Love him or hate him…Ché Guevara 14 June 1928 – 9 October 1967
This epic before us is going to be written by the hungry Indian masses, the peasants without land, the exploited workers. It is going to be written by the progressive masses, the honest and brilliant intellectuals, who so greatly abound in our suffering Latin American lands. Struggles of masses and ideas. An epic that will be carried forward by our peoples, mistreated and scorned by imperialism; our people, unreckoned with until today, who are now beginning to shake off their slumber. Imperialism considered us a weak and submissive flock; and now it begins to be terrified of that flock; a gigantic flock of 200 million Latin Americans in whom Yankee monopoly capitalism now sees its gravediggers …. And the wave of anger, of demands for justice, of claims for rights trampled underfoot, which is beginning to sweep the lands of Latin America, will not stop.
(Che Guevara, to the U.N. General Assembly, 11 December 1964)
Ernesto Guevara Lynch, born 85 years ago today, in Rosario, Argentina.
There is an adulatory short biography on the Che Guevara blog, but for those looking for something more:
John Lee Anderson’s Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, is as complete as a U.S. author could be expected to write, based on mostly “official” sources and oftentimes almost apologetic for admitting there was a reason so many (especially in Latin America) see Ché as a legitimate critic of U.S. imperialism.
Two Latin American biographers (both Mexicans, as it happens), are better on capturing and considering the rootedness of Ché’s internationalism in his Latin American heritage, and both were able to access sources not available to Anderson.
Jorge Castañeda’s Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara is probably the fullest English-language biography. Castañeda is faulted for on the one hand being overly-academic and on the other for portraying Guevara as ” nothing more than a spoiled child with delusions of grandeur throwing a temper tantrum” (in the words of one “Goodreads” reviewer).
While much more readable, and the product of a much better (and much more entertaining author), the English-language translation of Paco Ignacio Taibo’s Guevara, Also Known as Ché has more than its share of typos and awkward translations. It is, however, the best of the biographies, concentrating on Ché as an enduring touchstone in any consideration of Latin American (and international) confrontation with the great powers.