A Hero To Some, A Terrorist To Others
In October, the Republic of Ireland released a postage stamp with Che Guevara to mark the the 50th anniversary of his death. Ernesto “Che” Guevara was one of the leaders of communist revolution in Cuba in the 1950s, but was later captured and executed by CIA trained soldiers for trying to launch a revolution in Bolivia.
Guevara’s choice as an honored figure seems odd at first, but he does have some Irish descent. One of Che’s distant grandfathers, Patrick Lynch, was born in Galway, Ireland. Through his work in Spain, trade brought Lynch to Argentina and where he married a local woman there. The stamp image was created by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, who based it on a photograph taken in 1960 by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda. The Irish postal service has also stated that Che is the “quintessential left-wing revolutionary.” The stamp’s release was very popular, becoming one of the best selling stamps ever released and selling out immediately.
Meanwhile objections to the stamp have poured in from around the world from Cuban exiles who had fathers murdered by Guevara, politicians asking how the stamp even came to be commissioned, and from others who consider Che to be a terrorist who should not be honored. Recently, a large poster of Guevara at Miami International Airport had to remove because of objections from families and others complaining that the image was deeply offensive.
Yale professor Carlos Eire, of Irish and Cuban descent, opposed a statue that was planned to be erected in Galway, writing an open letter to the nation of Ireland:
“I don’t mind one bit if those behind this monstrous project want to believe lies – that’s their right in a truly free society – but it would be wrong to allow their abysmal ignorance or willful blindness to stand unchallenged. Those who think highly of Che may be surprised to hear it, but they have way too much in common with Holocaust deniers.”
“Che was my neighbor in Havana, and I actually saw him in the flesh several times. He lived in an opulent mansion just a few blocks from my very small house, and also ran the prison of La Cabaña, where some of my relatives ended up being tortured and murdered. Their crime? Voicing an opinion different from Che’s. Or, in the case of my uncle, simply having a son who voiced an opinion contrary to Che’s.”
“The awful truth about Ernesto Che Guevara is that he was a violent thug with despotic tendencies. Che’s admirers prefer to think of him as a righteous warrior, and often cite certain books that portray him as a saint.”
Here’s author, talk show host, and intellectual Dennis Prager talking about the stamp’s release: