Ernesto Che Guevara
Guevara promoted the idea of the new man, whose concept was based on seeking the benefit of many instead of the individual. The new man concept urged individual men to be willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others in oppressed situations. The men were not afraid of death and they participated in foreign battles. This encouraged many men to participate in wars in different countries. Cubans helped countries such as Angola to overcome the invading foreign troops. He intended to spread socialism to the rest of the world, especially where people were oppressed by capitalism (Christensen 86). Guevara pointed out that the guerrillas had to be disciplined and virtuous if they expected the local people to support them. Although he was a communist, he used a different approach from that used by the Soviet Union. Guevara believed that the peasants in the rural areas were more oppressed and he sought their support. This differed with the approach used by the Soviet Union, which depended on the support of people in the urban areas. Guevara opposed capitalism and he supported Stalinism and communism. He believed that the country could progress and succeed if people worked together. Guevara believed that he was fighting against capitalism and imperialism. He was opposed to both ideals, as he believed that they did not benefit the common people.
Guevara believed in revolutions and warfare and he supported Castro in overthrowing the regime. He believed that other countries could be able to achieve the success that Cuba had gained. He went to Africa where he tried to train people on guerilla warfare. He then moved to Bolivia, where he attempted to form another revolutionary group. He believed that guerilla warfare under communism was the only way that a country could be able to revolt (Westad 178). Guevara fight against imperialism led him to fight in different countries. He was especially opposed to the United States. He moved from his country to Cuba and he helped with the revolution. He felt dissatisfied with his work and ministry posts and he went to Bolivia and the Congo where he hoped that he would be able to lead a revolution and realize a change in government. He intended to pass the successes that Cuba had gained to other nations.
Guevara expected to receive support from the local people as he hoped that his idea of socialism would encourage them. He believed that popular forces could win a war against a well-organized army. He did not consider it necessary to wait until all the conditions are right before making a revolution. He believed that an insurrection would enable the creation of the right conditions (Dosal 170). However, he did not get the support he was expecting from the people in Bolivia and this contributed to his downfall. Guevara admitted that a regular army won the war. He described the way of making the guerilla army a regular army. The guerilla army begins with a small group of people. They do not have any permanent location and this reduces their vulnerability. They initiate attacks in a remote area of their choosing. They attack sporadically and this enables them to secure some few victories. Wining increases their self-confidence and morale. The attacks also enabled the guerillas to gain more expertise. As the guerilla army increases its forces, it establishes semi permanent bases with an administrative system, supply lines and communication networks. The guerilla increases its area of operation and influence and this enables it to transform into a regular army, following which it will conduct itself as such (Dosal 172).
Guevara had both positive and negative qualities. He oversaw the execution of prisoners as he was made the extreme prosecutor. He would listen to the cases presented before him and determine the men’s fate. The prisoners were executed by firing squad (Anderson 370). About five hundred prisoners were executed under his watch. However, Guevara had some good qualities as well. He was interested in freeing Cuba from a dictatorial regime although he was not Cuban. He worked alongside the rebels and he led them in overthrowing the Batista regime. He also worked hard at different assignments. He encouraged the people to work hard and he led by example. In addition, although he had supported the revolution, he pointed out the leaders’ mistakes and weaknesses. Che was instrumental in developing education and culture in Cuba after the revolution. He introduced different activities and subjects such as art exhibitions, chess classes, and sports events among others (Anderson 368)
Guevara and Mao Tse-tung are similar in that they both advocated the same guerilla tactics and they were communists. They recognized the importance of indirect and spontaneous attacks in enabling the guerilla to gain strength. They also acknowledged the importance of having support from the people if they were to succeed in their endeavors. They believed that guerrillas had to treat the people well so that they could get their support. This belief led them to oppose the use of terrorism on the people. They both depended on the peasants to support them (Wilkinson 19). However, they differ in several aspects. Mao believed in careful planning and organization and he did not attack the regular forces directly. This is unlike Guevara, who encouraged insurgency. Mao advanced the idea that the conditions had to be right before a revolution could happen. He believed that each stage of the revolution should be planned carefully. Guevara’s lack of careful planning and impatience led to his defeat in Bolivia and Africa.
Jose Marti was an intellectual leader and he contributed to Cuba’s independence. Just like Guevara, he is considered a hero and a martyr. Unlike Guevara, Marti did not live to see his efforts realized. He did not see Cuba gain the independence that he had so desired. Unlike Guevara, Marti was not involved in guerilla warfare. Instead, he chose to fight for his country’s freedom using poems and other forms of literature. Marti was tortured and imprisoned because of his views (Belnap and Fernandez 320). Marti and Guevara were both concerned with the imperialism that threatened the local people. While Marti opposed the Spanish colonial rule, Guevara opposed American imperialism. They not only fought for the end of imperialism in their respective countries, but they also spread their messages and ideologies abroad. Guevara chose to go to other regions of the world and join those who were rebelling against the government or against foreign invasion. Marti chose to use his writings to urge the people to fight against the culture of imperialism. In addition to poetry, he wrote essays, newspaper articles, fiction and political oratory (Belnap and Fernandez 28). Both Marti and Guevara were interested in revolutionary ideals. Marti led the Cuban revolution party, which was responsible for orchestrating the revolution. Guevara participated in the overthrow of Batista together with Fidel Castro.
Anderson, Jon L. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. New York, NY: Grove press, 2010. Print
Belnap, Jeffrey G. and Raul, Fernandez A. José Martí’s “Our America”: From National to Hemispheric Cultural Studies. Duke University Press, 1998. Print
Christensen, Robert. “Che Guevara and the Hombre Nuevo in Cuba: The Ideological Reformation of Foreign policy.” Historia: the Alpha Rho Papers, Vol II. June 2012. Web. 30 April 2014
Dosal, Paul J. Comandante Che: Guerilla Soldier, Commander, and Strategist, 1956-1967. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2010. Print
Westad, Odd, A. The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of our Times. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print
Wilkinson, Paul. Terrorism versus Democracy: The Liberal State Response. Oxford, UK: Taylor & Francis, 2014. Print