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Che Guevara Road
Formerly Moore Road


Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born on 14 May, 1928 in the city of Rosario, Argentina, the eldest of four children. The nickname “Che”, meaning friend or mate in South America, was given to him by his peers while he was studying medicine at the University of Buenos Aires. Guevara completed his studies in 1953 and began work as a doctor. He became involved in politics at a time when Cuba was ruled by the dictator, Gen Fulgencio Batista.

Guevara joined forces with Cuban rebel Fidel Castro and 80 other men and women to overthrow Batista. Guevara’s group, the July 26, Movement, had planned to set up base in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, in Cuba, but were attacked on their way by government troops. By the time they reached the mountains there were only 16 men left and they had few weapons. But as the months passed, Guevara’s group grew stronger.

As the guerrilla's over-ran government held territory they distributed land among the peasants, bolstering support for Guevara and Castro’s rebels. Government officials hit back, torturing and executing innocent people, including children, to get information about the rebels. Some people were publicly hanged, which disgusted many Cubans, increasing support for the rebels.

Some 45 organisations signed an agreement committing themselves to the movement. Among them were national bodies representing doctors, architects and lawyers – support for the rebels now included not only the poor, but the middle class too. Batista sent more troops to capture Guevara but they were unsuccessful.

In March 1958 many Cubans showed their dissatisfaction against Batista by boycotting the elections, reinforcing Castro’s conviction that he enjoyed sufficient support to overcome Batista. Then, after talks with the US government, Batista fled Cuba. The people responded by striking and the military was forced to agree to the people’s terms. On 9 January, 1959, Castro became the new leader of Cuba. Under his rule, the government passed new laws cutting rent, redistributing land to peasants and abolishing separate amenities for blacks and whites.

Guevara married his first wife, Hilda Gadea, a Peurivian economist and leftist leader, in 1955. They had one daughter, who committed suicide. In 1959 he remarried, Aleida March. The couple had four children. In the following year he wrote two books, Guerrilla Warfare and Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War. Guevara served as Minister of Industries from 1961-65 before resigning to become a Guerrilla leader in the Congo and Bolivia. In 1967 he was captured by Bolivian troops while attempting to recruit miners, interrogated and executed.

dlaminis@durban.gov.za