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Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara performed a number of key roles in the new government.

These included reviewing the appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals,instituting agrarian land reform as minister of industries, helping spearhead a successful nationwide literacy campaign, serving as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba’s armed forces, and traversing the globe as a diplomat on behalf of Cuban socialism. Such positions also allowed him to play a central role in training the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion and bringing the Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to Cuba which precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.Additionally, he was a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on guerrilla warfare, along with a best-selling memoir about his youthful motorcycle journey across South America. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution abroad, first unsuccessfully in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia, where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and executed.

Over forty years after his execution, Che's life and legacy still remain a contentious issue. The contradictions of his ethos at various points in his life have created a complex character of unending duality.

An array of notable individuals have lauded Guevara as a hero;for example, Nelson Mandela referred to him as "an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom",while Jean-Paul Sartre described him as "not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age". Others who have expressed their admiration include authors Graham Greene, who remarked that Che "represented the idea of gallantry, chivalry, and adventure",and Susan Sontag, who expounded that "[Che's] goal was nothing less than the cause of humanity itself." In the black community, philosopher Frantz Fanon professed Guevara to be "the world symbol of the possibilities of one man",while Black Panther Party head Stokely Carmichael eulogized that "Che Guevara is not dead, his ideas are with us."Praise has been reflected throughout the political spectrum, with the libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard extolling Guevara as a "heroic figure", lamenting after his death that "more than any man of our epoch or even of our century, [Che] was the living embodiment of the principle of revolution", while journalist Christopher Hitchens commented that "[Che's] death meant a lot to me and countless like me at the time, he was a role model, albeit an impossible one for us bourgeois romantics insofar as he went and did what revolutionaries were meant to do—fought and died for his beliefs."

Conversely, Jacobo Machover, an exiled opposition author, dismisses the hero-worshipping and portrays him as a ruthless executioner.

Meanwhile, Guevara remains a beloved national hero to many in Cuba, where his image adorns the $3 Cuban peso and school children begin each morning by pledging "We will be like Che.


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