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Judi Lynn

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Guatemala: The coup that radicalised Che Guevara

Guatemala: The coup that radicalised Che Guevara
Saturday, May 31, 2014
By David T. Rowlands

It was from Guatemala that Che emerged as a dedicated revolutionary.

Sixty years ago, in June 1954, a CIA-orchestrated coup ousted the reformist Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The coup installed a brutal right-wing regime and decades of bloody repression.

This event, so notorious in the annals of US imperialism, also Guevara. For it was in the Central American nation, where Guevara's Latin American road trip culminated, that the strands of his early thought Marxism, anti-imperialism, indigenismo were fused in a dramatic, galvanising moment.

It transformed the young, middle-class Argentine medical graduate with deeply-felt, if still unformed, leftist leanings into a fully-conscious socialist revolutionary who dedicated his life to liberating the Third World from capitalist domination.

Throughout his life, Guevara responded to the spectacle of mass poverty (which he had first encountered as a child in provincial Argentina) with a natural sense of sympathy for the oppressed. This ability to perceive and be troubled by such suffering was a significant achievement in itself; most of his fellow Latin American “creole” middle-classes lived (and live) an insular, self-referential existence, wilfully and utterly blind to disturbing social realities.

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