Tag Archives: Che

Who was Ernesto Guevara?

30 Jun

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading The Motorcycle Diaries. Soon after I finished I was on Twitter and realized it was Che’s birthday. If he was still alive today he would have been turning 83. I am not sure if it was the birthday realization or the book slowly sinking in but I really started to ponder Che Guevara and his life.

Sometimes people in the United States are scared to discuss Che or really take the time to study him. I think too often he is brushed off as a dead communist, which leads me to wonder why we still have this stigma in the United States about communism. While Che was trying to liberate the people of Bolivia he was killed by the CIA. I am so utterly disgusted by this; the US had no right to kill him, no right to be in Bolivia. Throughout my studies of Latin America I am too often appalled by the things the CIA has done.

Che was someone who from the start of his life wanted to help people, which is why he became a doctor. But throughout the Motorcycle Diaries you can hear his soul and destiny change as he observes injustice throughout his journey. Later in life Che left his career as a doctor because he felt a calling to something bigger. Che saw an unjust world, he observed his brothers suffering, which he was unable to be content with. He believed in a better, more just world. He believed that change was possible. These were his main ideologies. Are these the same ideologies that the CIA killed him over? If so then I believe I am guilty as well. For I too am unsatisfied with the injustice in the world, I too am pained over the suffering which my fellow humans are enduring daily. I too believe that change is possible and will dedicate myself towards a better world. So I too must be guilty to the CIA.

What I do not understand is why gringos are so quick to brush Che off as another communist, yet also so quick to throw on a shirt bearing his face. I feel that very few of us take the time to truly learn who he was and what his true ideologies were. I am not claiming that I agree with everything he ever said. One huge difference between my ideologies and Che’s is that he believed justice should be obtained through battle, where as I believe in nonviolent conflict. Neither am I proclaiming to be a Che expert. However, after reading Motorcycle Diaries I do feel like I know him better. I now know of his true intelligence, the brilliant way he described his thoughts and the scenes around him. I can relate to the emotions he felt as he witnessed the poverty and injustice in Latin America. I am also now excited to read more of his literary works, in fact another one of his diaries was released in Cuba on his birthday.

Often when studying historical figures I try to imagine them in today’s world. I wonder what would have come of Che if the CIA had not brutally murdered him. Would he have become like Castro, becoming a dictator of a country he was trying to liberate? What would he have thought of the corruption and poverty that still plagues Latin America today? How different would Latin America be if he were still alive, would it be better? Unfortunately, these are only questions which we can ponder, ones we will never know the answer to.

My main point, besides how repulsive it is that the CIA not only thought they had a right to take his life but went ahead and ended it, is that Che is worth studying, is worth trying to understand. His beliefs were solid and his words were inspiring. His words can be applied to today’s Latin America, where poverty, corruption and political instability are still very existent.