On Monday, October the 9th, survivors of Che Guevara’s battle for revolution in Bolivia gathered in a deserted place in the Andes. It is 50 years since he was executed.
Here, they meet anually, but this group is special. Cuba’s Vice President, Miguel Diaz-Caneln and his four children met in a simple school-room in the remote village of La Higuera. Moreover, Bolivia today has a government that shares Che Guevara’s socialist convictions.
In this village, the battles of Fidel Castro’s ‘compañero’ and the right-hand man ended. One Sunday afternoon, together with his small band of Bolivian and Cuban fighters, he was caught in a forest area on the eastern slopes of the Bolivian Andes.
He was taken by CIA-trained and supported soldiers in a ravine after seven months of fighting with the Bolivian army. It was much more difficult than expected to wake up the Bolivian peasant-farmers to rebel against their oppressors.
‘I failed. Everything is over’, a defeated Che said in conversation with officer Andrés Selich. This is evident from Selich’s notes, which later became a biography. In the morning after the arrest, Che was executed without trial by the Bolivian soldiers. Agents from the CIA intelligence service, now long forgotten, were keen and happy onlookers.
On Monday it’s 50 years since the Argentine-Cuban revolutionary hero, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was killed, gaining him international status as an immortal martyr.
He became a mythic figure, an icon of the 1968 revolts of the following year, far away in Western Europe. What Norwegian student didn’t have a red and black poster with ‘Che’ hanging in their bedroom? Che means ‘the Argentinean’, and Guevara often referred to himself as ‘the Argentinean’.
In his own Latin America, Che Guevara was a hero, although his last efforts in the field didn’t end in military triumph. He came to Bolivia at the end of 1966 to ignite the spark that would put the country which sat in the US backyard on fire. He gained
only small victories before the final defeat came.
Thorn in the side
In return, with his so-called folk-theory, and system of guerrilla warfare, he was an inspiration for subsequent party movements in several Latin American countries over the next decades. People’s movements were about to launch a series of revolutionary groups based in local populations, which would later flare up to popular revolt.
For Washington, Che Guevara was a thorn in their side, before and after his death. While the United States was in Vietnam, where American soldiers fought against an out-gunned, yet superior enemy, Guevara stood and fought in the US’s own backyard. No wonder Washington wanted him eliminated as quickly as possible.
The corpse of 38 year old Che Guevara was flown to the nearest town, Vallegrande, where it was exhibited for two days for the affluent world’s press. But the peasants in this area regarded him as a saviour figure.
It is no coincidence that a British journalist from The Guardian was referred to the woman who cooked Che’s last meal (read communion).
Or that the peasants said that he was wrapped in a cloth like Jesus in Bethlehem.
Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was born in Argentina, but left his native country after graduating as a doctor because he was against the regime of Juan Peron. He joined Fidel Castro’s partisans, who landed in Cuba and fought dictator Batista’s regime in 1959.
Guevara was appointed national bank manager, even though he claimed he had not handled finance before. He then received several other ministerial posts, but eventually came to a oppose Castro’s Soviet-friendly, and communist politics.
In 1965, he broke with Castro in protest against the Cuban connection to the Soviets in a capitalist-like exchange of land in the third world.
He examined the possibilities of launching a new revolution in Africa, but his life finally ended after being captured and, essentially, murdered by the CIA in Bolivia.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today