Interview with Kelly Westhoff and Jen Paulus:

Travel Interviews: Eva Holland talks Che and the meaning of his ubiquitous image with the founders of a new travel photography site

05.08.09 | 11:43 AM ET

Managua, Nicaragua. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Spot Che. Snap a pic. Send it in.

Simple enough, right? That’s the idea behind Che Spotting, a new site that aims to collect travelers’ photos of Che’s iconic image from across the globe.

I caught up with Che Spotting’s cofounders, Twin Cities-based travel fanatics Kelly Westhoff and Jen Paulus, to talk about Che Guevara, the famous photo, and why Che seems to pop up almost everywhere.

World Hum: Che Spotting is just a few weeks old, and already you’ve posted photos from Minnesota to South Africa to Vietnam. What do you think it is about Che Guevara that captivates so many people, across generational, geographical, political and linguistic lines?

Kelly Westhoff: These are great questions, and they are ones that we’ve asked many times. I wish I had a really succinct, sound-bite answer, but I don’t. This is the best I’ve been able to come up with: Che is in the eye of the beholder. 

Jen Paulus: Yeah. Everyone seems to have their own idea about what Che symbolizes. Take the featured picture that’s on the site right now. It’s a picture of man leading a protest for a democratic system of government in Hong Kong. The man wants democracy and he’s wearing a Che T-shirt. That’s really ironic. Clearly, for him, Che is symbolizing something completely different than what the image means inside of Cuba. 

Westhoff:  I think that Che symbolizes change, or “Che-ange.”

Pictured: Paulus (left) and Westhoff

There was a Robin Hood mentality behind a lot of what Che wanted to do. He saw political, economic and social systems that he thought were crooked and unjust. He wanted to bust up the strongholds of the privileged elite and redistribute wealth, education and healthcare among the masses. What’s not to admire about that? There are movements to do these same things going on inside the United States right now. 

Of course, how Che went about it might not have been the best, but his initial intentions were solid. I think this is where a lot of the confusion stems from about who Che was and what his image means. There is an inconsistency between what he wanted and how it came to fruition. Adding to this confusion is the romanticized image of Che as a carefree traveler, the young man before he got all wrapped up in politics and revolution. The movie version of “The Motorcycle Diaries” that was out a few years ago really fueled that view of Che. 

Paulus: Che the traveler is romantic. He took that trip around the same time that Jack Kerouac was writing “On the Road,” which puts him in with the Beatniks. All of those guys are symbolic of a time in your life when you can just drop out and travel with nothing more than a few bucks in your pocket and have these life altering experiences that will influence you into your future. 

Anyone who has ever gone on a trip like that will tell you that it changed their life forever. We idealize those memories and I think it’s this part of Che that really appeals to the backpacker crowd.

It’s not just about Che as a character, either. Most often, it’s that same iconic image recurring in different contexts. Why is the image itself so compelling?

Westhoff: His rugged good looks? I’ve read articles that have tried to analyze this. They say it’s because [in the iconic Alberto Korda photo] he’s looking up, that this is a sign of hope and optimism that appeals to people. 

Paulus: I think the main reason his image has spread so far is because it is an image. You can be illiterate and still recognize Che. 

Westhoff: And now that the news media has gone global, I think the Che image is something that protesters, guerrilla fighters, reporters and photographers are all drawn to because it speaks for itself, no translation needed. 

What do you say to all the Cuban Americans and others who loathe Che, are quick to point out the violence he wrought and see him as anything but a hero?

Westhoff: We’re really trying to make a separation between the man and the image. We’ve really tried to educate ourselves about who he is, so we understand that there’s this really violent side to him. Knowing what we know about him, why are we so drawn to him? My mom hates it, every time she sees me post another picture of Che, she says, “Oh please stop doing that, Kelly, it’s just so Communist!”

We’re not trying to promote Che’s cause or to feed it one way or the other. That’s not what we’re interested in—we’re interested in the spread of the picture, and all the ways the picture is being used. We’re trying to say, isn’t it fascinating that this one image has traveled the world?

Was there a particular Che spotting of your own that prompted you two to start the site? What got your fascination with Che’s image rolling?

Westhoff: When I was 25, I lived in Buenos Aires and taught English. That’s where I first encountered Che. I’d see him on T-shirts and banners, but I didn’t know who he was or what he stood for. I’m pretty sure my introduction to Che Guevara came from a guidebook. I remember a page that explained the Big Three of Argentina: Carlos Gardel, Eva Peron and Che Guevara. 

Several years after my time in Argentina, I spent a summer with a friend backpacking in Guatemala. We hopped over the border into Honduras to visit the ruins of Copan, and that’s where I witnessed something that cemented my Che obsession. I watched a local man give a tourist a hug. The tourist was shocked. He’d done nothing to invite the hug. He didn’t know this Honduran guy hanging out on a dusty, unpaved street. After the hug, the local did something even more amazing. He unhooked a chain from around his neck and passed it to the tourist and then he walked off.

