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Uncle Sam is a hypocrite on Che

Photo by CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

Che lives!… just not at Urban Outfitters anymore.

“After drawing public criticism for offering shirts emblazoned with the image of Argentine-born guerrilla leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the company no longer appears to offer the product.

A total of 10 stores contacted by The Huffington Post said they no longer sell Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara shirts. The company’s website also once offered Guevara posters and the biography ‘Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life,’ written by journalist Jon Lee Anderson. Now, links that once led to the products’ webpages on the company site say, ‘We’re sorry. This Product is no longer available.’ The search term ‘Che Guevara’ also no longer turns up any results on the company’s website.”

The man they called “Che” was indeed a controversial figure. He helped found a repressive communist regime in Cuba and was responsible for the deaths of countless Cubans labeled “counterrevolutionary” by the 26th of July Movement. For this, Cubans, human rights activists and pacifists alike abhor the cult of Che.

While I’m not foolish enough to dispute the charges flung at his bones, I’d only remind those who oppose Che posters and t-shirts that the Che story is as complex as it is controversial.

On the one hand, Che had a hand in the killing of between 200 and 700 Cubans during the revolution. But he also viewed first-world nations as accomplices of death themselves, and with good reason.

Che famously chronicled the plight of the poor in Latin America during his travels as a young medical student, blaming America and its allies for the conditions he encountered. He described how the people suffered under fascist dictatorships installed and maintained by the United States. Guevara wrote of “Capitalist octopuses” like United Fruit placing the countries of Central America in a sort of economic bondage. And the doctor was there in Guatemala when the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of a democratically-elected president.

American foreign and economic policies may not have made Che a socialist, but they certainly made him a revolutionary.

Even if Che was responsible for the deaths of 1,000 Cubans, Americans condemning Che shirts while sporting Obama ones is just plain hypocritical. How many innocent lives is the commander-in-chief responsible for in the Middle East? How many of the people on his notorious “kill list” has he executed without a trial? How many deaths in places like Honduras and Mexico are the result of U.S. drug consumption?

Americans should be careful when we point the finger and accuse someone of being a mass murderer. We might be splashing blood everywhere.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. For the better good

  2. There is a long stretch between 200 and 700, and it was during the war of that lead to the revolution. The ongoing crimes of the US Government against it’s citizens right here in the country alone surpass this on regular basis, and we are not even in a state of declared war.

  3. One man’s revolutionary is another man’s mass murderer.

    Had Che fought against Castro and killed 700 revolutionaries, today Florida Cubans and human rights activists would be wearing Che shirts.

  4. how do you give stupid communists the finger? You put them on t-shirts and sell them at 20 bucks a pop LOL capitalism won.

  5. This is ridiculous. You are an apologist for a murder. How do I defriend this site, so I don’t have to view this crap on my newsfeed?

  6. Che managed to be a symbol of both brutal honesty and hypocrisy. He held people to an impossible standard while still committing many of his past mistakes. However, it was actually trying to reach that standard that was the point of his life. Socialism was just a vehicle for his views.

  7. Praising a murderous tyrant. “Being Latino” at it’s finest.

  8. The deaths attributed to Che have nothing to do with a revolution. They were cherry picked from the prisons. Read his diaries. He explains how surprised he was to realize how little life meant to him.

  9. Judith if there is so crimes here why dont you go to some other country?

  10. I know that as a wannabe hipster in my early caucasian 20′s, I wore my Che t-shirt proudly in hope of giving my otherwise dull persona a bit of romantic, edgy revolutionary hues. I’d even carry a copy of Motorcycle Diaries around and read it in cafes…making sure everyone saw the cover. Now I’m in my 50′s and see that Che is a marketing icon to generations of middle class white kids. He’s the Martha Stewart of dreamy revolutionaries and his brand is strong! Death served him well, in many ways. Bla-bla-blaremos!

  11. love him or hate him no one can he didn’t fight and died for his ideals. also imported to know he fought not only in Cuba, but the Congo & in Bolivia & none of those countries had a democratic elected leader. think about that

  12. he didnt have Ideals he used that as a guise to carry his own destructive agenda

  13. obama is killing alot of children and woman in Pakistan, Afghanistan,Yemen, with the most inaccurate drone strikes… people still praise him.. and on top of that he support all of bushes /shaney anti-civil liberties initiatives..you think your free to do and say what ever… freedom that can be taken away its a not a freedom it more like a permission to live semi quasi free. its better then the french, British, complete in your face police state… i don’t t know the lines have become blurred between one extreme to the next… count your blessings in the least we’re not living in Mexico or Afghanistan.

  14. Words fail…the totalitarian impulse is strong within BL. My prayer is that they never experience the terror Che gave to his victims.

  15. And FYI info BLers, Fidel sent Che to South America to get rid of him because he was a major nut case and did more harm in Cuba than good.

  16. Che had no redeeming values. He was a psychopath who used to eat rare and bloody steaks while he watched prisoners of the regime shot to death, their brain matter and blood splattering against the execution wall. In fact he used to enjoy giving the coup de grace. His youngest victim was a 14 year old. He was a failed revolutionary who had no idea what the rules of combat were [he only used to know how to execute people--butcher that he was!]. In fact, he was immediately captured in Bolivia. Upon capture, he screamed ilke a coward, “don’t kill me, I’m Che and I’m worth more to you alive, than dead!”

    Regarding the article, “let me just say that two wrongs do not make a right.” Yes, the US kills thousands of innocent people in their wars of imperialism, but that does not justify Che. I recognize the wrong things that the US does, but I also recognize the wrong things that Che did. Just because I oppose the glorification of Che via t-shirts doesn’t mean that I support U.S. violations of human rights across the globe.

  17. Come on Hector, you should know better. I know how much BL idolizes Cuban American rapper Pitbull. Pitbull has publicly come out against Che t shirt wearing freakazoids. Now I think Pitbull would be pretty dismayed if his young Latino followers are writing editorial content kind of favorable to Che.

  18. The author makes an excellent point!

  19. Yeah, the author makes an excellent point if you are a fan of totalitarian homosexual serial killers!

  20. How could anyone be in favor if that guy?!

  21. xavier lopez says:

    This is a valid article. Che lived and died for his ideals, which is why i admire him. He has blood on his hands, but all leaders do. Andrew Jackson murdered Indians to steal their lands, Obama orders execution to propagate the American power system, even Abraham Lincoln ordered the murder of hundred of thousands of American lives to keep the south’s agriculture economy (the “end slavery” crusade was a political guise). It doesn’t justify guevera but i understand that the very essence of being a leader to do things the common man can’t do, and that includes getting blood on their hands

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