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Matt Rawle as Che, Evita Adelphi Theatre 2006 c. Johan Pearsson
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1928  June 14th
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born in Argentina, the son of a middle-class family.  His parents were of Spanish-Irish descent;  despite being members of the privileged classes they were radical and broadminded in their views. Ernesto suffered badly from asthma and in an effort to improve his health the family soon moved to a home in the mountains. Determined to defeat his disability Ernest drove himself hard.  He became an excellent athlete, even playing rugby.

When he was only 13 he set off on his bike to discover Argentina, exploring the country and observing the conditions of his fellow countrymen.  During his years at school his family fell on hard times and Ernesto had to work at the same time as continuing his school studies.  It was also at this time that he became politically active, joining a nationalist youth organisation opposed to Peron.

He entered the University of Buenos Aires as a medical student.  About this time his parents separated.  Ernesto stayed with his mother.  She was a Marxist and through her he met many Argentinean intellectual Marxists.  As a student he took part in several anti-Peron street brawls and worked with the students’ organisation.

Spurred by a desire to travel again he interrupted his medical studies and set off with a friend to cover the continent.

Despite losing a year of study he arrived back in Buenos Aires, immersed himself in his books, and received his medial degree in March 1953.  But he did not settle.  Feeling himself at odds with the semi-populist Peron regime, he set off again and ended up in Guatemala on Christmas Eve 1953. The new government in Guatemala was trying to bring about a social revolution.

The regime was overthrown and Guevara fled to Mexico where he met Fidel Castro, who was master-minding an attempt to crush the reactionary government in Cuba.  It was about this time that Guevara acquired his famous nickname CHE.  It was an Argentinean mannerism to punctuate their speech, when referring to their friends with the word ‘che’ and so his Cuban friends gave him this name.  Che later legalised it as part of his name.

Che showed exceptional bravery and tenacity during the years of struggle in Cuba and soon became one of Castro’s most trusted aides.

January 2nd.  Castro entered Havana and established a Marxist government.  During the succeeding years Che became an active and outspoken emissary of the Cuban government and held various governmental posts.

Che disappeared from public life.  His movements were unknown for a time but he probably visited Vietnam, the Congo and various places in South America.

Che arrived secretly in Bolivia to organise a guerrilla band with which he hoped to overthrow the reactionary government.

1967 October 8th.
Che was captured by the government forces and shot.  He was 39. A legend rapidly grew up about his adventurous life and tragic death.


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