Che Guevara’s Congo Nightmare

Alma Guillermoprieto writes for the New Yorker and published a collection of essays about Latin America called “Looking for History,” and includes a story about Che Guevara, the hero of Cuba. She recounts his life that began in Argentina, where he was to study medicine, but soon left to begin the journey that would become “The Motorcycle Diaries,” an eight-month voyage on motorbike. Fidel Castro was a big admirer and on the day he announced that Che was dead, his cry was “Be Like Che.”

One of the last missions Che was sent on took him deep into the jungle in the Congo, to start a guerilla movement there in 1965. “As things turned out, the Congo episode was a farce, so absurd that Cuban authorities kept secret Che’s rueful draft for a book on it…he was abandoned from the beginning by leaders like Laurent Kabila, and was plagued by dysentery and subject to fits of uncontrollable anger, and returned forty pounds lighter. Castro, unwilling to reveal the African foray, declared him dead, and Che would never return to Cuba. He would die in a hail of bullets in Bolivia in 1967.