History vs. Che Guevara – Alex Gendler


His face is recognized all over the world. The young medical student
who became a revolutionary icon. But was Che Guevara
a heroic champion of the poor or a ruthless warlord
who left a legacy of repression? Order, order. Hey, where have I seen that guy before? Ahem, your Honor, this is Ernesto Che Guevara. In the early 1950s, he left behind a privileged life
as a medical student in Argentina to travel through rural Latin America. The poverty and misery he witnessed
convinced him that saving lives required more than medicine. So he became a terrorist seeking to violently overthrow
the region’s governments. What? The region’s governments
were brutal oligarchies. Colonialism may have formally ended, but elites still controlled
all the wealth. American corporations bought up land
originally seized from indigenous people and used it for profit and export, even keeping most of it uncultivated
while locals starved. Couldn’t they vote to change that? Oh, they tried, your Honor. In 1953, Che came to Guatemala under the democratically-elected
government of President Árbenz. Árbenz passed reforms to redistribute some of this uncultivated
land back to the people while compensating the landowners. But he was overthrown
in a CIA-sponsored coup. The military was protecting against
the seizure of private property and communist takeover. They were protecting corporate profits and Che saw that they would use
the fear of communism to overthrow any government
that threatened those profits. So he took the lessons of Guatemala
with him to Mexico. There, he met exiled Cuban revolutionaries and decided to help them
liberate their country. You mean help Fidel Castro
turn a vibrant Cuba into a dictatorship. Dictatorship was what Cuba
had before the revolution. Fulgencio Batista was a tyrant
who came to power in a military coup. He turned Havana into a luxury playground
for foreigners while keeping Cubans mired in poverty and
killing thousands in police crackdowns. Even President Kennedy called it
the worst example of “economic colonization, humiliation,
and exploitation in the world.” Whatever Batista’s faults, it can’t compare to the totalitarian
nightmare Castro would create. Forced labor camps, torture of prisoners,
no freedom to speak or to leave. But this isn’t the trial
of Fidel Castro, is it? Che Guevara was instrumental in helping
Castro seize power. As a commander in his guerilla army, he unleashed a reign of terror
across the countryside, killing any suspected spies or dissenters. He also helped peasants build
health clinics and schools, taught them to read, and even recited poetry to them. His harsh discipline was necessary
against a much stronger enemy who didn’t hesitate to burn entire
villages suspected of aiding the rebels. Let’s not forget that the new regime
held mass executions and killed hundreds
of people without trial as soon as they took power in 1959. The executed were officials
and collaborators who had tormented
the masses under Batista. The people supported
this revolutionary justice. Which people? An angry mob crying for blood
does not a democracy make. And that’s not even mentioning
the forced labor camps, arbitrary arrests, and repression of LGBT people
that continued long after the revolution. There’s a reason people kept
risking their lives to flee, often with nothing but the clothes
on their backs. So was that all this Che brought to Cuba? Just another violent dictatorship? Not at all. He oversaw land redistribution, helped established universal education, and organized volunteer literacy brigades
that raised Cuba’s literacy rate to 96%, still one of the highest in the world. Which allowed the government to control
what information everyone received. Guevara’s idealistic incompetence
as Finance Minister caused massive drops in productivity when he replaced worker pay raises
with moral certificates. He suppressed all press freedom, declaring that newspapers
were instruments of the oligarchy. And it was he who urged Castro
to host Soviet nuclear weapons, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the world
to the brink of destruction. He was a leader, not a bureaucrat. That’s why he eventually left to spread
the revolution abroad. Which didn’t go well. He failed to rally rebels in the Congo and went to Bolivia
even when the Soviets disapproved. The Bolivian Government,
with the help of the CIA, was able to capture and neutralize
this terrorist in 1967, before he could do much damage. While doing plenty of damage themselves
in the process. So that was the end of it? Not at all. As Che said,
the revolution is immortal. He was publicly mourned in cities
all over the world. Not by the Cubans who managed to escape. And his story would inspire
young activists for generations to come. Ha. A trendy symbol of rebellion for those
who never had to live under his regime. Symbols of revolution
may become commodified, but the idea of a more just world remains. Maybe, but I’m not sharing my coffee. Che Guevara was captured and
executed by government forces in Bolivia. His remains would not be found
for another 30 years. But did he die a hero
or had he already become a villain? And should revolutions be judged
by their ideals or their outcomes? These are the questions we face
when we put history on trial.

