Listen to this post
This is a list of the greatest five human that amazes me each time I give a look at things done by them. I have read a number of autobiographies. Gone through life histories of many people including politicians, avatars, rulers, warriors etc. So I end up on this list of the greatest five personalities that are truly larger than life.
Let’s begin with the list, the first person I would love to write about is the greatest revolutionary who ever lived- “Che Guevara”.
He is truly an amazing person. You might not know who he is but i bet you would have seen a picture of his being donned by some teenager on his shirt or on some poster or somewhere else. As his picture has won the prestige of being the most used photograph of all time.
Let’s take a look at his life – He is a famous argentine revolutionary. He was deeply moved by the tour he took on his motorcycle across Latin America. The poverty and poor conditions he saw deeply moved him.
Guevara later remarked that through his travels of Latin America, he came in “close contact with poverty, hunger and disease” along with the “inability to treat a child because of lack of money” and “stupefaction provoked by the continual hunger and punishment” that leads a father to “accept the loss of a son as an unimportant accident.” It was these experiences which Guevara cites as convincing him that in order to “help these people”, he needed to leave the realm of medicine, and consider the political arena of armed struggle.
In June 1955, López introduced him to Raúl Castro who subsequently introduced him to his older brother, Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader who had formed the 26th of July Movement and was now plotting to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. During a long conversation with Fidel on the night of their first meeting, Guevara concluded that the Cuban’s cause was the one for which he had been searching and before daybreak he had signed up as a member of the July 26 Movement.
By this point in Guevara’s life, he deemed that U.S.-controlled conglomerates installed and supported repressive regimes around the world. In this vein, he considered Batista a “U.S. puppet whose strings needed cutting. Although he planned to be the group’s combat medic, Guevara participated in the military training with the members of the Movement. The key portion of training involved learning hit and run tactics of guerrilla warfare. Guevara and the others underwent arduous 15-hour marches over mountains, across rivers, and through the dense undergrowth, learning and perfecting the procedures of ambush and quick retreat. At the end of the course, he was called “the best guerrilla of them all” by their instructor, General Bayo.
The first step in Castro’s revolutionary plan was an assault on Cuba from Mexico via the Granma, an old, leaky cabin cruiser. They set out for Cuba on November 25, 1956. Attacked by Batista’s military soon after landing, many of the 82 men were either killed in the attack or executed upon capture; only 22 found each other afterward.
There have been many successful raids and attack led by Guevara on the Batista’s army. He is often termed as one of the most successful Guerrilla warrior and harsh disciplinarian who sometimes shot defectors. Guevara became feared for his brutality and ruthlessness.
In his diaries, Guevara described the first such execution of Eutimio Guerra, a peasant army guide who admitted treason when it was discovered he accepted the promise of ten thousand pesos for repeatedly giving away the rebel’s position for attack by the Cuban air force. Such information also allowed Batista’s army to burn the homes of rebel-friendly peasants. Upon Guerra’s request that they “end his life quickly”, Che stepped forward and shot him in the head, writing “The situation was uncomfortable for the people and for Eutimio so I ended the problem giving him a shot with a .32 pistol in the right side of the brain, with exit orifice in the right temporal [lobe].” His scientific notations and matter-of-fact description suggested to one biographer a “remarkable detachment to violence” by that point in the war. Later, Guevara published a literary account of the incident entitled “Death of a Traitor”, where he transfigured Eutimio’s betrayal and pre-execution request that the revolution “take care of his children”, into a “revolutionary parable about redemption through sacrifice.
Although he maintained a demanding and harsh disposition, Guevara also viewed his role of the commander as one of a teacher, entertaining his men during breaks between engagements.Guevara further ensured that his rebel fighters made daily time to teach the uneducated campesinos with whom they lived and fought to read and write, in what Guevara termed the “battle against ignorance.”.
His commanding officer Fidel Castro has described Guevara as intelligent, daring, and an exemplary leader who “had great moral authority over his troops.” Castro further remarked that Guevara took too many risks, even having a “tendency toward foolhardiness.”
Guevara’s teenage lieutenant, Joel Iglesias, recounts such actions in his diary, noting that Guevara’s behavior in combat even brought admiration from the enemy. On one occasion Iglesias recounts the time he had been wounded in battle, stating “Che ran out to me, defying the bullets, threw me over his shoulder, and got me out of there. The guards didn’t dare fire at him … later they told me he made a great impression on them when they saw him run out with his pistol stuck in his belt, ignoring the danger, they didn’t dare shoot.” He surely had a great on every person around him even his enemies.
