Marxist hero & icon of commercialism: Che Guevara’s split legacy
Che Guevara’s execution in a Bolivian schoolhouse 50 years ago had unforeseen consequences. It copper-fastened his status as the poster boy of revolution but also ensured his image would be placed on merchandise such as tea towels and cigarette packets.
WATCH RTD documentary on Che Guevara’s last days in Bolivia
Jay Cantor, author of ‘The Death of Che Guevara,’ describes the commodification of the Marxist revolutionary as one of the great ironies surrounding the guerilla leader.
“You can buy t-shirts with Che on them. There’s probably Che cologne for all I know. The co-opting of every kind of rebellion by commodification is astounding. The only way to overcome that co-optation is to remember what it was he fought for,” Cantor told RT.com.
The role of Ernesto Guevara – or Che as he was called by his comrades – in the overthrow of General Batista’s dictatorship in Cuba in 1959 brought him infamy. But it’s his failure to replicate that success when it came to Bolivia that solidified his place in history as a leftist martyr.
His last months through 1966 and 1967 are chronicled in his own diary as he goes from describing his rebel force as ‘invincible superhumans’ to witnessing his men being gradually picked off by Bolivian forces.