Che

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Posted by pompos 04/19/2009 @ 14:07

Tags : che, movies, cinema, entertainment

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300 IH — 40.56 — Peterson (BH), Montermini (T), Miller (Che), Harper (RR), Larsen (T). 400 R — 43.91 — Black Hills, Hoquiam, River Ridge, Chehalis. 1600 R — River Ridge, Black Hills, Chehalis, Hoquiam. PV — 13-6 — McCoy (H), Kast (Che), McBride (RR),...
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Che (film)

From right to left: Benicio del Toro as Che Guevara, Elvira Minguez as Celia Sanchez, Rodrigo Santoro as Raul Castro, and Demian Bichir as Fidel Castro

Che is a two-part 2008 biopic about Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro as the title character. Taking a cinéma vérité stylistic approach, the pictorial diptych comprises two merged films entitled The Argentine and Guerrilla. Each part is intentionally illustrated with differing approaches to narrative linearity, camerawork, and aspect ratios; with such duality intended to be reflective of the two military campaigns' divergent outcomes. The first part, The Argentine, focuses on the Cuban revolution from when Fidel Castro, Guevara and other revolutionaries landed on the Caribbean island to when they successfully toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista two years later. The second part, Guerilla, meanwhile focuses on Che's futile attempt to bring revolution to Bolivia along with his ill-fated demise.

Filmmaker Terrence Malick originally worked on a screenplay to only depict Guevara's attempts to start a revolution in Bolivia, but when financing fell through, Malick went on to another project and Soderbergh agreed to direct. He realized that there was no context for Guevara's actions in Bolivia and decided that his participation in the Cuban revolution and his appearance at the United Nations in 1964 should also be depicted in the film. Peter Buchman was hired to write the screenplay and result was so long that Soderbergh decided to divide the film into two parts: one chronicling Cuba and other depicting Bolivia. Filmmakers decided to shoot the film almost entirely in Spanish to give it credibility, but the decision also made it difficult to finance with Hollywood studios. Soderberg's project was ultimately financed with foreign money. Soderbergh shot the films back-to-back in the beginning of July 2007 with Guerrilla shot first in Spain for 39 days and The Argentine shot in Puerto Rico and Mexico for 39 days.

Che was screened as a single film at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. There, it received mixed reviews, and Del Toro won the Best Actor Award. IFC Films, which holds all North American rights to Che, initially released the combined film for one week on December 12, 2008 in New York City and Los Angeles in order to qualify for the year's Academy Awards. Strong box office performance led to the "special roadshow edition" being extended in New York and Los Angeles and later expanded into additional markets. The films were released in 25 markets beginning January 16 and 22 both as a single film and as two separate films, titled Che Part 1: The Argentine and Che Part 2: Guerrilla, and distribution expanded further after that. IFC released the films via video on demand on January 21 through all major U.S. cable and satellite providers in both standard and high definition versions.

The project was originally conceived as a much more conventional film after the publication of Jon Lee Anderson's 1997 biography Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. Actor Benicio del Toro and producer Laura Bickford optioned the film rights to Anderson's book, but two years later they had not found a writer, and the rights lapsed. During this time Del Toro and Bickford researched the events depicted in Guerrilla with the idea of exploring Che's attempts to start a revolution in Bolivia. Del Toro confessed he had previously only thought of Guevara as a "bad guy" since he was a child. For his role, Del Toro spent seven years "obsessively researching" Guevara's life, which made him feel like he "earned his stripes" to interpret the character. Preparation also included looking at Guevara's photographs and reading his personal writings. Additionally Del Toro read Don Quixote, one of Guevara's favorites, and the first book published and given out free after the Cuban Revolution. Del Toro then personally met with people from different stages of Guevara's life, including Guevara's younger brother and childhood friends in Argentina. In his encounters with people ranging from fellow guerrillas to Che's driver, Del Toro described the reaction as "always the same", stating that he was "blown away" by the "bucketful(s) of love" they still harbored for Guevara. In an interview, Del Toro described Guevara as "a weird combination of an intellectual and an action figure, Gregory Peck and Steve McQueen, wrapped in one".

Research also included traveling to Cuba where Del Toro met Che's widow, family, and "tons of people that loved this man". The visit also included a five-minute encounter at a book fair with Fidel Castro, who expressed that he was happy for the "serious" research being undertaken. Such research also included collaborating with the three surviving guerrillas from Guevara's ill-fated Bolivian campaign, and with several guerrillas who fought alongside him in Cuba. While researching for both films, Soderbergh made a documentary of his interviews with many who had fought alongside Che in both Cuba and Bolivia. After the film's production concluded, Del Toro professed that "when you tell the story of Che, you're telling a story of the history of a country, so you have to be very careful".

During their preliminary research, Del Toro and Bickford discovered that filmmaker Terrence Malick had been in Bolivia as a journalist in 1966 working on a story about Che and thus asked him to write a screenplay. After a year-and-a-half, the financing had not come together entirely and Malick left to make The New World, a film about Jamestown, Virginia. Afraid that their multi-territory deals would fall apart, Bickford and Del Toro asked Steven Soderbergh to direct. The filmmaker was drawn to the contrast of "engagement versus disengagement. Do we want to participate or observe? Once Che made the decision to engage, he engaged fully. Often people attribute that to a higher power, but as an atheist, he didn't have that. I found that very interesting". Furthermore, he remarked that Che was "great movie material" and "had one of the most fascinating lives" that he could "imagine in the last century". Bickford and Del Toro realized that there was no context for what made Che decide to go to Bolivia. They began looking for someone to write the screenplay and Peter Buchman was recommended to them because he had a good reputation for writing about historical figures based on a script he worked about Alexander the Great. He spent a year reading every available book on Che in preparation for writing the script. The project was put on hold when Bickford and Del Toro made Traffic with Soderbergh.

Soderbergh wanted to incorporate Che's experiences in Cuba and at the United Nations in 1964. Buchman helped with the structure of the script, which he gave three storylines: Che's life and the Cuban revolution; his demise in Bolivia; and his trip to New York to speak at the U.N. Buchman found that the problem with containing all of these stories in one film was that he had to condense time and this distorted history. Soderbergh found the draft Buchman submitted to him "unreadable" and after two weeks decided to split the script into two separate films. Buchman went back and with Del Toro expanded the Cuban story for The Argentine. Additional research included reading Che's diaries and declassified documents from the U.S. State Department about his trip to New York and memos from the time he was in Bolivia.

Soderbergh found the task of researching such a popular historical figure as Che a daunting one: "If you go to any bookstore, you'll find an entire wall of Che-related material. We tried to go through all of it, we were overwhelmed with information. He means something different to everyone. At a certain point we had to decide for ourselves who Che was". The original source material for these scripts was Che's diary from the Cuban revolution, Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, and from his time in Bolivia, Bolivian Diary. From there, he drew on interviews with people who knew Che from both of those time periods and read every book available that pertained to both Cuba and Bolivia. Bickford and Del Toro also met with Harry "Pombo" Villegas, Urbano and Benigno - three men Che met during the Cuban revolution, followed him to Bolivia, and survived. They interviewed them individually and then Pombo and Benigno together about their experiences in Cuba and Bolivia. Urbano was an adviser while they were filming in Spain and the actors often consulted with him and the others about specific details, like how to hold their guns in a certain situation, and very specific tactical information.

In December 2008, Ocean Press, in cooperation with the Che Guevara Publishing Project, released Che: The Diaries of Ernesto Che Guevara, with a movie tie in cover. The book's aim was to compile all of the original letters, diary excerpts, speeches, and maps, which Soderbergh relied on for the film. The text is also interspersed with remarks by Benicio del Toro and Steven Soderbergh.