In late July 1958, Guevara played a critical role in the Battle of Las Mercedes by using his column to halt a force of 1,500 men called up by Batista’s General Cantillo in a plan to encircle and destroy Castro’s forces. Years later, Major Larry Bockman of the United States Marine Corps would analyze and describe Che’s tactical appreciation of this battle as “brilliant.” During this time Guevara also became an “expert” at leading hit and run tactics against Batista’s army, and then fading back into the countryside before the army could counterattack.
As the war extended, Guevara led a new column of fighters dispatched westward for the final push towards Havana. Traveling by foot, Guevara embarked on a difficult 7-week march only traveling at night to avoid ambush, and often not eating for several days. In the closing days of December 1958, Guevara’s task was to cut the island in half by taking Las Villas province. In a matter of days, he executed a series of “brilliant tactical victories” that gave him control of all but the province’s capital city of Santa Clara. Guevara then directed his “suicide squad” in the attack on Santa Clara, that became the final decisive military victory of the revolution. In the six weeks leading up to the Battle of Santa Clara, there were times when his men were completely surrounded, outgunned, and overrun. Che’s eventual victory despite being outnumbered 10:1, remains in the view of some observers a “remarkable tour de force in modern warfare.”
Radio Rebelde broadcast the first reports that Guevara’s column had taken Santa Clara on New Year’s Eve 1958. This contradicted reports by the heavily controlled national news media, which had at one stage reported Guevara’s death during the fighting. At 3 am on January 1, 1959, upon learning that his generals were negotiating a separate peace with Guevara, Fulgencio Batista boarded a plane in Havana and fled for the Dominican Republic, along with an amassed “fortune of more than $ 300,000,000 through graft and payoffs.” The following day on January 2, Guevara entered Havana to take final control of the capital. Fidel Castro took 6 more days to arrive, as he stopped to rally support in several large cities on his way to rolling victoriously into Havana on January 8, 1959. In mid-January 1959, Guevara went to live at a summer villa in Tarara to recover from a violent asthma attack.
In February, the revolutionary government proclaimed Guevara “a Cuban citizen by birth” in recognition of his role in the triumph.
La Cabaña, land reform, and literacy
The first major political crisis arose over what to do with the captured Batista officials who had been responsible for the worst of the repression. During the rebellion against Batista’s dictatorship, the general command of the rebel army, led by Fidel Castro, introduced into the liberated territories the 19th century penal law commonly known as the Ley de la Sierra (Law of the Sierra)]This law included the death penalty for extremely serious crimes, whether perpetrated by the Batista regime or by supporters of the revolution. In 1959, the revolutionary government extended its application to the whole of the republic and to those it considered war criminals, captured and tried after the revolution.
To implement a portion of this plan, Castro named Guevara commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison, for a five-month tenure (January 2 through June 12, 1959).
Guevara has been accussed of being a brutal and hard man but Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life stated-
“I have yet to find a single credible source pointing to a case where Che executed ‘an innocent’. Those persons executed by Guevara or on his orders were condemned for the usual crimes punishable by death at times of war or in its aftermath: desertion, treason or crimes such as rape, torture or murder. I should add that my research spanned five years, and included anti-Castro Cubans among the Cuban-American exile community in Miami and elsewhere.”
Along with ensuring “revolutionary justice”, the other key early platform of Guevara’s was establishing agrarian land reform. Almost immediately after the success of the revolution on January 27, 1959, Guevara made one of his most significant speeches where he talked about “the social ideas of the rebel army.” During this speech, he declared that the main concern of the new Cuban government was “the social justice that land redistribution brings about.” A few months later on May 17, 1959, the Agrarian Reform Law crafted by Guevara went into effect, limiting the size of all farms to 1,000 acres (4.0 km2). Any holdings over these limits were expropriated by the government and either redistributed to peasants in 67-acre (270,000 m2) parcels or held as state run communes. The law also stipulated that sugar plantations could not be owned by foreigners.
On June 12, 1959, Castro sent Guevara out on a three-month tour of 14 mostly Bandung Pact countries (Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Syria,Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Yugoslavia, Greece) and the cities of Singapore and Hong Kong. Sending Guevara away from Havana allowed Castro to appear to be distancing himself from Guevara and his Marxist sympathies, which troubled both the United States and some of Castro’s July 26 Movement members.
