October 8, 2017 will mark 50 years since Ernesto “Che” Guevara died in the jungles of Bolivia as he attempted to spread revolutionary ideology throughout Latin America. The legendary and iconic symbol for revolution around the world became a martyr in the process and to this day, his image can be found on posters, hats, shirts and even coffee mugs. His final campaign to bring revolution to Bolivia and the tragic fate that awaited him is one of the defining stories of the 20th century. Guevara, the razor-sharp Argentine intellectual, posed a threat to the dominance of imperialism throughout Latin America and in particular was a deadly threat to the business interests of United States businessmen. His death brings a sigh of relief to many governments around the world and deals a devastating blow the Castro regime in Cuba. Che, although no longer legally a citizen of Cuba at that point, is finally returned home 30 years after his death, when he is returned with several other revolutionaries in 1997 and buried in Santa Clara.
Che was known to be meticulous at taking notes and the hundreds of pages of notes he took during the Cuban Revolution and his time in Congo have both been turned into books. This is the authorized collection of the journal entries he made during this last campaign. Some of the notes have been withheld by the Bolivian government for unknown reasons but the majority of Che’s notes have survived and are included here. Introductions by Fidel Castro and Che’s oldest son Camilo are also included, giving the book a more sentimental feeling. In comparison to his prior journals, the notes here are small in number but in them we are able to see the difficulties faced by Che and his entourage as they try to replicated the success in Cuba. Malaria, edema of the extremities, famine, distrust and various other conditions and ailments plague the group from the start decreasing the chances of success. But in the face of adversity, Che continues as the master organizer focused on his goal to spread revolution throughout the continent.
Huey P. Newton once said that the first thing a revolutionary must understand is that he is doomed from the start. Che’s mission in Bolivia bore the markings of one of impending doom, but his commitment to his unwavering goal of eradicating imperialism, compelled him to push forward in spite of dire warnings. Towards the end of the campaign, he acknowledges the horrendous condition the group is in but we can only speculate as to what thoughts went through his mind as he awaited his fate at the hands of the Bolivian Army and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He left behind a former wife, widow and five children. His widow Aleida, son Camilo and second daughter Aleida Guevara March have carried on his legacy. His writings and speeches will continue to remain with us as an example of one of the world’s sharpest minds gone far too soon. But although he is gone, left behind journals such as this that give us a glimpse into the most critical moments of his life.