Tracing Che Guevara's route on Cuba holidays
The three Latin American countries through which Che journeyed on his revolutionary path fighting against capitalist regimes, have come together for the creation of a new tourist route to offer travellers with a unique tour following the "Che Trail".
While in life, Ernesto "Che" Guevara fought to overthrow a corrupt, capitalist elite, in death, he seems to be spawning his own tourism industry - soon to include a three-country "Che Trail". Now tourists will be able to follow in his footsteps during Cuba holidays, starting off from his native country of Argentina and ending on his deathplace in Bolivia.
Tourism officials working to implement the new "Che" route to Argentina, Cuba and Bolivia are collaborating on a historic route that will allow Guevara buffs to retrace the footsteps of the Argentine medical student turned revolutionary in Cuba who was killed in a failed mission to foment an uprising in Bolivia.
Bolivia's Vice Minister of Tourism, Marco Antonio Peredo, said Wednesday that the international "Caminos del Che" trail will include sites where Guevara was born, fought and died.
However, making clear that the intention is not to make the iconic figure of Che Guevara a purely commercial one, tourism officials involved say they are being sensitive to Guevara's legacy, long ago co-opted by T-shirt vendors the world over.
"We aren't looking to commodify him — he's not a product that's for sale," said Diego Conca, who coordinates Argentina's portion of the Che trail, inaugurated last year.
"His journey transformed him, and we think that following this route can also be transformative for tourists."
Attractions in Argentina already include Guevara's birthplace of Rosario, his family's mate tea plantation in Misiones and other places where Guevara rode by motorcycle on his path to becoming a leftist revolutionary.
Guevara went to Cuba in 1956 to fight alongside the Castro brothers, and later led a small band of guerrillas in Bolivia, where he was captured and killed in 1967.
Bolivia's tourist route follows Guevara's path through the jungle to Higuera, the town where he was killed, and Valle Grande, where he was buried with six other fighters until 1997, when the bodies were exhumed and taken to Cuba.
During Cuba holidays guests will get to visit Guevara's honorary square in Santa Clara, where his remains have been buried as well as visiting the iconic Revolution Plaza where a huge portrait of him hangs over a huge building.
Interest in Guevara has increased as Latin American countries celebrate the bicentennial of earlier revolutions that led to independence from Spain. Leftist administrations in Argentina and Bolivia also have broken down taboos associated with Guevara, who inspired both armed insurrection and state repression.
In Argentina's independence celebrations this week, President Cristina Fernandez hung a portrait of Guevara donated by Fidel and Raul Castro in the Gallery of Latin American Patriots in the executive mansion.
"People all over the world ask us for more information," Conca said. "Each month there's more interest, and now with Bolivia, we think there will be even more."
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