The Motorcycle Diaries
Overview
 
The Motorcycle Diaries is a memoir
Memoir
A memoir , is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir set out below...

 that traces the early travels of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, then a 23-year-old medical student, and his friend Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado was an Argentine–Cuban biochemist, doctor, writer, and scientist. He was also the youthful friend and traveling companion of revolutionary Che Guevara during their 1952 trip around Latin America, and later founded the Santiago School of Medicine in Cuba...

, a 29-year-old biochemist. Leaving Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, in January 1952 on the back of a sputtering single cylinder 1939 Norton 500cc dubbed La Poderosa ("The Mighty One"), they desired to explore the South America they only knew from books.
Quotations

[voiceover] We look like outlaws inspiring admiration everywhere we go. We’ve left civilization behind and we are much closer to the land.

A revolution without guns? It would never work.

The deeper we go into the Andes the more indigenous people we encounter, who are homeless in their own land. All across our own land.

What we had in common - our restlessness, our impassioned spirits, and a love for the open road.

How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?

You gotta fight for every breath and tell death to go to hell.

(To Alberto): Are you talking to the motorcycle again?

What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two; melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land.

Even though we are too insignificant to be spokesmen for such a noble cause, we believe, and this journey has only confirmed this belief, that the division of American into unstable and illusory nations is a complete fiction. We are one single mestizo race from Mexico to the Magellan Straits. And so, in an attempt to free ourselves from narrow minded provincialism, I propose a toast to Peru and to a united America.

Wandering around our America has changed me more than I thought. I am not me any more. At least I'm not the same me I was.

Encyclopedia
The Motorcycle Diaries is a memoir
Memoir
A memoir , is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir set out below...

 that traces the early travels of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, then a 23-year-old medical student, and his friend Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado was an Argentine–Cuban biochemist, doctor, writer, and scientist. He was also the youthful friend and traveling companion of revolutionary Che Guevara during their 1952 trip around Latin America, and later founded the Santiago School of Medicine in Cuba...

, a 29-year-old biochemist. Leaving Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, in January 1952 on the back of a sputtering single cylinder 1939 Norton 500cc dubbed La Poderosa ("The Mighty One"), they desired to explore the South America they only knew from books. During the formative odyssey Guevara is transformed by witnessing the social injustices of exploited mine workers, persecuted communists, ostracized lepers, and the tattered descendants of a once-great Incan civilization. By journey's end they travel for a symbolic nine months
Childbirth
Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

 by motorcycle, steamship, raft, horse, bus, and hitchhiking, covering more than 8000 kilometre across places such as the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

, Atacama Desert
Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert is a plateau in South America, covering a strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. It is, according to NASA, National Geographic and many other publications, the driest desert in the world...

, and the Amazon River Basin. The book ends with a declaration by Guevara, born into an upper middle class family, displaying his willingness to fight and die for the cause of the poor, and his dream of seeing a united Latin America.

The book was originally marketed by Verso
Verso Books
Verso Books is a publishing house based in London and New York City, founded in 1970 by the staff of New Left Review. The company claims "global sales approaching $3 million per year and over 350 titles in print," possibly making it "the largest radical publisher in the English-language...

 as "Das Kapital
Das Kapital
Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie , by Karl Marx, is a critical analysis of capitalism as political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production, and how it was the precursor of the socialist mode of production.- Themes :In Capital: Critique of...

 meets Easy Rider
Easy Rider
Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers who travel through the American Southwest and South with the aim of achieving freedom...

", and has been a New York Times bestseller several times.

Pre-expedition

Ernesto Guevara spent long periods traveling around Latin America during his studies of medicine, beginning in 1948, at the University of Buenos Aires
University of Buenos Aires
The University of Buenos Aires is the largest university in Argentina and the largest university by enrollment in Latin America. Founded on August 12, 1821 in the city of Buenos Aires, it consists of 13 faculties, 6 hospitals, 10 museums and is linked to 4 high schools: Colegio Nacional de Buenos...

