On this day, October 9, in 1967, socialist revolutionary and guerilla commander Dr Ernesto Che Guevara, aged 39, is killed by the Bolivian army. The United States military-backed Bolivian forces captured Guevara on October 8 while battling his band of guerillas in Bolivia and assassinated him the following day. His hands were cut off as proof of death and his body was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1997, Che’s remains were found and sent back to Cuba, where they were reburied in a ceremony attended by Commandante Dr Fidel Castro and thousands of Cubans.
Dr Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna was born to a well-off family in Argentina in 1928. While studying medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, he took time off to travel around South America on a motorcycle; during this time, he witnessed the poverty and oppression of the lower classes. He received a medical degree in 1953 and continued his travels around Latin America, becoming involved with left-wing organisations. In the mid 1950s, Dr Guevara met up with Fidel and his group of exiled revolutionaries in Mexico. Dr Guevara played a key role in Fidel’s rebel army’s seizure of power from Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and later served as minister of industry in the revolutionary government. Che strongly opposed United States’ domination in Latin America and advocated revolutions to combat social injustice in Third World countries.
Che left for Congo in April 1965 to help the followers of CIA assassinated Congolese revolutionary leader Patrice Lumumba. After spending a year in Cuba , Che eventually went to Bolivia to continue the struggle, where he was killed. Following his death, Che achieved hero status among people around the world as a symbol of anti-imperialism and revolution. A 1960 photo taken by Alberto Korda of Che in a beret became iconic and has since appeared on countless posters and T-shirts, minimises.
A half-century after his death, Che is being remembered in ceremonies all over the world.
And today, we remember Che in his own words:
– If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.
– The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.
– I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.
– The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.
– Whenever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms.
– Silence is argument carried out by other means.
– Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world. This is the most beautiful quality in a revolutionary.
– We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.
– Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.
– The only passion that guides me is for the truth… I look at everything from this point of view.
– I could become very rich in Guatemala but by the low method of ratifying my title, opening a clinic, and specialising in allergies. To do that would be the most horrible betrayal of the two ‘I’s’ struggling inside me: the socialist and the traveller.
– Remember that the revolution is what is important, and each one of us, alone, is worth nothing.
– It is unnecessary to say that Fidel Castro possesses the high qualities of a fighter and statesman: our path, our struggle, and our triumph we owed to his vision.
– How easy it is to govern when one follows a system of consulting the will of the people and one holds as the only norm all the actions which contribute to the well being of the people.
– Better to die standing, than to live on your knees.
– Live your life not celebrating victories, but overcoming defeats.
– It’s a sad thing not to have friends, but it is even sadder not to have enemies.
– Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional politicians.
– Be realistic, demand the impossible!
– Every day, people straighten up the hair, why not the heart?
– Youths should learn to think and act as a mass. It is criminal to think as individuals!
– To accomplish much, you must first lose everything.
– The walls of the educational system must come down. Education should not be a privilege, so the children of those who have money can study.
– Wealth is far from being within the reach of the masses simply through the process of appropriation.
– Knowledge makes us accountable.
– One must endure without losing tenderness.