October 4, 2007 / 3:00 PM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX: Che Guevara, a symbol of revolution

(Reuters) - Revolutionary legend Ernesto “Che” Guevara was captured by soldiers in a Bolivian jungle and executed 40 years ago, ending his attempt to spark a peasant uprising there.

Following are some facts about Guevara:

* Born in Argentina in 1928, Guevara became a Marxist after a motorcycle ride through South America opened his eyes to poverty when he was still a medical student.

* Guevara witnessed the CIA-backed ouster of reformist President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. A year later, he met Fidel Castro in Mexico City and joined his revolutionary movement.

* Guevara suffered from asthma but it did not keep him from playing a leading role in the guerrilla war that Castro waged from Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains against dictator Fulgencio Batista, who fled the country on New Year’s Day 1959.

* The iconic image of Guevara gazing into the distance with long hair tucked into a black beret was taken in 1960 by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda at a memorial service for victims killed when a freighter loaded with Belgian weapons blew up in Havana’s harbor.

* Guevara was president of Cuba’s central bank for 14 months. He signed all Cuban banknotes with his nickname “Che,” a common Argentine expression meaning “hey.”

* Seeking to export revolution to Africa, Guevara joined the guerrilla fighters of Laurent Kabila in the Congo in 1965, but was disappointed with their incompetence and infighting and the short-lived Cuban expedition was a fiasco.

* Guevara left for Bolivia in 1966 to start a new guerrilla movement with the idea of creating “two, three, many Vietnams” in Latin America.

* He was captured on Oct 8, 1967, and executed the next day by the Bolivian army in a schoolhouse in La Higuera. His hands were severed so they could be used to confirm his identity, and he was buried secretly at an airfield.

* Guevara’s bones were dug up in 1997, returned to Cuba and placed in a mausoleum in Santa Clara, the site of his biggest military victory.

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