Initially, Che was going to be made in English and a strong interest in financing it was met; however, when the decision was made to make it in Spanish and break it up into two films, the studios' pay-TV deals, which were for English-language product only, "disappeared", according to Bickford, "and, at that point, nobody wanted to step up". The director defended his decision to shoot almost all of the film in Spanish in an interview: "You can't make a film with any level of credibility in this case unless it's in Spanish. I hope we're reaching a time where you go make a movie in another culture, that you shoot in the language of that culture. I'm hoping the days of that sort of specific brand of cultural imperialism have ended". Both films were financed without any American money or distribution deal and Soderbergh remarked, "It was very frustrating to know that this is a zeitgeist movie and that some of the very people who told me how much they now regret passing on Traffic passed on this one too". Foreign pre-sales covered $54 million of the $58 million budget. Wild Bunch, a French production, distribution and foreign sales company put up 75% of the budget for the two films, tapping into a production and acquisition fund from financing and investment company Continental Entertainment Capitol, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Citigroup. Spain's Telecinco/Moreno Films supplying the rest of the budget.

In 2006, shortly before the UN Headquarters underwent major renovations, Del Toro and Soderbergh shot the scenes of Che speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in 1964. The director wanted to shoot the first part of The Argentine in Cuba but was unable to because an embargo by the United States government prevented them from traveling there. Doubling Santa Clara proved to be difficult because it was a certain size and had a certain look. Soderbergh spent four to five months scouting for a suitable replacement, looking at towns in Veracruz/Yucatan before settling on Campeche, which had the elements they needed.

The original intention was for Guerrilla to be shot using anamorphic 16 mm film because, according to the director, it needed "a bit of Bruckheimer but scruffier". He kept to his plan of shooting the first film anamorphically, and The Argentine with spherical lenses. Soderbergh wanted to use the new RED One rather than 16 mm film because of its ability replicate film stock digitally but initially it was not going to be available on time. However, their Spanish work papers and visas were late and Del Toro and Soderbergh were grounded in Los Angeles for a week. The director was meanwhile informed that the prototype cameras were ready.

The film is a tribute to the Marxist notion of advancement through two conflicting ideas or dialectics with its division into halves, with two tempos, two color schemes, two aspect ratios and two approaches to chronology. Each half focuses on a different revolution, both fundamentally the same in theory but vastly different in outcome. Soderbergh wanted the two parts of the film to mimic the voice of the two diaries they were based on; the Cuban diaries were written after the fact and, according to the director, "with a certain hindsight and perspective and a tone that comes from being victorious", while the Bolivia diaries were "contemporaneous, and they're very isolated and have no perspective, at all. It's a much more tense read, because the outcome is totally unclear".

Soderbergh shot the films back-to-back in the beginning of July 2007 with Guerrilla shot first in Spain for 39 days and The Argentine shot in Puerto Rico and Mexico for 39 days. The director conceived The Argentine as "a Hollywood movie" shot in widescreen 'scope aspect ratio, with the camera either fixed or moving on a dolly or a Steadicam. Guerrilla was shot, according to Soderbergh, "in Super-16, 1.85:1. No dollies, no cranes, it's all either handheld or tripods. I want it to look nice but simple. We'll work with a very small group: basically me, the producer Gregory Jacobs and the unit production manager". According to the director, the portion set in Cuba was written from the perspective of the victor and as a result he adopted a more traditional look with classical compositions, vibrant color and a warm palette. With Guerrilla, he wanted a sense of foreboding with hand-held camerawork and a muted color palette. Soderbergh told his production design Antxon Gomez that the first part would have green with a lot of yellow in it and the second part would have green with a lot of blue in it.

At the end of The Argentine, Soderbergh depicts Che's derailing of a freight train during the Battle of Santa Clara. In filming the sequence, Soderbergh balked at the digital effects solution and managed to reallocate $500,000 from the overall $58 million budget to build a real train and track powered by two V-8 car engines. To film the scene, they had six rehearsals, and could only shoot the scene once.

Many aspects of Che's personality and beliefs affected the filming process. For instance, close-ups of Del Toro were avoided due to Che's believe in collectivism, with Soderbergh remarking, "You can't make a movie about a guy who has these hard-core sort of egalitarian socialist principles and then isolate him with close-ups." According to Edgar Ramirez, who portrays Ciro Redondo, the cast "were improvising a lot" while making The Argentine, and he describes the project as a "very contemplative movie", shot chronologically. While filming outdoors, Soderbergh used natural light as much as possible. Del Toro, who speaks Puerto Rican Spanish, tried to speak the best Spanish he could without sounding "stiff". Prior to shooting the final scenes of the film that depict Guevara's time in Bolivia at the end of his life, Del Toro shed 35 pounds to show how ill Guevara had gotten at that point in his life. The actor also shaved the top of his head rather than wear a bald cap for the scenes depicting Guevara's arrival in Bolivia in disguise.

Soderbergh decided to omit the post-revolution execution sentences of "suspected war criminals, traitors and informants" that Che reviewed at La Cabana Fortress because "there is no amount of accumulated barbarity that would have satisfied the people who hate him". Soderbergh addressed the criticism for this omission in a post release interview where he stated: "I don't think anybody now, even in Cuba, is going to sit with a straight face and defend the events. La Cabana was really turned into a Roman circus, where I think even the people in power look back on that as excessive. However, every regime, in order to retain power when it feels threatened, acts excessively ... This is what people do when they feel they need to act in an extreme way to secure themselves." The filmmaker noted as well that, "with a character this complicated, you’re going to have a very polarized reaction." Furthermore, he was not interested in depicting Che's life as "a bureaucrat", stating that he was making a diptych about two military campaigns, declaring the pictures "war films". Soderbergh said, "I'm sure some people will say, 'That's convenient because that's when he was at his worst.' Yeah, maybe -- it just wasn't interesting to me. I was interested in making a procedural about guerrilla warfare".

Soderbergh described the Cuban revolution as "the last analog revolution. I loved that we shot a period film about a type of war that can't be fought anymore". Soderbergh has said that he is open to making another film about Che's experiences in the Congo but only if Che makes $100 million at the box office.

In Havana 1964, Che Guevara (Benicio del Toro) is interviewed by Lisa Howard (Julia Ormond) who asks him if reform throughout Latin America might not blunt the "message of the Cuban Revolution". In 1955, at a gathering Mexico City, Guevara first meets Fidel Castro (Demian Bichir). He listens to Castro's plans and signs on as a member of the July 26th Movement. There is a return to 1964 for Guevara's address before the United Nations General Assembly, where he makes an impassioned speech against American imperialism, and defends the executions his regime has committed declaring that "this is a battle to the death".

March 1957: Guevara deals with debilitating bouts of asthma as his group of revolutionaries meet up with Castro's group. Together, they attack an army barracks on May 28, 1957. On October 15, 1958, the guerrillas approach the town of Las Villas. The Battle of Santa Clara is depicted with Guevara demonstrating his tactical skill as the guerrillas engage in street-to-street fighting. Near the film's end they are victorious. With the Cuban Revolution now over, Guevara heads to Havana, remarking "we won the war, the revolution starts now".

Guevara arrives in Bolivia disguised as a middle-aged Uruguayan businessman and drives into the mountains to meet his men. On Day 26, there is solidarity among Guevara's men despite his status as foreigner. By Day 67, Guevara has been set up for betrayal. He tries to recruit some campesinos (peasants) only to be mistaken for a cocaine smuggler. On Day 100, there is a shortage of food and Guevara exercises discipline to resolve conflicts between his Cuban and Bolivian followers.

By Day 113, some of the guerrillas have deserted and the Bolivian army has discovered their base camp. Tamara "Tania" Bunke (Franka Potente), Guevara's revolutionary contact has botched elaborate preparations and given away their identity much to his chagrin. (She and several of Che's soldiers are massacred near Vado del Yeso on August 31, 1967.) On Day 141, the guerrillas capture some Bolivian soldiers who refuse to join the revolution and instead return to their villages. CIA advisors arrive to supervise anti-insurgent activity and training. On Day 169, Guevara's visiting friend, the French intellectual Regis Debray is captured. The Bolivian army launches an aerial attack on Day 219.

