The Legend of Che

One of Cuba’s greatest revolutionary heroes, in some ways even eclipsing Fidel Castro himself, was an Argentine. Ernesto Guevara, known by the common Argentine interjection ‘che,’ was born in Rosario in 1928 and spent his first years in Buenos Aires.

In 1932, after Guevara’s doctor recommended a drier climate for his severe asthma, Guevara’s parents moved to the mountain resort of Alta Gracia.

He later studied medicine in the capital and, in 1952, spent six months riding a motorcycle around South America, a journey that opened Guevara’s eyes to the plight of South America’s poor.

After his journey, Guevara traveled to Central America, finally landing in Mexico, where he met Fidel Castro and other exiles. The small group sailed to Cuba on a rickety old yacht and began the revolution that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Unfulfilled by the bureaucratic task of building Cuban socialism, Guevara tried, unsuccessfully, to spread revolution in the Congo, Argentina and finally Bolivia, where he was killed in 1967.

Today Che is known less for his eloquent writings and speeches than for his striking black-and-white portrait as the beret-wearing rebel – an image gracing everything from T-shirts to CD covers – taken by photojournalist Alberto Korda in 1960.

In 1997, on the 30th anniversary of Che’s death, the Argentine government issued a postage stamp honoring Che’s Argentine roots. You can take a look at the stamps and other Che memorabilia by visiting Alta Gracia’s modest Museo Casa de Ernesto Che Guevara.