1928 (14th June)
Che Guevara was born to Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna y Llosa in Rosario, Argentina. He was christened Ernesto after his father. His parents, Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna y Llosa were a fairly wealthy middle class couple.
Guevara’s parents were intellectuals and had a large library which allowed him to read avidly on a wide range of subjects.
Guevara’s father taught him to play chess and he took part in local chess tournaments.
Guevara entered the University of Buenos Aires to study medicine.
During the summer break from university, Che made a 4,500 km tour of rural Argentina.
1952 (January – September)
Che took a year off study and, together with Alberto Granado, made an 8,000 km tour of much of South America. He visited Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Florida in the United States. He was angered by the poverty and poor working conditions of labourers and miners in South America. He considered their plight to be the result of capitalism where the wealthy exploited the poor.
Che returned to university and resumed his studies.
Che completed his medical degree and was a fully qualified doctor.
1953 (7th July)
Che Guevara left Argentina on another travelling tour of South and Central America. This time he visited Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
As he travelled through Central America Guevara became further convinced of the exploitation of capitalism. Many of the inhabitants of these countries worked producing tropical fruits for the United Fruit Company. Che compared the poverty of the workers with the riches of the company and did not like what he saw.
1953 (24th December)
Guevara arrived in Guatemala where the President, Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, who had been democratically elected, was trying to reduce poverty by redistributing land. He sought out Peruvian economist, Hilda Gadea Acosta, who was a member of the left wing American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA).
Guevara decided to settle in Guatemala and lived with a number of revolutionary exiles from South America. Together they discussed revolutionary and communist ideas especially those of Karl Marx.
A shipment of weapons was sent to the Arbenz government to aid in the land redistribution programme. The United States government was concerned and began working to effect the removal of Arbenz.
1954 (27th June)
American forces invaded Guatemala and President Arbenz was forced to resign. Che vowed to fight with the revolutionaries for the overthrow of Arbenz’s successor, Armas, but he was frustrated by the groups inaction.
The new Armas regime began rounding up and executing opponents. Hilda Gadea was arrested and Guevara sought sanctuary in the Argentine embassy. The overthrow of Arbenz by the US government convinced Guevara that America would never be favourable to left wing governments and vowed to attempt to bring about a world-wide revolution that would topple Capitalism.
Che Guevara and Hilda Gadea left Guatemala and went to Mexico. Che found a job as a doctor in a hospital in Mexico City. He continued to be moved by the plight of the poor.
Che Guevara remained in Mexico working as a doctor. He was also in contact with a number of Cuban exiles including Nico Lopez.
Nico Lopez introduced Guevara to Raul and Fidel Castro, leaders of the Cuban revolutionary movement known as the July 26 Movement, that was seeking to overthrow Batista’s government in Cuba. Guevara liked their ideas and decided to join the movement.
Guevara married Hilda Gadea who was pregnant.
A daughter, Hilda Beatriz Guevara Gadea, known as Hildita, was born to Che Guevara and Hilda Gadea in Mexico.
Che took part in the military training exercises of the 26th of July Movement, prior to mounting an invasion of Cuba.
1956 (25th November)
Che Guevara was one of eighty-two men who left Mexico in the yacht Granma bound for Cuba.
1956 (December 2nd)
The group reached Cuba but were attacked by Batista’s forces soon after landing. Many men were killed but Guevara and the Castro brothers survived. They fled to the Cuban hills.
Che Guevara set up a radio station, ‘Rebel Radio’ which broadcast news and information to the Cuban people.
The forces of Batista adopted a policy of intimidation and execution of anyone suspected of being a rebel.
1958 (29th July)
Battle of Las Mercedes
This was a ten-day battle planned by Batista to wipe out the rebels. He sent his Cuban army into the hills with orders to encircle the rebels. However, the Cuban army found fighting the rebels difficult since they knew the layout of the hills and used guerrilla tactics. The Cuban army accepted a cease fire and sent negotiators to Castro. While negotiations continued the rebel army retreated back into the hills.
1958 (late Summer)
Guevara took charge of organising supplies for the rebels hiding in the Cuban hills. He also organised medical clinics which benefited local people. However, he was also ruthless in executing anyone found informing or spying for Batista.
Che began a relationship with Aleida March, a Cuban revolutionary.
1958 (late December)
Che Guevara had successfully taken much of Las Villas province. He then led a sortie into the capital of the province, Santa Clara. Despite being outnumbered, Guevara successfully overthrew and occupied the city. On hearing the news Batista fled to the Dominican Republic.
1959 (8th January)
The rebels entered the Cuban capital, Havana and began setting up a new government
1959 (January to June)
Guevara and Raul Castro were given the task of purging the army and police of those that remained loyal to Batista. Most of those tried were found guilty and executed. The trials and executions were condemned worldwide.
1959 (late January)
Che’s wife, Hilda Gadea arrived in Cuba to learn that Guevara was seeing another woman. She agreed that they should divorce.
Che Guevara was made a Cuban citizen.
Che Guevara’s divorce was finalised.