Guevara grows sick and by Day 280 can barely breathe as a result of his acute asthma. By Day 340, Guevara is trapped by the Bolivian army and while wounded is surrounded and captured. The next day, a helicopter lands and a Cuban-American CIA agent Félix Rodríguez emerges. Guevara says, "I don't talk to traitors." Rodriguez responds, "You executed my uncle". The Bolivian high command are then phoned and give approval for Guevara's execution. He is killed on October 9, 1967, and his corpse lashed to the landing skids of a helicopter and flown out.

Theatrical distribution rights were pre-sold to distributors in several major territories, including France, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Italy, and Japan (Nikkatsu); Twentieth Century Fox bought the Spanish theatrical and home video rights. IFC Films acquired all North American rights to Che after production had completed and released it on December 12, 2008 in New York City and Los Angeles in order to qualify for the Academy Awards. The "special roadshow edition" in Los Angeles and New York City was initially planned as a one-week special engagement—complete with intermission and including a full-color printed program—but strong box-office results led to its re-opening for two weeks on January 9, 2009 as two separate films, titled Che Part 1: The Argentine and Che Part 2: Guerrilla. Soderbergh said that the inspiration for the program came from the 70mm engagements for Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. The film was expanded to additional markets on January 16 and 22 both as a single film and as two separate films. IFC made the films available through video on demand on January 21 on all major cable and satellite providers in both standard and high definition versions.

Che was screened on May 21 at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival reportedly running over four hours. After this screening, Soderbergh cut five to seven minutes from each half of the film. It was shown at the 46th New York Film Festival and was shown at the 33rd Toronto Film Festival as Che with a 15 minute intermission and as two separate films, The Argentine and Guerrilla, where it was considered the "must-see" film of the festival. Che made its sold-out Los Angeles premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2008 as part of the AFI Fest.

Che was screened in Guevara's homeland of Argentina in November 2008. To mark the occasion, the streets of Buenos Aires were decorated with large posters of Del Toro in his role as the guerrilla fighter, unprecedented in the city's history. When questioned by the press on Che's ideas and use of violence, Del Toro stated that if he had lived during the 1960s he would have agreed with Che, and that although he did not support violent revolution now, in the sixties he may "have been another person and in agreement with armed war".

Del Toro and Soderbergh both attended the French premiere in late November 2008, where they took questions from the press. Del Toro remarked that the "legendary rebel" was still pertinent because "the things that he fought for in the late 1950s and mid 1960s are still relevant today", adding that "he did not hide behind curtains ... he stood up for the forgotten ones". When asked why he made the film, Soderbergh stated, "I needed to make the film, and that is a different feeling. I felt like, if I am worth anything, I have to say yes. I can't say no". The following day, the Dubai International Film Festival would describe Soderbergh's narrative as a "magisterial ... compelling experience", with Del Toro's performance as "blue-chip".

Che opened in single theaters in New York and Los Angeles where it made $60,100 with sellouts of both venues. Based on this success, IFC Films executives added two weekends of exclusive runs for the roadshow version, starting December 24 in New York and December 26 in Los Angeles. This successful run prompted IFC Films to show this version in nine additional markets on January 16th. Che will be shown in its entirety, commercial and trailer free with an intermission and limited edition program book at every screening. Soderbergh has said that the roadshow version of the film will not be released on DVD but released in two parts with the animated map that opens the roadshow's second half missing from part II, as well as the overture and intermission music.

As of January 30, 2009, Che was doing poorly in the US theatrical market. According to Variety, it had grossed $164,142 in one weekend, at 35 locations in North America and $20 million from a half-dozen major markets around the world, led by Spain at $9.7 million.

Early reviews of Che were mixed, although there were several critics who spoke glowingly of the project. Cinematical's James Rocchi described the biopic as "expressive, innovative, striking, and exciting" as well as "bold, beautiful, bleak and brilliant". Rocchi went on to brand it "a work of art" that's "not just the story of a revolutionary" but "a revolution in and of itself". Columnist and critic Jeffrey Wells proclaimed the film "brilliant", "utterly believable", and "the most exciting and far-reaching film of the Cannes Film Festival". In further praise, Wells referred to the film as "politically vibrant and searing" while labeling it a "perfect dream movie".

Todd McCarthy was more mixed in his reaction to the film in its present form, describing it as "too big a roll of the dice to pass off as an experiment, as it's got to meet high standards both commercially and artistically. The demanding running time also forces comparison to such rare works as Lawrence of Arabia, Reds and other biohistorical epics. Unfortunately, Che doesn’t feel epic - just long". Anne Thompson wrote that Benicio del Toro "gives a great performance", but predicted that "it will not be released as it was seen here". Glenn Kenny wrote, "Che benefits greatly from certain Soderberghian qualities that don't always serve his other films well, e.g., detachment, formalism, and intellectual curiosity".

Peter Bradshaw, in his review for The Guardian, wrote, "Perhaps it will even come to be seen as this director's flawed masterpiece: enthralling but structurally fractured - the second half is much clearer and more sure-footed than the first - and at times frustratingly reticent, unwilling to attempt any insight into Che's interior world". In his less favorable review for Esquire, Stephen Garrett criticized the film for failing to show Che's negative aspects, "the absence of darker, more contradictory revelations of his nature leaves Che bereft of complexity. All that remains is a South American superman: uncomplex, pure of heart, defiantly pious and boring". Richard Corliss had problems with Del Toro's portrayal of Che: "Del Toro — whose acting style often starts over the top and soars from there, like a hang-glider leaping from a skyscraper roof — is muted, yielding few emotional revelations, seemingly sedated here ... Che is defined less by his rigorous fighting skills and seductive intellect than by his asthma". In his review for Salon.com, Andrew O'Hehir praised Soderbergh for making "something that people will be eager to see and eager to talk about all over the world, something that feels strangely urgent, something messy and unfinished and amazing. I'd be surprised if Che doesn't win the Palme d'Or ... but be that as it may, nobody who saw it here will ever forget it".

Soderbergh replied to the criticism that he made an unconventional film: "I find it hilarious that most of the stuff being written about movies is how conventional they are, and then you have people ... upset that something's not conventional. The bottom line is we're just trying to give you a sense of what it was like to hang out around this person. That's really it. And the scenes were chosen strictly on the basis of, 'Yeah, what does that tell us about his character?'".

After Cannes, Soderbergh made a few minor adjustments to the film. This included adding a moment of Guevara and Fidel Castro shaking hands, tweaking a few transitions, and tacking on an overture and entr’acte to the "road show" version that will play in major cities. Moreover, he removed the trial of guerrilla Lalo Sardiñas, which Chicago film critic Ben Kenigsberg found "regrettable", stating that it was "not only one of the film's most haunting scenes but a key hint at the darker side of Che's ideology".

In her review for the New York Times, based on a screening at the New York Film Festival, Manohla Dargis observes that "throughout the movie Mr. Soderbergh mixes the wild beauty of his landscapes with images of Che heroically engaged in battle, thoughtfully scribbling and reading, and tending to ailing peasants and soldiers". According to Dargis, "Che wins, Che loses, but Che remains the same in what plays like a procedural about a charismatic leader, impossible missions and the pleasures of work and camaraderie", referring to the "historical epic" as "Ocean's Eleven with better cigars". However, Dargis also notes that "Mr. Soderbergh cagily evades Che's ugly side, notably his increasing commitment to violence and seemingly endless war, but the movie is without question political — even if it emphasizes romantic adventure over realpolitik — because, like all films, it is predicated on getting, spending and making money".

Film critic Glenn Kenny wrote, "Che seems to me almost the polar opposite of agitprop. It flat out does not ask for the kind of emotional engagement that more conventional epic biopics do, and that's a good thing". In his review for UGO, Keith Uhlich wrote, "The best to say about Del Toro's Cannes-honored performance is that it's exhausting - all exterior, no soul, like watching an android run a gauntlet (one that includes grueling physical exertions, tendentious political speechifying, and risible Matt Damon cameos)". Slant magazine gave Che two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "The problem is that, despite his desire to sidestep Hollywood bio-hooey, the director is unable to turn his chilly stance into an ideological perspective, like Roberto Rossellini did in his demythologized portraits of Louis XIV, Garibaldi and Pascal".

