Defender of the poor, hero, or cold-blooded monster? Many have conflicting opinions and views about Argentine Marxist revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna. Some perspectives of people change after reading a number of Che Guevara facts, while others stay the same.
Whether you like him or not, what cannot be denied are his many achievements. Che Guevara was a great political activist. He dedicated his life to throwing away imperialism and bringing about the development of socialism. Che became a countercultural figure of resistance and revolution as a result of his tireless efforts. He wore many hats during his life, including doctor, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military thinker.
What led him to do all he did? Che couldn’t stand the deplorable living conditions of the poor in his country, and the hardships faced by them. His early expeditions had a profound impact on him, and fueled his feelings of rage and contempt, turning him into a rebel. Along with Fidel Castro, he is said to have played a key part in the ‘Cuban Revolution,’ and was responsible for the country’s victory against former President and dictator Fulgencio Bautista.
Che was not the only communist to help his country. Many names come to mind when we talk about communism. Chinese leader Mao Zedong, North Korean Political Leader Kim Jong Il are the most common to know. They’re part of a few figures in history famous for being communists.
Various historians believe Che’s heart was in the right place, what he was doing for the welfare of the people he was attempting to assist. Whether you agree with them or not, decades after, the legacy of Che Guevara lives on. To know more about his personal and political journey, dive into our list of top 40 Che Guevara facts below.
- Che Guevara was 39 years old when executed by the U.S.-backed Bolivian army.
- By the age of 12, Che Guevara was already participating in local chess tournaments.
- Che Guevara was the eldest of 5 children. His parents were Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna Llosa.
- On May 14, 1928, Che Guevara was born in Rosario, Argentina.
- Che Guevara specialized in dermatology after qualifying as a physician in 1953.
- Che Guevara was a Marxist.
- Having asthma was the reason why Che Guevara got disqualified for military service.
- Che Guevara ‘s real name was Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna Lynch.
- When he studied medicine, Che Guevara specialized in leprosy.
- Che Guevara worked as a nurse on trading and petroleum ships.
- El Chancho, meaning pig in Spanish, was Che Guevara’s nickname when he was young due to his dislike of taking a bath.
- Their family was part Irish, so Che Guevara was of that descent, too.
- Che Guevara had five children.
- Within his lifetime, Che Guevara had two wives.
- Che Guevara was a descendant of a Spanish Army soldier and a prominent landowner.
- Che Guevara was an avid rugby union player.
- Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson has a tattoo of Che Guevara on his left rib.
- Che Guevara indulged himself with cigar smoking despite being asthmatic.
- Benicio del Toro starred in a 2008 film called “Che,” which was about the life of Che Guevara.
- Photos of Che Guevara’s dead body is at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile.
Che Guevara traveled to parts of South America with his friend on a motorcycle.
Che Guevara did a 9-month expedition with his friend Alberto Granado in 1952. Despite their 6-year age gap, Che and Alberto had been friends for 10 years. They shared intellectual curiosity, and a hunger for adventure. He rode on the back of Alberto’s La Poderosa II or “The Mighty One” – a Norton 500cc motorcycle.
They left Cordoba, Argentina to explore parts of South America. The duo was able to visit Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Miami. Che Guevara and Alberto Granado parted ways on July 26, 1952. Alberto stayed in Caracas, where he worked in Cabo Blanco leprosarium in Maiquetía. Che returned home to Buenos Aires to finish his medical degree.
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were revolutionary friends.
Che Guevara knew Fidel Castro through Fidel’s brother, Raul Castro. This was in July of 1955. After talking all night, right before daybreak, Che decided to sign up as a member of Fidel’s 26th of July Movement. This movement was an idea of Fidel to overthrow Cuba’s dictator, Fulgencio Batista. He was the 9th president of Cuba at that time. Che Guevara was amazed by Castro’s optimism. They both had a shared commitment to anti-imperialism.
Che Guevara went through military training. Instructor Alberto Bayo considered Che to be a brilliant student. It’s said that Che would always top the tests given to him. Not only that, he also had the highest scores. Albert called Che Guevara the best guerilla out of everyone he trained. Truly, this is one of those amazing Che Guevara facts.
The Movement had Che Guevara as a medic.
He first started out as the group’s doctor. But later on, he became one of Fidel Castro’s most trusted acolytes during the Cuban Revolution. He also acted as the executioner of suspected deserters, traitors, and spies of the group. As he rose to ranks and became second in command, he was also feared for his harshness and savagery. Numbers show he executed over 500 people at La Cabana prison. The sad truth, though, is that none of these people went through any kind of trial.
Che Guevara has a perfume named after him.
Labiofam creates cleaning products and dietary supplements in Havana, Cuba. In September 2014, they came up with Ernesto and Hugo perfumes. This was in honor of the revolutionary leader Che Guevara and the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. However, the Cuban government banned the said perfume, calling it a “grave error.”
The man who betrayed Che Guevara.
Ciro Bustos was an Argentinian artist who joined Che Guevara’s guerilla force. He also became his lieutenant. Ciro had this reputation of being a traitor. True enough, he was! He was the one who betrayed Che, which resulted in his capture and execution.
Ciro trained in weapons and spycraft in Algeria, Cuba, and Czechoslovakia. However, he got caught by the Bolivian army and was interrogated by both Bolivian and American C.I.A. officers. In his interrogation sessions, he drew all sorts of sketches. This included cave hideouts, maps of the camps, and portraits of the guerilla members.
Che Guevara met his first wife in Guatemala.
