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Che Guevara’s legacy & world revolution

Published Oct 5, 2011 8:20 PM

This year represents the 44th anniversary of the martyrdom of Ernesto Che Guevera, the Argentine-Cuban revolutionary who made monumental contributions to the anti-imperialist and world socialist movements. His political determination and theoretical reflections provide tremendous lessons for workers, farmers and youth today, who face similar challenges building societies devoid of class exploitation, racism and national oppression.

After playing an instrumental role in the triumphant Cuban Revolution of Jan. 1, 1959, and the formative years of the transformation there from neocolonialist capitalism to the construction of socialism, Che intervened directly in the African and Latin American revolutions of 1964 to 1967.

In 1964, Che set out on a world tour to build a broader anti-imperialist front against the U.S. His travels took him to the People’s Republic of China and various African states.

After making a speech before the U.N. General Assembly in December 1964, Che visited several African states beginning in Algeria, where the National Liberation Front (FLN) had recently triumphed in armed struggle against French colonialist occupation. He later traveled to Mali, Congo, Guinea, Dahomey, Tanzania and Egypt (then known as the United Arab Republic).

While in Ghana, Che held discussions with President Kwame Nkrumah, the political leader of the movement for African unity and socialism. Che and Nkrumah laid the basis for convening the Tricontinental Conference, which brought together dozens of revolutionary organizations from Africa, Latin America and Asia in January of 1966. The Organization of Solidarity of the People of Asia, Africa & Latin America was formed at this gathering.

Che revisited Algeria in 1965 and addressed the Second Economic Seminar of the Organization of Afro-Asian Solidarity. In this speech Che identified U.S. imperialism as the principal enemy of the workers and oppressed throughout the world.

In his book, “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism,” Nkrumah noted that the former colonial powers of Europe and the U.S. seek to dominate post-colonial states by controlling economic resources and political structures. Nkrumah argued that the struggle against neocolonialism posed a monumental challenge to the workers and oppressed of the world, since its existence represented imperialism’s final phase of global domination. This was reflected, Nkrumah stated, in imperialism’s military desperation i n Vietnam, Korea, Africa and Latin America.

The leader of Ghana stressed the need for an all-union government in Africa and the strengthening of unity between Africa and Asia. “Furthermore,” Nkruman urged, “we must encourage and utilize to the full those still all too few yet growing instances of support for liberation and anti-colonialism inside the imperialist world itself.”

Che intervenes in African, Latin American revolutions

Che relocated to Congo in the early months of 1965 to support the revolutionary forces fighting to uphold the anti-imperialist legacy of martyred Patrice Lumumba, the first legitimately elected prime minister of that mineral-rich, central African state. The Cuban brigade and the Lumumbists were not successful in 1965, and Che, who relocated to Bolivia the next year, was assassinated by the Bolivian military in coordination with the CIA. However, their struggles were by no means in vain.

Cuba was able to provide critical support to the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola in the struggle to establish Angola as a strategic base for the further independence of Southern Africa. Between 1975 and 1988, Cuba would send more than 300,000 of its own people to fight against the U.S.-backed South African apartheid system. That system sponsored the counterrevolutionary UNITA movement in Angola in an effort to block both the independence of Namibia and the total elimination of settler colonialism based in Pretoria, South Africa.

Namibia would win independence in 1990, and South Africa would be taken over by the African National Congress in 1994. The role of Cuba in these achievements has been acknowledged by the peoples of the world.

Latin America moves left

Revolutions in Nicaragua and Grenada in 1979 set a pattern of anti-imperialism in Latin America. While setbacks in Grenada in 1983 prompted a U.S. invasion, and the destabilization of Nicaragua brought about the overthrow of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in 1990 (it later regained power through elections), other revolutionary movements would come to power in Venezuela and Bolivia during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Today the Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America (ALBA) and other formations have identified the necessity of an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist front throughout Latin America and the world.

This was exemplified in the response to the U.S.-NATO war against the North African state of Libya. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro and the leadership of the Cuban Communist Party labeled the so-called “no-fly zone” over Libya as a plot to intensify neocolonialist control over the continent.

The ALBA states, led by Venezuela, immediately expressed solidarity with Libya and the African Union, which also opposed the imperialist intervention. At the recent U.N. General Assembly in New York, the progressive states of Latin America, along with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, firmly opposed the imperialist machinations to transform Libya into an outpost for exploitation and military domination of the entire region.

The movement towards greater unity among the peoples of Latin America and Africa will increasingly take on an anti-imperialist character. As Nkrumah noted in 1965, “All these liberatory forces have, on all major issues and at every possible instance, the support of the growing socialist sector of the world.”

Today — as the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression poses a profound challenge to workers, the oppressed and youth inside the imperialist states — the left must place solidarity and unity with the peoples of the world as a cornerstone of the struggle. The falling standard of living among the people inside the capitalist states is directly linked to the unbridled militarism of the imperialist countries.

Ruling-class strategies to both starve workers in the “developed” regions and to reoccupy the oppressed countries are unsustainable. Workers and youth throughout the world are rising up from Wall Street to Tahrir Square, and from the factories and plantations of Colombia to the mines of South Africa. They are increasingly prepared to make the necessary sacrifices for the liberation of humanity from capitalism and imperialism.