In his review for Salon magazine, Andrew O'Hehir wrote, "What Soderbergh has sought to capture here is a grand process of birth and extinguishment, one that produced a complicated legacy in which John McCain, Barack Obama and Raúl Castro are still enmeshed. There will be plenty of time to argue about the film's (or films') political relevance or lack thereof, to call Soderbergh names for this or that historical omission, for this or that ideological error. He's made something that people will be eager to see and eager to talk about all over the world, something that feels strangely urgent, something messy and unfinished and amazing".

On December 4, 2008, Che premiered in Miami Beach at the Byron Carlyle Theatre, as part of the Art Basel Festival. Taking place only a few miles from Little Havana, which is home to the largest Cuban-American community in the United States, the invitation-only screening was met with angry demonstrators. The organization Vigilia Mambisa, led by Miguel Saavedra, amassed an estimated 100 demonstrators to decry what they believed would be a favorable depiction of Guevara. Saavedra told reporters from the El Nuevo Herald that "you can not offend the sensitivities of the people", while describing the film as "a disgrace". A supporter of the demonstration, Miami Beach's mayor Matti Herrera Bower, lamented that the film was shown, while declaring "we must not allow dissemination of this movie". When asked days later about the incident, Del Toro remarked that the ability to speak out was "part of what makes America great" while adding "I find it a little weird that they were protesting without having seen the film, but that's another matter". For his part, Soderbergh later stated that "you have to separate the Cuban nationalist lobby that is centered in Miami from the rest of the country".

On December 7, 2008, Che premiered at Havana's 5,000 + person Karl Marx Theater as part of the Latin American Film Festival. Benicio Del Toro, who was in attendance, referred to the film as "Cuban history", while remarking that "there's an audience in there ... that could be the most knowledgeable critics of the historical accuracy of the film". The official state paper Granma gave Del Toro a glowing review, professing that he "personifies Che" in both his physical appearance and his "masterly interpretation". After unveiling Che in Havana's Yara Cinema, Del Toro was treated to a 10-minute standing ovation from the 2,000 + strong audience, many of whom were involved in the revolution.

On December 12, 2008, Che was screened at the sold out 1,100 person Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. Upon seeing the first image on the screen (a silhouette of Cuba), the crowd erupted into a raucous cry of "¡Viva, Cuba!" Following the film, and the standing ovation it received, Soderbergh appeared for a post program Q&A. During the sometimes contentious conversation with the audience, in which Soderbergh alternated between defensiveness and modesty, the director categorized Che as "a hard ass", to which one audience member yelled out, "Bullshit, he was as murderer!" The filmmaker settled down the crowd and explained, "It doesn't matter whether I agree with him or not -- I was interested in Che as a warrior, Che as a guy who had an ideology, who picked up a gun and this was the result. He died the way you would have him die. He was executed the way you would say he executed other people". Soderbergh ended the 1 am Q&A session by noting that he was "agnostic" on Che's standing, but "loyal to the facts", which he insisted were all rigorously sourced.

On March 3, 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, himself an avowed socialist and admirer of Che Guevara, greeted Del Toro and co star Bichir at the Presidential Palace in Caracas. The day prior Del Toro attended a screening of the film at a bull-fighting ring-turned cultural center, where he was "mobbed by adoring fans". Del Toro then visited the state-run Cinema Town, a film production facility President Chávez launched to help Venezuela produce its own movies as an alternative to what Chávez calls Hollywood's "cultural imperialism." Del Toro described Che as "a totally Latin American movie" and stated that he had "a good meeting with the President".

Scott Foundas of the LA Weekly proclaimed Che "nothing if not the movie of the year". In his review for the Village Voice, J. Hoberman wrote, "At its best, Che is both action film and ongoing argument. Each new camera setup seeks to introduce a specific idea—about Che or his situation—and every choreographed battle sequence is a sort of algorithm where the camera attempts to inscribe the event that is being enacted". Hoberman compared Soderbergh's directing style and "non-personalized" historical approach on the film to Otto Preminger's observational use of the moving camera, or one of Roberto Rossellini's "serene" documentaries. Armond White, in his review for the New York Press, wrote, "Out-perversing Gus Van Sant's Milk, Soderbergh makes a four-hour-plus biopic about a historical figure without providing a glimmer of charm or narrative coherence". In his review for the New York Times, A.O. Scott writes, "Mr. Soderbergh once again offers a master class in filmmaking. As history, though, Che is finally not epic but romance. It takes great care to be true to the factual record, but it is, nonetheless, a fairy tale". Sheri Linden, in her review for the Los Angeles Times, wrote, "in this flawed work of austere beauty, the logistics of war and the language of revolution give way to something greater, a struggle that may be defined by politics but can't be contained by it". In her review for the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday wrote, "The best way to encounter Che, is to let go of words like 'film' and 'movie', words that somehow seem inadequate to the task of describing such a mesmerizing, fully immersive cinematic experience. By the end of Che, viewers will likely emerge as if from a trance, with indelibly vivid, if not more ambivalent feelings about Guevara, than the bumper-sticker image they walked in with".

Entertainment Weekly gave a "B+" rating to the first half of the film and a "C-" rating to the second half, and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "As political theater, Che moves from faith to impotence, which is certainly a valid reading of Communism in the 20th century. Yet as drama, that makes the second half of the film borderline deadly ... Che is twice as long as it needs to be, but it is also only half the movie it should have been". James Verniere of The Boston Herald gave the film a B-, describing the work as a new genre of "arthouse guerrilla nostalgia", while lamenting Che as the film version of Alberto Korda’s iconic 1960 photograph Guerrillero Heroico. In Verniere's view, so much information was missing, that he recommended one first see The Motorcycle Diaries to fill in the background. In her review for USA Today, Claudia Puig wrote, "With its lyrical beauty and strong performances, the film can be riveting. Its excessive length and rambling scenes also make it maddening. It is worth seeing for its attention to visual detail and ambitious filmmaking, but as a psychological portrait of a compelling historical figure, it is oddly bland and unrevealing". Anthony Lane, in his review for The New Yorker, wrote, "for all the movie’s narrative momentum, Che retains the air of a study exercise—of an interest brilliantly explored. How else to explain one’s total flatness of feeling at the climax of each movie?" Taking a more positive stance, film critic Chris Barsanti compared Che to a "guerrilla take on Patton", calling it "an exceptionally good" war film, which rivaled The Battle of Algiers in its "you-are-there sensibility". Roger Ebert awarded the film 3.5 our of 4 stars and addressed the film's length: "You may wonder if the film is too long. I think there's a good reason for its length. Guevara's experience in Cuba and especially Bolivia was not a series of events and anecdotes, but a trial of endurance that might almost be called mad". Che has a 61% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 64 metascore at Metacritic.

Film Comment ranked Che as the 22nd best film of 2008 in their "Best Films of 2008" poll. Film critics Roger Ebert, and James Rocchi went further, naming Che one of the best films of 2008. The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.

Benicio Del Toro was awarded the Prix d'interpretation masculine (or Best Actor Award) for his performance in Che and in his acceptance speech dedicated his award "to the man himself, Che Guevara and I want to share this with Steven Soderbergh. He was there pushing it even when there and pushing all of us". Che's widow Aleida March, who is president of the Che Guevara Studies Center, sent a congratulatory note to Del Toro upon hearing the news of his award. Del Toro was also awarded a 2009 Goya Award as the best Spanish Lead Actor for his depiction of Che. Actor Sean Penn, who won an Oscar for his role in Milk, remarked that he was surprised and disappointed that Che and Del Toro were not also up for any Academy Award nominations. During his acceptance speech for the Best Actor's trophy at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Penn expressed his dismay stating, "The fact that there aren't crowns on Soderbergh's and Del Toro's heads right now, I don't understand ... that is such a sensational movie, Che." In reference to what Penn deemed a snub, he added "Maybe because it's in Spanish, maybe the length, maybe the politics".