Along with land reform, one of the primary areas that Guevara stressed needed national improvement was in the area of literacy. Before 1959 the official literacy rate for Cuba was between 60-76 %, with educational access in rural areas and a lack of instructors the main determining factors. As a result, the Cuban government at Guevara’s behest dubbed 1961 the “year of education”, and mobilized over 100,000 volunteers into “literacy brigades”, who were then sent out into the countryside to construct schools, train new educators, and teach the predominately illiterate Guajiros (peasants) to read and write. Unlike many of Guevara’s later economic initiatives, this campaign was “a remarkable success.” By the completion of the Cuban Literacy Campaign, 707,212 adults had been taught to read and write, raising the national literacy rate to 96 %.
On April 17, 1961, 1,400 U.S.-trained Cuban exiles invaded Cuba during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Guevara did not play a key role in the fighting, as one day before the invasion a warship carrying Marines faked an invasion off the West Coast of Pinar Del Rio and drew forces commanded by Guevara to that region. However, historians give him a share of credit for the victory as he was director of instruction for Cuba’s armed forces at the time. Author Tad Szulc in his explanation of the Cuban victory, assigns Guevara partial credit, stating: “The revolutionaries won because Che Guevara, as the head of the Instruction Department of the Revolutionary Armed Forces in charge of the militia training program, had done so well in preparing 200,000 men and women for war.” It was also during this deployment that he suffered a bullet grazing to the cheek when his pistol fell out of its holster and accidentally discharged.
In August 1961, during an economic conference of the Organization of American States in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Che Guevara sent a note of “gratitude” to U.S. President John F. Kennedy through Richard N. Goodwin, a young secretary of the White House. It read “Thanks for Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs). Before the invasion, the revolution was shaky. Now it’s stronger than ever.”
By December 1964, Che Guevara had emerged as a “revolutionary statesman of world stature” and thus traveled to New York City as head of the Cuban delegation to speak at the United Nations.
During his impassioned address, he criticized the United Nations inability to confront the “brutal policy of apartheid” in South Africa, proclaiming “can the United Nations do nothing to stop this?” Guevara then denounced the United States policy towards their black population, stating:
“Those who kill their own children and discriminate daily against them because of the color of their skin; those who let the murderers of blacks remain free, protecting them, and furthermore punishing the black population because they demand their legitimate rights as free men—how can those who do this consider themselves guardians of freedom?”
An indignant Guevara ended his speech by reciting the Second Declaration of Havana, decreeing Latin America a “family of 200 million brothers who suffer the same miseries.” This “epic”, Guevara declared, would be written by the “hungry Indian masses, peasants without land, exploited workers, and progressive masses.” To Guevara, the conflict was a struggle of mass and ideas, which would be carried forth by those “mistreated and scorned by imperialism” that were previously considered “a weak and submissive flock.” With this “flock”, Guevara now asserted, “Yankee monopoly capitalism” now terrifyingly saw their “gravediggers.” It would be during this “hour of vindication” Guevara pronounced, that the “anonymous mass” would begin to write its own history “with its own blood”, and reclaim those “rights that were laughed at by one and all for 500 years.” Guevara ended his remarks to the United Nations general assembly by hypothesizing that this “wave of anger” would “sweep the lands of Latin America”, and that the labor masses who “turn the wheel of history”, for the first time were “awakening from the long, brutalizing sleep to which they had been subjected.
Guevara later learned that there were two failed attempts on his life by Cuban exiles during his stop at the U.N. complex. The first from Molly Gonzales who tried to break through barricades upon his arrival with a seven-inch hunting knife, and later during his address by Guillermo Novo with a timer-initiated bazooka that was fired off target from a boat in the East River at the United Nations Headquarters. Afterwards, Guevara commented on both incidents stating that “it is better to be killed by a woman with a knife than by a man with a gun”, while adding with a languid wave of his cigar that the explosion had “given the whole thing more flavor.”
While in New York City, Guevara also appeared on the CBS Sunday news program Face the Nation and met with a range of people, from U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy to associates of Malcolm X. Malcolm X expressed his admiration, declaring Guevara “one of the most revolutionary men in this country right now” while reading a statement from him to a crowd at the Audubon Ballroom.
