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Che Guevara's Irish Roots

By Brian Rohan

Last summer in Bolivia, government authorities scoured the countryside in search of a skeleton with no hands. Eventually, the corpse was found and its identity verified It was Che Guevara, the Latin American revolutionary who was "disappeared" in October, 1967.

The discovery, on a remote mountainside outside Vallegrande helped solve questions surrounding the death of the enigmatic Guevara. After a failed peasant revolt, Guevara had been surrounded and killed by government forces, who amputated Che's hands as proof of his death. The body was buried secretly, in an unmarked grave, in the hopes of not creating a martyr. Of course, the attempt failed. In the 20 years since his death, Guevara's long-haired and fiery image has become world-famous among everyone from armed revolutionaries to rock-and-roll bands looking to sell T-shirts. Still, much of Che Guevara's life remains a mystery.

One little-known fact about Ernesto Guevara ("Che" was a childhood nickname) is that he was of Irish heritage. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1928, the first child of Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna. Ernesto Guevara Lynch's mother, Ana Isabel Lynch, with whom Che's family lived for years and to whom Che grew especially close, was the daughter of immigrants who had sailed to Argentina from County Galway, Ireland, at around the time of the Irish Famine.

As a white-skinned Argentinean descended from local nobility on his mother's side, Che lived among the more privileged ranks of his country's class- and race-conscious society. The family plantation was lost after a series of poor investments made by Che's father, and the family was forced to move into a fifth-floor apartment with Ana Isabel Lynch. It was in these years that Che grew close to Grandma Lynch.

In time, Che rebelled against the class structures of Latin American society, and sought to lead the continent's poor in a Marxist revolt against both domestic dictators and capitalist imperialism. He became world-famous as the right-hand man to a young Fidel Castro, in the improbable overthrow of Cuba's Batista regime.

Guevara, a starry-eyed, impetuous spirit, grew tired of post-revolution life and thought little of Castro's offer of a position in Cuban government. He wanted to return to the continent, where he saw ideal conditions for a peasant revolt in the mountains of Bolivia. Before leaving the island, Guevara discarded a wristwatch given him by Castro in favor of an old gold one belonging to his father, a family heirloom passed on from Grandma Lynch. Guevara would later be killed while wearing that watch in Bolivia.


This article was from http://www.irishamerica.com

 

 

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Copyright © The Irish Argentine Historical Society. 2004