Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Edited by Maria del Carmen Ariet Garcia and Disamis Arcia Munoz
Foreword by Aleida Guevara

Ernesto Che Guevara was a voyager—and thus a letter writer—for his entire adult life. The letters collected here range from letters home during his Motorcycle Diaries trip, to the long letter to Fidel after the success of the Cuban revolution in early 1959, from the most personal to the intensely political, revealing someone who not only thought deeply about everything he encountered, but for whom the process of social transformation was a constant companion from his youth until shortly before his death. His letters give us Che the son, the friend, the lover, the guerilla fighter, the political leader, the philosopher, the poet. Che in these letters is often playful, funny, sometimes sarcastic, and deeply affectionate. His life was short, and these twenty years, from when he was 19 until days before his death, show it was also incredibly rich and full.

As his daughter Aleida Guevara, also a doctor like her father, writes, "When you write a speech, you pay attention to the language, the punctuation and so on. But in a letter to a friend or a member of your family, you don't worry about those things. It is you speaking, in your authentic voice. That's what I like about these letters; they show who Che really was and how he thought. This is the true political testimony of my father."

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ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA is profoundly radicalized when, as a young doctor traversing Latin America for the second time, a journey he later describes in Latin America Diaries/Otra Vez, he witnesses first the Bolivian Revolution, and then, in Guatemala, the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacobo Árbenz by U.S.-backed forces. After escaping to Mexico, Guevara meets up with a group of Cuban revolutionaries exiled in Mexico City led by Fidel Castro and immediately enlists in their planned expedition to overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. The Cubans nickname him "Che," a popular form of address in his native Argentina. The group sets sail for Cuba on November 25, 1956, aboard the yacht Granma, with Che as the group's doctor. Within several months, Fidel appoints him a commander of the Rebel Army, though he also continues to minister to wounded guerrilla fighters and captured Batista soldiers.

After General Batista flees Cuba on January 1st, 1959, Che becomes one of the key leaders of the new revolutionary government. He is also the most important representative of the Cuban Revolution internationally, heading numerous delegations and earning a reputation as a passionate and articulate spokesperson for Third World peoples. In April 1965, Che leaves Cuba to lead a guerrilla mission of some 200 Cuban soldiers to support the revolutionary struggle in Congo, a mission he recounts in Congo Diary. The book is characterized by Che's brutal, disciplined honesty, as he recounts the succession of failures and dead ends that characterized the mission, analyzing each one, and never losing sight of his innate optimism and clarity of mission. After returning to Cuba in December 1965, Che prepares another guerrilla force, this time to Bolivia, where he arrives in November 1966 with a small guerrilla force, intending to challenge the country's military dictatorship. He is captured there by U.S.-trained counterinsurgency forces on October 1967, and murdered in cold blood the next day. His Bolivian diaries were later edited and published as The Bolivian Diary/El Diario de Che en Bolivia. Che's other works include Reminisces of the Cuban Revolutionary War/Pasajes de la Guerra Revolucionaria, I embrace you with all my revolutionary fervor/Te abraza con todo fervor revolucionario, and The Motorcycle Diaries/Diarios de Motocicleta. More of his political writings are collected in the Che Guevara Reader/Che Guevara Presente.

Other books by Ernesto Che Guevara