Che Part One, directed by Steven Soderbergh, depicts Ernesto ’Che’ Guevara’s life during the revolutionary movement in Cuba. The movie serves in creating a better understanding of the difficulties that revolutions utilizing guerilla warfare must overcome to ultimately achieve their goal. In Guevara’s writings Guerilla Warfare: A method, the main goal of any revolution is the “conquest of political power.”
The movie shows how a movement that was initiated by a few can gain popular support overtime from the common people. In many scenes throughout the movie Che and the other Cuban revolutionaries are portrayed as being sympathetic to commoners. Revolutionary camps offered education, medical care, and other essential needs to the members of the movement as a method to secure support within the movement. Other methods were utilized and shown in the movie that served to gain a growing number of supporters. Some scenes in the movie show how landowners were either taxed by the revolutionary authorities or forced to divided their land between the workers. As Che wrote in Guerilla Warfare: A method, “The peasants’ aspirations and demands must be satisfied…to bring about the support and solidarity of the whole population.”
As seen in the movie, guerilla warfare requires that the enemy be harassed when the outcome of victory is certain. The Cuban revolutionaries, especially in the beginning when the movement was weakest, would attack certain strategically located enemy bases and then retreat back to a stronghold for defensive preparation. As portrayed at the beginning of the movie, attacks were not very large and didn’t end with great losses of revolutionaries.
The movie depicted the struggle revolutionaries had to secure a central command. In the first instance, with Che’s disapproval, Castro signed an agreement with a separate revolutionary movement. Castro made it clear to Che that showing support for a separate movement seeking the same goal was better than causing a civil war within the movement. Later in the movie, an agreement is made between revolutionary movements that allows Castro to become central commander. However, in Guerilla Warfare: A method, Che wrote, “[all revolutionary forces] should be unified under one command.” As can be seen in the movie, a central command was not in place until the second half of the movement. Therefore, it would seem that a central command is not totally necessary in the initial stage of a revolution that utilizes guerilla warfare.
Che’s rant or Message to the Tricontinental believed that the success of the revolutionary movement in Cuba would somehow eventually lead to the defeat of capitalism in a “world confrontation.” Keeping in mind that Che’s “Message to the Tricontinental” was written when the Cold War was in full bloom, it is possible that Che pictured the world of today quite differently. Latin America for instance, still with many problems, has gone through 3 waves of democratization. It would appear that the communistic ambitions of Che’s days in Latin America might be over. However, it can still be easily argued that imperialism, by Che’s definition, still looms many parts of the Tricontinental.