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The Che Obsession

June 21, 2009


How on earth did Che Guevara become an icon? a brand? a tool for capitalists?

I used to see Che Guevara products everywhere.  Anything from tshirts, posters, cigarette holders, caps, keychains and more.  I used to wonder what would Che Guevara think?  How can people who support his ideals buy these items since it contradicts with all his ideals and beliefs?




Che Guevara I-Pod Video


A communist/socialist/marxist image has become a major player in the capitalist’s world.


Personally, I admire Che Guevara but yesterday I asked myself a question:


Is it possible that I admire him for all the good that he did, that I decided to discard all the evil he did do?  Is it because I have learnt of his intentions, his beliefs, his ideals that I allowed them to justify the killings and massacres?

Recently I have watched a bunch of movies about Che.  The Motorcycle Diaries, Steven Sodenbergh’s Che and Che:Part 2 andthe documentary Chevolution. All of which provide us with an understanding of Che Guevara.

Chevolution is an excellent documentary about how the image of Che Guevara was created and how it was distributed.  The movie was just so complete.  It covered the story of both Che Guevara and the photographer Korda, it interviewed people of all kinds, and told the story of the genesis of the famous photograph Guerrillero Heroico and of the infinite reproduction of the photograph which today is acclaimed to be the greatest icon of the 20th century.


Gerald Malangna’s 1968  Warhol forget of Guevara


Jim Fitzpatrick

Today, Che Guevara’s icon is as controversial as he was 40 years ago. His image has different meanings around the world.  Some use his icon for their political reasoning, others use it to promote their products, others use it to bash him, while others just use it because it simply looks good.




In the recent years, Korda, the photographer, when he was still alive sued Smirnoff and today Korda’s heir as well as Che Guevara’s children have been requesting rights.  They claim they do not want money, they just want to be asked for the permission to use Che Guevara’s image and to respect it.  Therefore, the permission to use the image as well as be told how to use it.  Just like any brand.  I believe that is just fair.  Let us not forget, the socialist movement does not believe in copyrighting images or ideas since they believe ideas are created to share with the people.  It is obvious that both Korda’s family as well as Guevara’s family follow that ideology and simply want Guevara to be portrayed in respect. Che Guevara would have never promoted liquor, cigarettes, among other items.




Some people believe, the image, the icon and everything it represents has lost meaning today.  Others believe the icon well always remind us of Che Guevara and his ideologies.

What do you feel? Would you walk around in a Guevara tshirt? Do you want to continue seeing Guevara’s face everywhere? Why or why not?


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