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Posted July 26, 2004 by publisher in Cuban History

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Gary Younge in New York | The Guardian

For a generation of radicals he was literally the poster boy for rebellion. A revolutionary in life, an icon in death, Che Guevara lived fast, died young and had an emblematic corpse.

But this week his family revealed an entirely different image than the one across T-shirts on the backs of the young and posters on bedsit walls.

A 305-page memoir, presented in Havana, Cuba, offers rare black-and-white shots from the Guevara family album of Che in his mid-30s disguised as a balding old man with crooked teeth with his wife Aleida March de la Torre.

The pictures are believed to have been taken around 1965 when Guevara was preparing to travel outside Cuba incognito to foment revolution in other countries. Two years later he was killed while trying to lead a rural uprising in Bolivia.

His daughter, Aleida Guevara March, said the photographs represent her last image of her father.

“This is a book that is very close to my heart,” she said of the letters and photographs in Self-Portrait: Guevara.

Guevara’s writings reveal an introspective man quick to admit his mistakes and demand more of himself.

Born in Argentina in 1928 to wealthy parents, Guevara trained as a doctor but was radicalised by his exposure to poverty while travelling around South and Central America, most famously on a motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado.

In 1959 he helped lead the Cuban revolution to oust the dictator Fulgencio Batista and put Fidel Castro into power. Disillusioned with Soviet-style communism he went to Africa and South America to back guerrilla rebellions which failed.

His journey from middle-class comfort to working-class champion and his long-haired, unkempt look mirrored the aspirations and self-image of the Woodstock generation as they demonstrated against the Vietnam war.

While these photographs put him in a new light they are unlikely to overshadow the most widespread image of him taken by Alberto Korda at a memorial service in March 1960. Korda took two quick snaps of Guevara, wearing a black beret, as he stepped onto the podium and scanned the crowd. The shot of him gazing into the distance was embraced by anti-capitalists soon after his death and to Korda’s irritation would be used to market Smirnoff vodka long after it.

“I am categorically against the exploitation of Che’s image for the promotion of products such as alcohol or for any purpose that denigrates the reputation of Che,” said Korda, who won a $50,000 (27,280) in an out-of-court settlement and donated it to the Cuban medical system.

The diary entries, letters and poems in the memoir are said to provide an intimate look at the man, whose gender politics at home were anything but radical.

In a letter to his family from overseas, Guevara told his daughters to help their mother in the house and his sons to to become revolutionary soldiers.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on May 22, 2005 by alex chacon with 4 total posts

    I would like to recieve a free copy of the havana journal from 1964 about the cuban revolution and how che guevara was involved. i am 20 years old and che guevara is my idol he spoke of things that nobody wanted or wants to hear.  muchas gracias

    my address is
    alex chacon
    4753 cody street
    wheatridge, colorado 80033


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