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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 September 2017

Memoir: Che, My Brother

Che Guevara

Che Guevara   (Click to enlarge)

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

Scott Jones

Anyone interested in Che Guevara, the Argentinian socialist and hero of the Cuban revolution, is spoilt for choice when looking for books about his life and exploits. But a new book, 'Che, My Brother', written by his sibling in the run-up to the fiftieth anniversary of Che's death, is a welcome addition.

Juan Martin is Ernesto 'Che' Guevara's youngest brother. He was himself a political prisoner for eight years in the late 1970s and early 80s under the reactionary Argentinian junta. Fitting given that Che, before his death, told a fellow fighter he considered Juan Martin, of all his siblings, his spiritual heir.

It was a visit to the tiny village of La Higuera in Bolivia, where Che was executed by US-backed forces in 1967, that prompted Juan Martin to write. It's mainly personal recollections of their youth and the impact of Che's 'legend' on the Guevara family.

The book features some interesting insights into what made Che the revolutionary he would become. The stories Che told his family about poverty and struggle when he returned from the trip around Latin America that became 'The Motorcycle Diaries'.

Struggle

50 years ago Che was in the Bolivian mountains courageously fighting a guerrilla war against the country's military dictatorship. Sadly, his brave efforts were misguided in that they circumvented workers' struggle. They failed to initiate revolution and Che's resulting defeat was to prove fatal.

Despite his self-sacrifice, the methods of guerrilla struggle - which in the specific conditions of Cuba had successfully overthrown capitalism, if not installed genuine workers' democracy - did not have the same effect. But Che's life is rightly an inspiration and his position as an icon of struggle is justified.

The Socialist Party would point to the experience of another great revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Russian revolution a century ago.

Trotsky argued that the working class, even when in a minority, must lead the struggle against capitalism - not isolated bands of guerrillas. Works by Trotsky were found on Che when he was captured and killed.

And what does his brother make of it all? Juan Martin writes: "Do we need someone exactly the same today? A guerrilla? No. A man with a beret living up in the mountains? No.

"But a man with ideas for change, with principles, who won't exchange them for money and fame and power? Someone with Che's characteristics? Yes, we need that.

"The world has not become a better place from when Che was alive. It has become worse. We must fight to make things better." I agree.

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In The Socialist 13 September 2017:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories retreat on pay cap

"I've been placed in charge of wards without defibrillators"

Rate of black imprisonment worse than US

Tories 'flouting duty' on poison air, says UN


TUC congress 2017

NSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

TUC congress 2017: time for action on pay


Workplace news and analysis

Union victory at the Bank of England

Bus safety: we won't be distracted from public ownership

CWU members prepare for industrial action at Royal Mail

Barts strike - 'Up the ante' if necessary

McStriker addresses Greenwich trade unionists

Sports Direct's broken promises


Socialist Students

Kick out the Tories, fight for free education!

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

Young Socialists launched in Greater Manchester


International socialist news and analysis

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?


The fight in Labour

Readmit the socialists - for a federal Labour Party


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Thousands march in Bristol - mayor needs real anti-cuts strategy

Boost to Chatsworth NHS campaign


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

Trotsky's "insightful and frank examination" of revolution out soon

The Socialist inbox

New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed


 

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Related links:

Che Guevara:

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triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

Bolivia:

triangleCWI Latin America school: A continent on the brink

Cuba:

triangleNew musical on life of Castro

Latin America:

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

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