A candid, serious memoir by the iconic revolutionary’s first wife.
Gadea met Ernesto Guevara—the nickname “Che” came later—in Guatemala on December 20, 1953. She was a Peruvian political exile working as a government economist; he was a recent medical-school graduate eager to travel and learn about Latin American politics before returning to his native Argentina. A kinship developed between the like-minded two, as they shared Marxist tomes and ideas on how to resist the imperialist oligarchies controlling most of Latin America. Guevara favored the Soviet and Chinese models for a more just society and fervently espoused Sartre and Freud; Gadea introduced him to Walt Whitman’s poetry, helped him find a job and put off his entreaties to get married. It was through Gadea, she claims quite plausibly, that Guevara met the group of Cubans who had participated in the famous July 26, 1953, assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, among them Rául and Fidel Castro. Gadea was briefly jailed after a CIA-backed military coup overthrew Guatemala’s liberal president in January 1954, and the couple fled to Mexico City, where they reunited with the Castro brothers. The coup convinced them all that only armed struggle could liberate the people, and they began to plan the assault on Cuba’s Batista regime that led to the revolutionaries’ historic triumph in 1959. Gadea and Guevara married and had a daughter, Hildita, but the revolution ultimately separated them. He boarded the Granma in November 1956 for Castro’s audacious invasion of Cuba, and by the time Gadea finally arrived in Havana in 1959, Guevara had another woman; they divorced five months later. Gadea died in 1974, and the text offers no information about when this memoir was originally published or why this English-language version is now available.
An intelligent, tender look at Guevara’s human side. See also second wife Aleida March’s just-published (in Spanish) Evocation.