The international image for revolution is being tainted by commercial endeavor, says Che Guevara’s eldest daughter.
Forty-five years after his death, his daughter, Aleida, talks to the Guardian about growing up in the shadow of a world-famed leader. The stare of her father embodied a mood for the spirit of rebellion in the 20th century. She says the symbol for “resistance against repression” is being trivialised for the benefit of commerce. Anyway, Dr Aleida Guevara is used to sharing her “papi” with the world.
“The most debasing image came from seeing Che, a teetotaller, on the front of a vodka bottle.”
Much of today’s youth know Che Guevara as a ‘communist leader’ from the numerous T-shirts, posters, and paintings. This emblem can be found all the way from Cuba to Camden market. However, Dr Guevara wants to stop the “disrespectful” use of her father’s famed photo. A very difficult task considering it is one of the most reproduced images in the world.
The most debasing image came from seeing Che, a teetotaller, on the front of a vodka bottle. The Guevara family won the battle to stop this on the grounds of copyright infringement. The UK Cuba Solidarity Campaign lobbied hard, and still does, to help the Guevaras tackle this sort of image misuse. It does not end here; the iconic image has been misconstrued onto tin cans, graffiti in urban areas, and even women’s bikinis. Dr Guevara wants the image of her father’s deep gaze to represent the social injustices of the world, not the advertising of a product.
As Dr Guevara tells Tracy McVeigh: “It’s not so easy, we do not want to control the image or make money from it, but it is hard when it’s exploited. Sometimes people know what he stands for, sometimes not.”
Next month is the 45th anniversary of the killing of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Dr Guevara was seven when Che was killed in Bolivia by a group of Bolivian soldiers and CIA operatives. Revolution, Dr Guevara believes, lives on in South America. The image of her father instills hope for a country still led by American industrialisation. On the other hand, this year sees Cuba’s trade embargo with America come to its 50th anniversary. Its economy is still crippled from this act, and the lifting of the embargo would allow for its economy to flourish.