In December 1953, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Hilda Gadea met in Guatemala. She was the one who introduced Che to Cuban rebels. They married in Mexico in September 1955, and had a daughter. They named her Hilda Beatriz “Hildita” Guevara Gadea. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1995.
Che and Hilda’s marriage lasted for about 4 years before ending in a divorce. He then married Aleida March de la Torre and bore 4 children from her. They named them Aleida, Camilo, Celia, and Ernesto.
It took 30 years to find Che Guevara’s body.
After he died in 1967, Che Guevara’s body was not found until 30 years after. Retired Bolivian General Mario Vargas Salinas confessed he took part in burying Che and his comrades. This was in a pit near the edge of Vallegrande’s dirt airstrip. Because of this, President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada sent out a search party. The goal was to find Che Guevara’s remains along with his comrades.
Che Guevara’s iconic photo launched a thousand shirts.
Alberto Korda took a photo of Che Guevara wearing a beret on March 5, 1960, in Havana, Cuba. It was during a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion. This iconic image is on shirts, bags, key chains, jackets, and other merchandise.
It became a fashion trend and has been popularly worn by younger adults. Influential personalities even sport these shirts in public events. Some of them include Floyd Mayweather Jr., Carlos Santana, Prince Harry, Robert Pattinson, Jay Z, and Johnny Depp. You can get one of these shirts from Amazon here.
The mausoleum where Che Guevara lies is in Cuba.
Che Guevara’s remains and the remains of his comrades are in a mausoleum. In addition, there is a bronze 22-foot statue of Che located in Plaza Che Guevara in Santa Clara, Cuba. His burial got full military honors after the discovery of his remains on October 17, 1997. An estimate shows that from October 1997 to October 2009, over 3 million people from from over 100 countries visited the site.
Che Guevara’s use of the word “Che” earned him the nickname.
Che is an interjection or common name for Che Guevara. In English, it corresponds to expressions such as “dude,” “bro,” or “man.” His Cuban comrades called him Che because of his frequent use of the word, which was a foreign word to them. Definitely a good-to-know item in these Che Guevara facts.
Che Guevara was a banker before he changed course.
Fidel Castro, a Cuban President from 1976 to 2008, appointed Che Guevara as head of Cuba’s National Bank. During his reign, he kicked out American banks to allow Cuba free control over its own money. Resulting from this move caused Cuba 50 years of disastrous economic policies. On April 11, 2015, President Obama shook hands with Cuba’s Raul Castro. It was during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City. This was a symbolic gesture to restore ties between Cuba and the United States Of America.
Che Guevara’s parents influenced his ideological convictions.
Che Guevara grew up with compassion and empathy for the poor. He grew up with parents who were leftists in their political beliefs. His father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, often hosted Republican veterans of the Spanish Civil War in their family home. Che Guevara’s mother, Celia de la Serna de Guevara, was a proud Communist.
Fatherhood and Che Guevara’s kids.
Aleida Guevara March is the eldest daughter of Che and Aleida. She’s a pediatrician at William Soler Children’s Hospital in Havana. “Papi,”as she called him, opposed giving Aleida and her siblings regular privileges. She said they only enjoyed very little of what his father left them. That’s because she was only 6 years old during her dad’s execution. Che Guevara left a short letter to Aleida and her siblings to inform them of his death.
Some people consider Che Guevara a saint.
One of the most interesting Che Guevara facts is that he became a saint for some. Local people in Vallegrande, a small, colonial town in Bolivia, consider Che Guevara a saint. His corpse is at the Señor de Malta Hospital in Vallegrande. It was on a stretcher for the press to see on October 9, 1967. Thus, the townspeople established him as a saint. They even prayed to him for protection.
After his death, Che Guevara’s had his hands amputated.
One of the least known Che Guevara facts is that he died without his hands. His hands were cut off by a military doctor after execution. His hands had formaldehyde and got sent to Buenos Aires for fingerprint recognition. Afterwards, it got sent to Cuba.
Che Guevara helped increase literacy in Cuba.
Fidel Castro’s movement was the one who overthrew Fulgencio Batista. This was on January 1, 1959. With this, the new revolutionary government started a series of economic reforms. One of the many reforms was the educational reform. Before 1959, the literacy rate for Cuba was between 60 to 76%. After the Cuban Literacy Campaign, the national literacy rate increased to 96%.
To fight boredom, Che Guevara read books.
While living in the Sierra Maestra mountains, Che Guevara spent time reading nonfiction books. He did it to distract himself from vices. He was almost hit by an airstrike that one time. The reason for this? He was reading Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” that time. Growing up, Che’s home contained more than 3,000 books, which led him to become a book lover.
Che Guevara traveled to Congo.
Alongside other guerilla fighters, Che Guevara went to Congo. In these Che Guevara facts, it’s a must to know that he used the alias “Ramon Benitez.” This was an attempt to help and offer his experience and knowledge as a guerilla during their civil war. After his efforts failed, he fled back to Bolivia and led a guerilla group in the region of Santa Cruz.
Using his bicycle, Che Guevara traveled to the north of Argentina in the 1950s.
Before starting an adventure with his friend Alberto Granado, he went on a solo trip. He traveled to some provinces of northern Argentina on a bicycle with a small engine. It’s said that Che relied upon the hospitality of strangers he met in places he went to. He did not visit tourist sites to appreciate and get to know the place. Instead, he preferred visiting hospitals and meeting patients to learn about where he was. The motorized bicycle he used is now displayed at a museum in Alta Gracia, Argentina.