Ernesto Guevara de Serna was born in Argentina in 1928 into a fairly privileged family. He developed serious asthma at the age of two, which would plague him throughout his life. He was home-schooled by his mother, Celia de la Serna. It was these early years when he became an eager reader of Marx, Engels, and Freud which all were all part of his father's library. He went to secondary school in 1941, the Colegio Nacional Dean Funes, Cordoba, where he excelled in literature and sports.
At home he was impressed by the Spanish Civil War refugees and by the long series of political crises in Argentina. These culminated in the Left Fascist' dictatorship of Juan Peron, to whom the Guevara de la Sernas were opposed. These events and influences implanted ideas of contempt for the charade of parliamentary democracy, a hatred of military politicians and the army, the capitalist oligarchy, and, above all, U.S. imperialism. Although his parents, most notably his mother, were anti-Peronist activists, he did not take participate in revolutionary student movements and showed little interest in politics at Buenos Aires University (1947) where he studied medicine. He focused on understanding his own disease, and later became more interested in leprosy.
In 1949 he made the first of his long journeys, exploring northern Argentina on a bicycle. This was the first time Ernesto came into contact with the very poor and the remnants of the Indian tribes. It was during this leave of absence from schooling that Guevara, now nicknamed "Che" (Italian origin meaning chum or buddy), first experienced the depth of poverty and suffering of his fellows. In 1951, after taking his exams, he made a much longer journey. He visited southern Argentina, Chile, where he met Salvador Allende, and Peru, where he worked for several weeks in the San Pablo leprosarium. He then was in Colombia at the time of La Violencia, and Venezuela and Miami where he was arrested but soon...
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