On October 9, 1967, Che Guevara, a socialist revolutionary and guerilla leader, died in the hands of the Bolivian army at the age of 39. His death was swift – he and his fellow guerilla members were captured on October 8th and were immediately executed the next day after. His body was buried in an unmarked grave while his hands were cut off to prove his death. In 1997, he was sent to his final resting place in Cuba where President Fidel Castro and other fellow Cubans attended his reburial ceremony.
Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna was born in Argentina to a wealthy family. He was studying medicine at the University of Buenos Aires when he decided to take some time off to go on a motorcycle adventure around South America. During this time, his eyes were opened to the reality that poverty and oppression were rampant especially to the lower classes. After getting his degree in 1953, he decided to continue his travels around Latin America. He became interested in left-wing organizations and got involved. His fate led him to meet Fidel Castro and his fellow revolutionaries in Mexico sometime in mid 1950s.
In 1959, Castro overthrew the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara played a key role in the event which gave him the privilege of serving as Castro’s right hand man and minister of industry. Guevara was very vocal about his disdain of U.S. dominion in Latin America and openly supported peasant-based revolutions in an attempt to fight social discrimination in Third World countries. Castro admired this in him and described Guevara as a revolutionary warfare artist.
In April 1965, it was announced that Guevara resigned from the post given to him by the Cuban government. Others on the other hand speculated that this was not the real case. Some believed that he was dismissed because he and Castro had conflicting interests over the nation’s economic and foreign policies. Guevara left Cuba and went to Africa. He was last seen in Bolivia where he would eventually meet his end. He was proclaimed a hero after his death, recognized by the world as a revolutionary leader and a symbol for anti-imperialism.
Guevara’s photo in a beret which was taken by Alberto Korda became an iconic image and got printed on posters and T-shirts for countless of times. Although many celebrated his contribution to human history, not everyone was convinced. Some questioned his hero status, accusing him of crimes such as ordering the death of hundreds of Cuban prisoners during the revolution.