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Che (Spanish)

Che (pronounced ) is a Spanish diminutive interjection commonly used in Argentina. A form of colloquial slang used in a vocative sense as "friend", and thus loosely corresponds to expressions such as "mate", "pal", "man", "bro", or "dude"; as used by various English speakers. As a result, it may be used both before or after a phrase: "Man, this is some good beer", or "Let's go get a beer, bro." Che is also utilized as a casual speech filler or punctuation to ascertain comprehension, continued interest, or agreement. Thus che can additionally function much like the English words "so", "right", or the common Canadian phrase "eh".

Other linguists theorize that the word che is derived from the archaic Spanish word ce, used to call someone's attention. Another theory connects it with the Italian greeting "ciao", or word "cioe", meaning "that is". Che could also be a shortened version of the word "escuche" meaning "listen" and used to capture attention, similar to "oye", which also implies "listen", in other Spanish speaking countries.

Che can also be found in some parts of Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil ("tchê"), Peru, and Bolivia, as a result of their close vicinity to Argentina. In other Latin American countries, the term che can be used to refer to someone from Argentina. For example, the famous Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara earned his nickname from his frequent use of the expression, which to his Cuban comrades, was a curious feature of his idiolect. As a result, Guevara is popularly known simply as el Che (the Che) in many Latin American countries.

In Spain, che is equivalent to the Valencian "xe", or Catalan "xa". Used as an exclamation to get attention or express surprise, it corresponds in some ways to exclamations such as "hey!", "eh!" and "wow!".

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Che (disambiguation)

Che Guevara (1928-1967) a Latin American Marxist revolutionary.

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Che Guevara

Che Guevara's movements between 1953 and 1956, including his trip north to Guatemala, his stay in Mexico and his journey east by boat to Cuba with Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries

Ernesto "Che" Guevara (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967), commonly known as Che Guevara, El Che, or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, politician, author, physician, military theorist, and guerrilla leader. After death, his stylized image became a ubiquitous countercultural symbol worldwide.

As a young medical student, Guevara traveled throughout Latin America and was transformed by the endemic poverty he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region's ingrained economic inequalities were an intrinsic result of monopoly capitalism, neocolonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution. This belief prompted his involvement in Guatemala's social reforms under President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow solidified Guevara's radical ideology.

Later, in Mexico, he met Fidel Castro and joined his 26th of July Movement. In December 1956, he was among the revolutionaries who invaded Cuba under Castro's leadership with the intention of overthrowing U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara soon rose to prominence among the insurgents, was promoted to Comandante, and played a pivotal role in the successful two year guerrilla campaign that deposed Batista. Following the Cuban revolution, Guevara reviewed the appeals of those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals, ratifying sentences which in some cases (the number of death sentences is disputed) involved execution by firing squads. Later he served as minister of industry and president of the national bank, before traversing the globe as a diplomat to meet an array of world leaders on behalf of Cuban socialism. He was a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on the theory and practice of guerrilla warfare, along with an acclaimed memoir about his motorcycle journey across South America. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to incite revolutions first in an unsuccessful attempt in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia, where he was captured with the help of the CIA and executed.

Ernesto Guevara was born to Celia de la Serna and Ernesto Guevara Lynch on June 14, 1928 in Rosario, Argentina, the eldest of five children in a family of Spanish, Basque and Irish descent. In reference to Che's "restless" nature, his father declared "the first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels." Growing up in a family with leftist leanings, Guevara was introduced to a wide spectrum of political perspectives even as a boy. His father, a staunch supporter of Republicans from the Spanish Civil War, often hosted many veterans from the conflict in the Guevara home.

Guevara learned chess from his father and began participating in local tournaments by age 12. During adolescence and throughout his life he was passionate about poetry, especially that of Pablo Neruda, John Keats, Antonio Machado, Federico García Lorca, Gabriela Mistral, César Vallejo, and Walt Whitman. He could also recite Rudyard Kipling's "If" and José Hernández's "Martín Fierro" from memory. The Guevara home contained more than 3,000 books, which allowed Guevara to be an enthusiastic and eclectic reader, with interests including Karl Marx, William Faulkner, André Gide, Emilio Salgari and Jules Verne. Additionally, he enjoyed the works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Vladimir Lenin, and Jean-Paul Sartre; as well as Anatole France, Friedrich Engels, H.G. Wells, and Robert Frost.

As he grew older, he developed an interest in the Latin American writers Horacio Quiroga, Ciro Alegría, Jorge Icaza, Rubén Darío, and Miguel Asturias. Many of these authors' ideas he would catalog in his own handwritten notebooks of concepts, definitions, and philosophies of influential intellectuals. These included composing analytical sketches of Buddha and Aristotle, along with examining Bertrand Russell on love and patriotism, Jack London on society, and Nietzsche on the idea of death. Sigmund Freud's ideas fascinated him as he quoted him on a variety of topics from dreams and libido to narcissism and the oedipus complex. His favorite subjects in school included philosophy, mathematics, engineering, political science, and sociology.

In 1948, Guevara entered the University of Buenos Aires to study medicine. But in 1951, he took a year off from studies to embark on a trip traversing South America by motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado, with the final goal of spending a few weeks volunteering at the San Pablo Leper colony in Peru, on the banks of the Amazon River. Guevara used notes taken during this trip to write an account entitled The Motorcycle Diaries, which later became a New York Times best-seller, and was adapted into a 2004 award-winning film of the same name.

Witnessing the widespread poverty, oppression and disenfranchisement throughout Latin America, and influenced by his readings of Marxist literature, Guevara began to view armed revolution as the solution to social inequality. By trip's end, he came to view Latin America not as collection of separate nations, but as a single entity requiring a continent-wide liberation strategy. His conception of a borderless, united Hispanic America sharing a common 'Latino' heritage was a theme that prominently recurred during his later revolutionary activities. Upon returning to Argentina, he completed his studies and received his medical diploma in June 1953, making him officially "Dr. Ernesto Guevara".

On July 7, 1953, Guevara set out again, this time to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. On December 10, 1953, before leaving for Guatemala, Guevara sent an update to his Aunt Beatriz from San José, Costa Rica. In the letter Guevara speaks of traversing through the "dominions" of the United Fruit Company, which convinced him "how terrible" the "Capitalist octopuses" were. This affirmed indignation carried the "head hunting tone" that he adopted in order to frighten his more Conservative relatives, and ends with Guevara swearing on an image of the then recently deceased Josef Stalin, not to rest until these "octopuses have been vanquished." Later that month, Guevara arrived in Guatemala where President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán headed a democratically elected government that, through land reform and other initiatives, was attempting to end the latifundia system. Guevara decided to settle down in Guatemala so as to "perfect himself and accomplish whatever may be necessary in order to become a true revolutionary".

Guevara later remarked that through his travels of Latin America, he came in "close contact with poverty, hunger and disease" along with the "inability to treat a child because of lack of money" and "stupefaction provoked by the continual hunger and punishment" that leads a father to "accept the loss of a son as an unimportant accident". It was these experiences which Guevara cites as convincing him that in order to "help these people", he needed to leave the realm of medicine, and consider the political arena of armed struggle.

Guevara's attempts to obtain a medical internship were unsuccessful and his economic situation was often precarious. On 15 May 1954 a shipment of Škoda infantry and light artillery weapons was sent from Communist Czechoslovakia for the Arbenz Government and arrived in Puerto Barrios, prompting a CIA-sponsored coup attempt. Guevara was eager to fight on behalf of Arbenz and joined an armed militia organized by the Communist Youth for that purpose, but frustrated with the group's inaction, he soon returned to medical duties. Following the coup, he again volunteered to fight, but soon after, Arbenz took refuge in the Mexican Embassy and told his foreign supporters to leave the country. After Hilda Gadea was arrested, Guevara sought protection inside the Argentine consulate, where he remained until he received a safe-conduct pass some weeks later and made his way to Mexico.