On December 17, Guevara left for Paris and embarked on a three-month tour that included the People’s Republic of China, the United Arab Republic (Egypt), Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Dahomey, Congo-Brazzaville, and Tanzania, with stops in Ireland and Prague. While in Ireland, Guevara embraced his own Irish heritage, celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Limerick City. He wrote to his father on this visit, humorously stating “I am in this green Ireland of your ancestors. When they found out, the television [station] came to ask me about the Lynch genealogy, but in case they were horse thieves or something like that, I didn’t say much.”
During this voyage, he wrote a letter to Carlos Quijano, editor of an Uruguayan weekly, which was later re-titled Socialism and Man in Cuba. Outlined in the treatise was Guevara’s summons for the creation of a new consciousness, status of work, and the role of the individual. He also laid out the reasoning behind his anti-capitalist sentiments, stating:
“The laws of capitalism, blind and invisible to the majority, act upon the individual without his thinking about it. He sees only the vastness of a seemingly infinite horizon before him. That is how it is painted by capitalist propagandists, who purport to draw a lesson from the example of Rockefeller—whether or not it is true—about the possibilities of success. The amount of poverty and suffering required for the emergence of a Rockefeller, and the amount of depravity that the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude entails, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible to make the people, in general, see this.”
Guevara ended the essay by declaring that “the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love” and beckoning on all revolutionaries to “strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into acts that serve as examples”, thus becoming “a moving force.” The genesis for Guevara’s assertions relied on the fact that he believed the example of the Cuban Revolution was “something spiritual that would transcend all borders.”
In early 1965, Guevara went to Africa to offer his knowledge and experience as a guerrilla to the ongoing conflict in the Congo. According to Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella, Guevara thought that Africa was imperialism’s weak link and therefore had enormous revolutionary potential.
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had fraternal relations with Che dating back to his 1959 visit, saw Guevara’s plans to fight in the Congo as “unwise” and warned that he would become a “Tarzan” figure, doomed to failure. Despite the warning, Guevara traveled to the Congo while using the alias Ramón Benítez. Guevara led the Cuban operation in support of the Marxist Simba movement, which had emerged from the ongoing Congo Crisis. Guevara, his second-in-command Victor Dreke, and 12 other Cuban expeditionaries arrived in the Congo on April 24, 1965, and a contingent of approximately 100 Afro-Cubans joined them soon afterward.
They collaborated for a time with guerrilla leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who had previously helped supporters of the overthrown Patrice Lumumba lead an unsuccessful revolt months earlier. As an admirer of the late Lumumba, Guevara declared that his “murder should be a lesson for all of us.” Guevara, with limited knowledge of Swahiliand the local languages was assigned a teenage interpreter Freddy Ilanga. Over the course of seven months Ilanga grew to “admire the hard-working Guevara”, who according to Mr. Ilanga, “showed the same respect to black people as he did to whites.”However, Guevara soon became disillusioned with the discipline of Kabila’s troops and later dismissed him, stating “nothing leads me to believe he is the man of the hour.”
As an additional obstacle, white South African mercenaries, led by Mike Hoare in concert with Cuban exiles and the CIA, worked with the Congo National Army to thwart Guevara in the mountains near the village of Fizi on Lake Tanganyika. They were able to monitor his communications, and so pre-empted his attacks and interdicted his supply lines. Despite the fact that Guevara sought to conceal his presence in the Congo, the U.S. government was aware of his location and activities: The National Security Agency was intercepting all of his incoming and outgoing transmissions via equipment aboard the USNS Private Jose F. Valdez (T-AG-169), a floating listening post that continuously cruised the Indian Ocean off Dar es Salaam for that purpose.
Guevara’s aim was to export the revolution by instructing local anti-Mobutu Simba fighters in Marxist ideology and foco theory strategies of guerrilla warfare. In his Congo Diary, he cites the incompetence, intransigence and infighting of the local Congolese forces as key reasons for the revolt’s failure. Later that year on November 20, 1965, in ill health with dysentery, suffering from acute asthma, and disheartened after seven months of frustrations, Guevara left the Congo with the Cuban survivors (Six members of his 12-man column had died). At one point Guevara considered sending the wounded back to Cuba, and fighting in Congo alone until his death, as a revolutionary example; after being urged by his comrades and pressed by two emissaries sent by Castro, at the last moment he reluctantly agreed to leave Africa. In speaking about his experience in the Congo months later, Guevara concluded that he left rather than fight to the death because: “The human element failed. There is no will to fight. The leaders are corrupt. In a word… there was nothing to do.” Guevara also declared that “we can’t liberate by ourselves a country that does not want to fight.” A few weeks later, when writing the preface to the diary he kept during the Congo venture, he began: “This is the history of failure.”
