Che Guevara and the Hombre Nuevo in Cuba: The Ideological Reformation of Foreign Policy
Brigham Young University
Paper presented at the 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research
Published in Historia: the Alpha Rho Papers, Vol II.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s contributions to Cuban foreign policy have been underestimated. Much has been written about his direct actions, but it was his indirect contributions that made the most dramatic impact. This paper explores Cuba’s foreign policy as a derivative of Guevara’s “new man” ideology by arguing that Cuba’s support of guerrilla movements abroad was an outgrowth of domestic policy rather than an unprecedented top-down policy from Castro and his government. Guevara’s writings and example of how to be a “new man”, fueled by government support, fundamentally changed the Cuban conception of themselves, the world, and their role in it. This new consciousness was evidenced by the thousands of Cubans who volunteered for internationalist missions. Accordingly, the Cuban Revolution became something both national and international; a Cuban man could fight in Bolivia to create a Bolivia for the Bolivians because he was a good Cuban. This paper also explores the abandonment of certain aspects of Guevara’s thought, such as his unsuccessful military strategy of foquismo, by later generations who continued to venerate him as a hero. Thus, Guevara was selectively remembered by the Cuban government and people. The research also offers insight into the interaction of national heroes and ideology with international relations in a way that shows that they are inseparable.