Forty years ago last week Che Guevara was killed by government soldiers in Bolivia. Since then, his image has become highly fashionable and this iconic photo “has become one of the world’s most familiar images”.
The image is so popular that at one point I read a lengthy synopsis on the man to find out what everyone was on about. I was mildly surprised to find that a lot about Che does not tie up with his modern day image.
The Economist has this article describing just that disconnect. From the article:
The wider the cult spreads, the further it strays from the man. Rather than a Christian romantic, Guevara was a ruthless and dogmatic Marxist, who stood not for liberation but for a new tyranny. In the Sierra Maestra, he shot those suspected of treachery; in victory, Mr [Fidel] Castro placed him in charge of the firing squads that executed “counter-revolutionaries”; as minister of industries, Guevara advocated expropriation down to the last farm and shop. His exhortation to guerrilla warfare, irrespective of political circumstance, lured thousands of idealistic Latin Americans to their deaths, helped to create brutal dictatorships and delayed the achievement of democracy.
As the article says: “Sadly, most of those who buy the T-shirt neither know nor care.”