About The Che Guevara Monument
The Che Guevara Monument (Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara) in Santa Clara in Cuba is dedicated to iconic political activist, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, more commonly known as Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
History of the Che Guevara Monument
Che Guevara (1928 – 1967) was an Argentinean medical student who became a leading figure of the Cuban Revolution to overthrow the right-wing dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Often known simply as “Che”, he was a revolutionary who joined Fidel Castro’s Marxist 26th July Movement which eventually culminated in Castro replacing Batista as Cuba’s leader.
The Che Guevara Monument is a complex comprised of several monuments to Che, including an 82-foot statue of the man himself and his mausoleum. Che was executed on 9 October 1967 in Bolivia following his attempt to overthrow dictator, René Barrientos Ortuño, which was thwarted by the CIA and Bolivian forces.
At first, the location of his body was kept a secret, but it was later found and, together with the remains of the other revolutionaries who died in the Bolivia operation, was moved to Cuba. Santa Clara was chosen as the site for the Che Guevara Monument as it was the site of a major victory for the revolutionary, leading to it often being called the “City of Che”.
The Che Guevara Monument today
The 22-foot high bronze statue of Che was completed in 1988: designed by leading architects, the residents of Santa Clara also contributed around 400,000 hours of voluntary work between them towards the construction of the structure. The figure of Che is directed to point towards South America, reflecting his dream of a united, independent Latin America.
The carved relief panels depict important scenes in Che’s life. Look out for the eternal flame burning in his memory, which is housed on site.
The site is located on the site of the final conflict of the Cuban Revolution: the derailed boxcars and bulldozer nearby are testament to Batista’s failed final attempts to stop revolutionary forces.
The museum is relatively compact and contains an assortment of Che’s personal items and photographs – it’s ordered chronologically and is easy to follow. Note that you’ll have to surrender any personal belongings with you on arrival – including wallet & phone. You’ll pick them up again on your way out, so be prepared. Any infringements of the rules within the museum/mausoleum complex are taken extremely seriously.
Getting to the Che Guevara Monument
The complex is just off the Campo de Tiro in western Santa Clara – it’s a 2km walk from the city centre, otherwise you can normally pick up a ride from a local bus or horse and cart.