Che Guevara remains a national hero in Cuba 50 years after his death

World Today

Memorial events to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara are held in Cuba and Bolivia. He was a leader of the Cuban revolution, and was executed while trying to lead a guerrilla uprising in Bolivia.

CGTN’s Michael Voss looks at how he’s viewed in Cuba today.

Che Guevara was born in Argentina but came to Cuba to fight alongside its revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, as well as his brother, now President Raul Castro. Later, Che tried to launch other similar guerrilla uprisings.

One man who remembers him well is Harry Villegas, alias Pombo. He was with Che all the way from the Sierra Maestra mountains in Cuba to the final fatal encounter in Bolivia. Despite a 10 million bolivar bounty, about $1 million, for his capture, Villegas managed to escape back to Cuba.

“I think that Che continues to be, for the Cuban people, a paradigm, a symbol, a guide,” Villegas said. “We Cubans cannot forget that Che came here to give everything in exchange for nothing, with no interests, he asked for nothing.”

50 years later, Che’s memory remains deeply engrained in Cuba today with his revolutionary ideals passed down from generation to generation, which starts at primary school.

Every Friday at assembly, after raising the flag and singing the national anthem, the children in school chant: “We are the pioneers for communism, we will be like Che.”

“Che signifies one of our heroes who demonstrated bravery, courage and strength,” a 10-year-old pupil, Uchy Herrera said.

“An honest and simple man, he wanted, like Marti, for the people to be free, he was respectful,” another pupil, Erica Perez said.

Outside of Cuba, there are mixed opinions about Che’s legacy. But in Cuba, he remains a national hero.