Short Research Assignment: Source 1

With the letters written from Che Guevara to Carlos Quijano, we see Guevara’s ideas of revolution in the lens of socialism and capitalism and the balance that plays between these two during the Cuban Revolution. In the eyes of Guevara, socialism is the ideal regime due to the liberty of self expression that it offers to the people. Guevara starts his letters by introducing Fidel Castro as the early leader of the Revolution. He continues by explaining the structured relationship with the masses, a “personage that systemically repeats itself” (Guevara 260) throughout the Cuban Revolution. Guevara uses metaphorical language to describe Castro’s captivating presence to the masses as a “dialogue of growing intensity which reaches its culminating point in an abrupt ending crowned by our victorious battle cry,” (Guevara 261). 

As Guevara continues in his letters, he speaks of the society being self-educated and the process that the individual must go through in order to build up to a socialist regime. While it is a long road to becoming the “new man”, as the “change in consciousness does not come about automatically,” (Guevara 266). An interesting addition to Guevara’s letters is the discussion of Art as playing a significant role in the socialist regime, as socialist realism was “born on the foundation of the art of the last century,” (Dawson 268). He speaks about 19th century art, although he believes that this time period in class art had more of a capitalist undertone than anything else.

To conclude his letters, Guevara provides a few statements to give to his readers, one of the most important being: “We socialists are more free because we are more fulfilled; we are more fulfilled because we are more free,” (Dawson 271). The path to revolution is one that is long and foreign, in a sense. As the last sentence of his letters, Guevara writes “PATRIA O MUERTE” meaning ‘Fatherland or Death’, finishing his letter as a

Che Guevara’s letters are a useful tool for our project, as it provides an overlook and first hand perspective on Guevara’s political beliefs. A key concept in his letters is the process of becoming what he calls the “new man”. His letters are almost a how-to guide to the revolution, including essential concepts in transforming the individual’s habits into the “new man”. His letters are also an explanation behind the beginning of a revolution in Cuba, starting with Fidel Castro’s rise to power. What is interesting to note, is that Guevara successfully focuses on Castro’s positive traits, for instance, maintaining a good relationship with his supporters. What Guevara fails to mention is the correlation between Fidel Castro’s rise to power and the millions of women who lost their jobs and were dominated by the patriarchy and masculine figures.

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