He’s the subject of what many call ‘the most famous photograph in the world’: a symbol of leftist radicalism and hero of anti-imperialism… but who was this brooding, beret-wearing character, and what exactly did he stand for?
Ernesto (Ché) Guevara was, amongst other things, an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary, who played a pivotal role in the overthrow of Batista’s dictatorship of Cuba. Through strong personal will and tenacity he became second in command of the Castro regime and fought for human rights, freedom and equality.
Born on June 14th 1928 in Argentina, Che applied himself to studies during his upbringing to become a physician. Before graduating (circa 1950) he took a two-wheeled sojourn across South America. A journey that would later be recorded in; ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ which has now become a cult classic. It documented his bi-wheeled travels across South America, breathing insight into a young and brilliant mind as it was awakened to the unjust realities of his continent.
Upon graduating in 1953, Che set out to explore more of the world and to take his fight to those governments he saw as oppressive.
Although he was a successful guerrilla and military strategist, he was also a physician, author and diplomat. He played many roles, and always answered the call where he felt his help was needed.
During his time as Diplomat he travelled the world, speaking at UN events and advocating for equality and human rights, especially in countries throughout Latin America, where he felt the U.S government was exploiting the native people.
Unfortunately, the new government he helped to take power in Cuba ended up being just as bad, if not worse for the good of the people. To this day Cuba is one of the few remaining states controlled by a communist government; the people there live in incredible poverty.
While Che continued to spread his efforts of uprising in Africa (specifically in the Congo) and then in Bolivia, his rebellious nature eventually saw his demise. He was captured while fighting with the rebels in Bolivia and executed on October 9th 1967.
While he now represents a major pop-icon and has become one of the most recognisable faces of the 20th century, most people who buy shirts and posters with Ché upon them fail to realise the complex history and fascinating juxtapositions that clashed within this enigmatic character.