Companero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara
Jorge G. Castaneda
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By the time he was killed in the jungles of Bolivia, where his body was displayed like a deposed Christ, Ernesto "Che" Guevara had become a synonym for revolution everywhere from Cuba to the barricades of Paris. This extraordinary biography peels aside the veil of the Guevara legend to reveal the charismatic, restless man behind it.
Drawing on archival materials from three continents and on interviews with Guevara's family and associates, Castaneda follows Che from his childhood in the Argentine middle class through the years of pilgrimage that turned him into a committed revolutionary. He examines Guevara's complex relationship with Fidel Castro, and analyzes the flaws of character that compelled him to leave Cuba and expend his energies, and ultimately his life, in quixotic adventures in the Congo and Bolivia. A masterpiece of scholarship, Companero is the definitive portrait of a figure who continues to fascinate and inspire the world over.
which we have had a chance to visit, even far more developed ones like Japan. And one sees that everyone eats, everyone is dressed—dressed uniformly, it’s true, but everyone is decently dressed—everybody has work, and an extraordinary spirit.*14 Che’s evaluation of the Socialist countries as a whole, though shared by millions of Communists around the world, was also at odds with the understanding many former devotees now held of socialism as it really existed. Undoubtedly, his purpose was, not
of ubiquity and professionalism which demoralized the army once again. But while Che’s guerrilla fighters had an abundance of courage and tenacity, they showed less and less tactical creativity. Indeed, Che hardly conducted any offensive actions at all in Bolivia: he never attacked any military facilities, either with commandos or with larger units, or any communications routes near urban settlements. Most of the time, he simply reacted to the army’s assaults with ambushes and defensive
disappointed others, but transformed societies which otherwise might well have remained stagnant and closed. But before leaving their more lasting cultural imprint on the world, the sixties also traced a political trail, though not necessarily the one most of the actors expected. The hubris of those deluded, exuberant young people manning the barricades was built upon an essential foundation that even today gives meaning and relevance to the era. In a sense, those arrogant partisans of a willed,
visit they undertook to a mine in the mountains outside La Paz, where they witnessed the abuses committed by U.S. supervisors against the local workers.45 However, Che’s stay in Bolivia can hardly have contained all the meetings, analyses, and events that have been mentioned ever since.*6 There are huge numbers of people with Che anecdotes from Bolivia. Even the president in 1996, Gonzalo Sánchez de Losada, remembers meeting him at a social gathering in Cochabamba. And Mario Monje, former leader
several months, from early 1958 until August, when Castro developed the plan to “invade” the center of the island and Guevara resigned himself to leaving her. According to the young woman, Che’s fascination with the exotic remained the same, if not stronger: He was looking at me the way boys look at girls and I became extremely nervous. … He had a slightly mischievous look. … As a woman I liked him immensely, especially his look, he had such beautiful eyes, such a calm smile that he could touch