100 thoughts on “History vs. Che Guevara – Alex Gendler”

  1. Check out the trials we staged for other controversial historical figures in our series, History vs.: http://bit.ly/2iWHQ2t
    We love this series, and we're so grateful to everyone supporting us on Patreon because you help make this work possible! Want to learn more about how to get involved? Check out our Patreon page: http://bit.ly/2jqo6Uw

  2. I do like the approach. It brought up both sides rather well and left it up to the viewer. Left out some details but did a good job overall.

  3. Che was probably manipulated by his comrades to kill those who were enemies of them, and used Guevara as a scapegoat for their crimes, like the "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan convincing the American military to drop bombs on places they claimed were Taliban hideouts, but were civilian houses, this was also apparent with the fact that Guevara had the habit of putting a bullet in the head of anyone who his comrades said were enemies, wacky theory, but plausible

  4. "As a communist it must really hurt that your face has been cheapened, weakened, bismirched, being put on coasters, posters and shirts, making capitallists rich of you on merch."

  5. I’m here because of the “Baki” book series, I thought Che Guevara was just a character in the book, I now see the connections between the character and the historical figure of Che Guevara, though in the book Guevara is a superhumanly powerful man he does share the fact that both the character and the man led factions to revolt against a higher government power, I haven’t read too far into the book but it’s really interesting to see the parallels between the book and what actually happened. It’s a good book and I recommend picking it up it’s called “baki the grappler”

  6. Cuban crisis was started cause US send nukes to Turkey wich was close to USSR and USSR response by nukes in Cuba. USSR and Cuba did not start cuban crisis…

  7. Is it just me or do the defenders in those series very often resort to whataboutisms and ad hominem? The fact that CIA alao wrecked havoc after Che is a very important issue, but that's not what's being discussed at the moment. This is not History vs CIA (which would be interesting, by the way), but History vs Che. That argument should not be accepted.

  8. che gueverra was a butcher…gave his hipporcratic oath to become a killer…not sure what motivated the guy, but what a waste of potential.

  9. I recommend "The Motorcycle Diaries",a 2004 film, to witness a journey that changed medical student Ernesto Guevara into revolutionary Che Guevara.

  10. Don't buy this for a second kids capitalism won't put you in forced labor camps or give away you're land communism calls it redistribution

  11. It's a good one, Alex Gendler, a good one.
    Great that you force you own opinion not, giving instead an informational field to examin for those who prefer think with theri own minds instead of drilling on auto-pilot what some would-be schollar says.

  12. a video about him he got owned by Guy Fawkes a fellow revolutionary who planed the gunpowder plot to overthrow king James I of England to reinstate Catholicism but like Che failed and was executed

  13. Did this video just justify communism because of a CIA coo?

    Alex Jones is ban from YouTube but videos like this can base history off conspiracy theories, and YouTube has absolutely no problem with it.

  14. I dont think that judging revolutions by theyre ideals or theyre outcomes is a valid question. Your ideals dont matter after the outcomes take life

  15. "My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood… Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any surrendered enemy that falls in my hands! With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!"
    —From "The Motorcycle Diaries" (Diarios de Motocicleta) by Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-1967) published 1995

  16. "My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood… Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any surrendered enemy that falls in my hands! With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!"
    —From "The Motorcycle Diaries" (Diarios de Motocicleta) by Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-1967) published 1995

  17. I happen to have a brother named Che. But when I was a little nutball of a child, I saw the book in a local library and it made me think of my brother. (My weird thought process was “Why does this guy have the same name as my brother?”) 🤣

  18. Today October 9th 2019 52 years after his death this was recommended to me.
    Rest in peace you magnificent rebel, massive respect from Algeria

  19. Lenin had a similar brutal turn once in power. Most people with Che stuff don't even know his name, much less the whole story.He's become trendy, and a good way of identifying idiots.

  20. You treat "heroic champion of the poor" and "ruthless warlord" as opposites. They are not. They often go together, perhaps more often than not.

  21. It is sad that the sustancial changes on the power structures of many lantinamerican countries have to pass through blood shreds, BUT, it is the values of justice for the people that kinds redeem that, you know, even though people can think that communism just was another regime that did the same that fought against of; the goals and values pursuited are the core difference on all that. We all hope revolutions could be done like Ghandi's or Luther King's style, but for some regions of the world, that won't simply happen, and there will be always violent revolutions, and probably this century (XXI) could see a renaissance of this rebellious ways.
    I live on the 3rd world, and we, that live this reality, can feel the need of real-social-revolutionary-justice.

    *Che Guevara was here on El Salvador back in 1953.

  22. Read Che Guevara in his own words and decide for yourself. Two good places to start is "Che Guevara Speaks" and "Che Guevara Talks To Young People."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *