UN Speech

UN Speech

After the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 Che increasingly assumed the roles of spokesperson for the Cuban Revolutionary government and of critic of American foreign policy. His most important outing as international statesman was a speech delivered on December 11, 1964 to the United Nations. He called for the end of the American blockade of Cuba, an end to American subversion in Cuba and the withdrawal of the Americans from their military base at Guantánemo. He attacked the US for its domestic human rights violations against African-Americans and its complicity in the South African policy of apartheid.

Che ended his speech by excoriating Americans for their capitalist depredations in Latin America. Che said that the masses of indigenous peoples, landless peasants and exploited workers suffered under the heavy hand of American monopolistic capitalism. He predicted that revolution would sweep through Latin America and bring with it justice for the under-classes.

Two abortive attempts to assassinate Che while he was in New York added color to his presence there. He was targeted by Cuban exiles. One of them was a woman who tried to get at him with a knife and the other was a man who attempted to send a shell from a bazooka into the UN building.

While in the US, Che was interviewed on television and caused a stir by meeting with followers of Malcolm X.


Che’s speech to the UN was the first of many as he embarked on a three month tour of countries where he believed the message of the Cuban Revolution would fall on sympathetic ears. He stopped in the USSR, China, Egypt, Algeria, Congo and Tanzania and other nations.  Claiming Irish ancestry, he visited Ireland where he enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Limerick and met with the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick who would create the iconic Che image based on Korda’s photograph.

While travelling abroad, Che wrote a letter to a Urugyan magazine outlining his thinking about the evils of capitalism and the advantages for the masses in a socialist state. This letter was subsequently published as Socialism and Man in Cuba.

Che’s last speech on his world tour in Algiers, Algeria on February 24, 1965 was much more controversial than his previous orations. (Che’s speech at the Afro-Asian Conference in Algeria) He claimed that it was not just the United States that was exploiting the countries of the Southern Hemisphere but also the Soviet Union was practicing imperialism in its policies toward these countries.


Che Guevara with Egyptian President Gamel Nasser

He advocated that the nations of the south must rise up against this imperialism from the north and that even countries in the communist bloc must assert themselves to become truly independent socialist states. He spoke of the superiority of Maoist communism over the error-ridden Marxism practiced in the Soviet Union and he praised the North Vietnamese for their Maoist struggle against western Capitalism.

Che’s swing to the ideology of Chinese communism was not well received in the Cuban revolutionary government. Castro’s dependence on trade with and aid from the USSR did not allow for one of Cuba’s spokesmen to be championing Mao’s China that was then involved in a kind of cold war with Russia. Che virtually disappeared after his return to Cuba.


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