Paco Ignacio Taibo’s take on Che Guevara

Antonio Zavala Publicado 2017-11-18 11:49:21

I am not a big fan of Netflix but I thought that readers of El BeiSMan might be interested in checking out El Che, a new documentary with Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II which is now available on Netflix.

Taibo II, who is the author of the Spanish-language book Ernesto Guevara tambien Conocido como El Che, journeys near and far to bring to life the places and people who knew Ernesto Che Guevara, an argentine doctor and revolutionary who met Fidel Castro in 1955 in Mexico City and later helped change the course of history in Cuba.

The one hour 59-minute documentary is lengthy enough to include numerous interviews with people who knew Guevara from his infancy to his death in Bolivia on October 9, 1967.

If you don’t mind seeing Taibo, who is also a promoter of the black noir detective novel in Mexico, dressed in numerous tee-shirts and walking around with his magnum opus about Che in one hand, you will learn much about this argentine revolutionary icon who some modern-day Millennials might think of only as an image on a poster or on a tee-shirt.

But Ernesto Che Guevara was more than that and this extensive documentary proves it as Taibo recounts his early beginnings in Argentina; his travels around several countries in South America when he was just a medical student and his face-to-face encounter with political repression in Guatemala.

It was there that Guevara saw the long hand of Uncle Sam as it overthrew the left of center government of Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954.

In order to not become another statistic, i.e. another leftist found dead somewhere in the Guatemalan countryside, Guevara escapes to Mexico where he finds work as a photographer roaming the streets of Mexico City.

It is there that Guevara in 1955 has the good fortune of meeting Fidel Castro and after a first meeting that lapses into eight hours of conversation about politics, Latin America and Cuba, the two establish a bond that will last until they oust dictator Fulgencio Batista in Cuba.

In 1956 the Cuban revolutionaries departed for Cuba in a boat named Granma and by the end of 1958 had toppled the corrupt government of Fulgencio Batista.

The documentary carries on through Che’s job as minister of industry and also the head of the national bank of Cuba and other duties.

The documentary, just as Taibo’s book on Che Guevara, is full of interesting anecdotes and details that Taibo researched for his massive book on Guevara and which now also enriches this documentary.

As any lecturer worth his weight will do, Taibo frequently quotes from his book words echoed by Guevara or others who knew him well.

Taibo II visits many countries, including Bolivia, where Che’s life ended at the hands of the Bolivian military with a helping hand from the CIA.

This documentary, well worth calling it Che According to Taibo II, will teach new generations that revolutionaries like Che, and there aren’t that many, are willing to forego material possessions for the justice and social change that millions of poor Latin Americans thirst for every day.

The documentary, directed by Matias Gueilburt, is in Spanish with English subtitles and It’s well worth checking it out.


Antonio Zavala is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago and writes about the people and neighborhoods of Chicago.


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