The tourist looked down at the necklace and its medallion was an image of Che. The connection? The tourist was wearing a Che T-shirt.

That encounter blew me away. Yes, I thought it was funny, but I also thought it was so touching. Here was this image, and somehow, it sparked a tiny moment of cross-cultural compassion. I’ve always remembered that. I’m pretty sure this was what inspired me to travel to Cuba, to get to the Che source. And once I was in Cuba, well, that was it. I was done for. Che was everywhere. 

Paulus: Kelly indoctrinated me. I had no idea who Che was until I went to Cuba. And then being in Cuba with Kelly ... I remember that she was on this quest to buy a Che T-shirt. It was the one souvenir she wanted from Cuba and I was like, who the hell is Che? 

The huge Che image in Havana’s Revolutionary Square is what really did it for me. That impressed me. When I got home, I started reading about him and it struck me as really strange that I had been a sociology major in college, and I’d never learned anything about him. That made me want to learn even more. Because of my trip to Cuba and the books I read when I got home, I recognized the image. After that, every time I went on another trip, I would always see him. 

Who knows whether it was because Che was having a surge in popularity or because I was more aware of him. Anyway, I’d take a picture of him every time I saw him and email it to Kelly, and she would do the same. About a year ago, we pulled up all the images and realized how many we had. That’s when we came up with the plan for Che Spotting. 

What do you hope visitors will learn or take away from Che Spotting? 

Paulus: We hope Che Spotting will inspire people to travel. After all, Che would approve of that. He would want people to get out there and see what is going on in the world. Let travel open your eyes and change you. 

Finally, I know it’s early days yet, but how do you see the future of Che Spotting? Any big plans?

Westhoff: Ultimately, we would love to see a Che Spotting book, something that compiles the pictures travelers submit to us of their Che images. It could even include travel essays that somehow feature Che. But that will take a while. First, we have to spread the word about the site and get travelers to start submitting pictures. 

Right now, we have a voting system rigged up for each picture. People can rate each Che Spotting on a one-to-five scale. I’d love to incorporate some sort of prize system for the pictures that get the most votes. But that would require some Che Spotting funds and right now, this is a labor of love. 

Thanks, Kelly and Jen. Good luck with the site.

* The interview has been edited.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

80 Comments for Interview with Kelly Westhoff and Jen Paulus:

Kelly 05.08.09 | 12:32 PM ET

That’s a really good Che Spotting you found for the front picture!

Che with Jesus and William Shakespeare all hanging out together in Nicaragua!

“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” wrote Shakespeare in The Tempest.

These three are strange bedfellows indeed.

mike guddoy 05.09.09 | 11:04 AM ET

Che Spotting is a great idea. I have seen pictures of Che in many countries I have travelled but unfornately I did not bother taking photographs. But from now on I definitely will.

Troy 05.12.09 | 5:13 AM ET

The best ever though are the mistaken Che’s…Look on the back of Tuk Tuks in Laos or beaten up taxis in Southern Yemen and you often see stickers of a Serpico-era Al Pacino that have been mistaken for Che.

Yeni Alvarez 05.18.09 | 12:11 AM ET

Che spotting is an insult.  How about a Hitler spotting?  Ask any Cuban what Che means and you’ll see a combination of dread and disgust on their face.  For those of you who do not know, Che brought back rifle executions to Cuba, still happening to this day, and during his paid revolution there, he killed many with pleasure.  One of his victims was a 16 kid asking Che not to shoot his dad.  Che shot him in the back of the head for being brave.  That’s your hero.  That’s the image you are spotting.

Mario Beguiristain 05.18.09 | 1:01 AM ET

Ah!  To see these two white women wearing party hats and leis telling us that Che means “che-ange”; how ironic!  Fifty years of brutal dictatorship in Cuba is as far from “change” as you can get!  That is what Che means to Cubans.

Gustavo Rex 05.18.09 | 1:08 AM ET

You both really don’t have the whole picture regarding this man. He hated democracy. He wanted to destroy the US as well as Americans who disagreed with him. It’s documented! HE actually said these things. Read all of his diaries and you’ll be shocked. Read his speeches and you’ll be horrified. He was a Stalinist. He co-created concentration labor camps (U.M.A.P.) in Cuba for hippies, homosexuals, religious people, those that disagreed with communist doctrine, etc. He professed State control for the whole country including all lands which meant that Cuban peasants NEVER got any lands in Cuba. He said Blacks were lazy and bad workers and made derogatory comments about Indigenous peoples while in Guatemala. He send over a thousand people to death in one year with no trials or monkey trials. Publicly stated he didn’t believe in the rule of law. the list go on and on. My father was a full year in the prison where he slaughtered men because they disagreed with him and the Revolution. Che’s nickname was the butcher of the Cabaña Fortress. That should say enough. There’s no confusion here but your own. Ask all the Cubans who have fled Cuba about who Che was. As well as the Africans who told him to get out of their continent. Google Humberto Fontova and buy his book on Che. If you spoke Spanish I could give a larger list of books that tell the real story.

