On October 9 1967 Ernesto "Che" Guevara was executed by a Bolivian army officer at the end of his ill-fated attempt to foment revolution throughout Latin America.
He was executed at the behest of the CIA, which hoped his death would deal a major blow to the influence of the Cuban revolution in a part of the world traditionally viewed as America's backyard, with its role to provide the cheap labour, raw materials and the markets required to maintain the huge profits of US corporations.
But the CIA was wrong, just as successive US administrations have been wrong, in thinking that the ideas for which Guevara fought and died could ever be ended by a bullet.
On the contrary, over four decades on from his death the Cuban revolution continues as a beacon of inspiration and hope to the poor of the undeveloped world.
That a tiny island nation, with a population of just over 11 million people and located 90 miles off the coast of Florida, should have the temerity to assert its right to political and economic independence from the US and survive for so long is nothing short of immense.
Not only have the ideas for which Guevara gave his life survived, they have never been more popular or potent, illustrated by Hugo Chavez's most recent election as president of Venezuela for a historic fourth term.
Undeniably, Che's legend has not only continued unabated since his death but it has grown. In every town and city, from Los Angeles to London, Beirut to Bethlehem and Nairobi to New Delhi, his iconic image carrying that expression of burning defiance, is as ubiquitous as it is powerful. Captured by Alberto Korda in 1960, it's found on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs, rugs, posters and a myriad of other items.
For many it represents something transcendent in the human experience, an idea that stands in opposition to the values of individualism, inequality and materialism which are drummed into us every minute of every day by the dominant ideology.
A read through Che's writings brings home the fierce determination of a man who burned with anger at the injustice and exploitation suffered by the world's poor.
In his address to the UN general assembly in 1964, he said: "All free men of the world must be prepared to avenge the crime of the Congo. Perhaps many of those soldiers, who were turned into subhumans by imperialist machinery, believe in good faith that they are defending the rights of a superior race.
"In this assembly, however, those peoples whose skins are darkened by a different sun, coloured by different pigments, constitute the majority.
"And they fully and clearly understand that the difference between men does not lie in the colour of their skin, but in the forms of ownership of the means of production, in the relations of production."
Not satisfied with merely delivering such a powerful testament in solidarity with the poor and oppressed of another land, he embarked for the Congo in an attempt to give meaning to those words, abandoning the relative comfort and status earned by the success of the Cuban revolution to risk his life in a mission to spread the revolution throughout the developing world.
In a speech to the Afro-Asian Conference in February 1965, he offered this admonition: "There are no borders in this struggle to the death. We cannot be indifferent to what happens anywhere in the world, because a victory by any country over imperialism is our victory, just as any country's defeat is a defeat for all of us."
For Che the struggle against imperialism and exploitation could only be won gun in hand against an oppressor whose violence could never be equalled. His understanding of the poverty and truncated lives suffered by millions throughout Latin America and Africa instilled in him an unquenchable determination to visit retribution on the system responsible.
In this he was very much a product of his time, when people of the developing world were locked out of the democratic process in parts of the globe where right-wing dictatorships, propped up by the dollar, made recourse to violence inevitable.
Today Latin America is a region transformed compared to then. It is a part of the world where democracy has taken root and produced a leftward shift that has rejected the tenets of the Washington neoliberal consensus in favour of social and economic justice as the objective of government.
Despite the myriad articles, analyses and commentary written about Guevara and his life, much of it hostile and withering, one incident sums up more than any article ever could the enduring force of the Cuban revolution whose ideas he died trying to spread.
In 2006 Mario Teran, an old man living in Bolivia, was treated by Cuban doctors volunteering their services free of charge to Bolivia's poor, just as they do to the poor in every corner of the developing world in medical missions that have transformed the lives of millions.
They performed an operation to remove cataracts from Teran's eyes, which restored his sight.
Teran was not just any old man. He was the Bolivian army officer who executed Guevara in 1967.
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