Question: Was Ernesto “Che” Guevara the revolutionary hero as depicted in today’s pop culture, or was he a vicious murderer, obsessed with the destruction of capitalism? Methods: This investigation will describe Che Guevara’s involvement in Latin American independence movements, focusing specifically on his involvement with Fidel Castro’s “26th of July” movement. His actions and words will be analyzed, and his conduct this period of political upheaval will be used as evidence in order to answer the investigative question.
B.Summary of Evidence
1.Guevara’s Revolutionary Involvement from 1928-1954
Ernesto Guevara, born in 1928 in Rosario, Argentina, was not born poor. He lived in middle-class comfort, attending school on a regular basis and participating in athletics and extra-curricular activities that he could take advantage of due to his middle-class status. Guevara was a talent rugby player, and he continued to play this aggressive and physical sport throughout medical school (Anderson 64). It wasn’t until Guevara took a trip to the Chuquicamata copper mine in northern Chile that he became sympathetic towards the proletariat (Anderson 100). Guevara took his experience at the mine back to Buenos Aires with him, and it compelled him to embark on his famous cross-continental motorcycle journey with his friend Alberto Granado (Anderson 69). The journey made Guevara conscious to the suffering of his Latin American brothers, and gave him the inspiration to become involved in the creation of a united socialist system in Latin America. In 1953, Guevara set out from Buenos Aires with his sights set on Guatemala. Jacobo Arbenz, the liberal president of Guatemala at the time, was beginning a nationalization program that was seen as dangerous and radical to the foreign investors in Guatemala, specifically the United Fruit Company (Anderson 110). Guevara witnessed the CIA involvement with the overthrowing of Arbenz, and this cemented the idea that the imperialist, capitalist United States was abusing its power and needed to be stopped. 2.Guevara’s Cuban Revolution
After the failed Arbenz experiment, Guevara moved on to Mexico City, where he met up with a Cuban resistance group, led by the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raúl. He became friends with the charismatic Fidel, and agreed to fight for the Cuban resistance army, which was beginning to take shape in Mexico City (Anderson 167). Here Guevara got his famous nickname, “Che”. This common Argentinean greeting was new to the Cubans, and they began to call Guevara “Che” (Anderson 124). Guevara survived the initial fighting that took place on the beaches of southern Cuba, and was able to escape to the Sierra Maestra mountain range with the Castros. Guevara gained a reputation for being a fearless soldier, and a vicious enemy. His accomplishments did not go unnoticed, and soon enough, Guevara was given a column of guerillas to lead. Once Batista, the US-backed dictator of Cuba, fled to the Dominican Republic, Guevara was promoted to such positions as head of the Institute of Agrarian Reform and president of the National Bank (Anderson 451). Che also personally conducted the trials and executions of an overwhelming amount of supposed Batista sympathizers. 3.Guevara’s Post-Cuba Involvement
Once it became apparent that the USSR was in control of Cuba, Che made up his mind to search for new opportunities to promote his communist ideals internationally. At that time, Africa was in the middle of revolutions, and Che saw opportunity in the heart of Africa. He travelled to the Congo with a band of Cuban guerillas to help fight for communism. However, this enterprise backfired and the Cubans, badly beaten, were forced to flee the Congo. Che turned then to Bolivia, where he lead a small force of Cubans against the Bolivian army. The idea was to replicate the revolution that had occurred in Cuba, but this did not work in Bolivia in the same capacity. The...