Letter to Che

A visit to the Che Guevara museum at his childhood home in Alta Gracia near Cordoba left me with a lot of questions. This letter to Che asks for answers.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Che Guevara Museum, Alta Gracia, Argentina

Dear Che,

I thought you might like to know that I visited your old house today. The one you grew up in Alta Gracia near Cordoba in Argentina. They’ve turned it into a museum, you know.

Old photos of your family, your childhood, the adolescence you spent growing and nurturing that seething anger, and the many later years you spent focusing that anger to try to change the world.

To be honest, though, it left me a bit confused about the man you became and the legacy you have left.

You’ve been worshipped and reviled by so many people. Perhaps that’s because there was an inherent contradiction in much that you did – killing to stop the killing, for instance. Taking control of governments to bring down government control.

That’s why I was confused. It made me wonder what you would think of the man the little boy from this house turned into, what you would make of the legend of Che.

argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia

There was something quite inspirational about the young Che, back when adventures were about exploration and not revolution. At the Che Guevara Museum, I saw the photos of you and your friends on rafts and bikes, going on journeys for the sake of discovery.

I can even relate to the idea that any discovery also brings with it an element of self-discovery. People travel the world and see poverty, injustice, and corruption.

Some people are upset and vow to try to help. You saw this and you vowed to change it all.

argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia
argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia

What happened, though, to the young man who wanted a better life for everyone?

Where did the pursuit of that shared happiness get so confused that the country today that is used as an example of poverty, injustice and corruption is Cuba, the same country you helped make?

Would you look at Cuba – or Venezuela – or many others in this part of the world – and be proud of how these countries treat their people?

Were the ideals you held right and the implementation of them mismanaged? Were you too naïve to think the world could actually be a better place? Or were you just plain wrong?

argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia

I’m not sure if anyone has told you, Che, but you’re a bit of a pop culture icon these days. There’s a picture of your face that has become one of the most recognisable images in the world.

It’s used in the name of revolution, in the fight for change, in the renunciation of inequality. It’s used by the true fighters for freedom and it’s used by those who pay lip service to the cause.

Your face adorns the t-shirts of the wealthy and the middle class, those who have never known suffering, who like to think a piece of clothing can connect them with the struggle.

They travel the world, talking of the wrongs and how to make them right but with no real intention to play in part in that change.

At first I thought you might be offended by your reputation being used like this. Then I realised that in some ways they were just like you once.

You were from a well-off middle-class family – I saw the photos at your house. You travelled the world and talked. You read books, you spoke to people, you broadened your horizons.

The similarities are there… and then you changed. You actually took the action you talked about.

argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia
argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia

I guess people have an admiration for someone who fights for what he believes. Surely much of the respect for your legend comes from the sacrifices you made to follow that conviction.

There was a selflessness to the crusade to improve the lives of others, even at a cost to your own.

You had a family you barely saw, you lived in awful conditions on battlefields around the world, and you eventually took a bullet for your cause.

argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia

The motivation of your actions is one thing, though. The consequences are another.

You helped install leaders who would become dictators, you played a part in bringing the world to the edge of a nuclear holocaust, and you fought against the very principles that much of the human population now believes are the right ones.

argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia

That little boy with a sense of exploration ended up taking his continent on more of a journey than it ever took him on.

And so, I ask again, what would you think of Che today?



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Comfortable beds, large bathrooms, and modern amenities make Aldea Hostel a great choice.


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Along with a modern design, Azur Real Hotel Boutique & Spa boasts a rooftop pool and a fitness centre.


From the marble interiors to the heated pool, Windsor Hotel is full of luxurious touches.

26 thoughts on “Letter to Che”

    • Thanks, glad you liked it! It was really interesting to actually think about the ‘legend’ of it all, rather than just go along with the superficial stories you sometimes hear.

  1. Che’s Guevera’s life is one that exemplifies the law of unintended consequences. Who knows, at the outset of a life, where our actions will lead others, what they will cause others to do. Here is a human being who is put on a pedestal by some and vilified by others. The truth, I suspect, is somewhere in the middle.

    We make our choices and history lives with them.

    • Perfect way of putting it, Nina! You do never know. I think the people who put him on a pedestal do it because of his convictions and commitment to his cause. Those who vilify him do so because of the consequences of his actions. As you say, the truth is probably in the middle because both things are what made him who he was.

    • I’m determined to get to the bottom of this. I’m in the process of reading everything I can find. It sounds like we’re talking about different people: Someone so caring about the lepers, then we have firing squads and prisons, etc. And then the tee-shirts, which I do have but no longer am 100 percent sure I should wear.

