History of War
ERNESTO ‘CHE’ GUEVARA
THE ICONIC REVOLUTIONARY WHO WAGED GUERRILLA WARFARE AGAINST BATISTA’S FORCES
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.