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Cuba pays tribute to “Che” Guevara, half a century after his death

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – YAMIL LAGE – | Young Cubans play near the mausoleum of Che Guevara Mausoleum, Santa Clara in Cuba, September 29, 2017

Cuba honors the legendary figure of its revolution, the Argentinian guerillero Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who was killed 50 years ago in the Bolivian scrubland, in Santa Clara (center).

Celebrated for the first time in the absence of Fidel Castro, who died at the end of 2016, the ceremonies will be presided over by his brother and successor Raul, in this city located 300 km east of the Cuban capital where the remains of commander of the Revolution and those of his companions in arms.

Another sign of a change of epoch is that these commemorations take place at a time when the last left-wing guerrillas of the continent in Colombia surrender (FARC) or negotiate peace (ELN, founded in 1964, “).

Ernesto Guevara was executed by a Bolivian soldier at the age of 39 on October 9, 1967, but in Cuba the day of the “heroic guerrilla” is celebrated every October 8, the day of his capture in an obscure Andean hamlet.

On Monday, there will also be commemorations in Bolivia in the presence of Che’s children and President Evo Morales who accused CIA this week of “persecuting, torturing and murdering” Che during his 11 months of guerrilla warfare in Bolivia.

Ⓒ AFP – Anella RETA – | Ernesto “Che” Guevara

The body of the Argentine guerrilla, thrown into a pit in Bolivia, was discovered and identified 20 years ago before returning in great pomp to Cuba for a national funeral tribute.

Since 1997, more than 4.7 million people have visited the Che’s underground mausoleum, surmounted by an imposing bronze statue in Santa Clara, which considers him an adopted son since winning a victory in December 1958 decisive against the troops of the dictator Fulgencio Batista (1952-1958).

– An ‘App’ Che –

In recent days, the Cuban press has published many articles and special notebooks to the glory of “Che”. On Cuban radio and television, symphonic concerts and archival images also paid tribute to him with fragments of speech by the same Minister of Industry of the first Cuban Revolutionary Government.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – STR – | The remains of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, surrounded by Bolivian soldiers and journalists, on 10 October 2017 in Vallegrande, Bolivia

A mobile application called “Siempre Che” (“Always Che”) dedicated to the mausoleum of Santa Clara must also be presented on the sidelines of the commemorations in this country where access to the Internet is one of the most limited world.

On Thursday, thousands of students marched in the footsteps of “Che” to commemorate the battle of Santa Clara and on Sunday, dozens of young people must join the ranks of the “Pioneers”, a youth organization whose mission is “Pioneers for communism, we will be like Che “.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born on 14 June 1928 in Rosario, in a family of the Argentine bourgeoisie. As a trained physician, he traveled very young on bicycle and motorcycle to Latin America where he became aware of the misery of the poorest people in the continent, especially the indigenous communities.

In 1955, he met Fidel Castro in exile in Mexico and joined the ranks of Cuban revolutionaries in the guerilla war against Batista. Ten years later, he will move away from Cuba and Castro to fight again.

“Other lands of the world are demanding the contribution of my modest efforts,” he wrote in 1965 to Fidel Castro, taking leave to carry the insurgency in Africa in particular. This letter ended with a sentence that became famous: “Hasta la victoria, siempre” (“Until victory, always!”).

There followed months of “disappearance” when he was in Congo attempting to impose an armed revolution on it, without success, before embarking on his last guerrilla war in Bolivia.

His image and portraits are ubiquitous in Cuba, and most notably the most famous of them showing the young Argentinian guerrilla, with fierce eyes, wearing berets, jackets and long hair.

This image is the work of the Cuban photographer who died today Alberto Korda. Mythical, it has traveled around the world, adorned the walls of generations of students and is now the subject of a strong mercantile recovery while remaining omnipresent in manifestations across the planet.

“Some consider Che Guevara as a martyr of the revolutionary struggle (…) others insist on his sanguinary and authoritarian character”, but he has become “a mythical figure, emblematic of the youth revolution and struggles for the justice and social equality, “said Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute of the University of Florida.

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