Che for Czechoslovakian tractor

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Ernesto Che Guevara visiting the tractor factory in Brno, October 27, 1960.

In terms of production volume, the Soviet Union dominated Comecon’s tractor output. However, the most innovative and competitive tractor production was in Czechoslovakia, which had a long and rich tradition before the communist era.

Membership in Comecon gave the Czechs new opportunities of expansion into new markets. Right after the 1959 revolution in Cuba, the new government joined the communist bloc, and in October of the following year, the legendary Che Guevara paid a visit to Eastern Europe. It is significant that on the way to Moscow, he visited Czechoslovakia first. He visited the Zetor factory in Brno, and he signed a contract to build a factory in Cuba, for which he was granted a 20 million dollar loan.

The capacity of the plant was planned for two thousand tractors a year. Guevara did not conceal the fact that that the tractor factory’s primary function was to secure the island’s own means of agricultural production.

Che Guevara, the man “wearing a smile of melancholy sweetness that many women found devastating”, had driven a tractor himself, and frequently told of his experience of driving different machines during his passionate, revolutionary speeches.

How to cite this page


Slawomir Lotysz, 'Che for Czechoslovakian tractor', Inventing Europe,


  1. Guevara, Ernesto. Venceremos: The Speeches and Writings of Ernesto Che Guevara. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968.
  2. Castañeda, Jorge G. Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara. New York: Knopf, 1997.

About this tour


The Iron Curtain and the politics of the humble tractor

Somewhat surprisingly, tractors were an important part of international relations in twentieth century. Sufficient tractor supplies meant ample harvests, but pressure to meet demand has often made it necessary to look across borders. Countries with extra tractors could use them to help the needy or to exert political pressure. The history of European tractors is also full of symbolism - from an icon of progress and equality to a tool of war.

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