Motorcycle Diaries

The “Motorcycle Diaries” attempts to tell the story of Ernesto Guevara being transformed into the revolutionary we all know him as today. As he traveled through the impoverished countries of Latin America, one can see Guevara beginning to have a different view of the world. It appears he envisioned a united Latin America, where every member, regardless of what class they were, whether they were indigenous, or an immigrant, be given an equal life to live. The most enlightening part of the film is his time at the leper camp in San Pablo. The egalitarian community of the leper camp seems to be what Che had envisioned turning Latin America into.

As Eduardo Elena notes in his article, “Point of Departure: Travel and Nationalism in Ernesto Guevara’sArgentina,” many Latin American countries had succumbed to a movement of nationalism. Guevara seems to be unique in that he saw the struggles of the people of each Latin American country as eerily similar and should not be restrained within the borders of each country. This is not surprising after Elena notes that by his teenage years Che had familiarized himself with Marx and other leftist authors. Advocating a socialist movement of the working class seems to be something that Guevara was likely support as he traveled through Latin America. 

In the article, “Awaiting the Blood of a Truly Emancipating Revolution: Che Guevara in 1950’s Peru,” it is obvious that the injustices Guevara noticed during his travels strengthened his view that a large social revolution was necessary in Latin America. A quote in the article by Paul Dosal states, ” the poverty and injustices he observed struck a sensitive chord.” Guevara’s eagerness to begin reform came from the struggles he witnessed from the working and helpless people of Latin America. As observed in the film from his time in the leper community, Che saw himself no different from these people with the exception of having a better status in the world. In the leper community it appears that only the Catholic nuns see themselves as better than the lepers, as they require the use of gloves around the ill, which Che refuses to use. Drinot’s article helps us to understand why Che was so bothered by the injustice he saw. As in Peru, most Latin American governments attempted to eliminate their opposition. Quieting the views of the people is something that would have bothered Che as he witnessed the mass amount of poverty in the region. 

Ann Zulawski writes in her article that Che had a strong bond between the indigenous people of Latin America. He recognized their struggles and how they were were treated as second class citizens by every other class in the region. This seems why this quote in the article by Drinot explains the revolutionary view of Che, ” political change could only be brought about only through a violent revolution led by people capable of emancipating others who could not emancipate themselves.” Che saw himself as in a position to help others. The working people of Latin America were not afforded the resources to bring about a revolution for themselves. Che and people like him could help unite the lower classes of Latin America and bring about the change he saw necessary. 

It is interesting that Guevara attempted to unite such a large group of people. Latin America appears to have been run by a small elitist class and largely influenced by outside forces during this time period. Che saw the policies enforced as being against the will of the majority of the regular people. He wanted to lead a revolution that would wind up bringing about a similar egalitarian community as the one he witnessed at the leper colony in Peru. It appears that much of his work failed in most places, as only Cuba was the one place that seemed to prosper in any aspect from the effects of Che and many would argue it only hurt the country in the long run. Guevara was right that the injustices of the Latin America people needed to be addressed, but his socialist movement was largely ineffective. The people needed a government that allowed them to grow and prosper as individuals, not one that made everyone equal by depending on the state for their basic needs.