So why do you do this Che Spotting? Would you do this with Mao or Stalin or Hitler? It’s really not cute or fun. You’re promoting an activity and the image of a “cold blooded killer!”  You call this hope? You call this guy a Robin Hood? Please do more research.

Jorge 05.18.09 | 2:33 AM ET

Che is a worldwide hero

the most complete human being of any era

if there is a heaven ... Che is surely in charge there :o)

Marcos 05.18.09 | 2:36 AM ET

Gustavo Rex must be an exile Gusano ...

Che only had war criminals for the dictator Batista shot = goons that deserved it

as for Humberto Fontova he is about as reliable as a drunk circus clown.

Michelle Ortiz 05.18.09 | 2:57 AM ET

Cuban Exiles (who loathe Che) ironically love real TERRORISTS and CIA backed killers, like Luis Posada Carriles (“South America’s Bin Laden” who blew up Cubana Flight 455 in 1976), Orlando Bosch (his partner in crime), Felix Rodriguez (point man for Oliver North in Iran/Contra, trained central American contra death squads, ordered execution of Che Guevara), Alpha 66, Brigade 2506 etc all blow up Havana hotel lobbies, strafe beaches with gun fire, poison crops etc

Go to Versailles restaurant in Miami & these old cowardly Gusano Assassins will be sitting right up front.

Michelle Ortiz 05.18.09 | 2:58 AM ET

“I have yet to find a single credible source pointing to a case where Che executed an innocent.”

— Jon Lee Anderson, Author of “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life”, PBS Forum

James W 05.18.09 | 3:21 AM ET

Yeni, Mario, & Gustavo,

Wow, so much silly hyperbolic invective, so little substance or fact.

The U.S.-backed dictator Batista and his Mafia lackeys killed 20,000 Cubans.

As a result Che reviewed the appeals of those convicted as War Criminals during revolutionary tribunals and had the worst of them executed. This is not only par for the course, but acceptable by nearly every nations standard in 1959 when it occurred.

However, It’s not surprising that the cacophous din of Batistiano right-wing idiocy that is Miami would try and smear the legendary actions of the heroic Che Guevara. The white, old, bitter, and fading geriatrics in Calle Ocho have never been able to see their dream of a return to oligarchy come to fruition.

Little Havana - replete with parasitic Gusano cast offs, and former BRAC goons of the brutal Mafia backed Batista apparatus, has always been ground zero for every kind of liar, fraud, and CIA bootlicker that the anti-communist financial ponzi scheme has to offer. America and their ‘red scare’ mentality heap money on these hacks to create libelous claptrap about Cuba (see the Cuban American National Foundation [CANF]).

James W 05.18.09 | 3:28 AM ET

To Rex and his jailed daddy,

You are the child of a traitor writing in someone else’s language because you and your family did not have the guts to do the honorable thing and either fight, in your country, or die like men, instead of cowards hiding out in another land, soaking of its freedoms and exploiting its electoral system like a fifth column to force the prostitutes amongst our political class to implement trade practices that contravene the interests of the U.$.

Your Papi should have visited El Paredon for a dish of “Fuego!”.

Of course, the upper 1% income tax bracket of Cuba didn’t mind staying around when Batista was there. It was only when Castro came into power, and they lost their latifundias, that they became such phony lovers of “democracy” and “liberalism”.

Then again most bitter exiles have never set foot in Cuba and only believe the lies of insane right-wing blogs.

L. Mac 05.18.09 | 12:12 PM ET

To James W -

Obviously you do not know Rex or his family.  You are wrong on about them so many levels.  I wish I could explain but it is not my story to tell.  Maybe Rex will reply.

However, my father did fight against the Castro regime and also landed in jail for his efforts.  He came home after 2 1/2 years looking as if he had just come out of a Nazi concentration camp.

The killings by Che are a simple matter of fact which his worshippers refuse to acknowledge.

Arturo 05.18.09 | 12:42 PM ET

To James W., your contempt for Cuban exiles, and their experience, tells volumes about you. I detect a bit of jealousy. It doesn’t bother you that Cuban exiles are one of the most educated and successful immigrant groups in this country, does it? As for Gustavo, thank you for posting the facts about Che, who was nothing less than a murderous thug. I find it ironic that the iconic Che “branding logo” has become a great marketing tool for the sale of products. Way to go Che! Your image has become a capitalist tool for the sale of T-shirts and women’s purses! Oh, and as for Che spotting, I’ve seen images on walls with a crossed out Che symbol. I’ll try to take pictures and post on this blog. Those have been my favorite Che spottings!

