‘Che’ mania is embarrassing, say Guevara’s children

TWO of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s children have said they are tired of seeing their father’s image used to sell everything from T-shirts to vodka, calling the growth of the revolutionary as a global super-brand embarrassing.

Aleida Guevara, the eldest of Guevara’s four children by his second wife, Cuban revolutionary Aleida March, said the commercialisation of her father’s image sometimes contributed to tension between rich and poor.

“Something that bothers me now is the appropriation of the figure of Che that has been used to make enemies from different classes. It’s embarrassing,” she wrote during an internet forum sponsored by Cuba’s government ahead of what would have been her father’s 80th birthday on June 14.

Born to a well-to-do family in Argentina in 1928, Guevara helped Fidel Castro overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. But he was executed trying to foment a similar revolution in Bolivia.

He has since become a pop icon, considered a symbol of rebellion even 40 years after his death, thanks to an iconic 1960 portrait by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda. Variations of the image, featuring Guevara with a defiant stare and starred beret, can now be found the world over, on T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets.

Guevara’s children took Iinternet queries for two hours, fielding questions from users around the world.

Aleida Guevara was asked about the use of her father’s image to sell British vodka and French soft drinks. She decried those campaigns as well as one in Switzerland that uses his likeness to peddle cell phones.

“We don’t want money, we demand respect,” wrote Guevara, who is a trained physician like her father.

But Cuba’s communist government also has worked hard to make money off the revolutionary’s image, stocking tourist shops with T-shirts, postcards and other trinkets bearing his face and three-letter signature.

Benicio Del Toro recently won best actor at Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s Guerilla.

Guevara’s son and daughter said they had not yet seen the films. “I think Hollywood making its version of his life is positive, as long as they are objective and faithful to real life,” Camilo Guevara wrote.

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