NY Times' Cult of Che--Minus the Brutality and Oppression

On the 40th anniversary of Che Guevara's death, October 8 New York Times penned a peppy little story about how his well-to-do children feel about their father's legacy as a Communist “revolutionary icon” and the commercialization of his image.

Glaringly absent was any mention of his unpleasant history, especially the nickname he was given when he was Cuba's high executioner, The Butcher of la Cabana.

The NYT lamented that Che's image has fallen prey to the claws of capitalism and his “message” diluted. Too bad there was no description of the brutal way that “message” was delivered (emphasis mine throughout):

Even in Cuba, one of the world’s last Communist bastions, Che is used to both make a buck and a point. “He sells,” acknowledged a Cuban shop clerk, who had Che after Che starring down from a wall full of T-shirts.

But at least here he is also used to inspire the next generation of Cubans, his name brought up in classes dealing with everything from medicine to economics to political science. Schoolchildren invoke his name every morning, declaring with a salute, “We want to be like Che.” His quotations are recited almost as often as those of Fidel Castro.

“Che is part of all our thinking,” said Juan Vela Valdés, Cuba’s minister of higher education, who introduced a concentration in Che while he was rector at the University of Havana.

Sure, Cuban schoolchildren admire Che. They don't have a choice. The state-run schools and media determine what is said about him and do not mention the Cubans he killed or the families that were marched in front of the brain-splattered execution wall. It's easy to admire someone when there is no negative information, just ask North Korean schoolchildren.

There is also no mention of the Cubans, many of whom found their way to America after escaping the whims of Che and Fidel's political and financial crackdown, who do not worship the “icon.” What happened to that “balance” in reporting?

Now the Times passed the hero-worship of the Cult of Che to his well-heeled children.

Some of Che’s star power has rubbed off on his four surviving children, one of whom is named Ernesto Guevara and drove to Monday’s memorial on a motorcycle, just like Dad. Cubans hug the Guevaras in the street, and tourists are giddy when they learn who they are.

“I have goose bumps,” said Alfredo Moreno, 32, a Mexican who posed for a picture with Ms. Guevara [Aleida Guevara March, Che's daughter--Ed..], clearly overcome with emotion. “I can’t describe to you what this moment means to me,” he said.


Though she says her eyes are shaped like her father’s, it can be hard to see his face in hers, mostly because Che’s most distinguishing feature was his beard. Ms. Guevara, a pediatrician and mother of two who favors pantsuits over military fatigues, resembles more a Cuban soccer mom than a revolutionary.

She was six years old when he died but says that since then she has gotten used to all the attention she receives. “I feel richer than the queen of England,” she said of all the love. “It’s better than money.”


Che's daughter seems to be the Kevin Federline of the wealthy Marxist set—making a name for herself on someone else's (dubious) achievements.

My favorite part is the description of son, Ernesto as “a Harley Davidson aficionado.” I guess capitalism isn't so bad after all.


Lynn is a NewsBusters contributor and can be emailed with tips or even complaints at tvisgoodforyou2 AT yahoo DOT com

Cuba Communism New York Times History Marc Lacey Che Guevara Aleida Guevara March