William H. 05.18.09 | 6:21 PM ET

James W, you are an idiot. You have been blinded by the Castro propaganda machine. Che and the Castro brothers (clowns of history) are the real criminals here, responsible four murdering countless thousands of innocent people. And I agree, your disdain for Cuban exiles seems to be very personal. You need to get a life. Get some good books on Buddhism or something.

Harold Leo 05.18.09 | 10:18 PM ET

Che was virtually a complete failure. As a medical doctor, he never had a practice. When put in charge of the Cuban economy at the start of Castro’s government, his uncompromising communist diktats ran it completely into the ground, from which it never recovered. Humiliated, and also angry that Castro wasn’t fomenting enough revolution abroad, he then tried to lead such quixotic adventures in Argentina, the Congo, and Bolivia, failing miserably everywhere while sacrificing the lives of scores of naive, idealistic young followers as deluded pawns in the service of his personality cult.

He fled Cuba in the mid-1960s partly because of the complete mess he made of his private life. Though he preached sexual purity to his colleagues, he was a shameless adulterer who abandoned two wives and many children, some legitimate, others not. The public Che who supposedly had such great love for humanity privately couldn’t stand most.

Enough with the myth. The guy was a jerk!

Carmen S 05.18.09 | 11:09 PM ET

Wow, the ignorance is blinding.  Yes the Batista government had it’s share of inadequacies.  Yes Cuba era 1950 had very wealthy and very poor.  But it had an emerging “middle” class now everyone is the same. No rights, no money, no freedom, no hope.  Regardless where you stand on the Che issue, he’s the same as a swastika…or at least the general concept of the swastika which btw is a very ancient symbol linked to good luck.  Hitler turned it around and made it what it is today.  So when I spot Che, I see a pathetic little man who enjoyed killing and found a way to do it for a living. I also see fools that do not understand that humans need rules and consequences because we do not play nice and that is also the price we pay for entrusting our society to our “leaders”.  Communism doesn’t work because eventually people get tired of “working’ for nothing; eventually turning the populace into a black market economy.  Socialism doesn’t work because eventually you run out of other people’s money.  Capitalism is the closest thing to true natural order: survival of the fittest.  Namaste

Brian 05.18.09 | 11:55 PM ET

Ronald Reagan’s right-wing contra death squads led to the deaths of 100,000 in Guatemala, 70,000 in El Salvador, and 30,000 in Nicaragua.

Che Guevara was ‘created’ through the United Fruit Co & CIA 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected Arbenz in Guatemala (while Che was living there). Any actions of Uncle Sam’s induced Frankenstein’s, ultimately lead back to U.S. foreign policy - and the brutal tyrants it supports, arms, and chooses to head it’s allied financial oligarchies.

GatorMan 05.19.09 | 12:00 AM ET

“Che’s life is an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom. We will always honor his memory.”—- Nelson Mandela

Che was fighting against:

- American Oligarchy (United Fruit, Texaco, U.S. Sugar)
- The US based Mafia (1959 Havana)
- The Monroe Doctrine rationale for Latin American Imperialism (Bay of Pigs)
- The idea of Banana Republics (Arbenz 1953 coup)

It just kills ditto-head Conservatives that such a heroic man will not go away. That is because these troglodytes cant fathom that he lives in the hearts of the hungry and the oppressed and that ideas never die.

Hence Che Lives on ! And will for all eternity !

VIVA CHE <3 05.19.09 | 12:04 AM ET

The US blockade means, ironically, that ordinary and supposedly “FREE” Americans are unable to visit Cuba to see for themselves and make up their own minds without the “helpful” interpretation of a rightwing foaming-at-the-mouth voice in their ear

Then again some of the reich-wing turds commenting above are so busy fawning over the immature ramblings of blogger Yoani Sanchez, Babalu blog, or Goebbels inspired “Radio Marti”, that they miss the delicious irony that the only Gulag in Cuba is the U.S. one at Gitmo = which they support having.

VIVA CHE <3 05.19.09 | 12:06 AM ET

+ The former MAFIA ran Cuba as America’s Whorehouse and Casino.

There is a reason that pre-Castro Cuba was the favorite hangout for mobsters Meyer Lansky, Santo Trafficante, and Lucky Luciano.

As for Che, he was one of the most complete, intelligent, poetic, and brave men to ever live. A secular saint who died for our capitalist $ins.

Gustavo Rex 05.19.09 | 12:07 AM ET


Yeah, well maybe we’ve been deathly afraid of the 100 million people that died due to communism in the 20th century in less than a 100 year period. Now those are serious numbers. This came from a book written by two leftist French journalists and published by Harvard Press called “The Black Book of Communism.”  We should be afraid. We should be very, very afraid!

