Juan Martin Guevara

A marvelous meeting with Che’s younger brother.

Juan Martin Guevara talking about his book Mi hermano el Che. Image taken by Cosme Velazquez.

When you hear or read the name Guevara I would believe most people would think of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. I wouldn’t blame you. The icon of Che, the man of many titles, would also pop into my head as well. How can you not think of the significant figure of the Cuban Revolution, a Marxist, author, diplomat and the guerilla leader that Che was? To my own surprise I found out that there’s a lot more to Guevara than just Che.

I had the opportunity to speak to Che’s younger brother Juan Martin Guevara. At the Galpón Centro de la Juventud last Friday, in Rosario, Argentina, Guevara came to talk about his book Mi hermano el Che. I was excited to hear first hand information from a reliable source in regards to Che. At the same time I was highly intrigued in getting to know someone who most likely than not grew up in his brother’s shadow.

My journalism professor Peter Laufer, James N. Wallace Chair of Journalism at the University of Oregon, introduced me to Guevara. Guevara was very welcoming and he was surprised but glad that a group of American students were interested in his book. He mentioned to me that he enjoyed his visit when he came to the United States. “Visité Los Ángeles y me encantó fue maravilloso.” We shared thoughts and giggles, but shortly I had to return to my seat to listen to his talk.

My first impression of Guevara was a good one, but the more he talked about his book addressing his brother, family and himself the more I was fascinated with him. His siblings and him got their will to have dreams and make them a reality from his parents. “De nuestro viejo nos dio para tener sueños. Pero de nuestra vieja, nuestra veja nos dio para hacerlos realidad.”

I can’t believe in a small amount of time I was able to learn a lot of information like this from the Guevara’s. Guevara was taking questions and I knew I had to ask him something. I asked him if he felt he’d forgot to mention something after finishing his book. He looked directly at me and gave me a resounding yes. For nearly six minutes he talked and I must say he took the longest to answer my question.

Guevara feels that in his book he could have put more about “the word” of his brother. He really wants people to understand Che’s thought process. Throughout his writing and personal stories people can understand “La Palabra de Che.”

Juan Martin Guevara and I. Image taken by Levi Gittleman.

My colleague, Levi Gittleman, was able to take a picture of Guevara and I. He and I walked back to our host mother’s house with another colleague, Joe Bigelow talking about this unique experience. Gittleman sent me the picture later that night and as I looked at it I realized whenever I hear or read Guevara, Juan Martin will surely come up in my head.