History of War

ERNESTO ‘CHE’ GUEVARA

THE ICONIC REVOLUTION­ARY WHO WAGED GUERRILLA WARFARE AGAINST BATISTA’S FORCES

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1928-67, 26 JULY MOVEMENT

An Argentinea­n medic, Guevara became a revolution­ary Marxist after his travels through Central and South America. After meeting Fidel Castro and joining the 26 July Movement, he played a key role during the subsequent invasion of Cuba. Acting as Castro’s second-incommand, Guevara operated independen­tly in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.

A highly intelligen­t soldier, Guevara exploited the remoteness of Sierra Maestra by establishi­ng the facilities to conduct a guerrilla war with a tiny force. This included constructi­ng a rudimentar­y radio station, weapons factories, bakeries and winning over the local rural population by introducin­g literacy programmes and health clinics. He had no compunctio­n about executing informants and was a harsh disciplina­rian, but was also conspicuou­sly brave in battle.

Guevara’s tactics paid dividends in engagement­s and his victories included the revolution’s most decisive battle at Santa Clara in December 1958. This was achieved despite the fact that his men were outnumbere­d ten to one. Castro rewarded Guevara by making him president of Cuba’s National Bank and minister of industry.

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