José Martí, National Hero of Cuba, emphasized that the death is not a truth when the work of the life it have been well accomplished; “the thinker cranium can be turned in dust, but thoughts which were elaborated in it live forever and are fruitful”.
This concept exposed by Martí through a work published in El Federalista in Mexico on March 5th of 1876, is useful for illustrating the transcendence and validity of the existence and legacy of the Commander Ernesto Che Guevara 50 years later than his fall in Bolivia.
Precisely both, in Cuba and in different parts of the world, and in a special way in the own Bolivia where significant events about the Che take place, in which men and women from different countries participate, it have been obvious how its life and work continue being a source of motivation and teaching.
Concerning to that, the supreme leader of the Cuban Revolution, the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro had already affirmed on October 18th of 1967, in a solemn ceremony in homage to Che Guevara realized in the Revolution Square “José Martí”, in Havana: “Che did not fall defending other interest, defending other fight which not were the one of the exploited and the oppressed in this continent; Che did not fall defending other fight which not were the one of the poor and the humble of this Earth. And not even his more bitter enemies do not dare to discuss the exemplary manner and the lack of interest with he defended that fight. And before history, the men who act like him, the men who do and give everything for fight of the humble, they grow up every passing day; every day that pass away they go deeper in the heart of the peoples”.
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born on June 14th of 1928 in Argentina, since very young he interested for doing trips in order to know the reality of the peoples that conformed what the own José Martí, in the XIX Century had described as “Our America”.
First, in 1950 he travels in a bike to which he adapted a motor, by the North zone of Argentina.
In the annotations made about that trip he express that he have not feed with the same manners that the tourists do, and because of that he had visited hospitals and other places.
And also when establishing a contrast between what is reflected in the touristic cards and the reality assessed by him, he commented: “No, a people cannot be known like that, a manner and an interpretation of the life that is a luxury cover, but its soul is reflected in the sick persons in the hospital, the inmate in the police station or the eager pedestrian with whom you can intimate, meanwhile the Grande River shows its grown turbulent channel below”.
Afterwards, between the end of December of 1951 and July of 1952, the young Ernesto Guevara, who still was a student of medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, with his friend Alberto Granado travels by the territories of Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela.
They began that trip with a motorcycle which was named as “Second powerful” and after that due to its rupture in the Chilean territory; they had to continue their long trip with the use of several media of transport, a raft among them.
They visited dissimilar places, such as the ones for lepers, and they made contact with miners and other sectors of the people from the respective countries.
In fact, on the occasion of his 24th birthday, when he was in the San Pablo’s place for lepers in Peru, the sick persons, doctors and other workers of the center organized a festive activity, in which with short but emotive words he reaffirmed his Latin-American vocation, because he affirmed: “I want to emphasize something more, a little apart from this celebration, although the exiguous of our responsibilities prevent us of being spokespersons of its fight; we believe, and after this trip more firmly than before, that the division of America in uncertain and illusory nationalities is totally fictitious. We constitute a unique mixed race that presents notable ethnographic resemblances from Mexico till the Magellan Strait. That’s why, trying to get me off all the load of exiguous provincialism, I toast for Peru and for the entire America united”.
After finishing this great travel by Latin America’s lands, the young Ernesto Guevara came back to the Argentinean capital for finishing his university studies. And on July of 1953 he decided to go out of his native country again for going to Venezuela.
But, during his new journey in Guayaquil, Ecuador, he decided to go to Guatemala, interested in appreciate the reality of that Center American nation, where there was a progressive government.
In 1954 he lives a singular experience in Guatemala, when he was a witness of how, through an aggression made by reactionary elements which were supported by the United States, the overthrow of the president Jacobo Arbenz was produced. He even demonstrated his will of fighting against the aggressors with the weapons in the hand.
In September due to the critical situation of Guatemala, and paying attention to his condition of foreign, Ernesto had to travel to Mexico, the country in which he reencounters, in a chance manner, one of the Cuban he had meet in Guatemala, Antonio (Ñico) López, who had participated in the realized actions in Cuba, when under Fidel’s orders revolutionary young boys did the assault of the fortresses “Moncada” and “Carlos Manuel de Céspedes”, in Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo respectively.
It was because of Ñico López, that Ernesto Guevara meets Fidel Castro, who had arrived to Mexico in the middle of 1955 after having left the presidio in Cuba.
