Useful Notes / Che Guevara

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This face is one of the top selling t-shirts.
"It would take a thousand years and a million pages to write Che's biography."
Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian journalist

Ernesto Guevara (1928-1967), better known by his nickname "Che", note  was an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who attained fame for his active role as a guerrilla leader and strategist in the Cuban Revolution (in which he helped Fidel Castro to seize power from the United States-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista) and then later, his death in Bolivia, where he was arrested and executed by the Bolivian military with the aid of the CIA. He also ran Castro's most infamous prison, La Cabana, and oversaw Revolutionary Tribunals and summary executions. After that he worked as a government bureaucrat and took a lead in introducing literacy measures. Eventually he became restless and decided to engage in revolutionary causes again. He later took part in the Congo revolution, but it wasn't successful. Then he conducted a complicated scheme in Bolivia that eventually led to his capture and execution.

Defending a socialist cause and being executed at a young age, Che Guevara evolved into a symbol that represents both "civil disobedience" and "political awareness" (The Other Wiki has several articles about him). A photograph of Che by Alberto Korda became one of the most famous photographs during The '60s, which thanks to the intense gaze of its subject along with his youth and good looks made him an Icon of Rebellion well into the 21st Century, reprints of said image created a profitable market or T-shirts with his face on it. More often than not, he is also used as the "Romantic Expression" of guerrilla warfare: a tough but well-intentioned guy, willing to fight injustice (and American imperialism) over everything. Often treated as a hero figure in many books, film, and TV shows alike while also glossing over the fact that Guevara openly admitted to revolutionary violence, famously admitting in his speech at the UN that his administration executed political prisoners, or that he openly advocated nuclear holocaust against the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This sanitized portrayal of Che Guevara is however necessary for his commodification in the West into a mass-market consumerist image providing money that mostly goes to western capitalist nations, so it's unlikely to change as long as Che continues to be in demand.

Lots of books, quite a few movies, and even an SNK Ikari Warriors-ish videogame called "Guevara" (dolled up in the USA as Guerrilla War) have been done about him.

Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

Appears in the following works:

  • He appears alongside Castro in Stock Footage in Alfred Hitchcock's Topaz
  • Richard Fleischer's 1969 Che starring Omar Sharif. It was not very successful.
  • Andy Garcia's The Lost City, a loose adaptation of Gulliermo Cabrera Infante's Three Trapped Tigers, has one of the few negative depictions of Che.
  • Gael Garcia Bernal played Che in The Motorcycle Diaries. Notably, the first film on Che in the Spanish language to be internationally successful.
  • Benicio del Toro played him in Steven Soderbergh's two-part Biopic, Che. Also shot in the Spanish language, but more of an Acclaimed Flop.
  • Underground Comics artist Spain Rodriquez published a graphic novel in 2007 called Che: A Graphic Biography. Rodriquez always identified himself as a Marxist, so his depiction of Che is positive.
  • A playable character in the game Guerrilla War. The North American version downplays this a lot, but the original Japanese version is even named after him.
  • Appears in the hellishly dystopian Alternate History tale For All Time, where he leads a revolution in Argentina alongside Leopold Galtieri in 1960. He eventually takes power himself, establishing the Democratic Republic of Argentina, forging close ties with the People's Republic of China, and launching an invasion of Chile on December 2, 1966, complete with nuclear bombings in Santiago and Valparaíso. He pulls out of Buneos Aires just before the Americas nuke it out of existence and occupy Argentina, and continues encouraging a communist revolutions through radio and media.

Hasta la victoria siempre
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