A visit to Havana means seeing evidence of Che Guevara pretty much everywhere. However, if you want more substance than just the usual victorious revolution slogans, you should visit the little museum that’s located near Morro Castle dedicated to Che and his revolutionary life. Getting there can be a bit of an adventure – first you have to find a taxi that will actually take you. Some won’t as the trip involves going through a tunnel and apparently, there are rules about what kind of taxi can go through it. I ended up on the best taxi ever – a motorcycle with a side car!
16 Facts About Che
- Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Argentina to a half Irish family.
- In school, he was nicknamed Chancho (pig) because of his lack of hygiene habits.
- He traveled throughout South America during his medical school years and many point to this time period when he became radicalized by the poverty, hunger, and disease he saw.
- He received his medical degree in 1953.
- Che loved chess and poetry, and was fluent in French.
- He had five children from two marriages.
- Che was asthmatic and allergic to mosquitos.
- Che got his nickname because he used the word a lot. “Che” is apparently an Argentine casual speech filler, very much like the Canadian “eh”.
- A declassified CIA ‘biographical and personality report’ said that “Che is fairly intellectual for a Latino.”
- He believed in “el Hombre Nuevo” (the New Man): “selfless and cooperative, obedient and hardworking, gender-blind, incorruptible, non-materialistic, and anti-imperialist.”
- He wanted to see the complete elimination of money, interest, the market economy, commodity production, and mercantile relationships. To me, this is why it is highly ironic that his image is so popular on tourist crap people buy – Che must be seriously pissed off…
- During the revolutionary war, Che led the guerrilla forces, set up grenade factories, built ovens to make food, taught tactics to recruits, developed health clinics, started a newspaper, and organized schools to spread literacy.
- After the Cuban Revolution, Che was very instrumental in Castro’s government. Among the many things he did, Che organized firing squads for those convicted at revolutionary tribunals and instituted a nationwide literacy campaign (raised the national literacy rate to 96%).
- In 1965, Che tried to encourage revolution abroad, first in Congo-Kinshasa and then in Bolivia.
- He was captured by a mix of Bolivian and CIA forces in Bolivia. Che was executed in 1967 and his hands were amputated upon his execution for fingerprint verification – they were sent back to Argentina to do that. His body was found in July 1997 and he was buried with military honours in Santa Clara, Cuba.
- Che’s image is on the $3 Cuban peso and school kids apparently begin each morning by pledging “We will be like Che.”