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The Epic Motorcycle Trip That Turned Che Guevara Into a Revolutionary

May 2, 2019 in History

By Christopher Klein

A coming-of-age adventure through five South American countries set Che Guevara on the path to becoming a Marxist revolutionary.

Before. “Che grew up in an upper middle-class family that had hit on hard times, but it was an intellectual environment that was clearly attentive to political processes,” he says. “His interest in medicine as a career and profession was in part an expression of his social consciousness, which developed at an early age.”

After leaving Cordoba, the two friends visited the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires and the seaside city of Miramar before crossing the barren pampas and ascending into the Andes. Plagued by his chronic asthma, Guevara had a rough start to the trip as he contracted the flu and nursed a broken heart after receiving a break-up letter from his girlfriend.

Granado’s motorcycle, nicknamed La Poderosa II (“the mighty one”), suffered from its own ailments and failed to live up to its moniker before finally breaking down for good in Chile. The road trippers were now “bums without wheels,” as Guevara wrote. They forged northward, however, through deserts and rainforests by hitching rides, walking, riding horses and even stowing away on a ship. The pair slept in garages, barns and police stations as well as under the stars.

Alberto Granado on the set of “The Motorcycle Diaries,” a 2004 film based on his ride with friend, Che Guevara.

The friends visited iconic locations such as Lake Titicaca and the ruins of Machu Picchu, which Guevara called “the pure expression of the most powerful indigenous race in the Americas.” They also visited decidedly less touristy locations like the great copper mine in the Chilean town of Chuquicamata that was operated by an American multinational company. There, Guevara witnessed the exploitation of the mine workers.

“The only thing that matters is the enthusiasm with which the workers set to ruining their health in search of a few meager crumbs that barely provide their subsistence,” he wrote. “The biggest effort Chile should make is to shake its uncomfortable Yankee friend from its back, a task that for the moment at least is Herculean.”

In Peru, the two Argentines saw the wretched poverty endured by indigenous people treated as second-class citizens. “These people …read more

Source: HISTORY

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