Ché (Ernesto) Guevara: 1928-1967: Revolutionary Leader
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born on June 14, 1928, in Rosario, located in the eastern Argentinean province of Santa Fe. The oldest child in the family, Guevara had four younger brothers and sisters. Both his father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, a part-Irish civil engineer, and his mother, Celia de la Serna, came from prominent well-to-do families, and both held left-wing political views. As a toddler, Guevara, who was called Tete by his family, began experiencing severe asthma attacks, a condition that plagued him throughout his life. Hoping that an improved climate would help his condition, Guevara's father moved the family to the mountain resort town of Alta Garcia, near Córdoba, where Guevara spent his childhood.
Due to his health, as a young child Guevara was schooled at home by his mother, with whom he remained very close throughout his life. Exposed to his mother's radical political views as well as to a family library that contained controversial and leftist works, Guevara developed his political ideology as an outgrowth of his upbringing. He particularly enjoyed the poetry of Spaniard Federico García Lorca and Chilean Communist Pablo Neruda. He was also influenced by childhood friends whose parents had been killed or exiled during the Spanish Civil War. Later his father claimed that it was at home that Guevara first read the works of Karl Marx and Vladimir I. Lenin.
Guevara attempted to overcome his asthma through strenuous physical activity, and became known as an excellent swimmer and rugby player. He also traveled the countryside on long bicycle trips. Bucking peer pressure and the interests of his friends, as a teen Guevara showed no interest in fashionable clothing or the latest trends and never took up drinking or smoking. At the age of 14 he joined the Partido Unión Democrática and participated in street fights against the peronistas, supporters of Argentine dictator Juan Perón.
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