Although he planned to be the group's combat medic, Guevara participated in the military training with the members of the Movement, and, at the end of the course, was called "the best guerrilla of them all" by their instructor, Colonel Alberto Bayo. The first step in Castro's revolutionary plan was an assault on Cuba from Mexico via the Granma, an old, leaky cabin cruiser. They set out for Cuba on November 25, 1956. Attacked by Batista's military soon after landing, many of the 82 men were either killed in the attack or executed upon capture; only 22 found each other afterwards. Guevara wrote that it was during this bloody confrontation that he laid down his medical supplies and picked up a box of ammunition dropped by a fleeing comrade, finalizing his symbolic transition from physician to combatant.

As the war continued, Guevara became an integral part of the rebel army and "convinced Castro with competence, diplomacy and patience." Guevara set up factories to make grenades, built ovens to bake bread, taught new recruits about tactics, and organized schools to teach illiterate campesinos (peasants) to read and write. The man who three years later would be dubbed by Time Magazine: "Castro's brain", at this point was promoted by Fidel Castro to Comandante (commander) of a second army column.

As the only other ranked Comandante besides Fidel Castro, Guevara was an extremely harsh disciplinarian. Deserters were punished as traitors, and Guevara was known to send execution squads to hunt down those seeking to go AWOL. As a result, Guevara became feared for his brutality and ruthlessness. During the guerrilla campaign, Guevara was also responsible for the execution of a number of men accused of being informers, deserters or spies. Although he maintained a demanding and harsh disposition, Guevara also viewed his role of commander as one of a teacher, entertaining his men during breaks between engagements with readings from the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Cervantes, and Spanish lyric poets.

His commanding officer Fidel Castro has described Guevara as intelligent, daring, and an exemplary leader who "had great moral authority over his troops." Castro has further remarked that Guevara took too many risks, even having a "tendency toward foolhardiness".

Guevara was instrumental in creating the clandestine radio station Radio Rebelde in February 1958, which broadcast news to the Cuban people with statements by the 26th of July movement, and provided radiotelephone communication between the growing number of rebel columns across the island. Guevara had apparently been inspired to create the station by observing the effectiveness of CIA supplied radio in Guatemala in ousting the government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán.

In late July 1958, Guevara would play a critical role in the Battle of Las Mercedes by using his column to halt a force of 1,500 men called up by Batista's General Cantillo in a plan to encircle and destroy Castro's forces. Years later, Major Larry Bockman of the United States Marine Corps would analyze and describe Che's tactical appreciation of this battle as "brilliant." As the war extended, Guevara led a new column of fighters dispatched westward for the final push towards Havana. In the closing days of December 1958, Guevara directed his "suicide squad" in the attack on Santa Clara, that became the final decisive military victory of the revolution. In the six weeks leading up to the Battle of Santa Clara there were times when his men were completely surrounded, outgunned, and overrun. Che's eventual victory despite the formidable odds and being outnumbered 10:1, remains in the view of some observers a "remarkable tour de force in modern warfare." Radio Rebelde broadcast the first reports that Guevara's column had taken Santa Clara on New Year's Eve 1958. This contradicted reports by the heavily controlled national news media, which had at one stage reported Guevara's death during the fighting. Batista, upon learning that his generals were negotiating a separate peace with the rebel leader, fled to the Dominican Republic the next day on January 1, 1959.

On January 8, 1959, Castro's army rolled victoriously into Havana. In February, the revolutionary government proclaimed Guevara "a Cuban citizen by birth" in recognition of his role in the triumph. When Hilda Gadea arrived in Cuba in late January, Guevara told her that he was involved with another woman, and the two agreed on a divorce, which was finalized on May 22. On June 2, 1959, he married Aleida March, a Cuban-born member of the 26th of July movement with whom he had been living since late 1958.

During the rebellion against Batista's dictatorship, the general command of the rebel army, led by Fidel Castro, introduced into the liberated territories the 19th century penal law commonly known as the Ley de la Sierra. This law included the death penalty for extremely serious crimes, whether perpetrated by the dictatorship or by supporters of the revolution. In 1959, the revolutionary government extended its application to the whole of the republic and to those it considered war criminals, captured and tried after the revolution. According to the Cuban Ministry of Justice, this latter extension was supported by the majority of the population, and followed the same procedure as those in the Nuremberg Trials held by the Allies after World War II.

To implement this plan, Castro named Guevara commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison, for a five-month tenure (January 2 through June 12, 1959). Guevara was charged with purging the Batista army and consolidating victory by exacting "revolutionary justice" against those considered to be traitors, chivatos (informants) or war criminals. Serving in the post as commander of La Cabaña, Guevara reviewed the appeals of those convicted during the revolutionary tribunal process. On some occasions the penalty delivered by the tribunal was death by firing squad. Raúl Gómez Treto, senior legal advisor to the Cuban Ministry of Justice, has argued that removing restrictions on the death penalty were justified in order to prevent citizens themselves from taking justice into their own hands, as happened twenty years earlier in the anti-Machado rebellion. With 20,000 Cubans estimated to have been killed at the hands of Batista's accomplices, and a survey at the time showing 93% public approval for the tribunal process, the newly empowered Cuban government along with Guevara concurred. Although the exact numbers differ, it is estimated that several hundred people were executed during this time.

On June 12, 1959, as soon as Guevara returned to Havana, Castro sent him out on a three-month tour of 14 countries, most of them Bandung Pact members in Africa and Asia. Sending Guevara from Havana allowed Castro to appear to be distancing himself from Che and his Marxist sympathies, that troubled both the United States and some of Castro's 26th of July Movement members. He spent 12 days in Japan (July 15–27), participating in negotiations aimed at expanding Cuba's trade relations with that nation. During this visit, Guevara secretly visited the city of Hiroshima, where the American military had detonated an atom-bomb 14 years earlier. Guevara was "really shocked" at what he witnessed and by his visit to a hospital where A-bomb survivors were being treated.

Upon returning to Cuba in September 1959, it was evident that Castro now had more political power. The government had begun land seizures included in the agrarian reform law, but was hedging on compensation offers to landowners, instead offering low interest "bonds", which put the U.S. on alert. At this point the affected wealthy cattlemen of Camagüey mounted a campaign against the land redistributions, and enlisted the newly disaffected rebel leader Huber Matos, who along with the anti-Communist wing of the 26th of July Movement, joined them in denouncing the "Communist encroachment." During this time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was offering assistance to the "Anti-Communist Legion of the Caribbean" who was training in the Dominican Republic. This multi-national force comprised mostly of Spaniards and Cubans, but also of Croatians, Germans, Greeks, and right-wing mercenaries, were plotting to topple Castro.

These developments prompted Castro to further clean house of "counter-revolutionaries", and appoint Guevara as Director of the Industrialization Department of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform on October 7, 1959 and as President of the National Bank of Cuba on November 26, 1959. This allowed him to retain his military rank.

On March 4, 1960, the French freighter La Coubre, carrying munitions from the port of Antwerp, exploded twice while being unloaded in Havana Harbor, killing well over 100 people. Guevara provided first aid to victims. It was at the memorial service for the victims of this explosion the following day that Alberto Korda took the famous photograph now known as Guerrillero Heroico.

Guevara desired to see a diversification in Cuba's economy, as well as an elimination of material incentives in favor of moral ones. He viewed capitalism as a "contest among wolves" where "one can only win at the cost of others," and thus desired to see the creation of a "new man and woman". An integral part of fostering a sense of "unity between the individual and the mass", Guevara believed, was volunteer work and will. To display this, Guevara "led by example", working "endlessly at his ministry job, in construction, and even cutting sugar cane" on his day off. He was known for working 36 hours at a stretch, calling meetings after midnight, and eating on the run. Alongside his work schedule he wrote several publications advocating a replication of the Cuban revolutionary model, promoting small rural guerrilla groups (foco theory) as an alternative to massive armed insurrection. During this time his wife Aleida encouraged him to explore classical music, which he came to love, with Beethoven as his favorite. Other luxuries which he afforded himself were maté, his favorite beverage, and Montecristo No. 4's, his cigar of choice.