Oh, one more thing. You know who started those guerilla wars in Central America? Your good friend Fidel Castro and associates.


Che Shit 05.19.09 | 11:21 AM ET

Yes, please visit Cuba and see for yourselves the “fruits of the revolution.” I visited Cuba last year and the most thriving “social development” I saw was prostitution. Cuba has become a great world destination for tourists seeking pleasures of the flesh…for a price of course.

Sarah Brewer 05.20.09 | 5:23 AM ET

Look I don’t really have an opinion on Che, but the above comment on prostitution is pure crap.

I lived for many years in Africa and have been to Cuba. During my several weeks in Cuba I didn’t witness 1/10 the amount of prostitutes that I did in most of Africa. Poverty unfortunately creates the world’s oldest profession - and the U.S. Blockade isn’t helping make the case that Cuban socialism has failed (in fact it gives Raul a good excuse for their failures).

I do disagree with the fact that I as an American citizen can’t freely travel to Cuba - but yet I can catch a flight to Communist China, North Korea etc. It doesn’t help the U.S. case when we ban travel like we were also a dictatorship.

Martha J 05.20.09 | 1:26 PM ET

Sarah Brewer, what a stupid comparison! You’re comparing prostitution in Africa to Cuba? I also visited Cuba and saw plenty of “gineteras” around the Malecon in Havana, and even around some night clubs we visited. Cuban women (and men) are selling their bodies because they can make more cash in one night than in a month with their pathetic paychecks. And please, stop blaming the US emabargo for Cuba’s woes…that’s a tired old argument. Cuba can trade with rest of the world, including all of South America, Castro’s buddy Hugo, Europe, Asia, etc., etc.

Gustavo Rex 05.20.09 | 1:59 PM ET

Dear Sara,

I too have been to Cuba and saw a lot of prostitution on the streets. I don’t know where you were but all along the Malecon, near most of the hotels or even in the lobbies, on La Rampa, in restaurants. I was constantly approached since I looked like a tourist. And unlike in Africa, Cuban professionals prostitute themselves in order to feed their families. It’s common knowledge.

Regarding the “blockade,” it’s an embargo Sara, and Cuba has been trading with any country it choses to for 50 years. To blame it’s economic woes on one country is absurd and so many people swallowed the lie. It’s amazing. Also, Cuba’s foreign debt to it’s “trading partners” runs into the billions. So, what blockade are we talking about here? Cuba’s economic problems are due to the communist economic models that kept all the socialist bloc countries just as poor. Did you ever travel to Rumania, Poland, East Germany, etc.


Sarah Brewer 05.20.09 | 7:35 PM ET

You can find many prostitutes in every major American city - not to mention hundreds of strippers, porn stars, etc.

In Cuba I liked the fact that as a woman I never saw one ad with a half naked woman or any display in the public sphere that objectified a womans body.

As for the men above doing “research” and finding prostitutes, that is probably because you were looking for them. It’s like throwing chum into the ocean and then deciding it is full of sharks.

Carmen Pelaez 05.20.09 | 8:57 PM ET

Here is a Che spottig for you…

Havana 1960-my friend’s mom best friend criticizes the Cuban revolution to Che’s face.  He begins to beat her-knocking her to the ground and repeatedly kicking her in the abdomen.  She was 7 months pregnant.

Luke 05.20.09 | 9:58 PM ET

bwaahh ... so it’s story time now huh Carmen ..

oh here’s one, one time I was at the grocery store in the 1980’s and President Reagan -you know the contra war criminal- walked in and bit the head off of my aunts cousins baby. Right there, bit the head right off and then poured fruit loops into the skull and ate them right there in the cereal aisle.

True story, really.

The internet is great, no fact checking, and any moron can write whatever falls out of their a$$

Nieman Marxist 05.20.09 | 10:01 PM ET

Foreign policy is very Machiavellian. If he kills for U.S. interests (Pinochet, Marcos, Somoza, The Shah, Trujillo, Batista, Suharto, Mobutu, Saddam (1980-88), Mubarak, Osama Bin Laden during the Soviet Invasion, King Abdullah etc) then he is an important allie who Uncle Sam backs with mine and your tax dollars.

However if he kills against U.S. interests (Allende, Khomenni, Castro, Che, Arbenz, Lumumba, Ben Bella, Franco, Chavez, Ortega, Saddam (1991-2001), Ahmadinejad, Osama Bin Laden post Soveit Invasion etc) then he is an “evil” villian who must be destroyed.

I believe that both Ron Paul (R) and Dennis Kucinich (D) have done a good job of pointing this out. We as Americans should be the ones to demand an end to propping up any brutal tyrants !

