The youngest son of Che Guevara, whose The Motorcycle Diaries is one of the most iconic travelogues of all time, is launching motorbike tours of Cuba this month. Ernesto Guevara’s La Poderosa Tours (lapoderosatours.com) will run trips for bikers on two routes across Cuba using Harley-Davidsons.
The company is named after the motorbike used by Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara when he toured the South American continent for nine months in 1952. La Poderosa II (the Mighty II) was the nickname the Argentine medical student gave to his motorbike, a Norton 500cc, which he rode 8,000 miles from Argentina to Venezuela along with his biochemist companion Alberto Granado.
The account of this life-changing road trip was first published as a memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries, in 1993 and subsequently turned into a 2004 film with the same title. Che Guevara was in Mexico in 1955 when he met young firebrand Fidel Castro. Guevara’s revolutionary identity had been forged in Guatemala two years earlier.
Together with Fidel, and Raúl Castro, Fidel’s younger brother, the rebels with a cause plotted the overthrow of Cuba’s then dictator Fulgencio Batista. When Fidel’s grassroots revolution succeeded in 1959, Che Guevara was at Fidel’s side. Ernesto Guevara, 49, is the son of Che and his second wife Aleida March.
He has teamed up with his friend Camilo Sánchez and mechanic Sergio Morales to lead the La Poderosa trips. Ernesto told Telegraph Travel: “I have been a fan of classic Harleys all my life and I like to restore them, too. My love of bikes, of bike trips and of Cuba, and the desire to show my fellow Harley bikers my beautiful country, has been the reason for setting up the tours.”
La Poderosa Tours covers two routes – dubbed Fuser 1 and Fuser 2 for the nickname Che Guevara had in his younger years – using either a Harley Touring Street Glide or a Dyna Wide Glide. As well as riding past the ubiquitous images of Che Guevara painted on billboards across the island, tour highlights include visits to places connected to the revolutionary:
the Comandancia del Che (a small museum dedicated to him) at the monumental 18th-century Cabaña fortress at Havana’s harbour, where Che had his headquarters; and Che Guevara’s mausoleum in Santa Clara.
In 1965, Che Guevara severed his ties with Cuba to fulfil his ambition to export revolution to other countries. In 1966, he left for Bolivia and formed a guerrilla force. He was captured and executed in 1967 in La Higuera. It wasn’t until 1997 that Guevara’s remains were discovered and sent to Cuba to be interred in the mausoleum that stands in the Plaza de la Revolución.