1959 (17th May)
Agrarian Reform Law
This law, written by Guevara, stated that farms should not exceed 1,000 acres. Any farms with more land would have land taken away and redistributed to the poor. The law also stated that foreigners were not allowed to own plantations in Cuba.
1959 (2nd June)
Che and Aleida March were married.
1959 (12th June)
Castro sent Che Guevara on a tour to negotiate trade deals. He visited Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Yugoslavia and Greece. While he was away Castro had made himself more powerful and distanced the influence of Guevara.
Land was being taken from landowners as set out in the Agrarian Reform Law, but landowners were not being compensated properly. This led to resentment and increased support for the anti-Communist movement.
1959 (October 7th)
Che Guevara was appointed head of the Department of Industry of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) in Castro’s new government. It was his job to oversee the redistribution of land in Cuba including land owned by American companies.
1959 (November 26th)
Che Guevara was appointed President of the National Bank of Cuba.
Guevara completed his first book ‘Guerrilla Warfare’.
1960 (4th March)
A French freighter, La Coubre, with a cargo of munitions, exploded in the harbour at Havana. Castro blamed the explosion on the CIA and stepped up his programme to eliminate opponents of his regime.
In retaliation for the seizure of American-owned land in Cuba, the United States reduced its imports of Cuban sugar.
1960 (10th July)
Che Guevara spoke against the ‘economic aggression’ of the United States.
1960 (July 26th)
Guevara spoke at the First Latin America Youth Congress where he declared that the Cuban revolution was a Marxist Revolution
Guevara wrote a history of the Cuban Revolution entitled ‘Notes for the studies about Cuba’s revolution’
1960 (October 21st)
Che Guevara left Cuba to embark on a tour of other socialist countries including China, Russia and Czechoslovakia.
1960 (November 24th)
A daughter, Aleida Guevara, was born to Che Guevara and his wife, Aleida March.
Guevara organised a move to improve the literacy of the peasant population by building more schools and training more teachers.
Gave up his position as President of the Cuban Bank and became Minister for Industry. He supported nationalisation of industry and the Communist model of using individual production quotas for workers. Despite his best efforts, production fell.
Che Guevara wrote ‘Cuba exceptional case or avant-garde in struggle against imperialism’
1961 (17th April)
Bay of Pigs
A force of around 1400 Cuban exiles, who had fled to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover, invaded Cuba. They had been trained by the United States and believed that the Cuban people would rise up and support them and they would be able to topple Castro’s regime. The invaders were slaughtered by Castro’s forces.
A son, Camilo Guevara, was born to Che Guevara and his wife, Aleida March.
Following the Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro and Guevara forged stronger links with the Soviet Union. They requested that the Soviets station ballistic missiles on the island and Soviet leader, Khrushchev agreed.
1962 (16th – 28th October)
Cuban Missile Crisis
A United States spy plane discovered ballistic missiles in Cuba. The United States put in place a naval blockade that would prevent Russia delivering components to complete the missiles. President Kennedy
also hoped that the blockade would force Khrushchev to remove the missiles stationed on Cuba. After a ten-day stand off an agreement was reached. The Soviets would remove the missiles from Cuba and in return the United States would remove missiles from Italy and Turkey. Che Guevara saw the Soviet backdown as a betrayal.
A daughter, Celia Guevara, was born to Che Guevara and his wife, Aleida March.
Che sent a revolutionary group to support Nationalists in Argentina who were trying to topple the government.
Che Guevara wrote ‘Revolutionary war passages’
Guevara spent much time travelling around the world speaking about socialism and armed revolution.
1964 (11th December)
Che Guevara made a speech at the United Nations Assembly. He spoke about the link between armed revolution and true socialism and also denounced discrimination and segregation particularly in South Africa and the United States.
1964 (17th December)
Che made a three-month tour visiting Communist China and North Korea as well as Arabia, Ireland and a number of African countries.
A son, Ernesto Guevara, was born to Che Guevara and his wife, Aleida March.
Che Guevara returned to Cuba and resigned from government stating that he believed that his true calling was as a revolutionary and that he was determined to help bring about revolutions in other countries.
Guevara left Cuba for Africa and visited a number of countries including the Congo and Zaire where he hoped to bring about a Communist revolution.
In Africa Guevara had earned the reputation as a dangerous revolutionary. He was being tracked by mercenary fighter Mike Hoare and despite his best efforts to rouse the natives of the Belgian Congo, he had to admit defeat and sought refuge in the Tanzanian Cuban embassy.
1966 (21st July)
After visiting countries in Europe, Guevara returned to Cuba to visit Castro, his wife and children.
1966 (late )
Che left Cuba and returned to South America travelling through Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and finally Bolivia where he joined a revolutionary group.
Che Guevara led a successful attack on the Bolivian army.
The Bolivian government managed to destroy a number of revolutionary groups. Guevara survived the attack.
1967 (October 8th)
Bolivian forces attacked the remaining rebels and Guevara was injured and taken prisoner.
1967 (October 9th)
Che Guevara was executed. He was shot a total of nine times before he died.