. In January 1950, Guevara attempted his first voyage. He traversed 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) through the northern provinces of Argentina on a bicycle on which he installed a small motor. He arrived at San Francisco del Chahar, near Córdoba
Córdoba, Argentina
Córdoba is a city located near the geographical center of Argentina, in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas on the Suquía River, about northwest of Buenos Aires. It is the capital of Córdoba Province. Córdoba is the second-largest city in Argentina after the federal capital Buenos Aires, with...

, where his friend Alberto Granado ran the dispensary of the leper-centre. This experience allowed Guevara to have long conversations with the patients about their disease.

Upon completion of his bicycle journey, El Grafico
El Gráfico
-History:El Gráfico was founded on May 30, 1919. Born as a general interest weekly magazine, it became a sports-only publication in 1925. In 2002, it became a monthly....

, a sports magazine in Argentina, published a picture of Guevara on the motorbike he used for the journey. The company that manufactured the engine Ernesto adapted to his bicycle, tried to use it for advertising claiming it was very strong since Guevara had gone on such a long tour using its power.

While he continued studying, he also worked as a nurse on trading and petroleum ships of the Argentine national shipping-company. This allowed Guevara to travel from the south of Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 to Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

.

Expedition

In January 1952 Guevara's older friend, Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado was an Argentine–Cuban biochemist, doctor, writer, and scientist. He was also the youthful friend and traveling companion of revolutionary Che Guevara during their 1952 trip around Latin America, and later founded the Santiago School of Medicine in Cuba...

, a biochemist, and Guevara, decided to take a year off from their medical studies to embark on a trip they had spoken of making for years: traversing South America on an motorcycle, which has metaphorically been compared to carbureted version of Don Quixote's Rocinante
Rocinante
Rocinante is the name of Don Quixote's horse, in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.-Etymology: in Spanish means work-horse or low-quality horse , but also illiterate or rough man. There are similar words in French , Portuguese and Italian . The etymology is uncertain. The name is,...

. Guevara and the 29-year-old Granado soon set off from Buenos Aires, Argentina, astride a 1939 Norton 500 cc motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

 they named La Poderosa II ("The Mighty One") with the idea of eventually spending a few weeks volunteering at the San Pablo Leper colony in Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 on the banks of the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

. In total, the journey took Guevara through Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, and to Miami, before returning home to Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

.

The trip was carried out in the face of some opposition by Guevara's parents, who knew that their son was both a severe asthmatic and a medical student close to completing his studies. However, Granado, himself a doctor, assuaged their concerns by guaranteeing that Guevara would return to finish his degree (which he ultimately did).

The first stop: Miramar, Argentina, a small resort where Guevara's girlfriend, Chichina, was spending the summer with her upper-class family. Two days stretched into eight, and upon leaving, Chichina gave Guevara a gold bracelet. (In the film version, Chichina gives him $15 to buy her a swimsuit if they make it to the U.S.. Guevara swears to her that he will starve rather than spend the money on anything else; however, he later gives it away to a poor peasant couple in need of it. This episode does not appear in the memoir.) The two men crossed into Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 on February 14. At one point they introduced themselves as internationally renowned leprosy experts to a local newspaper, which wrote a glowing story about them. The travelers later used the press clipping as a way to score meals and other favors with locals along the way.
In reference to his experience in Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Guevara also writes: "The most important effort that needs to be done is to get rid of the uncomfortable 'Yankee
Yankee
The term Yankee has several interrelated and often pejorative meanings, usually referring to people originating in the northeastern United States, or still more narrowly New England, where application of the term is largely restricted to descendants of the English settlers of the region.The...