Guevara did not participate in the fighting of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, having been ordered by Castro to a secretly prearranged command post in Cuba's western Pinar del Río province, where he fended off a decoy force. During this deployment, he suffered a bullet grazing to the cheek when his pistol fell out of its holster and accidentally discharged.

An indignant Guevara ended his speech by reciting the Second Declaration of Havana, decreeing Latin America a "family of 200 million brothers who suffer the same miseries." This "epic", Guevara declared, would be written by the "hungry Indian masses, peasants without land, exploited workers, and progressive masses." To Guevara the conflict was a struggle of mass and ideas, which would be carried forth by those "mistreated and scorned by imperialism" whom were previously considered "a weak and submissive flock." With this "flock", Guevara now asserted, "Yankee monopoly capitalism" now terrifyingly saw their "gravediggers." It would be during this "hour of vindication" Guevara pronounced, that the "anonymous mass" would begin to write its own history "with its own blood", and reclaim those "rights that were laughed at by one and all for 500 years." Guevara ended his remarks to the United Nations general assembly by hypothesizing that this "wave of anger” would "sweep the lands of Latin America", and that the labor masses who "turn the wheel of history", for the first time were "awakening from the long, brutalizing sleep to which they had been subjected.

While in New York City, Guevara also appeared on the CBS Sunday news program Face the Nation and met with a range of people, from U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy to associates of Malcolm X. Malcolm X expressed his admiration, declaring Guevara "one of the most revolutionary men in this country right now" while reading a statement from him to a crowd at the Audubon Ballroom.

On December 17, Guevara left for Paris and embarked on a three-month tour that included the People's Republic of China, the United Arab Republic (Egypt), Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Dahomey, Congo-Brazzaville and Tanzania, with stops in Ireland and Prague. During this voyage, he wrote a letter to Carlos Quijano, editor of a Uruguayan weekly, which was later re-titled Socialism and Man in Cuba. Outlined in the treatise was Guevara's summons for the creation of a new consciousness, status of work, and role of the individual. Guevara ended the essay by declaring that "the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love" and beckoning on all revolutionaries to "strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into acts that serve as examples", thus becoming "a moving force".

In Algiers on February 24, 1965, he made what turned out to be his last public appearance on the international stage when he delivered a speech at an economic seminar on Afro-Asian solidarity. He specified the moral duty of the socialist countries, accusing them of tacit complicity with the exploiting Western countries. He proceeded to outline a number of measures which he said the communist-bloc countries must implement in order to accomplish the defeat of imperialism. Having criticized the Soviet Union (the primary financial backer of Cuba) in such a public manner, he returned to Cuba on March 14 to a solemn reception by Fidel and Raúl Castro, Osvaldo Dorticós and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez at the Havana airport.

Two weeks later, in 1965 Guevara dropped out of public life and then vanished altogether. His whereabouts were a great mystery in Cuba, as he was generally regarded as second in power to Castro himself. His disappearance was variously attributed to the failure of the industrialization scheme he had advocated while minister of industry, to pressure exerted on Castro by Soviet officials disapproving of Guevara's pro-Chinese Communist stance on the Sino-Soviet split, and to serious differences between Guevara and the pragmatic Castro regarding Cuba's economic development and ideological line. Castro had grown increasingly wary of Guevara's popularity and considered him a potential threat. Castro's critics sometimes say his explanations for Guevara's disappearance have always been suspect.

The coincidence of Guevara's views with those expounded by the Chinese Communist leadership was increasingly problematic for Cuba as the nation's economy became more and more dependent on the Soviet Union. Since the early days of the Cuban revolution, Guevara had been considered by many an advocate of Maoist strategy in Latin America and the originator of a plan for the rapid industrialization of Cuba which was frequently compared to China's "Great Leap Forward". According to Western observers of the Cuban situation, the fact that Guevara was opposed to Soviet conditions and recommendations that Castro pragmatically saw as necessary, may have been the reason for his disappearance. However, both Guevara and Castro were supportive publicly on the idea of a united front.

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis and what Guevara perceived as a Soviet betrayal when Nikita Khrushchev withdrew the missiles from Cuban territory, Guevara had grown more skeptical of the Soviet Union. As revealed in his last speech in Algiers, he had come to view the Northern Hemisphere, led by the U.S. in the West and the Soviet Union in the East, as the exploiter of the Southern Hemisphere. He strongly supported Communist North Vietnam in the Vietnam War, and urged the peoples of other developing countries to take up arms and create "many Vietnams".

Pressed by international speculation regarding Guevara's fate, Castro stated on June 16, 1965 that the people would be informed when Guevara himself wished to let them know. Still, rumors spread both inside and outside Cuba. On October 3, Castro revealed an undated letter purportedly written to him by Guevara some months earlier: in it, Guevara reaffirmed his enduring solidarity with the Cuban Revolution, but declared his intention to leave Cuba to fight for the revolutionary cause abroad. Additionally, he resigned from all his positions in the government and party, and renounced his honorary Cuban citizenship. Guevara's movements continued to be a closely guarded secret for the next two years.

South African mercenaries, led by Mike Hoare in concert with Cuban exiles and the CIA, worked with the Congo National Army to thwart Guevara. They were able to monitor his communications, and so pre-empted his attacks and interdicted his supply lines. Despite the fact that Guevara sought to conceal his presence in the Congo, the U.S. government was aware of his location and activities: The National Security Agency was intercepting all of his incoming and outgoing transmissions via equipment aboard the USNS Pvt Jose F. Valdez (T-AG-169), a floating listening post that continuously cruised the Indian Ocean off Dar es Salaam for that purpose.

Guevara was reluctant to return to Cuba, because Castro had made public Guevara's "farewell letter" —a letter intended to only be revealed in the case of his death—wherein he severed all ties in order to devote himself to revolution throughout the world. As a result, Guevara spent the next six months living clandestinely in Dar es Salaam and Prague. During this time he compiled his memoirs of the Congo experience, and wrote drafts of two more books, one on philosophy and the other on economics. He then visited several Western European countries to test his new false identity papers, created by Cuban Intelligence for his later travels to South America.

Guevara's location was still not public knowledge. Representatives of Mozambique's independence movement, the FRELIMO, reported that they met with Guevara in late 1966 or early 1967 in Dar es Salaam regarding his offer to aid in their revolutionary project, which they ultimately rejected. In a speech at the 1967 International Workers' Day rally in Havana, the Acting Minister of the armed forces, Major Juan Almeida, announced that Guevara was "serving the revolution somewhere in Latin America". The persistent reports that he was leading the guerrillas in Bolivia were eventually shown to be true.

At Castro's behest, a parcel of montane dry forest in the remote Ñancahuazú region had been purchased by native Bolivian Communists for Guevara to use as a training area and base camp.

Training at this camp in the Ñancahuazú valley proved to be more hazardous than combat to Guevara and the Cubans accompanying him. Little was accomplished in the way of building a guerrilla army. Former Stasi operative Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider, better known by her nom de guerre "Tania", who had been installed as his primary agent in La Paz, was reportedly also working for the KGB and is widely inferred to have unwittingly served Soviet interests by leading Bolivian authorities to Guevara's trail.

Guevara's guerrilla force, numbering about 50 and operating as the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia; "National Liberation Army of Bolivia"), was well equipped and scored a number of early successes against Bolivian regulars in the difficult terrain of the mountainous Camiri region. But in September, the Army managed to eliminate two guerrilla groups in a violent battle, reportedly killing one of the leaders.

In addition, Guevara's known preference for confrontation rather than compromise, which had previously surfaced during his guerrilla warfare campaign in Cuba, contributed to his inability to develop successful working relationships with local leaders in Bolivia, just as it had in the Congo. This tendency had existed in Cuba, but had been kept in check by the timely interventions and guidance of Fidel Castro.

