Ernesto Guevara. Essay

1231 words - 5 pages

Ernesto Guevara, the preeminent Latin-American revolutionary of the late twentieth century, was the symbol of radical egalitarianism and the war against social injustice. Gunned down in the jungles of southeastern Bolivia in 1967, his death is surrounded by questions that remain unanswered. Jorge G. Castañeda probes Che's life with a storyteller's pen and an historian's judgment, delving into the mystery and myth surrounding Che's life, careers, and ideals. Castañeda has access to archives open to few researchers, and he has reached a range of insiders who worked with, and fought beside, Che during the time of his revolutionary activity in Mexico, Cuba, Africa, and South America. Also at Castañeda 's unique disposal is a previously unknown manuscript written by Che Guevara himself, describing his experiences in the Congo during the "missing year" in his life.From his inclusion of such unique material as Che's teenage love letters to his detailed review of archives in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere, Castañeda provides the most balanced and thorough account of Che's personal and political endeavors, but biography at its best. He places each stage of Che's career in its social, cultural, and political context, and he tackles thorny questions that are crucial to understanding the entire Socialist venture: Did the Soviets help or betray Che in the Congo and Bolivia? Did Fidel Castro wish him well or hope for his demise? And, perhaps most compelling of all, how did a blue-blooded, asthmatic doctor from Argentina transcend ideology and politics to become the icon known as Che?This work by Castañeda is particularly interesting as it outlines and explains Che Guevara's late political/philosophical development. He wasn't a Communist prodigy nurtured for grand social revolution at all. Understanding Guevara's early years, as well as his communist metamorphosis in Guatemala, is essential, if one hopes to get past the romanticized imagery of contemporary red-and-black t-shirts with "RAGE" sprawled overtop. However, a few chapters on Guevara's exploits in Africa are quite overdone, much like the guerilla fighter's own time there. And the concluding chapter is such a stretch from the rest of the levelheaded work, that upon finishing, you have to pull the spoon out from the back of your throat. Castañeda goes so far as to hint that Che was one of the reasons that political awareness jumped as it did from 1960 to 1970."Nonetheless, it was Guevara's idée-mere of change and the omnipotence of desire, together with the spectacular growth of public-university enrollment across the world that generated a new university: the many in rich nations and the few in poor ones." (Page 406)Of course, the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King Jr., and the myriads of other radical and immensely impacting events and people during the era were only minor stones in the holy footpath of Che. Yet it is difficult for one to say that...

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