It has been 50 years since the death of Che Guevara. Yet, his dying legacy lies trapped between the coming of age travelogue and t-shirt logos. In the hind-set, he seems no different than the posters of Bob Marley, with smokers seemingly unaware of the difference between the two. But, who was Che Guevara? Before he became a cheap royalty-free way to market merchandise, he was a communist and a revolutionary who changed the world. He was a mind that revolutionized the youth with his ideology and the motorcycle diaries. While the popular ideology of the likes of Joseph Stalin and Lenin took a fall’ both politically and morally, Che’s popularity only grew by leaps and bounds. His face became a sign of revolution and rebellion, culminating in a combination of Guy Fawkes from anonymous and Bob Marley’s merchandise.
Since his killing, leftist movements have had students and youth at the forefront. Less than a year after he died, protests erupted across Europe, starting from France (1968). As a political icon of the Left, he had an uncanny advantage over his contemporaries and predecessor(s). One of the architects of the Cuban revolution, something that still troubles the ideology of the U.S.A., he didn’t stay back to build the country but chose to travel across Latin America and Africa to foment revolution. The moral nomad from his travel viz. the motorcycle diaries never left his sheen.
For students, in particular, his idealism was resonant. But with the gradual fall of the Left and the communists, the legend and the icon has become a shallow signifier in many parts of the world.
Since the fall of Berlin wall (November 9, 1989) Che’s legend has become ubiquitous along with the lambasting merchandise. There have been numerous movies, documentaries and coverage(s) on him and his life, each focusing on his adventures and moral grounds. Yet, all failed to cover his point of view on history, capitalism, the colonial exploitation and the impact he has had on the society.
Although there exist thousands of Che supporters worldwide for the most part’ the very system he sought to overthrow has managed to subsume what he stood for.