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Che Guevara

Dr. Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna, known as Che (June 14, 1928 - October 9, 1967) was an Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary and Cuban guerrilla leader.

Member of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Revolutionary Movement, which seized power in Cuba in 1959. After the revolution Guevara became second only to Fidel Castro in the new government of Cuba, and the man chiefly responsible for moving Castro towards communism. A rebel at heart, except for brief stints as President of the National Bank and Minister of Industries, Guevara did not settle in as part of the new Cuban government, and tried (without much success) to stage revolutions through guerilla warfare in various countries, notably the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bolivia, where, with help from US Green Berets, he was captured by the government and executed (http://www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/biography/last-days.htm).

In 1951, Ernesto set off from Córdoba, Argentina on a motorcycle tour of South America. This trip led him to develop his Marxist ideologies. When he arrived in Guatemala in 1954, a populist leader, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán[?], had just been elected. Ernesto met several followers of Fidel Castro who were in exile there. When the CIA sponsored an overthrow of Arbenz's rule, Ernesto volunteered to fight. Arbenz told his supporters to leave the country, and Ernesto briefly took refuge in the Argentine embassy. After moving to Mexico City, he renewed his friendship with Castro's associates. Ernesto met Castro when the latter arrived in Mexico City, and joined his 26th of July Movement dedicated to the overthrow of Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Castro, Che and 80 other insurgents departed Mexico aboard the cabin cruiser "Granma" in November 1956 to invade Cuba and start the revolution. Shortly after disembarking in a swampy area near Niquero in South-East Cuba, the expeditionaries were attacked by Batista's forces. Only 12 rebels survived. Che, the group's physician, laid down his knapsack containing medical equipment and supplies and picked up a machine gun and became a guerrilla fighter. He rose to the highest rank, i.e. Comandante [Major], in the revolutionary army. His march on Santa Clara in late 1958, where his column derailed an armored train filled with Batista's soldiers and took over the city, was the final straw that forced Batista to flee the country.

Che's book, La Guerra de Guerrillas (http://www.el-comandante.com/cu/) (Guerrilla Warfare (http://www.el-comandante.com/guerilla.htm)) , was seen for a time as the definitive philosophy for fighting irregular wars. However, with his death in Bolivia on October 9, 1967, his "Cuban Style" of revolution outlined in the book was shown to be ineffective. Guevera believed that a small group of guerillas, by violently targeting the government, could actively foment revolutionary feelings among the general populace, so that it was not necessary to build broad organizations and advance the revolutionary struggle in measured steps before launching the armed insurrection.

In the 1960s, he became a popular icon for revolution and youthful political ideals in Western culture. A dramatic photograph of Che taken by photographer Alberto Korda (http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Month/korda.htm) soon become one of the century's most recognizable images, and the portrait was simplified and reproduced on a vast array of merchandise, such as T-shirts, posters, and baseball caps.

Che's reputation even extended into theatre where he is depicted as the narrator in the musical Evita, who becomes disillusioned with the increasingly corrupt and tyrannical Eva Peron and her dictator husband. This is taking some creative license, as Guevara's only interaction with Eva Peron was to write her a facetious letter in his youth, asking her for a Jeep.

Guevara has been represented in the movies by Francisco Rabal[?] (1968), Omar Sharif (1969), Alfredo Vasco[?] (1999), and Gael García Bernal[?] (2002) and (2003)

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