In late 1966, Guevara’s location was still not public knowledge. Before he departed for Bolivia, Guevara altered his appearance by shaving off his beard and part of the top of his head as well as dyeing it grey so he would be unrecognizable as Che Guevara. On November 3, 1966, Guevara secretly arrived in La Paz, Bolivia on a flight from Montevideo, Uruguay under the false name Adolfo Mena González, and posed as
Guevara’s first base camp was located in the montane dry forest in the remote Ñancahuazú region. Training at the camp in the Ñancahuazú valley proved to be hazardous and little was accomplished in the way of building a guerrilla army. FormerStasi operative Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider, better known by her nom de guerre “Tania”, who had been installed as his primary agent in La Paz, was reportedly also working for the KGB and in several Western sources she is inferred to have unwittingly served Soviet interests by leading Bolivian authorities to Guevara’s trail.
Guevara’s guerrilla force, numbering about 50 and operating as the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia; “National Liberation Army of Bolivia”), was well equipped and scored a number of early successes against Bolivian army regulars in the difficult terrain of the mountainous Camiri region. As a result of Guevara’s units winning several skirmishes against Bolivian troops in the spring and summer of 1967, the Bolivian government began to overestimate the true size of the guerrilla force. But in September, the Army managed to eliminate two guerrilla groups in a violent battle, reportedly killing one of the leaders.
Researchers hypothesize that Guevara’s plan for fomenting revolution in Bolivia failed, for an array of reasons:
He had expected to deal only with the Bolivian military, who were poorly trained and equipped, and was unaware that the U.S. government had sent a team of the CIA’s Special Activities Division commandos and other operatives into Bolivia to aid the anti-insurrection effort. The Bolivian Army would also be trained, advised, and supplied by U.S. Army Special Forcesincluding a recently organized elite battalion of Rangers trained in jungle warfare that set up camp in La Esperanza, a small settlement close to the location of Guevara’s guerrillas.
Guevara had expected assistance and cooperation from the local dissidents which he did not receive, nor did he receive support from Bolivia’s Communist Party, under the leadership of Mario Monje, which was oriented toward Moscow rather than Havana. In Guevara’s own diary captured after his death, he wrote about the Communist Party of Bolivia, which he characterized as “distrustful, disloyal and stupid.”
He had expected to remain in radio contact with Havana. The two shortwave transmitters provided to him by Cuba were faulty; thus the guerrillas were unable to communicate with and be resupplied, leaving them isolated and stranded.
In addition, Guevara’s known preference for confrontation rather than compromise, which had previously surfaced during his guerrilla warfare campaign in Cuba, contributed to his inability to develop successful working relationships with local leaders in Bolivia, just as it had in the Congo. This tendency had existed in Cuba, but had been kept in check by the timely interventions and guidance of Fidel Castro.
The end result was that Guevara was unable to attract inhabitants of the local area to join his militia during the 11 months he attempted recruitment. Near the end of the venture Guevara wrote in his diary that “the peasants do not give us any help, and are turning into informers.”
Capture and execution
“There was no person more feared by the company (CIA) than Che Guevara because he had the capacity and charisma necessary to direct the struggle against the political repression of the traditional hierarchies in power in the countries of Latin America.”
— Philip Agee, CIA agent, later defected to Cuba
Félix Rodríguez, a Cuban exile turned CIA Special Activities Division operative, advised Bolivian troops during the hunt for Guevara in Bolivia. In addition, the 2007 documentary My Enemy’s Enemy, directed by Kevin Macdonald, alleges that Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie aka “The Butcher of Lyon”, advised and possibly helped the CIA orchestrate Guevara’s eventual capture.
On October 7, an informant apprised the Bolivian Special Forces of the location of Guevara’s guerrilla encampment in the Yuro ravine. On October 8, they encircled the area with 1,800 soldiers, and Guevara was wounded and taken prisoner while leading a detachment with Simeón Cuba Sarabia. Che biographer Jon Lee Anderson reports Bolivian Sergeant Bernardino Huanca’s account: that a twice wounded Guevara, his gun rendered uselessly, shouted “Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.”
