Who was Che Guevara?
Monday, 26 May 2008

Reuters, London- At the 61st Cannes film festival, director Steven Soderbergh presented "Che," his two-part, four-hour-plus epic on Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, with Benicio del Toro in the title role.

Here are some facts on Guevara, who was executed in Bolivia just over 40 years ago.

* He was born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, in Argentina in 1928, to a middle-class family of leftist leanings. Although suffering from asthma, he excelled as an athlete and a scholar. He completed his medical studies in 1953.

* In the same year Guevara went to Guatemala, where Jacobo Arbenz headed a progressive regime that was attempting to bring about a social revolution.

* The overthrow of the Arbenz regime a year later in a coup supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency persuaded Guevara that the United States would always oppose progressive leftist governments.

* This conviction became the cornerstone of his plans to bring about socialism by means of a worldwide revolution.

* He left Guatemala for Mexico, where he met Cuban brothers Fidel and Raul Castro, political exiles who were preparing an attempt to overthrow the Cuban dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

* Guevara joined Castro's force, which landed in the Cuban province of Oriente in late 1956 on the yacht "Granma". Most were routed, but 12 survivors -- including Castro, his brother Raul and "Che" Guevara -- regrouped in Sierra Maestra mountains where they launched their guerrilla war.

* Batista fled Cuba in January 1959 and days later Castro's troops entered Havana and established a Marxist government.

* Guevara became a Cuban citizen, as prominent in the new government as he had been in the revolutionary army, representing Cuba on many commercial missions.

* During the early 1960s, he defined Cuba's policies and his own views in many speeches and writings.

* In the autumn of 1966 Guevara went secretly to Bolivia to foment revolution. In October, 1967, his group was attacked by the Bolivian army. Guevara, who was wounded in the attack, was captured and executed.

* In October 2007 Communist Cuba paid tribute to its poster boy, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, 40 years after he was executed. The memorial rally took place at the mausoleum where Guevara's remains were placed when they were dug up from an unmarked Bolivian grave in 1997.

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