution, determined to change the world by his example. Two trips to the countries of Latin America, committed in 1952 and 1954, had a great influence on the revolutionary views of Ernesto Guevara (Guillermoprieto 77). Poverty of the common people, who lived in complete injustice, against the background of the wealth of the elite caught the young revolutionary’s eye. Latin America had an unofficial title of America’s backyard, where the special services of the United States contributed to the establishment of military dictatorships that defended the interests of large American corporations. Che Guevara lived in a world, where capitalism struggled with socialism, and he wanted to fight for a strong state that protected its citizens and their property. In his view, the only condition for creating such a situation was in the elimination of the very possibility of oppression of one social class by another.
Young Guevara led an active life, traveling through the countries of Latin America by a motorcycle. Thus, his trip with his friend in 1953 had a decisive influence on his views. After visiting Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Guatemala, he wrote his famous The Motorcycle Diaries (Guillermoprieto 77). Then in 1955, Ernesto Guevara went to Mexico, where he met Fidel and Raul Castro who planned a revolution in Cuba. Thus, conversations with them had impressed Guevara so much that he decided to join the revolutionary movement (Guillermoprieto 78). If Castro himself did not occupy a clear political position at that time, Guevara could defend his views in the most difficult discussions. He participated in the Cuban Revolution and triumphantly entered Havana, taking a direct part in the overthrow of the government of Fulgencio Batista. Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara expressed the interests of people and led a consistent struggle for the elimination of foreign oppression and social injustice. In the history of Cuba, 1959 was the year of liberation (Guillermoprieto 79). With the collapse of the dictatorship of Batista, power passed into the hands of the political union of the masses.
Che Guevara became the second most important person in the country after Fidel Castro because during the fighting, he had proved himself as a resourceful, brave, and successful commander. Thus, after the victory of the Cuban Revolution, he became the Head of the National Bank of Cuba and then the Minister of Industry (Guillermoprieto 79). Che Guevara insisted that a socialist revolution had to be real, not a parody of it. He was one of the authors of the agrarian reform, after which peasants received the land. This great revolutionary was not only able to raise the country’s agriculture but he also implemented a successful monetary reform. However, Castro’s Cuba did not completely correspond to Che Guevara’s ideals since both revolutionary leaders looked at fundamental things differently. He condemned false democratic procedures; thus, in 1965 he left his position in Cuba, wrote a farewell letter, and continued the revolutionary struggle in Congo and then in Bolivia, where he began guerrilla warfare against the local pro-American regime (Guillermoprieto 78). Thus, power did not attract Che Guevara, and only the spirit of revolution was his element. His revolutionary spirit and dreams of social justice knew no boundaries until the bullet ended his life. He always thought that it was better to die standing than to live on his knees.
It should be noted that despite Che Guevara being a self-proclaimed Marxist, his ideas were far from this ideology, whose followers called for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead, he appealed to peasants. He strongly criticized the capitalist countries, but he did not accept the positions of the socialist camp leaders. The uniqueness of the Latin American revolutionary tradition was in the fact that owing to Ernesto Che Guevara, such ideological concepts as the desire for achieving genuine political and economic sovereignty as well as preserving the national culture and identity, were formed. Che, a great revolutionary of the 20th century, did much for this. He was convinced that only in the conditions of guerrilla warfare, a truly revolutionary character could be formed, which was facilitated by a complete deprivation of benefits of life while living in the isolation from civilization (Guillermoprieto 147). His ideas about guerrillas and the peasant revolution were accepted by many armed insurgent organizations of Latin America as well as Asia and Africa.
Only some figures are capable of competing with Ernesto Che Guevara in the worldwide popularity. He became a symbol of the Cuban Revolution and struggle against any kind of lie. Che was an adventurer of a special kind, one of those who could risk and even die to prove that he was right. Moreover, his guerrilla experience made him a figure who stood above political parties and ideological differences. Such qualities as personal readiness to fight and sacrifice himself, courage in battle, and the desire for social justice helped him to embody the true revolutionary spirit of Latin America and lead it to the liberation from dictatorship and imperialism.
Guillermoprieto, Alma. Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America. Vintage Books, 2002.
Guillermoprieto, Alma. Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America. Vintage, 2007.