Once Ernesto Che Guevara had said, “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”. Little he must have realized during his lifetime, that he would become an iconic symbol of counterculture all over the globe, which has made him the most glamorous and influential revolutionaries of 20th century. Though he had zero tolerance for people who stood in his way; sending execution squads to hunt down the unfaithful, he has been hero to many who look up to him. The iconic image of Che, with his disheveled hair falling in the style of rock-star and flowing from a starred black beret has adorned hundreds of products from T-shirts, posters, hats, key chains, flags, berets, backpacks, wall clocks, bikinis, personal tattoos, and many more. Unfortunately, not many youth know the reason why they idolize Che Guevara or consider him an iconic hero. Here is the list of 5 genuine traits that made Che Guevara an icon and a worldwide emblem for a wide range of causes.
5. Fighting for countries not his own:
Che Guevara is considered a modern day saint by many people that see him as a man who risked and finally gave his life to fight for a cause in different countries like Cuba and Bolivia that were not his own. The social inequalities due to monopolization and imperialism of economy by the selfish few appalled him. He was highly driven by his moral and ideology, rather than money or power to bring equality. In parts of La Higuera, the people pray to him as “Saint Ernesto,” although his sainthood is not acknowledged by the Vatican.
4. Fighting against land Monopoly:
Che Guevara fought against people who monopolized the land for their personal gains. He is responsible for increasing land reform laws throughout many regions. The reformation initiated by Che Guevara allowed the breaking of large landholdings to be redistributed among the peasants especially under the agrarian reforms laws introduced in Cuba. He brought down drastically the number of people who were monopolizing land for satisfying their greed.
3. Improving literacy rate among poor:
Che Guevara, who was an enthusiastic and eclectic reader, led the literary campaign to increase the literacy rate Cuba successfully. He realized that lack of literacy and education was holding back the progress of the country, especially of the peasants. He influenced the Cuban government to build schools to educate the poor and the peasant class. Under his guidance, the Cuba’s literacy rate shot up to 96%, which is the highest ever the country has seen.
2. Putting ideals before ambitions:
Che Guevara could have settled into his career as a doctor, but he chose to fight for ideals which were formed during his famous trip through poor regions of South America. From a medical student, he transformed into a soldier to fight for the cause of poor and oppressed. Fidel and Raul Castro saw the leadership and reformative potential in Guevara and included him in their fight. His purging of Cuba has earned him the title ‘The Butcher of La Cabaña’.
1. Believe what you see:
In the book ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’, Che Guevara has strongly expressed his willingness to fight and die for the poor and unification of Latin America. Hailing from an upper middle class family, as a 23 year old medical student, Che Guevara undertook a nine month journey of more than 5000 miles across South America. He was motivated with an ambition to know the continent not just from books, but from personal experience. The journey transformed Guevara as he got to witness the exploitation, persecutions and ostracizing the downtrodden. His ideology was based on the truth he had seen and not on what he read or heard from others. This makes him stand apart from other revolutionaries.