Nieman Marxist 05.20.09 | 10:06 PM ET

You reactionary reich-wing dickclowns are right ... Che should have organized a bus boycott or lunch sit in, that would have convinced the Dictator Batista who had already killed 20,000 Cubans and the Mafia which ran the island to give up their de facto slave plantations peacefully.

The Chutzpah of Che to want to free Cuba from being an American pleasure palace and gambling hangout for Frank Sinatra & Co. while 70 % of the population remained illiterate.

We should all abhor anyone from attempting to remove Uncle Sam’s boot from their throat.

Don’t they realize we are there to bring them “freedom” - while merely borrowing their resources

= Racist CIA 05.20.09 | 10:07 PM ET

“Che is fairly intellectual for a Latino.” — Declassified CIA Document

Existentialist 05.20.09 | 11:03 PM ET

“Che is not only an intellectual, he was the most complete human being of our time, our eras most perfect man.”—- Jean Paul Sartre

A little reality ... 05.20.09 | 11:05 PM ET

The recent (October 2008) UN vote, 185-3 in favor of the USA lifting its blockade against Cuba, demonstrates that it’s the US government, not Cuba, that’s flying in the face of world opinion.

The world loves Cuba, and admires Fidel & Che - as do I.

"White-Latinos" ? 05.20.09 | 11:06 PM ET

Notice how Cuban exiles are mostly WHITE Cubans (although the majority of the island is mulatto)?

Miami is populated with the white Cubans who did not want to live in a racially equal society (notice how the blacks don’t leave on rafts, that’s because they know its worse in the U.S. for them).

White Gusanos will never have their latifundios & haciendas back on Cuba ! Patria O Muerte

Hasta la Victoria Siempre 05.20.09 | 11:08 PM ET

“Déjeme decirle, a riesgo de parecer ridículo, que el revolucionario verdadero está guiado por grandes sentimientos de amor ... Nuestra libertad y su sostén cotidiano tienen color de sangre y están henchidos de sacrificio.”—- Che Guevara

“Y esa ola de estremecido rencor, de justicia reclamada, de derecho pisoteado, que se empieza a levantar por entre las tierras de Latinoamérica, esa ola ya no parará más. Esa ola irá creciendo cada día que pase.”—- Che Guevara

Jeff the Historian 05.20.09 | 11:41 PM ET

See this is where El Che messed up ...

He should have

- Bought a peasant girl, made her his slave, then raped her and had her give birth to his child (Jefferson)

- Next Che should have made all the rich oligarchs walk hundreds of miles before leaving the country in a ‘trail of tears’ (Jackson)

- Once his legend was solidified he could send one of his commanders to do a ‘march to the sea’ where he burned out all the govt homes and Batistaites who had been defeated (Lincoln/Sherman).

It’s a shame he didn’t follow the great paths history already laid out for him ... then instead of being on the 3 Cuban peso he could be on the U.$. dollar bill !

Martin Weinstein 05.21.09 | 9:37 PM ET

The real Guevara was a reckless bourgeois adrenaline-junkie seeking a place in history as a liberator of the oppressed. But this fanatic’s vehicle of “liberation” was Stalinism, named for Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, murderer of well over 20 million of his own people. As one of Castro’s top lieutenants, Che helped steer Cuba’s revolutionary regime in a radically repressive direction. Soon after overthrowing Batista, Guevara choreographed the executions of hundreds of Batista officials without any fair trials. He thought nothing of summarily executing fellow guerrillas suspected of disloyalty and shot one himself with no due process.  Che was a purist political fanatic who saw everything in stark black and white. Therefore he opposed freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, protest, or any other rights not completely consistent with his North Korean-style communism. How many rock music-loving teens sporting Guevara t-shirts today know their hero supported Cuba’s 1960s’ repression of the genre? How many homosexual fans know he had gays jailed?  Did the Obama volunteers in that Texas campaign headquarters with Che’s poster on the wall know that Guevara fervently opposed any free elections?

Gustavo Rex 05.22.09 | 3:43 AM ET

Thank you Martin. Finally, someone uses their brain to correctly assess Che and his fanatical dimwits. What these folks need is to live in a communist country for six months. They’ll come crying home to mommy real fast.

