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Remembering Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

teleSUR looks back at Guevara's journey from doctor-in-training to international revolutionary.

Born on June 14, 1928, Ernesto “Che” Guevara did not come into the world a revolutionary. He grew up in a middle-class Argentine family and trained to be a doctor, preparing to live a bourgeois life. But unlike others in his class, he was unable to shut his eyes to the injustices upon which material wealth was based: generational poverty and state-imposed policies designed to keep the poor ignorant and exploited. Life blessed him with the opportunity to live out his days in comfort, but instead he died age 39, fighting for revolution, murdered by CIA agents on Oct. 9, 1967, in the jungles of Bolivia.

Guevara’s eyes were famously opened to the harsh realities of capitalism for those born less privileged than him when, as a medical student in his early 20s, he hopped on a motorcycle and went on a tour of South America. He found disease, destitution and illiteracy—along with the sort of compassion and generosity that appears to be inversely related to the amount of wealth one possess. From that point on, he labored to uplift the working class from Cuba to Guatemala to the Congo. And, although his death was premature, his legacy continues to serve as an inspiration to revolutionaries around the world today.

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Che Guevara on his father
Che Guevara on his father's lap in 1944 Photo:Museo de Che Guevara
Che Guevara with his friend and traveling companion, Alberto Granado, in 1952
Che Guevara with his friend and traveling companion, Alberto Granado, in 1952 Photo:Museo de Che Guevara
Che Guevara joined Fidel Castro in attempting to foment revolution in Cuba in 1956, arriving on a dilapidated yacht called Granma.
Che Guevara joined Fidel Castro in attempting to foment revolution in Cuba in 1956, arriving on a dilapidated yacht called Granma. Photo:Archive
Fidel Castro (far left) and Che Guevara (center) lead a memorial march in Havana on May 5, 1960, for the victims of the La Coubre freight ship explosion, considered to be one of the first CIA attempts to undermine the Cuban Revolution.
Fidel Castro (far left) and Che Guevara (center) lead a memorial march in Havana on May 5, 1960, for the victims of the La Coubre freight ship explosion, considered to be one of the first CIA attempts to undermine the Cuban Revolution. Photo:File
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1959, the year Cuban revolutionaries succeeded in overthrowing U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1959, the year Cuban revolutionaries succeeded in overthrowing U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. Photo:EFE
The unmodified version of Alberto Korda
The unmodified version of Alberto Korda's iconic photograph Photo:Alberto Korda
Che Guevara visited the Gaza Strip in 1959.
Che Guevara visited the Gaza Strip in 1959. Photo:Archive
Che Guevara playing golf, because even revolutionaries need to relax.
Che Guevara playing golf, because even revolutionaries need to relax. Photo:Reuters
Che Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to fight for revolution in what is today called the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Che Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to fight for revolution in what is today called the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo:Archive
Che Guevara in Bolivia, 1967, the year he was killed by the CIA.
Che Guevara in Bolivia, 1967, the year he was killed by the CIA. Photo:Archive
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