I have just had my article published about Che Guevara on Red Pepper's website. Check out its newly revamped magazine if you get a chance. It's got a great mix of articles, analysis and debate from a left-green perspective. I have reproduced the article below. For those readers who are fluent in Malayalam, here is a translation kindly done by Samakalika Malayalam Weekly
There he was at my first political event in Latin America. The famous blacked out graphic image of a handsome face on endless flags, T-shirts, banners. Che Guevara, the most loved and remembered revolutionary of Latin America. And he has accompanied me ever since, most of all in Bolivia. At political meetings, next to the altar in the front of a church once, on the wall of many MAS government politicians (including of President Evo Morales), in lyrics of songs played in cafes and bars. Outside Latin America, he also continues to flourish not just on scuffed student walls but even on the body of Prince Harry and the albums of Madonna.
Meanwhile, for me, born five years after Che Guevara died in a backwater of Bolivia, Che has remained an illusive hero, a mythical figure that I have never fully identified with. Curiosity has driven me to read and enjoy the motorcycle diaries, to scan most of a long biography by Jon Anderson one summer, and to brave his rather depressing diaries in Spanish recounting his final days as a guerilla in Bolivia.
I identified with the traveller and the internationalist. I admired the rebel and his commitment to live out his principles. I liked some of his quotes, such as ‘Any person who on seeing injustice trembles with indignation is a comrade.’ But I have still failed to understand the Che Guevara myth. Why does one man have such an impact and remain such a model for social movements today?
So, on the 40th anniversary of his death, I headed to Che Guevara’s deathplace in Bolivia to try to understand his abiding appeal.