Guevara was tied up and taken to a dilapidated mud schoolhouse in the nearby village of La Higuera on the night of October 8. For the next half day, Guevara refused to be interrogated by Bolivian officers and would only speak quietly to Bolivian soldiers. One of those Bolivian soldiers, helicopter pilot Jaime Nino de Guzman, describes Che as looking “dreadful”. According to Guzman, Guevara was shot through the right calf, his hair was matted with dirt, his clothes were shredded, and his feet were covered in rough leather sheaths. Despite his haggard appearance, he recounts that “Che held his head high, looked everyone straight in the eyes and asked only for something to smoke.” De Guzman states that he “took pity” and gave him a small bag of tobacco for his pipe, with Guevara then smiling and thanking him. Later on the night of October 8, Guevara, despite having his hands tied, kicked Bolivian Officer Espinosa into the wall, after the officer entered the schoolhouse in order to snatch Guevara’s pipe from his mouth as a souvenir. In another instance of defiance, Guevara spat in the face of Bolivian Rear Admiral Ugarteche shortly before his execution.
The following morning on October 9, Guevara asked to see the “maestra” (school teacher) of the village, 22-year-old Julia Cortez. Cortez would later state that she found Guevara to be an “agreeable looking man with a soft and ironic glance” and that during their conversation she found herself “unable to look him in the eye”, because his “gaze was unbearable, piercing, and so tranquil.”During their short conversation, Guevara pointed out to Cortez the poor condition of the schoolhouse, stating that it was “anti-pedagogical” to expect campesino students to be educated there, while “government officials drive Mercedes cars” … declaring “that’s what we are fighting against.”
Later that morning on October 9, Bolivian President René Barrientos ordered that Guevara be killed. The order was relayed by Félix Rodríguez despite the US government’s desire that Guevara be taken to Panama for further interrogation. The executioner was Mario Terán, a half-drunken sergeant in the Bolivian army who had requested to shoot Che on the basis of the fact that three of his friends from B Company, all named “Mario”, had been killed in an earlier firefight with Guevara’s band of guerrillas. To make the bullet wounds appear consistent with the story the government planned to release to the public, Félix Rodríguez ordered Terán to aim carefully to make it appear that Guevara had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army. Gary Prado, the Bolivian captain in command of the army company that captured Guevara, said that the reasons Barrientos ordered the immediate execution of Guevara is so there would be no possibility that Guevara would escape from prison, and also so there would be no drama in regard to a trial.
Moments before Guevara was executed he was asked by a Bolivian soldier if he was thinking about his own immortality. “No”, he replied, “I’m thinking about the immortality of the revolution.” When Sergeant Terán entered the hut, Che Guevara then told his executioner, “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward! You are only going to kill a man!” Terán hesitated, then opened fire with his semiautomatic rifle, hitting Guevara in the arms and legs. Guevara writhed on the ground, apparently biting one of his wrists to avoid crying out. Terán then fired several times again, wounding him fatally in the chest at 1:10 pm, according to Rodríguez. In all, Guevara was shot nine times. This included five times in the legs, once in the right shoulder and arm, once in the chest, and finally in the throat.
Months earlier, during his last public declaration to the Tricontinental Conference, Guevara wrote his own epitaph, stating “Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this our battle cry may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons.”
Post-execution, remains and memorial
After his execution, Guevara’s body was lashed to the landing skids of a helicopter and flown to nearby Vallegrande, where photographs were taken of him lying on a concrete slab in the laundry room of the Nuestra Señora de Malta. Several witnesses were called to confirm that it was Guevara, key amongst them British journalist Richard Gott, the only witness to have met Guevara when he was alive.
Put on public show, as hundreds of local residents filed past the body, many of them considered Guevara’s corpse to represent a “Christ-like” visage, with some of them even surreptitiously clipping locks of his hair as divine relics. Such comparisons were further extended when two weeks later upon seeing the post-mortem photographs, English art criticJohn Berger observed that they resembled two famous paintings: Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulpand Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ. There were also four correspondents present when Guevara’s body arrived in Vallegrande, including Bjorn Kumm of the Swedish Aftonbladet, who described the scene in an November 11, 1967, exclusive for The New Republic.
