Guevara Essay, Research Paper

Guevara, Che

Guevara, Che, real name Ernesto Guevara (1928-1967), Latin American guerrilla leader and revolutionary theorist, who became a hero to the New Left radicals of the 1960s. Born into a middle-class family in Rosario, Argentina, Guevara received a medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1953. Convinced that revolution was the only remedy for Latin America’s social inequities, in 1954 he went to Mexico, where he joined exiled Cuban revolutionaries under Fidel Castro. In the late 1950s, he played an important role in Castro’s guerrilla war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, and when Castro came to power, he served as Cuba’s minister of industry (1961-1965). A strong opponent of U.S. influence in the Third World, he helped guide the Castro regime on its leftward and pro-Communist path. The author of two books on guerrilla warfare, Guevara advocated peasant-based revolutionary movements in the developing countries. He disappeared from Cuba in 1965, reappearing the following year as an insurgent leader in Bolivia. He was captured by the Bolivian army and shot near Vallegrande on October 9, 1967.

byname of ERNESTO GUEVARA DE LA SERNA theoretician and tactician of guerrilla warfare, prominent Communist figure in the Cuban Revolution (1956-59), and later guerrilla leader in South America.

Guevara was the eldest of five children in a middle-class family of Spanish-Irish descent and leftist leanings. Though suffering from asthma, he excelled as an athlete and a scholar, completing his medical studies in 1953. He spent many of his holidays travelling in Latin America, and his observations of the great poverty of the masses convinced him that the only solution lay in violent revolution. He came to look upon Latin America not as a collection of separate nations but as a cultural and economic entity, the liberation of which would require an intercontinental strategy.

In 1953 Guevara went to Guatemala, where Jacobo Arbenz headed a progressive regime that was attempting to bring about a social revolution. (Around this time Guevara acquired his nickname, from a verbal mannerism of Argentines who punctuate their speech with the interjection che.)

The overthrow of the Arbenz regime in 1954 in a coup supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency persuaded Guevara that the United States would always oppose progressive leftist governments. This conviction became the cornerstone of his plans to bring about Socialism by means of a worldwide revolution.

He left Guatemala for Mexico, where he met the Cuban brothers, Fidel and Ra*l Castro, political exiles who were preparing an attempt to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. Guevara joined Castro’s force, which landed in the Cuban province of Oriente late in November 1956. Immediately detected by Batista’s army, they were almost wiped out; the few survivors, including the wounded Guevara, reached the Sierra Maestra, where they became the nucleus of a guerrilla army. The rebels slowly gained in strength, seizing weapons from Batista’s forces and winning support and new recruits. Guevara became one of Castro’s most trusted aides and recorded the two years spent in overthrowing Batista’s government in Pasajes de la guerra revolucionaria (1963; Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, 1968).

After Castro’s victorious troops entered Havana on Jan. 2, 1959, and established a Marxist government, Guevara became a Cuban citizen, as prominent in the new government as he had been in the revolutionary army, representing Cuba on many commercial missions. He also became well known in the West for his opposition to all forms of imperialism and neocolonialism and for his attacks on U.S. foreign policy. He served as chief of the Industrial Department of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform, president of the National Bank of Cuba, and minister of industry.

During the early 1960s, he defined Cuba’s policies and his own views in many speeches and writings, notably “El socialismo y el hombre en Cuba” (1965; “Man and Socialism in Cuba,” 1967)–an examination of Cuba’s new brand of Communism–and a highly influential manual, La guerra de guerrillas (1960; Guerrilla Warfare, 1961). After April 1965 Guevara dropped out of public life. His movements and whereabouts for the next two years remained secret; it was later learned that he had spent some time in what is now Congo (Kinshasa) with other Cuban guerrilla fighters, helping to organize the Patrice Lumumba Battalion, which fought in the civil war there.

In the autumn of 1966, Guevara went to Bolivia, incognito, to create and lead a guerrilla group in the region of Santa Cruz. On Oct. 8, 1967, the group was almost annihilated by a special detachment of the Bolivian Army. Guevara was captured after being wounded and was shot soon afterward.