    • Thanks. And you’re absolutely right. As a young traveller (like he once was… although not quite as young these days) I see the injustices in the world. The difference is he actually did something about it!

  2. Enjoyed this piece quite a bit… something different! I really liked the style you wrote it in. A lot of the countries you mention are actually doing quite well. Cuba has an arguably better health care and education system than at my home in the U.S. They also contribute a proportionately larger number of health care professionals to Doctors Without Borders than we do. They also have made huge progressions in agriculture – Havana grows 80% of its own produce within city limits. Venezuela’s poor under Chavez now have rights – free education, free health care, and stay-at-home mothers now receive minimum wage for taking care of their families. These were the ideals Che was fighting for, while I don’t idolize him as much as many others do.

    It isn’t the way my country is used to doing things… but it seems to be working just fine for them.

    • You make some good points, Dayna. And it’s a really tricky issue that I don’t think has a definite answer. You’re right about Cuba having a high rated education and health system. But then it also has some of the worst examples in the world of torture, imprisonment, executions and human rights abuses. I’m not sure that’s the kind of country Che imagined when he set out on his journeys. I certainly don’t have a fixed opinion on the man and his legacy, I just find the contradictions and moral flexibility quite interesting.

      • Very true, a man of contradictions in some ways. I think our own human rights record is pretty hideous at times too though! I enjoyed the perspective in the piece quite a bit, and always have the urge to play devil’s advocate. =)

  3. Really insightful letter, Mike. It’s ironic that the very institutions Che was fighting against, he used himself to further his cause. Violence, government control, oppressing leaders… how did his noble idealism get twisted into bloodshed? He actually took action which is something that, like you said, most people just talk about and do nothing. I wonder if he was aware of his own contradictions or if he believed “the end justifies the means.”

    • Who knows? I tend to think that maybe he was unaware of the consequences, or at least thought they were worth it to achieve his goals. It seems to be a common theme around the world that noble idealism gets corrupted by the realities of control.

  4. Hello Turtle:
    Thanks for the details of your visit to the museum. I’ve written a novel – A Kiss For Señor Guevara – that I hope you’ll take a look at. It tells of the last two days in the life of Che Guevara, from the point of view of a young girl given the task of feeding him and his men before their execution by the Bolivian army. It’s available in print at Amazon, and also for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, et.al.
    Terence Clarke

  5. The story of Che is just so strange and interesting. I have also wondered what he might think of his face being on t-shirts worn by people who may or may not really understand what he fought for and represented.

    I, sadly, was in Cordoba but never made it to this museum. Cool photos.

  6. This is a great post…super, super honest. I find Che very inspiring in terms of what moved him to do what he did. I don’t know if starting a revolution was the right path to help the working class, but his desire to help was powerful.

    I hope to leave my mark someday too, but in a more peaceful way with one step at a time. Maybe help one community instead of the world, because in the end that will benefit the world at large!

    Once again, really great post and I love the sculpture of Che!


    • Thanks, Mary. I really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the man (and the legend). I think it’s only natural to have mixed feelings about him and this was the best way I could think of to express them.

  7. Che was nothing but a murderer (and also he raped women…check out his dark background). Revolutionaries like him are as blood thirsty and resentful as the ones they are fighting against.

    No difference to me and it’s not worth worshipping like people do nowadays.

    • Thanks for the comment, Cami.
      I agree that people like Che are complex characters. Although some people see the good, others see the bad. My opinion is that you should at least understand who someone is before you hold them up as a hero.

  8. Glad you pushed this piece again because I missed it the first time. Even so, had I read it then I would have understood it less because I read a couple of Che’s books (or at least books produced from his writings) in the last year, and felt exactly what this made you feel – the contradiction. They aren’t even well-written (excepting the odd phrase). They read very much like your average blog or someone’s diary. They sound naïve by today’s standards.

    My feeling is that he died too young to be aware of the consequences. The fact that he didn’t stay in Cuba to become a fat cat, but moved on to, in his opinion, help the oppressed elsewhere, says something.

    He has become an icon because he died young and still idealistic, and because he was, well, quite easy on the eye!

    • I like your take on it, Linda. I’m sure he did have good intentions at heart. As you say, moving on from Cuba suggests that. But the consequences are hard to deny. What confuses me are the people today who don’t see the contradictions. I’m not saying you can’t hold him up as a hero, but at least understand a bit more about the man. Just saying he is idealistic and easy on the eye is too simplistic. I love that you’ve read some of his writing to learn more!

  9. So this was the bike on which the legend traveled the entire Latin America during his education period. i think you should also add some more popular items by Che Guevara like his smoking pipe, his weekly shirt, yearly boots and the legendary hat which he used to wear. .. by the way .. really nice post.. thanks for sharing


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