Che- Part One (2008)

Che: Part One (2008)

The Che seen in the Motorcycle Diaries is much different than the one seen in the Che: Part One. The Che in the Motorcycle Diaries was much more innocent. He cared a great deal about people, and refused to harm people in any way.  After his journeys throughout Latin America, Che was determined to do something about the injustice that was being done to the poor and to the indigenous populations.  The Che in Che: Part One believes that change can only come by taking up arms. Basically, change cannot come from within the system, but by taking over the current system and installing a new one.  He believes that guerilla warfare is the way to fix the injustice in Latin America and to stop western neoimperialism.

Che explains that, “The guerrilla is the combat vanguard of the people, situated in a specified place in a certain region, armed and willing to carry out a series of warlike actions for the one possible strategic end — the seizure of power. The guerrilla is supported by the peasant and worker masses of the region and of the whole territory in which it acts. Without these prerequisites, guerrilla warfare is not possible” (Guerrilla Warfare: A Method, 1963). Essentially this is the way to fulfill Marx’s theory—the workers are supposed to rise up against the upper class and take control of the means of production.  In the film Che: Part One we see how Che lives by these rules. He makes it very obvious how this movement is for the people, and how commoners should be held in upmost respect. This is obvious in the scene where a couple fighters went into a town and terrorized and raped a fifteen year old girl. The two men were taken into the woods and shot for their crimes against the village and the young girl. This shows that they were fighting for justice, and that using a system of justice while fighting in the countryside. However, the idea of fighting for justice itself can be contradictory.  Although at the same time, this kind of warfare definitely puts civilians in danger—because the line between combatant and civilian becomes blurred. But at least they try their best to protect the people they are fighting for.

Zolov explains that Che “lives on as a symbol of internationalist solidarity with revolutionary, progressive movements everywhere” (Zolov 247).  In the film, it was obvious that Che felt out of place for being a foreigner. In the beginning of the movie, Castro gets upset at Che for letting another member of the guerilla forces belittle him. Che traveled throughout Mexico and Cuba at a time where there were many many leftist revolutionaries. Che truly believed in a united Latin America against neoimperialism.  By helping with the struggles of those of other countries, he is really embodying what he believes in. Che said that. “The largest of all imperialist powers feels in its own guts the bleeding inflicted by a poor and underdeveloped country; its fabulous economy feels the strain of the war effort. Murder is ceasing to be the most convenient business for its monopolies. Defensive weapons, and never in adequate number, is all these extraordinary soldiers have – besides love for their homeland, their society, and unsurpassed courage“ (Che, Message to the Tri Continental Congress).

I think the difference between Che and some of the other revolutionary leaders such as Castro and Mao is that Che was never really in a position of power in the government. He was dedicated to traveling around and participating in different movements. He never gave up on his view of uniting the global south against neoimperialism. He died fighting for his cause. Mao and Castro both turned somewhat repressive against the people after they became government leaders. They fell victim to the continuum of violence.  They used violence to achieve freedom, and then used violence to take away freedom again.  I wonder what path Che’s life would have taken if he had lived longer. Would he be supportive of Castro now?