Fidel and Ernesto Guevara identify themselves completely in an initial encounter of many hours.
About that, Che subsequently detailed: “I met him in one of that cold nights of Mexico, and I remember that our first discussion was in relation to international policy. A few hours later in the same night – in midnight – I was one of the future expeditionaries”.
From this instant on, the one that would be later known as Che Guevara due to this Argentinean origin, would take part of the group of Cuban revolutionaries that would prepare in Mexico for participate finally, from the midnight of November 25th of 1956 in the expedition of Granma yacht.
It was almost at dawn of December 2nd of that year, that Che, after having faced a journey of around 7 days with asthma and without counting with the require medicines, that he entered in contact with Cuba, when took place the landing of the expeditionaries of the Granma yacht by the zone near to Las Coloradas beach, at the south of the Eastern province.
He received his baptism of fire on December 5th in Alegría de Pío when the expeditionaries were attacked unexpectedly by the soldiers of Batista’s dictatorship.
During the following days, he is one of the few fighters that achieve to avoid the persecution of the dictatorship’s troops and finally he encounters himself with Fidel.
At the beginning, he was conceived as a doctor because of his career, but very soon Che Guevara shows his conditions as a fighter, being the first person to whom Fidel awarded the grade of Commander and during the war, he entrusted complex missions that were exactly accomplished by Che, for instance the leadership of the rebel column which travelled from the Sierra Maestra till the province of Las Villas, where he equally developed an active political and combative work.
After the revolutionary victory Che Guevara also demonstrates his qualities and sensitivity as revolutionary leader.
Besides his duties as a Commander, he takes care about other responsibilities, like Chief of Industrialization Department in the National Institute of Agrarian Reform, President of the Cuban National Bank and Minister of Industries, also he was a member of the national direction, first of the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations and later of the Cuban Socialist Revolution United Party.
Che participated, even talked, in many international events in representation of Cuba, including a session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization.
On December 11th of 1964, Che, dressed with his usual and simple olive-green field suit, using the strength of his word, fought in defense of Cuba and its Revolution and also in defense of the peoples of the world that had suffered or still used to suffer the consequences of the colonialism, the neocolonialism and the capitalist exploitation.
After finished its participation in the meeting of the United Nations he began a large travel by several Arabian and African countries.
On February 24th of 1965 he spoke in the Second Economic Seminary of Afro-Asian Solidarity.
He described that meeting as an assembly of the peoples which fight and he also emphasized: “There are no boundaries in this fight to the death, we cannot stay indifferent before what happens in any part of the world; a victory of any country over the imperialism is our victory, at the same time the defeat of any nation is a defeat for everybody. The exercise of proletarian internationalism is not just a duty of the peoples who fight for ensuring a better future; it is besides, an unavoidable necessity”.
In consequence with his convictions about the internationalism’s transcendence, in that year 1965, Che decided to go out of Cuba for giving his contribution to the revolutionary fight of other peoples.
Firstly he was in the territory of Congo Leopoldville during several months, and in November of 1966 he arrived to Bolivia.
Regarding to the possibility of dying in the new international missions, Che would do reference in the farewell letter that he wrote to Fidel and which was spread in October 3rd of 1965, when Fidel read the missive in order to express why Che, even having all the merits, was not in the relation of the members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, whom had being elected at that time.
In that letter Che affirmed: “That if my latest hour comes to me under other skies my latest thought will be for this people and especially for you. That I give thanks to you because of your teachings and your example, to which I will try to be loyal till the latest consequences of my acts...”
Likewise, in a message for the peoples of the world, sent through the Organization of Solidarity with the peoples from Asia, Africa and Latin America, which was diffused by the Tri-continental magazine on April 16th of 1967, Che expressed: If we, the ones who in a small point of the map, we accomplish the duty that we advocate and give to the fight this few thing that it is allowed to us giving: our lives, our sacrifice, we have to breathe any of these days, the last sigh over any land, already ours, spilled with our blood, it has to be known that we have measured the scope of our acts and we do not consider us nothing more than elements in the great army of the proletariat, but we feel proud of having learned, from the Cuban Revolution and its great supreme leader, the huge lesson that emanates from his attitude in this part of the world: what matter the dangers or sacrifices of a man or a people, when the fate of humanity is at stake?”
By: Víctor Pérez-Galdós Ortíz