-friend'. It is especially at this moment an immense task, because of the great amount of dollars they have invested here and the convenience of using economical pressure whenever they believe their interests are being threatened."
Unable to get a boat to Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

 as they intended, they headed north, where Guevara's political consciousness began to stir as he and Granado moved into mining country. They visited Chuquicamata
Chuquicamata
Chuquicamata, or "Chuqui" as it is more familiarly known, is by digged volume the biggest open pit copper mine in the world, located in the north of Chile, 215 km northeast of Antofagasta and 1,240 km north of the capital, Santiago...

 copper mine, the world's largest open-pit mine and the primary source of Chile's wealth. While getting a tour of the mine he asked how many men died in its creation. At the time it was run by U.S. mining monopolies of Anaconda
Anaconda Copper
Anaconda Copper Mining Company was one of the largest trusts of the early 20th century. The Anaconda was purchased by Atlantic Richfield Company on January 12, 1977...

 and Kennecott
Kennecott Utah Copper
Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation , a division of Rio Tinto Group, is a mining, smelting, and refining company. Its corporate headquarters are located in South Jordan, Utah, USA. Kennecott operates one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world in Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake County, Utah. ...

 and thus was viewed by many as a symbol of "imperialist gringo domination". A meeting with a homeless communist couple in search of mining work made a particularly strong impression on Guevara, who wrote: "By the light of the single candle ... the contracted features of the worker gave off a mysterious and tragic air ... the couple, frozen stiff in the desert night, hugging one another, were a live representation of the proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

 of any part of the world,"

In reference to the oppression against the Communist party in Chile, which at the time was outlawed, Guevara said: "It's a great pity, that they repress people like this. Apart from whether collectivism
Collectivism
Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic, mystical or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation...

, the ‘communist vermin,’ is a danger to decent life, the communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 gnawing at his entrails was no more than a natural longing for something better, a protest
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

 against persistent hunger transformed into a love for this strange doctrine, whose essence he could never grasp but whose translation, 'bread for the poor,' was something he understood and, more importantly, that filled him with hope. Needless to say, workers at Chuquicamata
Chuquicamata
Chuquicamata, or "Chuqui" as it is more familiarly known, is by digged volume the biggest open pit copper mine in the world, located in the north of Chile, 215 km northeast of Antofagasta and 1,240 km north of the capital, Santiago...

 were in a living Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

."
In Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Guevara was impressed by the old Inca civilization
Inca civilization
The Andean civilizations made up a loose patchwork of different cultures that developed from the highlands of Colombia to the Atacama Desert. The Andean civilizations are mainly based on the cultures of Ancient Peru and some others such as Tiahuanaco. The Inca Empire was the last sovereign...

, forced to ride in trucks with Indians and animals after "The Mighty One" broke down. As a result he begins to develop a fraternity with the indigenous campesinos
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

. In March 1952 they both arrived at the Peruvian Tacna
Tacna
- Rail :Tacna is served by a cross-border standard gauge railway to Arica, Chile.It is also the location of the National Railway Museum of Peru.-Air:Tacna is served by the Crnl. FAP...

. After a discussion about the poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 in the region, Guevara refers in his notes to the words of Cuban poet José Marti
José Martí
José Julián Martí Pérez was a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist. He was also a part of the Cuban...

: "I want to link my destiny to that of the poor of this world." In May they arrived in Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 and during this time Guevara met doctor Hugo Pesce, a Peruvian scientist, director of the national leprosy program, and an important local Marxist. They discuss several nights until the early morning and years later Che identified these conversations as being very important for his evolution in attitude towards life and society.

In May, Guevara and Granado leave for the leper colony
Leper colony
A leper colony, leprosarium, or lazar house is a place to quarantine leprous people.-History:Leper colonies or houses became widespread in the Middle Ages, particularly in Europe and India, and often run by monastic orders...

 of San Pablo in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

, arriving there in June. During his stay Guevara complains about the miserable way the people and sick of that region have to live. Guevara also swam once from the side of the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 where the doctors stayed, to the other side of the river where the leper patients lived, a considerable distance of two and a half miles. He describes how there were no clothes, almost no food, and no medication. However, Guevara was moved by his time with the lepers, remarking that

After giving consultations and treating patients for a few weeks, Guevara and Granado leave abord the Mambo-Tango raft (shown) for Leticia, Colombia via the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

.

