Week 8- Che- Part One

Che: Part One was released in 2008 and directed by Steven Soderbergh. It recounts Che’s activities in Cuba as he and Fidel Castro took a band of guerrilla fighters from the shores of Cuba’s Sierra Meastra to the capital of Havana. Using the film in context with the historical readings from this week Che Guevara’s rise and subsequent fall show how to and how not to have a political and social revolution within a country.

In Che: Part One the viewer sees a Che Guevara that is backed with popular support from the people and the revolutionaries that are with him. This is important because it allows the fight and the revolution to be successful. Throughout the movie there is support given to the movement by people in the countryside coming to their side and giving them supplies.  This allows the revolution to move forward and be successful. In this way Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are able to overthrow the government of Batista by using popular support. The problem for Che began when he started to lose this popular support.

In his own “Message to the Tricontinental” Che shows that he knows there must be popular support for any revolution. In speaking of his failed revolution to come in Bolivia Che says “The people shall create their warriors and leaders in the selective framework of the war itself.” (Message to the Tricontinental) Here he acknowledges that the people will provide the warriors and the support for a revolution. He saw this happen in Cuba, but when it came to Bolivia he did not get this popular support. Instead, as outlined in the declassified documents about Che’s death, his movement in Bolivia is not heavily supported by the people. At one point his revolutionaries number upwards of “twenty thousand men” but he must purchase large amounts of food instead of the community donating it. (The Death of Che Guevara: Declassified) Furthermore, Che and his men do not even trust the local community. On October 7th, 1967 Che and his men are so “scared” that a woman will report their presence, that they “pay her 50 pesos to keep quiet.” (The Death of Che Guevara: Declassified)

All of these incidents taken together show that Che has lost the support of the people. While Che again recognizes that the people must be on the guerrillas side in his “Guerrilla Warfare: A Method.” In this document he says that “guerrilla warfare is a people’s warfare” and “the guerrilla is the combat vanguard of the people.” He put this to good use in Cuba, but after the revolution had occurred he lost the support of the people there as his policies failed, as outlined in Brian Latell’s “The Fall of Che Guevara and the Changing Face of the Cuban Revolution.” At this point he left Cuba and traveled to Bolivia. In Bolivia he never achieved the popular support he found with Castro in Cuba. As such Che was killed in Bolivia and his envisioned revolution turned into a misfired round from the gun of revolution.