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Hasta Siempre Comandante!

October 13th, 2005

“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man”. These were probably the last words uttered by Comandante Ernesto “Che” Guevara before he was shot in Bolivia 38 years ago this month.

Thirty-eight years later after his death, Che Guevara became one of the most popular figures and icons of the century. His image, noble and defiant, from the famous picture taken by Alberto Korda, with tilted beret and flowing locks, now adorns almost everything from key chains, caps, mobile phone wallpapers to the omnipresent T-shirts. Che’s image has now rivalled the Mona Lisa as perhaps the most replicated image ever. The Churches Advertising Network had even utilized his image in an advert to protray a modern Christ.

Ironically, Che Guevara, who struggled against capitalism, is now a quintessential capitalist brand. Capitalism banks on his popularity as a revolutionary leader to entice and profit from the rebellious spirit of the youth. His image is now being used as a fashion statement a la revolutionary chic. Many of those who wears his image simply puts on a Che because it’s a fad. Even most young Argentines have come up with an expression that rhymes perfectly in Spanish: “Tengo una remera del Che y no se por que,” or “I have a Che T-shirt and I don’t know why.”

Thirty-eight years after his death people from diverse political persuasions continue to idolize or vilify him all together. For the left Che remains a symbol of protest and revolution. An undying symbol of self-sacrifice and the spirit of revolutionary internationalism. His image is the Left’s ubiquitous banner in all protest actions and demonstrations against war and imperialism all over the world. While on the other hand, iconoclasts wanted to demystify him as a bloodthirsty “killing machine” responsible for the murder of hundreds of people during Cuba’s post-revolution era.

Whatever perception one might have towards Che, whether hero or villain, one cannot deny the fact that Che lived and died for his ideals. His feat immortalizes his own words “Many will call me an adventurer – and that I am, only one of a different sort: one of those who risks his skin to prove his platitudes.” History has yet to pass judgement on Che and to the correctness of his ideals. In the meantime, as Jorge Castañeda puts it ‘What he shows us is that myths are bigger than mere politics or ideology, are bigger even than the cruel drift of history.’

Some people would contend that had he lived, the myth of Che would have long since died. But after thirty-eight years, Che is Alive as they never wanted him to be!

Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

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  1. October 14th, 2005 at 15:20 | #1

    Clearly, he is the one of the most recognizable figure the last century had produced. I wonder if there is already a movie about him for it would be too interesting to watch how the man lived in full screen.

  2. Samuel Bilibit
    October 14th, 2005 at 22:13 | #2

    @Major Tom: There are at least three films about Che. The latest is the “Motorcycle Diaries”, where the romantic and adventurist side of a young Che Guevara is depicted. I’m just not sure if this film has already been shown in the Philippines.

  3. October 16th, 2005 at 16:43 | #3

    it’s been shown here in UP, but not sa mga sinehan siguro.:)

    sa totoo lang, che guevarra must be turning in his grave gyud being used in and by what he fought against – capitalism. and, it frustrates me how he has become merely a “fashion statement”. nakakalungkot.

  4. October 23rd, 2005 at 16:32 | #4

    my daughter even has a shirt with his pic in front… this is informative, Sam. thank you.

    definitely a man of ideals, that Che Guevarra…

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