Fidel Castro, and latterly his brother Raul, were leading figures in the revolution that overthrew Batista in 1959, and have governed the country in the decades since, yet it is another man who is revered as the revolutionary hero, a man who was not even a native Cuban.  A man who left the country a few years after the revolution to stir up revolutionary sentiment in other countries.

Havana-16He is one of the triumvirate (Julio Antonio MellaCamilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara) revered on the symbol of the youth wing of the Cuban Communist Party; unlike Raul and Fidel.

His face is captured in a monument that overlooks the Plaza de la Revolution in an image that has become an icon of Havana.  Fidel’s face looks down from a similar piece of art, yet you will have to search much harder to find references to this.Havana-13

He is the man whose image has been reproduced on posters and t-shirts for decades, not just in Cuba but internationally.

CheHigh
CheHigh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what gave this Argentinian the status of legend?  Alexander Korda’s famous image is iconic and has been cited as the most famous photograph in the world, but surely there was more to it than that?  Perhaps it was his execution in Bolivia whilst still in his 30’s that made him a martyr?  Did his best-selling book The Motorcycle Diaries give him a degree of “cool” for the beat generation?  It is probably all of these things and more, but no one can be certain.

What we can be sure of is that Ernesto Guevara needs no more introduction than the three letters that became his nickname because of the frequency with which he used the word to describe others.  A colloquialism for “friend” that is akin to “mate” or “dude”.  Now what would Jeffery Lebowski say about that?

Havana-18

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