A declassified memorandum dated October 11, 1967, to United States President Lyndon B. Johnson from his National Security Advisor, Walt Whitman Rostow, called the decision to kill Guevara “stupid” but “understandable from a Bolivian standpoint.”After the execution, Rodríguez took several of Guevara’s personal items, including a Rolex GMT Master wristwatch which he continued to wear many years later, often showing them to reporters during the ensuing years. Today, some of these belongings, including his flashlight, are on display at the CIA. After a military doctor amputated his hands, Bolivian army officers transferred Guevara’s body to an undisclosed location and refused to reveal whether his remains had been buried or cremated. The hands were preserved in formaldehyde to be sent to Buenos Aires for fingerprint identification. (His fingerprints were on file with the Argentine police.) They were later sent to Cuba.
On October 15, Fidel Castro acknowledged that Guevara was dead and proclaimed three days of public mourning throughout the island. On October 18, Castro addressed a crowd of one million mourners in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución and spoke about Guevara’s character as a revolutionary. Fidel Castro closed his impassioned eulogy thusly:
“If we wish to express what we want the men of future generations to be, we must say: Let them be like Che! If we wish to say how we want our children to be educated, we must say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che’s spirit! If we want the model of a man, who does not belong to our times but to the future, I say from the depths of my heart that such a model, without a single stain on his conduct, without a single stain on his action, is Che!”
In late 1995, retired Bolivian General Mario Vargas revealed to Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, that Guevara’s body was located near a Vallegrande airstrip. The result was a multi-national search for the remains, which would last more than a year. In July 1997, a team of Cuban geologists and Argentine forensic anthropologists discovered the remnants of seven bodies in two mass graves, including one man with amputated hands (like Guevara). Bolivian government officials with the Ministry of Interior later identified the body as Guevara when the excavated teeth “perfectly matched” a plaster mold of Che’s teeth, made in Cuba prior to his Congolese expedition. The “clincher” then arrived when Argentine forensic anthropologist Alejandro Inchaurregui inspected the inside hidden pocket of a blue jacket dug up next to the handless cadaver and found a small bag of pipe tobacco. Nino de Guzman, the Bolivian helicopter pilot who had given Che a small bag of tobacco, later remarked that he “had serious doubts” at first and “thought the Cubans would just find any old bones and call it Che”; he stated “after hearing about the tobacco pouch, I have no doubts.” On October 17, 1997, Guevara’s remains, with those of six of his fellow combatants, were laid to rest with military honors in a specially built mausoleum in the Cuban city of Santa Clara, where he had commanded over the decisive military victory of the Cuban Revolution.
An array of notable individuals have lauded Guevara as a hero; for example, Nelson Mandela referred to him as “an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom” while Jean-Paul Sartre described him as “not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age.” Others who expressed their admiration include authors Graham Greene who remarked that Che “represented the idea of gallantry, chivalry, and adventure”, and Susan Sontag who expounded that “(Che’s) goal was nothing less than the cause of humanity itself.”[ In the black community, philosopher Frantz Fanon professed Guevara to be “the world symbol of the possibilities of one man”, while Black Panther Party head Stokely Carmichael eulogized that “Che Guevara is not dead, his ideas are with us.” Praise has been reflected throughout the political spectrum, with the anarcho-capitalist / libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard extolling Guevara as a “heroic figure”, lamenting after his death that “more than any man of our epoch or even of our century, (Che) was the living embodiment of the principle of revolution”, while journalistChristopher Hitchens commented that “[Che’s] death meant a lot to me and countless like me at the time, he was a role model, albeit an impossible one for us bourgeoisromantics insofar as he went and did what revolutionaries were meant to do—fought and died for his beliefs.”
Guevara remains a beloved national hero to many in Cuba, where his image adorns the $3 Cuban Peso and school children begin each morning by pledging “We will be like Che.” In his native homeland of Argentina, where high schools bear his name, numerous Che museums dot the country, which in 2008 unveiled a 12-foot (3.7 m) bronze statue of him in his birth city of Rosario. Additionally, Guevara has been sanctified by some Bolivian campesinos as “Saint Ernesto”, to whom they pray for assistance.
Che was truly a remarkable man, he was truly the greatest revolutionary of all time. I truly respect him for whatever he did.
In the series of “Who are the five greatest men to ever live on this Earth ?” The next would be about the man thought to be the most intelligent human ever. The scientist who changed the way science is I am talking about none other than “Albert Einstein”.