.. by Mir Wazir Khan
October 9, 2019 is the 52nd Death Anniversary of Ernesto Che Guevara
In the contemporary age, the importance of an event or a personality is largely determined on the basis whether it gets sufficient coverage in the Times and Newsweek magazines of the United States. United States is a global Monitor. She is the leader in every field of human endeavor and so is her media. Overthrow of a government in a Third World country or the death of her most illustrious leader hardly finds adequate coverage in these magazines. Che Guevara was an anti-American leftist revolutionary, aiming at the overthrow of pro-American governments in the world in general and in Latin America in particular. Che Guevara regarded United States, her Capitalistic system and her imperialist ambitions responsible for the strengthening of conservative and reactionary governments across the world resulting in repressions and poverty for humanity across the world. Che believed that it is the Capitalist system and imperialistic tendencies espoused by the United States that is responsible for the general poverty and deprivation of masses throughout the world. The life-mission of Che had been the overthrow of pro-American governments the world over and to liberate the people from suppressions and oppressions.
Despite these differences and antagonism in ideas and politics between Che and the United States, the Times magazine once selected Che Guevara as one of the hundred heroes and icons of the 20th century and wrote thus: ?Though Communism may have lost its fire, he (Che) remains the potent symbol of rebellion and the alluring zeal of revolution.? This shows the standing and stature of the man called Che Guevara. Che is considered as the most deeply sensitive revolutionary of the 20th century because Che would not and could not bear the poverty and subjugation of masses in the Third World and continuously strived throughout his life to spread revolutions wherever situation necessitated.
Ernesto Che Guevara was born on June 14, 1928 in the city of Rosario, Argentina in a middle-class family. He pursued medical education and become a doctor. From the beginning of his life, he had special aptitude for the realization of equality and justice for all humanity. He despised ruthless and exploitative governments across the world. In 1952, he started a motorcycle journey, with one of his friends, throughout South America. On arrival at Caracas in Venezuela at the end of a motorcycle journey, Che Guevara met an old freedom fighter. Looking toward Che the freedom fighter said: ?You will die with your fist clenched and your jaw tense, the perfect manifestation of hatred and struggle?. The old freedom fighter?s predication came true as Che as captured in action and killed on October 9, 1967 in Bolivia.
The motorcycle tour of South America opened his eyes to poverty and imperialism across the continent which changed his mind from a normal life of a medical doctor to a revolutionary figure in Cuba. He joined the ranks of Cuban Revolution and fought alongside Fidel Castro for several years. During the guerrilla war, Fidel Castro, Che and their other comrades faced immeasurable dangers and hardships covering 300 kilometers on foot to invade Havana under severe threat from enemy government whom they were planning to overthrow. They continued their struggle until the cruel regime of Batista was overthrown in January 1959. The revolutionaries entered Havana triumphantly and a new revolutionary government was established under Castro. Che was rewarded for his services in the Cuban revolution. He was awarded Cuban citizenship. He worked as chairman central bank and minister of Industries for Cuba. He represented Cuba in several countries and international forums as head of delegations. Che was respected and revered by powerful leftist leaders in the world including Mao Zedong and Chou En Lai of China and leading leadership of former Soviet Union.
Che?s disposition was not suitable to a life of comfort of a politician. Rather, he wanted to spread the revolution across the world by staging many more successful revolutions like the one in Cuba. Che believed that it was his duty to help leftist parties to overthrow pro-American governments for real liberation of the people. He and his companions and comrades tried to stage revolutions in Argentina and in Congo in 1965 but their efforts failed. Che and his followers then made Bolivia as their new focus of revolution. In Bolivia they tried to contact peasants and labor organizations to enlist their support for revolution. However, Che and his comrades? stay and struggle in Bolivia became difficult and challenging day-by-day as they could not adequately enlist the support of the native people.
The Bolivian army helped by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was ceaselessly pursuing him and his comrades to locate their whereabouts for a decisive strike. The year-long manhunt reached its climax on October 8, 1967 when Che and his small band of revolutionary warriors were encircled near the small village of La Higuera and captured. The following day, Che Guevara was executed in a small classroom of a rural primary school in La Higuera.
Thus, ended the revolutionary life of Che Guevara. The corpses of Che and his comrades were buried in an unknown location. The hopes of finding the remains of Che and his followers arose when retired Bolivian general Mario Vargas Salina broke the silence to Che?s biographer in 1995. He disclosed that Guevara and his comrades were buried in a common grave under the old landing strip in Vallegrande. New York Times published the story and there was no chance of keeping it secret. Bolivia?s the then president Gonzalo Sanchez formed a commission to find the bodies and return them to the families. On June 28, 1997, Bolivians working with Cuban and Argentinian scientists opened a ditch in which they found the remains of seven man. One of them had no hands, an important clue as Che?s arms were cut after his death. The other remains were that of three Cubans, two Bolivians and one Peruvian. Che Guevara?s remains were returned to Cuba on July 19, 1997 and were received by late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Che?s family in a solemn and awe-inspiring military ceremony. Cuba paid last homage to Che by allowing people to view his remains from October 11 to October 17, 1997. The remains of Che were permanently placed in a monument in the Cuban city of Santa Clara.
Che Guevara is enlisting a new generation of followers. Souvenirs? with his pictures are on sale everywhere as posters. Books are written about him posthumously. His letters are printed and reprinted. His speeches are researched and analyzed to find more clue about the man who neither being a head of state of a great nation nor a dynastic monarch is so much popular and so much loved. The mythical photographs of Che Guevara, showing a defiant bearded face, sporting a beret with a five-point star has become an ultimate icon for leftist youth across the world. The photos can be seen on billboards, cars and other ads even as far away as Chitral, though most people didn?t know about the man whose picture they are displaying. This image of Che is also considered a symbol of struggle and sacrifice for change. Che stood for justice and real liberties for the suppressed people. He was against economic inequalities and status quo which has gripped so many nations throughout the world.
According to different researches? involving citizens from over 30 countries, economic inequality and the big gap between the rich and poor countries on the one hand and between the rich and poor people in both rich and poor countries on the other is seen to be a major cause that could destabilize the world peace. There are generally two category of people in the world. The one is those who didn?t go for bigger changes and navigate their own way within the existing status quo no matter how cruel the status quo is. However, the world has never been free from people who simply do not try to improve their own lots but try first to change the overall system—–the status quo?that enslaves people. Che Guevara was one of those who sacrificed his life of comfort and began a journey of dangerous struggle that ended in his untimely dead at 39.
The purpose of writing this piece is that Guevara-ism is still relevant and that homage is paid to the man and he is remembered at his 52nd death anniversary even at a small scale. The article may also enable the youths and students to know about the man, his times, his struggle and books written about him so that our youths can also develop minds that cherish struggle for justice the way Che did. Our beloved country Pakistan is also besieged by a status quo. People vote for change so that their conditions are improved. But change of government changes nothing for them. Persons, faces and rhetoric changes but reality remain the same. And that reality is that powerful would be more powerful and rich and the poor will be poorer no matter who rules and what type of government is in place!!!
A few days before his death, he addressed his comrades and Bolivian followers which is considered as his last speech and uttered the following words: ?Wherever death may surprise us, it will be welcome, provided that this– our battle cry– reach some receptive ear, that another hand stretch out to take up weapons and that other men come forward to intone our funeral dirge with the staccato of machineguns and new cries of battle and victory?. .. Mir Wazir Khan Awi, Chitral, 07 Oct 2019