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Ché (Ernesto) Guevara: 1928-1967: Revolutionary Leader

Introduced To Marxism

Guevara submitted a thesis on allergies, passed his qualifying medical examinations, and was awarded his medical degree in the spring of 1953. But the young doctor's focus had been changed by his first-hand experience with the abysmal social conditions in South America. Rather than providing medical services the poor could never afford, Guevara decided to commit his life to assisting the disadvantaged and the oppressed. Always restless and adventuresome and wanting to avoid required military service in Perón's army, Guevara set out for Bolivia to witness the work of the country's infant revolutionary government. However, he soon moved on and spent the next two years traveling through Central America, including stops in Ecuador, Panama, and Costa Rica, before landing in Guatemala.

Guevara had gone to Guatemala to experience the country under the revolutionary régime of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, who had successfully installed his government in 1951. Although not yet declaring himself a Marxist, Guevara joined the Alliance of Democratic Youth, a leftist organization that supported Ar-benz and Guatemala's Labor party. However, Arbenz's land reform policies incited the anger of the country's landowners and elite, especially the Boston-based United Fruit Company, the country's largest landowner. Consequently, shortly after Guevara arrived in the country, troops, covertly trained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and under the leadership of right-winger Castillo Armas, overtook Arbenz's government. For the first time Guevara became directly involved in revolutionary activities. He moved among small bands of revolutionaries who sought unsuccessfully to retake Guatemala City. Eventually Guevara, who had been identified by the new government as a Marxist, sought refuge in the Argentine embassy.

While in Guatemala, Guevara earned the nickname Ché, used in Argentine Spanish as a form of second person pronoun, which Guevara consistently used to greet his friends. During this time Guevara met his first wife, Hilda Gadea Acosta, a Peruvian radical who helped cement his liberation ideology. Guevara spent much of the following two months holed up in the embassy studying the works of Marx and Lenin. Whereas his experience in the leper colony had pushed him to take up the cause of the poor, his experience in Guatemala led him to affirm armed conflict as the only means to bring about significant social change and liberation from the grip of imperialist forces.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to SewChé (Ernesto) Guevara: 1928-1967: Revolutionary Leader Biography - Childhood Influences, Motorcycled Through South America, Introduced To Marxism, Fidel Castro And The Cuban Revolution