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Che Guevara: The Speech Before the General Assembly of the UN Essay

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Updated: Mar 13th, 2022


As the world ushered in the 20th Century, it’s evident that global economies are divided according to economic ideology. The most prevalent economic systems are Capitalism and Communism. These two ideologies have been the driving force that determines the level of cooperation between world economies. As a matter of fact, these two ideologies were the most influential factors during the cold war (Gabriel). On December 11th, 1964 Che Guevara delivered a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations outlining various ways in which the Third World countries experienced onslaught from Capitalism in the form of Colonialism. This paper attempts to explore that speech and its relevance in today’s global economy.

Capitalism versus Communism

Before proceeding with the speech details, it’s important to have a look at the traditional and modern meaning of Capitalism and Socialism. Traditionally, capitalism has been defined as “the ownership and control of the means of production by a class of “capitalists” and an economic and political system that favors this” (Clore 3). Today, capitalism has been redefined to mean “private ownership of the means of production, and more generally the absence of central planning by the state” (Clore 4). Private means that there is no government involvement.

According to Dean Clore, author of Socialism and Capitalism, “Socialism means the ownership and control of the means of production by the workers themselves, whether as individuals, cooperatives, collectives, communal groups, or through the state, and an economic and political system that favors this system” (7). The modern meaning of socialism is “the ownership and control of the means of production by the state” (Gabriel).

The Speech

Che Guevara, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, gave a speech in the United Nations General Assembly, on December 11, 1964. The speech titled; Colonialism is Doomed has become exceptionally prominent due to the ideological ideas and its relevance to the global economy. In this speech, Che talks about the manner in which Colonialism, Imperialism and Capitalism “have reduced the world into an imbalance between the haves and the have-nots” (Moore 67). The speech was based on issues affecting Latin American, Asian and African countries, that by then had survived decades of ambush from colonial powers.

Che’s speech was an attack to the United States, especially when he refer America as “Imperialist that ensured that Third World country bows down to them” (Moore 87). He gives examples of Puerto Rico, where United States made huge effort to infuse English as part of the Spanish culture resulting to a hybrid culture. In spite of this, Che is quick to note that “Puerto Ricans have safeguarded their unique culture and heritage, without bowing down to the ‘Yankees’” (Moore 91). He also cites the examples of how the Belgians, the very same receptors of racial abuse by the Germans, for not being the pure race of Aryans, were perpetrating racial crimes against the Congolese. He spoke about the need for People’s Republic of China to be represented in the United Nation General Assembly, and not be represented by Taiwan, which was seen as a U.S. puppet.

In addressing the United Nations assembly, Che indicated that third world countries were ready to retaliate against the continued oppression by Capitalist world power. Specifically he talked in length about the Cuban missile crisis, making it clear that:

“in the area of the Caribbean, maneuvers and preparations for aggression against Cuba are taking place; off the coast of Nicaragua above all, in Costa Rica, in the Panama Canal Zone, in the Vieques Islands of Puerto Rico, in Florida, and possibly in other parts of the territory of the United States, and also, perhaps, in Honduras, Cuban mercenaries are training, as well as mercenaries of other nationalities, with a purpose that cannot be peaceful” ( Che Guevara Studies Center).

Che felt that United States’ imperialism in form of neo-colonialism was going against the will of Cuban, resulting to the Missile crisis.

Relevance of Che Guevara’s Speech in the Global World Today

Fifty years after Che delivered the speech; it still remains very relevant, in today’s global world. The domination of pro-Imperialist powers is very evident, especially through the way world super power treats third world countries. United States domination is very rampant, even though certain pockets of multi-polar power have emerged. Power is the driving force of today’s capitalism. U.S. has a lot of economic power, supported mainly by mass movement of people from all over the world, who have either invested in the industrial sector, or are providing the much needed labor force.

Irresponsible Capitalism

As outlined by Che in his speech Capitalism have proved to be a jolt to small industries, especially in reference to today’s globalized interdependent world. To have a better understanding of these effects, we will take a look at Capitalism and its effects to local industries. Specifically we will focus on the entry of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) a U.S. based Company in the India market and Nike operations in Asia.

Disruption of Local Industry

The entry of KFC in India Market has been surrounded by many controversies. The KFC chain has witnessed protests from a various quarters. The controversy started on the very first day of operation of the first KFC outlet. Member of public marched into the restaurant protesting against the ‘junk food’ introduced by KFC in India. The group of angry farmers and general public, led by their civic leaders, stormed restaurants and opined that the serving of such junk food was unethical in India. According to their spokesman, “serving junk food was unethical as it add to India’s malnutrition problems” (Case Studies in Business). The protesters also cited the likelihood of depletion of the India’s livestock which could cause harm to many Indians households.

