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Sources: Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_guevara, Huffington Post, USA Today, Reason TV, and various other articles.
Che Guevara is considered by many to be a hero and savior of the people, but in this video we take a look at his darker, more sinister side.
Ernesto Guevara, or, Che Guevara as we know him was born not on June 14th 1928 as his birth certificate states, but the previous month, May 14th 1928. His parents had his certificate date changed as they weren't married when Ernesto was conceived so they hid this fact to protect themselves from criticism.
In 1948 Che the entered the University of Buenos Aires to study medicine. In 1950 he decided to substitute his college pursuits with two motorcycle trips through the rural areas of Northern Argentina and most of South America. These excursions ended up vastly changing his view of politics, himself, and the world around him.
After he returned to Argentina he completed the rest of his college studies and received his medical degree in June 1953. After graduation he set out from Argentina again, which began his new stage in life as a fighter and leader in the Cuban revolution.
Contrary to those that sport Che shirts, he wasn't fighting for cultural change, but for a traditional Marxist Communists revolution. He didn't care about personal freedoms and rights, in fact Che went as far to say that he wanted "Individualism to disappear from the nation" and that "it is a criminal act to think of individuals". Yes, the government that Che helped overthrow was very bad, but he was just replacing it with another form that would censor and regulate it's citizens and withhold their rights.
It was during this time that Che took on the name, Che. It's a Spanish interjection equivalent of the American "dude", or British "mate" used in Argentina and Uruguay.
After the Batista regime collapsed, Castro put Che in charge of La Cabaña prison supervising executions. Che executed as many as 2,000 people while in command, and was given the name "butcher of La Cabana". Not only low ranking enemy combatants but also people he suspected as "spies", personal enemies, and deserters were all given swift trials, and then executed, many by Che himself.
The youth of today sport Che's image on t-shirts as a sign of rebellion, freedom, or revolution against the system. What they don't understand is that the very ideas they uphold are part of the system that Che wanted to abolish. By the mid '60s the crime of listening to rock and jazz or effeminate behavior got thousands of youths yanked off Cuba's streets and parks by secret police and dumped in prison camps with "Work Will Make Men Out of You" in bold letters above the gate and with machine gunners posted on the watchtowers.
"Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates" commanded Guevara. "Instead, they must dedicate themselves to study, work, and military service." And woe to those youths "who stayed up late at night and thus reported to work tardily."
"Youth," wrote Guevara, "should learn to think and act as a mass." "Those who chose their own path" were denounced as worthless "delinquents."
One of the ironies of the legacy of Che Guevara is that it's the face of a communists leader that is used to sell t-shirts in capitalist America. You can pretty much divide those who wear his shirts into two groups, people who know who Che Guevara was and what he did and are actually communists, and the other group; middle class teenage "rebels" that Che would have shot or imprisoned.
After years of fighting, Che surrendered and was captured on October 8th, 1967 in Bolivia. Contrary to traditional lore, he was armed, and still had a full clip in his gun when he surrendered.
Che was executed the next day, on October 9th, 1967.
With his hippie hair and revolutionary beard, Che is the perfect icon for the 60s mentality, if only those who glorify him today would see through the fog and realize what a monster he was.
So ends the history of Ernesto Che Guevara.