Ray 05.22.09 | 2:01 PM ET

Why would anyone ever make Che a super hero of anything, ever to do with liberation. He was an absolute idiot in my estimation. After , UNSUCCESSFULLY working with Fidel in a mockery of democracy he went on his own to slaughter innocent people with brutal force. Thank God he was not as smart as Hitler or Stalin or for that matter any of the neo natzi’s still around. His efforts were not heroic in any way ever. He suffered from a totalitarian dementia like Castro has. If he was trying to give the people liberation, visit Cuba and see for yourself what the remains of the Che and Catro clan did to their own people. As an american visiting cuba, I ran into a very unglamorous situationn with people starving. I helped in a medical clinic out in Cotorro , outside of Havanna and there were 3 medicines in the clinic and a dead baby arrived after several hours of being there because of lack of medicines. I worked with a drug company to get HIV meds to the people there as HIV is rampant with all the prostitution due to people not being able to make ends meet. I was approached by young, 13 year old girls who are being sent out to the streets to work for their families. I have never seen such a mess in my life other than in Haiti when I was there. Half starved people being puppeted by Castro with Che photos everywhere. Talk to the people who fought with Che sometime and or read what really happened before you ever iconisize a man for his attempts to try and recreate what Castro has already created for eons. I think God was fair in getting rid of Che to be honest with you as he would have been another imperialist Castro-like dictator saying he is giving the people something and giving them fabricated lies of good health, education and the rest that goes with his regime. The insanity of Che is no more than a man walking into the pentagon with a dozen or more people and trying to take over. There are far better role models than Che who have lived and given something, not try to take something from the people. As an american in cuba , after seeing the ordeal that Che’s commander has left behind , I would not place Che on a list of heros, ever. Ever wonder why Cuba has a lottery and guess what you win if you do win??? A free ticket out of the country….no lie, I met a person who won who is moving to Miami….don’t color Che ever with anything other than black if you draw him and leave him in the past and learn by his mistakes…

Ray 05.22.09 | 2:24 PM ET

Butthole James…what kind of person are you that you would ever say that a man’s father ( above comments to REX) should have been shot!  Save your ” mental malpractice” and hatred for your own father. Enough people suffered at the expense of Castro’s hands for lifetimes to come, let alone you have some Che gene in yourself that gives you the freedom to wish a man’s father dead!!! What if it was your own father????

Kathryn R. 05.22.09 | 2:50 PM ET

Bravo Ray! These idiots idolizing Che on this blog are truly pathetic. Lets idolize Martin Luther King, Ghandi, or Mother Theresa, promoters of peaceful social change, not the murderous cold-blooded Che with his misguided ideas and cruel methodology.

Rational Objectivist 05.23.09 | 1:45 PM ET

When I visited Bolivia a few years back I was surprised at how many times I saw Che compared to Jesus or mentioned as a saint etc. Hell I even saw pictures of Che alongside who I guess was the Virgin Mary.

The Observer wrote an article about later called “The Final Triumph of Saint Che”.

As a Libertarian Atheist I could care less. In fact to me “The God” of the Bible sounds similar to Che ...

James 5:1-6: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”

Rational Objectivist 05.23.09 | 1:51 PM ET

Also, both sides need to calm down,

We’re living in a time of instantly-gratifying selective history; if you’re a conservative you can log onto Amazon right now and find a book that supports your ideology. If your a liberal - likewise. There are plenty of books expounding on the heroic feats of the ‘liberator’, Che Guevara. On the flip side there are plenty that rail against all the atrocities he committed. These are then “proven” or “disproved” by a series of other books.

There’s a reason why Che (the Robin Hood myth) is still compelling. Regardless of his actual exploits, the myth depicts a character who overthrows a brutal dictatorship by rallying the common folk. He takes land from wealthy foreigners who’ve supposedly ‘exploited’ the poor and gives it away. He fights in another continent to help free South African blacks. He thumbs his nose at a superpower which has grown incredibly arrogant and belligerent in it’s meddling. There’s a lot to like in that for anyone (regardless of its actual accuracy).

Rational Objectivist 05.23.09 | 1:55 PM ET

It is also clear that most here don’t have an understanding of semiotics & syntactics.

‘Guerrillero Heroico’ (i.e. the Che pic) is a linguistic symbol which denotes a ‘vague’ sense of idealistic rebellion. The actual individual -which operates separately- or his deeds are irrelevant for the most part.

When a person wears a cross around their neck, they aren’t evoking the Crusades, witch burnings, or the Spanish Inquisition and the brutality of Torquemada; they are communicating that they identify as a Christian and with the ‘vague’ attributes that such a distinction implies.

Although “righteous anger” can be an entertaining spectacle, in the end it serves no purpose other than to entrench those ‘symbols’ that are unfortunately part of the counterculture -which Che clearly is-.

The silly petrified Christians that burned Beatles albums after John Lennon made his infamous & misunderstood “bigger than Jesus” declaration, only increased the bands popularity and standing amongst youth enthralled with countercultural sentiments.

Likewise, protesting or objecting to Che’s ubiquitous pictorial dissemination only makes it “stronger”.

Ellsworth Toohey 05.24.09 | 1:43 AM ET

I’ve Chespotting in the recent past.  When I spot a picture of Che I sh1t in my hand then rub it on his face.  Seeing Che with corn stuck on his eyebrow seems so fitting.

