During and after his studies to become a doctor, he travelled across Latin America on his motorcycle. The poverty shocked him. But it got worse: in1954 in Guatemala he saw, with his own eyes, the CIA overthrowing the government, bombs dropping from planes and everything. He did what he could to help defend the capital but it was hopeless.
Like Fanon, Guevara was a doctor who saw that what patients suffered from most were the effects of Western imperialism. Poverty and disease were merely the symptoms. The countries of Latin America were run for the benefit of the US by the few at the top who did its bidding, leaving the masses poor. The US, as he saw, used its military might to keep it that way.
In Mexico he met Fidel Castro, who asked him to join his revolution to overthrow Batista, the US’s puppet dictator of Cuba.
In 1956 Castro landed in Cuba with just 80 men – the same week Bing Crosby arrived to play golf. Batista defeated Castro, killing all but 20 of his men. As they fled to the mountains, Guevara had to choose between a box of medicine and a box of bullets. He chose the box of bullets.
By 1958 their numbers had grown to 200. They came down from the mountains and cut Cuba in half. Guevara himself took Santa Clara, the third biggest city. ByNew Year’s Day 1959 Batista had fallen.
Guevara had hundreds of political prisoners killed without trial. He became the head of the national bank and later the minister of industry.
In December 1964 he spoke before the UN and briefly met Malcolm X. Then he travelled across Africa, reading Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” (1961).
To free the human race of its enemy, the United States of North America, Cuba was not enough. Nor was Vietnam. There needed to be several Vietnams at the same time. The more countries that freed themselves from the tree of Western imperialism, the weaker the tree would become. So he went to fight in D.R. Congo and Bolivia. The Tricontinental – Asia, Africa and Latin America – needed to work together to throw off the chains of Europe and North America and create a new world, one built for everyone, not just for rich Westerners.