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Love him or hate him…Ché Guevara 14 June 1928 – 9 October 1967

14 June 2013

che

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.

chefamily.jpg

Che (on left) as a 16 year old geek, with (from left to right), mother Celia, sister Celia, brothers Roberto and Juan Martín, father Ernesto and sister Ana María.

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.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob permalink
    14 June 2013 3:48 am

    To the victor go the spoils of war. Too often, we equate “spoils” with material wealth. The biggest prize of all is the “truth”.

  2. 14 June 2013 6:53 am

    Thank you for this, Richard. It is very good to see Che remembered. We have a book exchange here and his picture graces it. I am going to post a link to this in my blog.

  3. Antonio Perales del Hierro permalink
    14 June 2013 3:33 pm

    Should play well with all of the machistas and assorted “real man” attention-getters, little doubt. Dr. Guevara, like Fidel and Mao, was a dismal and murderous bully and homphobe., and should have paid more attention to the medical ethic of Do NO Harm. To his credit Castro has more or less disavowed such inhumanity and ignorance about gender and its varied roles in societies. Patriarchy clearly sucks, and we need less, not more “wannabe-warriors”. Urban males of all colors have difficulty enough navigating past violent solutions to any “problem” which they confront, without bad and irrelevant examples such as Che. And, in case you haven’t noticed, We Do Not Need More Hypermasculinist Heroes. Taibo should get his head out of his ass.

    • buddenbooks permalink
      14 June 2013 6:33 pm

      o dios mio.

    • roberb7 permalink
      15 June 2013 7:18 pm

      I, too, have long wondered “just what is the deal with Che Guevara?” He had B.O., treated women like shit, and, despite being a doctor, smoked cigarettes even though he had asthma.

      • 16 June 2013 9:45 pm

        Perhaps reading a bit about the history of South America would help with that puzzlement?

        Humans are complicated. This shouldn’t be news for anyone, but reductionists seem to often miss that.

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