The group also felt that KFC operations would affect the agricultural sector, which constituted a major portion of the Indian economy, and adversely affect the environment. There was general consensus that the entry of non-vegetarian food outlet would make people abandon their culture in favor of foreign food. This would shift the market, increasing the demand for non-vegetarian diet, and most likely cause many local businesses to close.

These protest were seen as a vociferous protest against the concept of westernization of the Indian agricultural sector and the changing food culture in Indian by U.S. firms. In essence, the general public was not only protesting against economic implications, but also cultural and social effects that will be caused by KFC presence in the Indian market.

KFC Treatment of Animals

Beside the protest from Indians farmers and general public, KFC has been a target by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as one of the many multinational food companies which mistreat animals. According to the PETA, “KFC chicken is subject to extreme cruelty, before it reaches the plate and tempts the taste buds of consumers” (PETA India). According to Ingrid Newkirk, Director PETA India, each bird whom KFC puts into a box or a bucket had a miserable life and a frightening death. People would be shocked to see our footage of a KFC supplier’s employee who walks through a barn, carelessly lighting lamps and letting flames fall on the terrified birds. The air inside these filthy barns reeks of ammonia fumes, making it difficult for the birds to breathe. No one with a grain of compassion should set foot in KFC (Tribune News Service)

PETA classify KFC as a perpetrator of cruelty towards animals through unethical of breeding conditions, torturous killing of animals and cruel handling which is extremely prevalent in the KFC chain of restaurants and outlets. According to PETA, the chicken served by KFC “is full of chemicals, and the birds are given hormones, antibiotics and arsenic chemicals to fatten them quickly” (PETA India). The release of a video showcasing mis-treatment of chickens, led to mass protest in Bangalore, India. (PETA India)

Exploitation of Workers

Most of Nike apparels are made in Indonesia, China and Vietnam, where the labor is cheap and where labor laws are not in place or are poorly enforced. As a matter of fact, in “China and Vietnam, the law prohibits workers from forming independent trade unions” (Moore 99). There have been increased cases in recent months of the continued exploitation of Nike factory workers in these countries. These exploitation is in form of extremely low wages and hazardous working conditions. “Nike has always distanced itself from the allegations, saying it does not own any of the factories, but only contracts work to various factory owners” (Moore 103).

Although Nike is credited for creating job opportunities for people in Southeast Asia, the physical and verbal abuse by supervisors or excessive work overtime for extremely low wages are seen as direct violation of human rights. The company has also been blamed for gender rights violation due to the way female workers are treated. Women are paid less than the minimum wages, on the grounds that they require more training time than men.


The two cases show the effect of Neo-colonialism, where first world countries continue to exploit third world countries through unfair use of labor capital. Workers in factories and businesses owned and operated by multinationals are subjected to dangerous working conditions, receive low wages and face diminished human rights. All these conditions are directly related to Che Guevara’s speech delivered to the United Nations Assembly on December 11th, 1964. The call for liberty and pursuit for the American Dream have actually resulted in the expansion of Capitalism all over the world in form of neo-colonialism. The claim for Independence by the already exploited countries is seen as irony. The remaining potential in third world countries is being exploited at an alarming rate. The bargaining power for third world countries is very low. In a bid to have an advantage of poor nations, developed countries have resulted to unfair trade policies.

As irresponsible capitalist invade the global world, the relevance of Che Guevara’s speech come to light. As a matter of fact, a new name for neo-colonialism has been coined; off shoring. Third world countries can no longer afford to accept the status quo. It is now the right time to time to put strong leadership in place. This will be in form of government that converts the potential for the good of the citizens. Third world countries may result to forming trading blocs, through which their voices can be heard and “deter armed hand of the invader” ( Che Guevara Studies Center)

Works Cited

Che Guevara Studies Center. “.” 1997. Che Guevara Internet Archive. Web.

Case Studies in Business. “KFC in India – Ethical?” 2009. Business Ethics Case Studies. Web.

Clore, Dan. “Socialism and Capitalism.” 2008. Economics. Web.

Gabriel, Satya J. “What Was the Cold War All About?.” 1998. Capitalism, Socialism, and the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Web.

Moore, Samuel. The Communist Manifesto. Miami: Penguin, 2002.

PETA India. “Activists Protest KFC Cruelty.” 2008. PETA India. Web.

Tribune News Service. “PFA, PETA to protest outside KFC today.” 2006. Web.

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