Archive for Sunday, December 24, 2006

Target pulls Che Guevara ad campaign

December 24, 2006


— In some circles, Che may live, but in Target stores, he's history.

Images of the communist revolutionary figure - his ears donned with an iPod-esque set of earphones and splashed on the latest CD cases - have been pulled from the shelves.

"The stores don't have pictures of Osama bin Laden or Adolf Hitler," said Miguel Saavedra, founder of the anti-Castro group Vigilia Mambisa. "It's disrespectful to the Cuban community."

Miami's Cuban exile community collectively gasped at the use of Fidel Castro's one-time right-hand man to sell music accessories, with community leaders saying Guevara was one of history's brutal mass murderers.

Exiles weren't the only ones who angrily questioned Target's move to cash in on Guevara's cult status in some circles, particularly rebellious youth.

Investor's Business Daily lamented in an editorial earlier this month that "all this reflects an indifference to history ... he was a psychopath with a central role in Cuba's 1961 mass executions. ... Guevara signed at least 600 death warrants and executed children against firing squad walls; he was responsible for at least 2,000 deaths."

"We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves," Target responded in a statement. "It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests."

Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady on Friday praised Target's "admirable decision" while asking "What's next ... Pol Pot pajamas?"

The Argentinian-born Guevara began his young adulthood as a medical student but soon abandoned that pursuit for the life of a hard-line communist soldier. He played a key role in the communist takeover of Cuba, earning the rank of comandante and Cuban citizenship for his success on the battlefield.

Guevara held a variety of high-ranking positions in the Cuban government - during a stint as president of the National Bank of Cuba, currency on the island was printed with the signature "Che" - and tried, unsuccessfully, to foment communist rebellions in other nations. Guevara was captured, and executed, in Bolivia in 1967, at age 39.

But Guevara's cult status among disaffected youth and others unhappy with the state of the world has endured - with Guevara's well-documented reputation for brutality sometimes overlooked.

In 2004, "The Motorcycle Diaries," a film that romanticized Guevara's formative years, received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. Writer Paul Berman lamented in Slate magazine that year that "Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice."

On occasion, even in staunchly anti-Castro Miami, Saavedra has come across folks sporting Che T-shirts. While doing air conditioning repair work in Miami Beach several months ago, the Vigilia Mambisa founder says he saw the teenage son of his customer wearing one.

Saavedra privately approached the father, who was unaware of Che's biography, and offered a free lesson in world political history.

The customer asked Saavedra to take the T-shirt with him on the way out.

"He said, 'I don't want to see criminals on my son's body,'" Saavedra recalled.


SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 5 months ago

I'm disgusted every time I see someone walking down the street with that mass-murderer on their t-shirt.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

Che, along with Castro, are guilty of falling into a "the-end-justifies-the-means" mentality, but the present "end" in Cuba, for the average citizen, is certainly much better than what it would have been if the US/Mafia alliance had continued to be in control there. Nevertheless, things could be much better in Cuba if the Cold War hadn't made it such a battleground of two deadend ideologies. The Soviet Union is history, so that's one deadend down, and one to go.

"I'm disgusted every time I see someone walking down the street with that mass-murderer on their t-shirt."

I feel the same way anytime I see a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker.

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