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Portrayal of Ernesto Che Guevara by American Newspapers Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 7th, 2020


Social inequality has inspired people at all times to fight for the return of justice. These debates have rarely been calm and tolerant. The most common ways of achieving equality involve revolutionary methods, cruelty, and many casualties. Social justice is equal access to the material and cultural opportunities, as well as a possibility to exercise all the humans’ rights. In terms of this definition, Ernesto Che Guevara is a suitable personality to consider when talking about the campaign aimed at gaining equality.

Guevara was appalled by the cases of starvation, hunger, and illnesses he saw while being a medical student and traveling in several Latin American countries. Thus, he made it his aim to change the situation consolidating his activity with Cuban President Fidel Castro. However, while Che Guevara viewed the situation under the angle of American capitalism, the US considered him a cruel and merciless communist. Thus, the American newspapers portrayed Ernesto Che Guevara as a radical and tyrannical individual because his activity was full of hatred and led to many deaths.

The Historical Context of Che Guevara’s Activity

The first part of the twentieth century was characterized as an uneasy one for Cuba (Sweig, 2009). The Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista took control of the country in the 1930s. In the beginning, his rule was quite successful. Batista developed constructive ties with the USA in order to obtain beneficial trading relationships and other kinds of useful connections. In 1940, he proposed a new constitution and new elections in the country. The Constitution was considered “one of Latin America’s most progressive” documents of a kind (Sweig, 2009, p. 18). Batista won the elections and considered himself a great reformer of the time (Sweig, 2009).

However, soon Batista started to employ fraudulent schemes and restrictive policies. His systematic cooperation with the American mafia with the aim of gaining personal financial profit began arousing people’s negative reaction. In order to prevent the people’s interference with his illegal activity, Batista established strict control of the media and reported to the Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities which performed large-scale executions of those who disagreed with his politics. Batista no longer cared about people’s rights and freedoms. His only aim was to keep everything under his control and to suppress any attempt of contradicting him.

Under such circumstances, a rebellion was inevitable. It was only a matter of time and preparation. The first attempt to oppose Batista’s regime was organized on July 26, 1953, by brothers Fidel and Raul Castro and nearly one hundred and fifty other activists. They planned to appropriate the weapons kept at Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba and use them in a fight against Batista (Sweig, 2009). The attempt was unsuccessful and ended up in numerous murders and arrests.

However, that was the time when Che Guevara got acquainted with Fidel Castro and got interested in supporting Castro’s rebellion. Their further cooperation eventually led to Batista’s regime’s defeat during the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Che Guevara performed a number of duties as a minister in the new government. One of his key tasks was concerned with the military organization of the country’s forces. Guevara was also renowned for his communist views which shaped his politics.

The Analysis of the American Newspapers’ Portrayal of Che Guevara

While the people in Cuba consider Che Guevara their national hero, his image in the US is quite the opposite. The opinions reflected in the most popular newspapers are far from positive. Che Guevara’s activity is described as involving “really ugly” things, and the people are said to be “deluded” about his personality (Llosa, 2016, para. 2). In his article, Llosa remarks that people do not know the real character of Guevara’s actions and therefore “cling to a myth” (2016, para. 1).

The author mentions that Che Guevara was not deprived of some outstanding features, his honesty is one of the most prominent. However, Llosa emphasizes that Guevara’s honesty helped played its role in identifying his terrible actions. He kept written evidence of the events which are now used to demonstrate how misguided people adoring Che is. He considered hatred “an element of struggle” and said it moved people beyond their “natural limitations” (Llosa, 2016, para. 3).

The article provides numerous examples of Che Guevara’s approval of violent activity in the way of achieving his targets. He believed that the leaders who refused to kill their antagonists failed in the authority and, as a result, lost their power. Llosa mentions that Che Guevara took part in executing the people whose fault was proven, those whose guilt was under question, and even those who merely “happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time” (2016, para. 4).

Another newspaper article also puts emphasis on Guevara’s enraged and defiant image. It describes a recent outbreak of Guevara’s popularity and points out the reasons why people mistakenly worship him (Ehrenreich, 2008). Ehrenreich mentions that items promoting Che Guevara’s image are numerous and versatile. He remarks that the T-shirt with Che’s portrait “has itself become a symbol, shorthand for posture drained of ideology, rebelliousness as a fashion statement” (Ehrenreich, 2008, para. 10).

However, the author emphasizes the fact that those who buy and wear stuff connected with Guevara frequently do not know who he was and what kind of activity he led. Ehrenreich says that while Che’s photo taken in 1960 is still popular, it does not mean the same what it meant long ago – he lost his “radicalism and ideological rigor” (2008, para. 13). The author concludes that Che Guevara nowadays may personify the annoyance “with the regime he helped establish” (Ehrenreich, 2008, para. 15).

Thus, the American newspapers draw an image of Che Guevara which is far from the one deserving worshipping and admiration. They dissolve the myth of Guevara being a highly positive role image and picture him as a bloodthirsty tyrant.


As any well-known leader, Ernesto Che Guevara has earned a two-sided reputation. On the one hand, people adore him for his desire to change the state of things and to gain social justice. These are mostly the people of Latin American countries who used to or still feel being deprived of some rights. On the other hand, Che Guevara is considered a merciless killing machine, a cruel individual whose methods were harsh and inhumane. This opinion is mostly supported by American observers. The US newspapers portray Ernesto Che Guevara as a tyrant and a cold-blooded leader and urge people to stop idolizing him without prior considering all the aspects of his activity.


Ehrenreich, B. (2008). . Los Angeles Times. Web.

Llosa, A. V. (2016). . The Wall Street Journal. Web.

Sweig, J. E. (2009). Cuba: What everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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