In the United States the generation of the 1960’s spoke often about love and peace, yet this generation carried the image of a man who advocated the use of hatred as a means to an end into their marches and into their dormitories. The image of Che Guevara hanging in the College dorms of young student radicals in the 90’s may be cliche, but his message is not. In his Message to the Tricontinental Guevara argued that hatred was something to be harnessed and used for as he put it, “an element of struggle.” Not only as an element to struggle against injustice, but to be used to perpetrate new injustices. Guevara describes the utilization of hatred or as he put it “relentless hatred” to “impel us over and beyond the natural limitations of man.” This use of hatred to encourage the dehumanization of ones enemy is but another manifestation of the doctrine found throughout the centuries to justify mass murder and torture.

If hate was the solution to all our problems than the victors of this century would have been men like: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. Instead they are viewed in most quarters as mass murderers and criminals except for those who are blinded by their “relentless hatred” of their fellow man. History has demonstrated two fundamental approaches to change the face of the world. One way views hatred as an element of the struggle and has been the way for such leaders as: Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Fidel Castro.

The second way is an alternative to harnessing hatred, and tragically it is the road less traveled. It is the path blazed with the words of Jesus Christ who said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This path has and continues to be followed by men of such diverse backgrounds as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Lech Walesa, and Vaclav Havel. These men have demonstrated that hatred is something to be overcome, not an “element of struggle,” but rather a stumbling block to freedom.

Ours is a battle both of the soul and the material realm. Our enemy is hatred. We have good reason to hate Fidel Castro and his co-conspirators. They have imprisoned tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience, attempted to brainwash a generation, enslaved the Cuban people in a retro-feudal state Castroism created, they have divided families, made political ideology a litmus test for patriotism, created an exile that comprises nearly 20% of the Cuban population,and murdered thousands.

To defeat despotism, we must conquer and destroy our own hatred. We must reject Che Guevara’s argument that hatred is good because it, “transforms us into effective, violent, selective, and cold killing machines.” We must act not out of hatred for Castro,but out of love for the Cuban people. This should be what drives our purpose and our strategies to bring liberty and justice to the Cuban nation. We will not compromise with evil. We will overcome it. We will exercise our fundamental rights as Cubans and as human beings to be free and moral beings. If they wish to butcher us or imprison us, then it is they who are at fault. If we are to die for the cause of freedom while exercising our God given rights, then we have done nothing wrong.

On July 13, 1994 Castro’s agents attacked a tug-boat full of women and children trying to head for sanctuary in a foreign land. They were met by tugs who used high pressure hoses to knock these refugees overboard into the sea, and later these agents rammed the boat drowning 41 passengers. 21 of which were women and children.

One year later on July 13, 1995 Cuban exiles traveled in a flotilla into Cuban waters to honor those who had been massacred a year earlier seeking freedom. We were met by military gunboats, military helicopters, and military jets. We came bearing white roses and a priest to pray over the watery grave of the victims. As we exercised our fundamental right to enter and exit our national territory, the lead ship, Democracia, was rammed, and exiles seriously injured. The exile’s response to the military personnel was “brothers, please don’t do this.”

On October 10, 1995 the Cuban Council “Concilio Cubano” was born, a coalition of civic, political, labor, and human rights organizations joined together in the rebirth of Cuba’s civil and moral society. 130 opposition groups joined together on the following mutual points of agreement: respect for human rights, amnesty for all political prisoners, and the re-establishment of the rule of for all Cubans inside and outside of Cuba. The Cuban Council requested permission to hold a national convention on Feb. 24, 1996. Castro could not allow such a coalition to exist because it is a mortal threat to him. This Council looks to the future of the Cuban nation, and charts a course away from the culture of hatred, death, and disaster Castro has brought to the island.

On February 24, 1996 when Concilio Cubano was to meet; Cuba’s secret police continued the sweep started weeks earlier to crush the coalition, and Cuban MiGs killed four men who at the time were engaged in a search and rescue mission for Cuban rafters in the Florida Straits. One of these men, Armando Alejandre Jr. was a member of the Committee in support of the Cuban Council in Miami. He was also a 1988 graduate of Florida International University.

How has the exile responded to these outrages: with prayer, sadness for those who have lost loved ones, a renewed call to non-violent confrontation, and finally with another flotilla to honor those who perished at the hands of a tyranny driven by hate.

Che’s legacy in Cuba is one neighbor spying on another, high suicide rates, and a generation of young Cubans risking their lives on rafts in the Florida Straits rather than continue to live under a despotic government. A people cannot prosper in a regime founded and based in hatred. We must transcend hate, and we must overcome evil for Cuba to be free.

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