Friday 6 October 2023

Hero or villain?

This post is about a man who is considered by some as a hero and some as a villain. His name is: Ernesto Che Guevara.

Born in Argentina, Che Guevara travelled around South America and saw first hand the poverty and struggles of the common people and became convinced that a change is needed to achieve a more equal and fair society. Che became a doctor and continued travelling to different countries in South America and helping people. In Mexico, he met a Cuban revolutionary called Fidel Castro, and agreed to help him overthrow the Cuban dictator and bring about a socialist government through armed forces. They succeeded after 2 years, as the common Cuban people were peasants and owned no land, therefore, the revolutionaries were supported by the Cubans! After the triumph of the revolution, Che stayed in Cuba to help form a new government and a more equal society, and is considered by the Cubans as a national hero. After a few years, Che left to start a revolution in Bolivia where he was captured and died.

I know you are probably thinking what has Che got to do with you and your journey in South America? Well, on our journey, we visited the place where Che was captured and killed, we stayed in the place where the telegraph was sent telling the army where he was, we saw the place where he was displayed to the public and the mass grave he was secretly buried in with his revolutionaries. And so it felt right to share with you what I learnt about his story and what I think about him.

I am still trying to figure out if he was good or bad, if what he was fighting for was right, if the way he wanted to bring about change (basically armed struggle) was correct. There are so many questions  whirling around my head. I think he was doing it for the good of the people, but I wonder why he thought using armed forces was the right solution? Surely everything is better through peace? What is socialism? Why not try to bring about change with democratic elections and try to win peacefully by creating a left-wing party? Have things changed much since Che? Is his fight still relevant for us? I have so many questions and no real answers.

Che is an inspiration to so many people around the world, and our visit to the places he was in his last days (La Ruta del Che) was very emotional. At the end of the day, it's not often you visit the actual place such an inspiring man was displayed to the world when he died (the laundry room in the local hospital which still remains the same today). But he was also thought of as a violent and destructive person to others, especially the Bolivians at that time who didn't support his revolution and were worried they would lose their land. His true story is covered up with a mist of lies and fictional stories, both good and bad. I am still trying to make sense of his story but one thing is for sure: he was a brave fighter who tried to do what’s right for the people. 

Some people might think that the world still needs another Che or another revolution (Ioanna definitely seems to think so!) but maybe this time a more peaceful one.

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