While visiting Bogotá
Bogotá
Bogotá, Distrito Capital , from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, he wrote a letter to his mother on July 6, 1952. In the letter he describes the conditions under the right-wing government of Conservative Laureano Gómez
Laureano Gómez
Laureano Eleuterio Gómez Castro was President of Colombia from 1950 to 1953, and long time leader of the Colombian Conservative Party.-Pre-election:...

 as the following: "There is more repression of individual freedom here than in any country we've been to, the police patrol the streets carrying rifles and demand your papers every few minutes." He also goes on to describe the atmosphere as "tense" and "suffocating" even hypothesizing that "a revolution may be brewing." Guevara was correct in his prognostication, as a military coup in 1953 would take place, bringing General Gustavo Rojas to power.

Later that month Guevara arrived in Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

, Venezuela and from there decides to return back to Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 to finish his studies in medical science. However, prior to his return, he travels by cargo-plane to Miami, where the airplane's technical problems delay him one month. To survive, he works as a waiter and washes dishes in a Miami bar.

Although he admits throughout that as a Vagabond
Vagabond (person)
A vagabond is a drifter and an itinerant wanderer who roams wherever they please, following the whim of the moment. Vagabonds may lack residence, a job, and even citizenship....

 traveler he can only see things at surface level, he does attempt to delve beneath the sheen of the places he visits. On one occasion he goes to see a woman dying of tuberculosis, leaving appalled by the failings of the public health system. This experience leads him to ruminate the following reflection: "How long this present order, based on the absurd idea of caste, will last is not within my means to answer, but it's time that those who govern spent less time publicizing their own virtues and more money, much more money, funding socially useful works."
Witnessing the widespread endemic poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

, oppression
Oppression
Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. It can also be defined as an act or instance of oppressing, the state of being oppressed, and the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, and...

 and disenfranchisement throughout Latin America, and influenced by his readings of Marxist literature, Guevara later decided that the only solution for the region's structural
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 inequalities was armed revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

. His travels and readings throughout this journey also lead him to view Latin America not as a group of separate nations, but as a single entity requiring a continent-wide strategy for liberation
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 from what he viewed as imperialist
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 and neo-colonial domination. His conception of a borderless, united, Hispanic-America sharing a common 'mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

' bond, was a theme that would prominently recur during his later activities and transformation from Ernesto the traveler, into Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

 the iconic revolutionary.

Transformation

Historians and biographers now agree that the experience had a profound impact on Guevara, who later became one of the most famous guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 leaders in history. "His political and social awakening has very much to do with this face-to-face contact with poverty, exploitation, illness, and suffering", said Carlos M. Vilas, a history professor at the Universidad Nacional de Lanús in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In May 2005, Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado
Alberto Granado was an Argentine–Cuban biochemist, doctor, writer, and scientist. He was also the youthful friend and traveling companion of revolutionary Che Guevara during their 1952 trip around Latin America, and later founded the Santiago School of Medicine in Cuba...

 described their journey to the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, stating: "The most important thing was to realise that we had a common sensibility for the things that were wrong and unjust." According to Granado, their time at the leper colony
Leper colony
A leper colony, leprosarium, or lazar house is a place to quarantine leprous people.-History:Leper colonies or houses became widespread in the Middle Ages, particularly in Europe and India, and often run by monastic orders...

 of San Pablo
San Pablo
-Geography:San Pablo is a common toponym in parts of the world where the Spanish language is or was spoken.Towns, cities, and counties called San Pablo:*Argentina**San Pablo , Catamarca Province...

 in the Amazon
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 also proved pivotal. Recalling that they shared everything with the sick people and describing Guevara's wave on departure as follows: "I got the impression that Che was saying goodbye to institutional medicine and becoming a doctor of the people."