Guevara was tied up and taken to a dilapidated mud schoolhouse in the nearby village of La Higuera on the night of October 7. For the next day and a half Guevara refused to be interrogated by Bolivian officers and would only speak quietly to Bolivian soldiers. One of those Bolivian soldiers, helicopter pilot Jaime Nino de Guzman, describes Che as looking "dreadful". According to De Guzman, Guevara was shot through the right calf, his hair was matted with dirt, his clothes were shredded, and his feet were covered in rough leather sheaths. Despite his haggard appearance, he recounts that "Che held his head high, looked everyone straight in the eyes and asked only for something to smoke." De Guzman states that he "took pity" and gave him a small bag of tobacco for his pipe, with Guevara then smiling and thanking him. Later on the night of October 8, Guevara, despite having his hands tied, kicked Bolivian Officer Espinosa into the wall, after the officer entered the schoolhouse in order to snatch Guevara's pipe from his mouth as a souvenir. In another instance of defiance, Guevara spat in the face of Bolivian Rear Admiral Urgateche shortly before his execution.

Later that morning on October 9, Bolivian President René Barrientos ordered that Guevara be killed. The executioner was Mario Terán, a sergeant in the Bolivian army who had drawn a short straw after arguments over who would get to shoot Guevara broke out among the soldiers. To make the bullet wounds appear consistent with the story the government planned to release to the public, Félix Rodríguez ordered Terán to aim carefully to make it appear that Guevara had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army.

Moments before Guevara was executed he was asked if he was thinking about his own immortality. "No", he replied, "I'm thinking about the immortality of the revolution." Che Guevara then told his executioner, "I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man." Terán hesitated, then opened fire with his semiautomatic rifle, hitting Guevara in the arms and legs. Guevara writhed on the ground, apparently biting one of his wrists to avoid crying out. Terán then fired several times again, wounding him fatally in the chest at 1:10 pm, according to Rodríguez. In all Guevara was shot nine times. This included five times in the legs, once in the right shoulder and arm, once in the chest, and finally in the throat.

Guevara's body was then lashed to the landing skids of a helicopter and flown to nearby Vallegrande where photographs were taken, showing a figure described by some as "Christ-like" lying on a concrete slab in the laundry room of the Nuestra Señora de Malta hospital.

A declassified memorandum dated October 11, 1967 to United States President Lyndon B. Johnson from his National Security Advisor, Walt Whitman Rostow, called the decision to kill Guevara "stupid" but "understandable from a Bolivian standpoint." After the execution, Rodríguez took several of Guevara's personal items, including a watch which he continued to wear many years later, often showing them to reporters during the ensuing years. Today, some of these belongings, including his flashlight, are on display at the CIA. After a military doctor amputated his hands, Bolivian army officers transferred Guevara's body to an undisclosed location and refused to reveal whether his remains had been buried or cremated. The hands were preserved in formaldehyde to be sent to Buenos Aires for fingerprint identification. (His fingerprints were on file with the Argentine police.) They were later sent to Cuba. On October 15, Castro acknowledged that Guevara was dead and proclaimed three days of public mourning throughout the island. On October 18, Castro addressed a crowd of almost one million people in Havana and spoke about Guevara's character as a revolutionary.

In late 1995, retired Bolivian General Mario Vargas revealed to Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, that Guevara's body was located near a Vallegrande airstrip. The result was a multi-national search for the remains, which would last more than a year. In July 1997, a team of Cuban geologists and Argentine forensic anthropologists discovered the remnants of seven bodies in two mass graves, including one man with amputated hands (like Guevara). Bolivian government officials with the Ministry of Interior later identified the body as Guevara when the excavated teeth "perfectly matched" a plaster mold of Che's teeth, made in Cuba prior to his Congolese expedition. The "clincher" then arrived when Argentine forensic anthropologist Alejandro Inchaurregui inspected the inside hidden pocket of a blue jacket dug up next to the handless cadaver and found a small bag of pipe tobacco. Nino de Guzman, the Bolivian helicopter pilot who had given Che a small bag of tobacco, later remarked that he "had serious doubts" at first and "thought the Cubans would just find any old bones and call it Che"; however he stated "after hearing about the tobacco pouch, I have no doubts." On October 17, 1997, Guevara's remains, with those of six of his fellow combatants, were laid to rest with military honors in a specially built mausoleum in the city of Santa Clara, where he had commanded over the decisive military victory of the Cuban Revolution.

Removed when Guevara was captured was his 30,000-word, hand-written diary, a collection of his personal poetry, and a short story he authored about a young Communist guerrilla who learns to overcome his fears. His diary documented events of the guerrilla campaign in Bolivia with the first entry on November 7, 1966 shortly after his arrival at the farm in Ñancahuazú, and the last dated October 7, 1967, the day before his capture. The diary tells how the guerrillas were forced to begin operations prematurely due to discovery by the Bolivian Army, explains Guevara's decision to divide the column into two units that were subsequently unable to re-establish contact, and describes their overall unsuccessful venture. It also records the rift between Guevara and the Communist Party of Bolivia that resulted in Guevara having significantly fewer soldiers than originally expected and shows that Guevara had a great deal of difficulty recruiting from the local populace, due in part to the fact that the guerrilla group had learned Quechua, unaware that the local language was actually Tupí-Guaraní. As the campaign drew to an unexpected close, Guevara became increasingly ill. He suffered from ever-worsening bouts of asthma, and most of his last offensives were carried out in an attempt to obtain medicine.

The Bolivian Diary was quickly and crudely translated by Ramparts magazine and circulated around the world. There are at least four additional diaries in existence—those of Israel Reyes Zayas (Alias "Braulio"), Harry Villegas Tamayo ("Pombo"), Eliseo Reyes Rodriguez ("Rolando") and Dariel Alarcón Ramírez ("Benigno")—each of which reveals additional aspects of the events. In July 2008, the Bolivian government of Evo Morales unveiled Guevara's formerly sealed diaries composed in two frayed notebooks, along with a logbook and several black-and-white photographs. At this event, Bolivia's vice minister of culture, Pablo Groux, expressed that there were plans to publish photographs of every handwritten page later in the year.

Over forty years after his execution, Che's life and legacy still remain a contentious issue. The contradictions of his ethos at various points in his life have created a complex character of unending duality, polarized in the collective imagination.

Some view Che Guevara as a hero; for example, Nelson Mandela referred to him as "an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom" while Jean-Paul Sartre described him as "not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age." Guevara remains a beloved national hero to many in Cuba, where his image adorns the $3 Cuban Peso and school children begin each morning by pledging "We will be like Che." In his native homeland of Argentina, where high schools bear his name, numerous Che museums dot the country, which in 2008 unveiled a 12 foot bronze statue of him in his birth city of Rosario. Additionally, Guevara has been sanctified by some Bolivian campesinos as "Saint Ernesto", to whom they pray for assistance.

A high-contrast monochrome graphic of his face has become one of the world's most universally merchandized and objectified images, found on an endless array of items, including t-shirts, hats, posters, tattoos, and bikinis, ironically contributing to the consumer culture he despised. Yet, Guevara still remains a transcendent figure both in specifically political contexts and as a wide-ranging popular icon of youthful rebellion.

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Ché (band)

Sounds of Liberation cover

Ché was an American stoner rock band founded by former Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork. Ché released their only LP Sounds of Liberation in 2000.

Brant Bjork and the Bros cover many of Ché's songs when on tour, and Alfredo Hernández has made guest appearances with the band.

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Che (Cyrillic)

Che or Cha (Ч, ч, italics: Ч, ч) is a letter of the Cyrillic alphabet. It represents the affricate /t͡ɕ/ (very similar to ch /t͡ʃ/ in English "change"). In Russian there is a small number of words this represents /ʂ/ (similar to English to sh /ʃ/ in "shape"). For some words, this pronunciation is universal (что, чтобы), for some there is variance (бу́лочная).

It is usually romanised in English as <ch>, or sometimes as <tch>, as in French. In linguistics it is transcribed as <č>. This is Pyotr Chaikovsky's surname (or Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, in Russian: Пётр Ильич Чайковский) may be transcribed as Čajkovskij.

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Source : Wikipedia