Ernesto 'Che' Guevara
- Birth name:
- Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna
- Date of Birth:
- 9 October 1928 Rosario, Argentina
- 5' 11½" (1.82 m)
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born to a middle-class family in Rosario, Santa Fe Province, Argentina on June 14, 1928. Disgusted by the corrupt Argentine militarist government, Guevara became a dedicated Marxist while still in his teens. As a student, he vowed to dedicate his life to revolutionary causes and in 1953 he received a medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires. He left Argentina later that year to take part in a Communist revolt in Guatemala. There he adopted his revolutionary nickname, nom de guerre Che, the local slang for "pal." When the revolution in Guatemala failed the following year, Che fled to Mexico where he was introduced to another Communist revolutionary in exile, Fidel Castro. Joining Castro's July 26 Movement, named after the date of Castro's aborted 1953 revolution in Cuba, Che Guevara sailed with Castro and over 80 guerrilla troops to Cuba where they landed on December 2, 1956, bent on overthrowing General Fulgencio Batista's government. After the invasion force was almost decimated by government troops and air strikes, Castro, Guevara and about 10 others hid out on the Sierra Mastera mountains of southern Cuba. In July 1957, Che was assigned command of half of Castro's forces with the rank of Comandante, a title he shared only with Castro himself. For the next year and a half, he led his insurgents against the government forces in the province of Las Villas, while growing hatred to Batista's government fueled widespread support to Castro's forces, which steadily grew in size. Che's successful attack against the government troops in Santa Clara in December 1958 sealed the victory of Castro's forces. Batista's fled into exhile on January 1, 1959 and Castro's troops then marched unopposed into Havana a week later. After Castro assumed power, Che became one of his most trusted advisors and a leading international revolutionary. Che became the Cuban minister of agriculture and in 1960 wrote a book titled "Guerilla Warfare," a manual for Third World insurgents as part of his plan to bring Communism throught the world. Che resigned his post in Cuba in 1965 and traveled widely to Africa and other insurgent hot spots in the world, including the Belgian Congo, to organize Communist revolts as well as train Cuban contingents there and teach them the French colonial language. In November 1966, Che surfaced in Bolivia to organize another revolt by the local Communist peasants. But the revolution in Bolivia only received lukewarm support from many of the poorly-educated, non-Spanish-speaking peasants who preferred to support the government, not caring for foreign insurgents. After a long and drawn out campaign, Che's revolt in Bolivia came to an abrupt end on October 7, 1967 when he and the surviving members of his group were captured by government Bolivian soldiers. Two days later, on October 9, 1967, Che was executed by a Bolivian firing squad, who were apparently acting under orders from the CIA which were training the Bolivian army.