Che Guevara is remembered the world over as a romantic Cuban revolutionary. He was the partner of Dr. Fidel Castro in the famous invasion of Cuba, in the late fifties of the last century. The success of the Cuban revolution was ascribed to him and over the decades he has emerged as a great hero. But unfortunately an objective assessment of Che Guevara is lacking and his name has emerged as a myth – a romantic hero of Guerrilla war ware.
Guevara and the Cuban revolution
To start with there is no doubt that he was a part of the success of the Cuban revolution led by Dr. Castro and his brother Raul Castro. Later he appeared on the podium with Castro and was rightly lauded for his role. But Che made a cardinal mistake in thinking that the Cuban model of the revolution could be made applicable all over Latin America and Africa. In this he showed lack of maturity and left Cuba to further the cause of revolution in Latin America.
Guevara chose Bolivia as a test case and infiltrated into the country with a band of supporters to foment a revolution. His assessment of the conditions in Bolivia was to say the least naïve and in a few months he was hard pressed to continue the fight.
Guevara vanished from Havana when he was at the apex of his popularity to lead the revolution in Latin America. Earlier he had visited many countries including the Soviet Union and mouthed his theories against capitalism, the USA and world revolution. In hindsight this was a mistake as his theories were half baked and he failed to assess that all countries could not follow the Cuban role model. For sometime he did go to Angola, but was not a success, before he chose Bolivia for his experiment.
Guevara chose Bolivia. Leading a revolution there was not easy as the topography was different from Cuba and the Bolivian peasants never helped Guevara and his troop of revolutionaries. The far spaced villages in the jungles militated against a guerrilla war and with the CIA tracking Guevara, the dice was heavily loaded against him.
Guevara received no support from the local villages . In addition no local people joined his group . The ground situation was also different from Cuba which was a comparatively developed economy. The Bolivian army also mounted an all out offensive aided by the USA and Guevara was heavily outnumbered with no support ,Guevara and his troops were cornered.
Guevara was thus caged in a small area till he himself was captured and confined in hut in a remote village. He was then shot. It was an anti-climax to a dream.
The Legacy of Guevara
What is the legacy of Che Guevara? One can safely say that he was a cut above an ordinary mortal, however there is no question of comparing him with Mao who led the Chinese revolution. There is thus a need to re assess the role of Guevara in the history of guerrilla warfare.