Despite storms and rains,
we still keep on
the long route you had chosen.
Che, my friend
See you again in victorious day
Left to right: Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and Che Guevara
Ernesto Che Guevara de la Serna, commonly known as Che Guevara, El Che or just Che, was born on June 14, 1928, in Rosario, Argentina to a middle-class family. In 1953, Che graduated from the University of Buenos Aires School of medicine. While travelling throughout many Latin American countries, he had direct contact with the impoverished conditions in which many people lived. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to the conclusion that only a thorough revolution could abolish poverty and build a united political block among fraternal Latin American countries. In 1953, Che travelled to Guatemala to learn about the reforms being implemented there by President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. However, a coup d’etat took place in the country in 1954 and forced him to leave for Mexico. There he met Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and other Cuban revolutionaries who were preparing a revolutionary attack against the Batista dictatorship in Cuba.
In Nov. 1956, a group of young revolutionaries including Che Guevara, led by Fidel Castro returned to Cuba on the ship Granma. In the first unfair clash with Batista government troops, most of the young revolutionaries were killed in battle. Fidel, Che and other survivors escaped and regrouped deep inside the Sierra Maestra Mountains. They established a revolutionary base there to commence the Cuban revolutionary war which ended in the Victory of January 1959.
Che Guevara served in various important posts in the new revolutionary government led by Fidel Castro, such as President of the Central Bank of Cuba and Minister of Industry. He represented Cuba at many important international conferences and organisations and in the struggle against imperialism. Being considered an unorthodox Marxist, Che played an important role in forming the ideologies of the left-wing youths in the 1960s.
In 1965-1966, Che left Cuba for the Congo and joined a revolutionary organisation in this central African country. In autumn 1966, Che organised revolutionary guerilla forces in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. On Oct. 8, 1967, his guerilla group was annihilated by government troops of the dictatorial regime. He was wounded, captured and executed some days later. Che died a heroic death.
Che Guevava died but his progressive revolutionary thoughts of a new society remain in the mind of Latin American revolutionaries and peace loving people world-wide.
Che Guevara’s Marxist point of view
Che’s thoughts stemmed from many factors, particularly the Marxist point of view. That is why Che was regarded as a Marxist not only by friends and acquaintances but also by himself. An important feature which distinguished a special nuance in Che’s thoughts was that Che understood Marxism not simply from knowledge and books, but through his life experiences, people’s poverty and the exploitation of imperialists and colonialists in locations he had lived. He acquired and shared these experiences with others immediately after graduating from University and during his travels through countries in the region.
This built up a major quality in Che’s Marxist point of view against dogmatism. He disagreed with the idea of applying Marxism-Leninism to the building of a real society in a bureaucratic and mechanical manner. He maintained that to stereotype Marxism-Leninism within a system and regard it as an undying, unshakable and immutable truth is nothing but absolute dogmatism.
Che Guevara’s thought about “new type of people”
Che held that revolution not only changed social structures and institutions of the regime, but also profoundly and thoroughly changed the people, their awareness and the values, customs and habits of social relations between people and people. He maintained that a revolution was genuine only when it could create “new people”. In Che’s thinking, real revolutionary new people should work for their whole life. These people should be woken to the revolution and it is not a sacrifice to work as it is their struggle for social interest. It is not a sacrifice if the action really proceeds from individual wishes and to meet individual needs. The word “sacrifice”, therefore, no longer exists. This is the major quality of a revolutionary, who is enlightened by the revolution in its true meaning and who works in a careful and thoughtful manner. However, it is not simple in reality and the wrong sides always exist. It is most difficult for revolutionaries to discard their own sentiments and feelings to act and gain specific outcomes to improve the social environment.
Another salient feature in Che’s revolutionary thoughts was the definition of youths and political parties’ social role.
Firstly, youths play a very important role in building “new people”. Youths should be proud of being a communist and are prepared to confirm their ideal at any time and any place. Meanwhile, youths should be sensitive to any matter and any injustice. They should always be dissatisfied with what they have, be prepared to find out about and study what they do not know and learn and receive new knowledge to enrich their knowledge.
Secondly, all political parties and vanguard organisations should gather the most outstanding people. In this case, the concept “new people” is understood as a politician (Che called them “cadres”), who are prepared to fulfill any task. Che said, (quote) “The cadre is the major part of the ideological motor. It is something that we could call the dynamic screw of this motor; a screw that in regard to the functional part will assure its correct functioning; dynamic to the extent that the cadre is not simply an upward or downward transmitter of slogans or demands, but a creator which will aid in the development of the masses and in the information of the leaders” (unquote).
International spirit in Che’s point of view
(Quote) “The revolutionary, the ideological motor force of the revolution, is consumed by his uninterrupted activity, which can come to an end only with death until the building of socialism on a world scale has been accomplished. If his revolutionary zeal is blunted when the most urgent tasks are being accomplished on a local scale, and he forgets his proletarian internationalism, the revolution which he leads will cease to be an inspiring force, and he will sink into a comfortable lethargy which imperialism, our irreconcilable enemy, will utilise well. Proletarian internationalism is a duty, but it is also a revolutionary necessity. So we educate our people!” (Unquote)
This viewpoint of Che Guevara bears a profound revolutionary human significance. The loftiest value of genuine humanitarianism in Che’s viewpoint is logically nothing but humankind. His work showed an obvious trend that international spirit exceeded the individual and national factor, which bore an international vision in searching for the liberty of the proletariat in the whole world.
Obviously, internationalism is not only a feeling but, first of all, a realisation of a genuine and dynamic unity between nations in the struggle to liberate humankind from oppression and injustice. That is why liberty can not obtained from a single action but a process: liberty must be built.
(1) Famous Cuban singer who sings revolutionary songs, particularly songs honouring Che Guevara.