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Gala Commemorates 80th Anniversary of Birth of Che Guevara
The National Symphonic Orchestra performed under the direction of Vitier, and there were presentations by the National and Exaudi Choruses, and soprano Bárbara Yanéz. Images of Ernesto Che Guevara were projected on huge screens at the Havana theater and transmitted on national television, some having never been publicly released before Friday evening.

Some 5,000 special guests attended the gala at the Havana theater, among them, Cuban President Raúl Castro and other leaders of the Cuban Revolution, family members and relatives of Che Guevara, and the wives, mothers and children of the Cuban Five, imprisoned in the United States for fighting against terrorism.

Vice President Carlos Lage opened the evening's activities and noted that June 14th also marks the anniversary of the birth of another revolutionary fighter: Antonio Maceo, born in 1845, who fought against Spanish colonialism. Lage reviewed the life and work of Ernesto Che Guevara, tracing his revolutionary career and reaffirming that the Cuban Revolution would continue down the road he blazed -- irreversibly -- toward socialism.

The cultural gala was broadcast live on Cuban radio and television and heard on the international shortwave frequencies of Radio Havana Cuba.

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born on June 14, 1928 in Rosario, Argentina. As a young man, he was known for his devotion to causes of justice around the world and studied to become a medical doctor. After receiving his BA in Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, he made two trips around Latin America -- the first with his friend Alberto Granado in 1952 and, the second one, in 1953 with Carlos Ferrer, a childhood friend. Thanks to these trips, he became aware of the terrible situation and living conditions of the native population and the working class in the American continent. In addition, working at the San Pablo leper colony on the banks of the Amazon River had a profound influence on his awareness with regard to the urgent social revolution needed all over the Americas.

Ernesto Guevara was in Guatemala in 1954 when the CIA overthrew the constitutionally-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. After the military coup in Guatemala he went to Mexico. There he met a group of young Cuban exiles. After attacking the Moncada Garrison in July 1953, they went to Mexico to train for guerrilla warfare against the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

Invited by Fidel Castro to join the 26th of July Movement as the physician of the expeditionary force to fight against Batista, Ernesto Guevara joined the group that sailed aboard a small yacht from Mexico to Cuba in December 1956. In the Sierra Maestra
Mountains, Che served as a doctor and a guerrilla combatant, earning the rank of Comandante.

With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Che was actively involved in many revolutionary transformations -- including the drafting and implementation of the Agrarian Reform in May 1959, the nationalization of industries and companies of key economic sectors, the centralized planning of the Cuban economy, the development of heavy industry and of volunteer labor.

Che's internationalist ideas led him to organize guerrilla movements not only in Latin America but also in Africa, in the Congo -- carrying out the armed struggle would pave the way for social revolutions.

Today, on the 80th anniversary of his birth, we pay tribute to a man who still lives in the revolutionary winds sweeping the continent that he so profoundly loved and for which he gave his life.
(Radio Habana Cuba)

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