Che Guevara's ''Motorcycle Diaries'' companion dies

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alberto Jiménez in 2007

Alberto Granado Jiménez, the Argentinian biochemist who was Che Guevara's companion on his transformative motorcycle trip through South America, died in Havana on Saturday, reported Cuban state television. He was 88 and died of natural causes.

The politically active Jiménez met Ernesto "Che" Guevara, then a medical student, in Hernando, Argentina where Guevara had gone to play rugby. Both were intellectually curious and interested in exploration. In 1951 they set out on an eight-month motorcycle trip through South American that exposed them to the poverty in which most South Americans lived. The pair worked in a leprosy colony and met wtih destitute miners and indigenous people. Both men kept diaries which served as the basis for the 2004 film, The Motorcycle Diaries, produced by Robert Redford and directed by Walter Salles.

According to the Guardian, "Their road trip awoke in Guevara a social consciousness and political convictions that would turn him into one of the iconic revolutionaries of the 20th century." The trip is widely believed to have inspired Guevara to go to Cuba and join Fidel Castro in his 1959 revolt against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

By the time the two men met again eight years later, Guevara was a revolutionary hero and chief of Cuba’s central bank. Jiménez, who had remained in Argentina working in a clinic, accepted Guevara's invitation to move to Cuba in 1961 and founded a medical facility in Santiago. Later he moved to Havana where he continued his medical work. The two remained friends although they did not always agree. Jiménez rejected Guevara’s belief that social reform in Latin America had to be accomplished through guerrilla warfare.

The book The Motorcycle Diaries was published in the 1990's. Jiménez said of the book that it inspired the image of the young Che as a romantic figure.

Jiménez authored the book Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary, published in 2003.


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