" Companero" ( the companion )- a biography of Che Guevara by Jorge Castanada
It was the film " Diary of a Motorcyclist " which i saw last year which had stimulated my interest in knowing more about Che. His story is extraordinary, inspiring and moving. Once I started reading i got absorbed completely and could not stop until i finished.
What is striking is that Che who became a hero of Latin America and a global icon and symbol for social uprisings for idealists and leftists was an Argentinian. Unbelievable... utterly different from the popular perception of Argentinian character.
Che was a restless soul relentlessly seeking new experience and adventures. His motorcycle tour of south america opened his mind to a panamerican and later global vision. After this, he was destined to go out and seek out adventures wherever he could. This destiny took him to Guatemala, cuba , Congo and Bolivia. His beliefs and vision evolved and matured as he encountered new situations . He made his mark as a guerilla fighter and eminently succeeded in Cuba. He tried to repeat his ventures in Congo but failed. He tried in Bolivia and planned to carry the revolution back to Argentina. This was a mistake for which he paid for it with his life.
One cannot help the impression that Che had the deathwish. He plunged into risky ventures carried away by his noble principles, blind pursuit and his restless urge for action. On the other hand, his companion and mentor Fidel Castro always had larger and balanced political and global perspectives and has obviously survived for so long.
Che had become a minister in Fidel's cabinet and applied himself with equal idealism and altruism to bring about a brave new socialistic world. It was of course inevitable that a guerilla fighter of his nature could not be confined to a cosy position of power. He was more at home in the battlefield.
Che had visited India leading a Cuban goodwill and study delegation, as part of his tour of many other countries. I was keen to know his impressions of India and how he viewed India. Unfortunately the author has not elaborated this visit in this book.( I will appreciate if someone could give me some lead).
Castanada has given a balanced profile of Che navigating between the propaganda of the left and the critical approach of the right. Besides quoting many sources, he has himself done a lot of research and interviewed people associated with Che.
The conditions of Latin America which inspired Che to fight for justice in those days continue to be present in most parts of Latin America. No wonder Che's glory is being revived by leftists such as Chavez and Evo Morales, who are the elected creations of the same situation.