HAVANA – Two of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s children said Thursday they were 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 commercialization of her father’s image contributed to tension between rich and poor in some countries.
“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 in 1967 while 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 Internet queries for two hours, fielding questions from users in Qatar, Argentina and Brazil, as well as Cuba, where both live.