Syed Badrul Ahsan
Fifty years ago today, the Cuban-Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara was murdered in a remote region of Bolivia, where he had gone to promote the socialist revolution he believed would change the fate of millions of poor, dispossessed people in South and Central America. Captured by Bolivian forces and the CIA a day earlier after days of trying to ward off his enemies, who had him surrounded on all sides and gave him no chance of escape, Che died in the manner of a true revolutionary. It is a tribute to his idealism that he is today one of the world’s most recognized and honoured icons, his image of youth and steely determination known and disseminated all over the world in newspaper articles, on T-shirts, in homes and, of course, in the hearts and minds of those who have never abandoned the idea of a socialist transformation of society.
Half a century after his death, how does the world remember Che? There are those who point to his rashness in trying to foment a revolution that was to end in tragedy for him and his dwindling band of guerrillas. Obviously, he ended up in Bolivia without the knowledge and consent of his friend and fellow revolutionary Fidel Castro, determined to deliver Bolivians and other peoples of the region from the rapacity that was, and still is, capitalism in poor societies. That endeared him to people, for in the 1960s the winds of change were blowing all across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Independence touched, by swift and sure degree, societies that had long felt suffocated under the yoke of western colonialism. The Cuban revolution of 1959, engineered by Castro, Che and their colleagues, was a clear message that for independence to be meaningful it was necessary for resources to be distributed equally as well as equitably among people.
In the end, Che Guevara failed in his mission. But the feeling that someday someone else will pick up his ideas and carry on, a wish he once expressed, has lived on.
We remember Che Guevara with deep respect and pride.
Syed Badrul Ahsan: Associate Editor, The Asian Age. Contributing Columnist, Shottobani