According to his daughter Aleida Guevara
Aleida Guevara
Aleida Guevara March is the eldest daughter of four children born to Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his second wife, Aleida March....

 in a 2004 article, throughout the book we can see how Guevara became aware that what poor people needed was not his scientific knowledge as a doctor, but his strength and persistence to bring social change.

Editions

In 2004, Che Guevara's daughter, Aleida Guevara
Aleida Guevara
Aleida Guevara March is the eldest daughter of four children born to Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his second wife, Aleida March....

, explained that her father had not intended his diary to be published, and that it had remained as "a sheaf of typewritten pages". But in the 1980s, his family worked on his unpublished manuscripts, and a Cuban publishing house brought out The Motorcycle Diaries for the first time in 1993.

The director of Ocean Press insists that the book was published in Cuba and that any rumors of a conspiracy to prohibit its publication there are false. He also points out that the Union of Young Communists brought out an edition, with another to be published by the Che Guevara Studies Center. Furthermore, he has given an assurance that its publication has the support of many people including Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

.

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey was published by Ocean Press and the Che Guevara Studies Center, Havana, in 2003. The book has a preface by Aleida Guevara March and an introduction by Cintio Vitier. This edition is edited and translated by Alexandra Keeble.

Reviews

Further reading

  • Back on the Road: A Journey Through Latin America, by Ernesto "Che" Guevara & Alberto Granado, Grove Press, 2002, ISBN 0802139426
  • Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend, by Patrick Symmes, Vintage, 2000, ISBN 0375702652
  • Che's Chevrolet, Fidel's Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba, by Richard Schweid, University of North Carolina Press, 2008, ISBN 0807858870
  • Che Guevara and the Mountain of Silver: By Bicycle and Train through South America, by Anne Mustoe
    Anne Mustoe
    Anne Mustoe was a touring cyclist, author of travel books and former headmistress of Saint Felix School, Southwold. She died in a hospital in Aleppo on November 10, 2009. She was married to Nelson Edwin Mustoe QC...

    , Virgin Books, 2008, ISBN 0753512742
  • Looking for Mr. Guevara: A Journey through South America, by Barbara Brodman, iUniverse, 2001 ISBN 0595180698
  • Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of a Radical Reporter, by Mark Cooper, Verso, 1996, ISBN 1859840655
  • The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey Around South America, by Ernesto Che Guevara & translator Ann Wright, Verso, 1996, ISBN 1857023994
  • Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary, by Alberto Granado, Newmarket Press, 2004, ISBN 1557046395
  • (Travel Map) --- Che's Route: Ernesto Che Guevara Trip Across South America, by de Dios Editores, 2004, ISBN 9879445295

Film

  • Chasing Che, 2007, developed by National Geographic Adventure, A ten-week series featured on V-me.
  • Che
    Che (film)
    Che is a two-part 2008 biopic about Ernesto 'Che' Guevara directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro. Rather than follow a standard chronological order, the films offer an oblique series of interspersed moments along the overall timeline...

    , 2008, directed by Steven Soderbergh
    Steven Soderbergh
    Steven Andrew Soderbergh is an American film producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, and an Academy Award-winning film director. He is best known for directing commercial Hollywood films like Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and the remake of Ocean's Eleven, but he has also directed smaller less...

     & starring Benicio del Toro
    Benicio del Toro
    Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez is a Puerto Rican and Spanish actor and film producer. He won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a BAFTA Award for his role as Javier Rodríguez in Traffic . He is also known for his roles as Fred Fenster in The Usual...

     as Che, (268 min).
  • The Motorcycle Diaries
    The Motorcycle Diaries (film)
    At the end of the film, after his sojourn at the leper colony, Guevara confirms his nascent egalitarian, anti-authority impulses, while making a birthday toast, which is also his first political speech. In it he evokes a pan-Latin American identity that transcends both the arbitrary boundaries of...

    , 2004, directed by Walter Salles, Focus Features, theatrical release, (126 min).
  • Travelling with Che Guevara, 2004, directed by Gianni Mina, Documentary, (110 min).

External links

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