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13 Jun, 2008 23:51

Che remembered on his 80th 'birthday'

Che Guevara was an icon of the 20th century. His image adorned the bedrooms of millions of students and radicals. The word 'Che' is a nickname meaning 'friend', and 41 years after his death, Che is still seen as a friend to the Cuban people. He would have

Cuba's Ambassador to Russia, Jorge Marti Martinez, says Che's ideals are still relevant today.

“They're connected to very deep feelings, probably could be genetic feelings for democracy, for social justice, for a better life for everyone in every country,” says Jorge Marti Martinez.

Ernesto Guevara was born in Argentina into a middle-class family. He studied medicine at Buenos Aires University and during this time travelled across South and Central America, where he witnessed widespread poverty and oppression.

Che joined the forces of Fidel Castro and played a key role in the revolution which brought Castro to power in Cuba in 1959. He then guided the Castro regime towards an alliance with the Soviet Union.

Soviet historian Sergo Mikoyan says Che believed Cuba would be crushed unless it found a reliable friend among other socialist countries.

Che Guevara was notorious for inciting guerrilla warfare. Some branded him a terrorist, but many admired his ideology, driven by moral rather than material incentives.

“For everyone involved in the leftist movement in Russia Che Guevara is a symbol of change, and of the continuous and never-ending potential for change. We believe capitalism has to be changed,” says Ilya Budraitskis from the 'Forward' socialist movement

Che has evolved into a quintessential icon of the modern-day socialist movement and he's become a symbol of youthful ideals.

“Che is a legend. He wanted people to be free and I think he appeals to young people nowadays because we can identify with the desire to be free,” says student Mger Badalyan.

As Che once said “The skeleton of our complete freedom is already formed. The flesh and clothing are lacking. We will create them.”

While he may not have fully achieved the freedom, Che's certainly left his mark as far as the clothing's concerned.