Leftie Larry 05.24.09 | 11:43 AM ET

... Nothing brings out the right-wing dingbats like a Che Guevara mention

Their reaction shows how much they fear him, even in death

Honest Abe 05.27.09 | 2:25 AM ET

...and nothing brings out ignorant left-leaning, history re-writing idiots, like Che’s ugly mugshot… leftists fearing the myth’s increasing dimise…

Che is dead! 05.27.09 | 6:20 PM ET

The best thing about Che is that he’s dead! the chunk of lead in his head, he’s dead, dead, dead!

Mindi Brice 05.28.09 | 1:08 AM ET

I saw a great Che image printed on toilet paper rolls once.

Louis Gomez 05.28.09 | 1:27 AM ET

Ever since JFK, US presidents have been promising the Florida voting block of Cuban exiles (see political prostitutes) that the Cuban government will be overturned. And you can give them an E for Effort:. They initiated, promoted or tolerated all of the following: Bay of Pigs invasion, attempts on Castro’s life, sabotage, brutal economic blockade, downing of an airliner, innumerable raids by exiles, bombings in Havana, guerrillas in Escambray mountains, misinformation campaigns and much more. Then Cuba is accused of being too tough on dissidents, who receive instruction and money from the enemy. What would the US reaction be if under such threat and siege? Hell FDR interned all Japanese during WWII, but the U.S. will bash Castro for interning all Gusano traitors during their war against America.

Che’s only mistake was not killing more. As Saint Ignatius said “Any dissent in a besieged city is treason”

Some relevant quotes ... 05.28.09 | 1:31 AM ET

“Che was not only a heroic fighter, but a revolutionary thinker, with a political and moral project and a system of ideas and values for which he fought and gave his life. The philosophy which gave his political and ideological choices their coherence, color, and taste was a deep revolutionary humanism. For Che, the true Communist, the true revolutionary was one who felt that the great problems of all humanity were his or her personal problems, one who was capable of feeling anguish whenever someone was assassinated, no matter where it was in the world, and of feeling exultation whenever a new banner of liberty was raised somewhere else.”——Michael Löwy

“There was no person more feared by the company than Che Guevara because he had the capacity and charisma necessary to direct the struggle against the political repression of the traditional hierarchies in power in the countries of Latin America.”——Philip Agee, CIA Agent

“With the news of Che’s death, rallies were held from Mexico to Santiago, Algiers to Angola, and Cairo to Calcutta. The population of Budapest and Prague lit candles; the picture of a smiling Che appeared in London and Paris…when a few months later, riots broker out in Berlin, Paris, and Chicago, and from there the unrest spread to the American campuses, young men and women wore Che Guevara T-shirts and carried his pictures during their protest marches.”——Erik Durschmied

Frederick B. 05.28.09 | 4:40 PM ET

This is the man who put to death or he, himself, killed anywhere from 4,000 upwards of Cubans because they did not agree with the ideals of the “Revolution.” This is the man whose slogan was “If in doubt, kill him.” As for fighting, Ché was never involved in any real battles. Even charging down from the Sierra Maestra mountains into Havana there was no real opposition; Batista and his men had already fled. Ché himself trained guerrillas and terrorists. Castro sent Ché’s “best” to the Dominican Republic in 1959 to organize a revolution against dictator Trujillo but they failed.  Ché’s guerrillas were also sent to Panama, where they were trounced by Panama’s National Guard. Castro sent Ché to liberate Africa twice in 1965 and the great warrior took a double beating. Ché went into hiding in 1966. In Bolivia, Ché could only rally 15 Bolivians for his uprising. In March of 1967 Castro decided he would no longer send Cuban troops to Bolivia to help Ché and ended contact with Ché in July of that year. Ché was captured and killed in October, 1967. He was quite unheroic.

Ann McDonald 05.28.09 | 4:45 PM ET

All of this history stuff is very interesing, but what I really want to know is where I can buy some of that Che Guevara toilet paper! LOL!

Alyssa 05.28.09 | 5:27 PM ET

Che drives me to be a better person ...

the world needs more Che’s now more than ever <3

Harriet C. 05.28.09 | 9:23 PM ET

Alyssa, I can understand Martin Luther King or Ghandi driving (or inspiring) you to be a better person…but Che?....please, the guy was a cold-blooded murdering, self-serving thug….find yourself better role models!

Alyssa 05.29.09 | 4:26 AM ET

Harriet, that is your unfounded opinion of Che, not a fact.

Che reviewed the guilty sentences of war criminals and was in charge of pardoning them or not - the same as a U.S. Governor. Does that make them “murderers” if they refuse to commute the sentence? Hardly.

As for killing in war, we pin medals on killers all the time. It just depends on which side of the killing you are on - so grow up and join the real world.

As for “thuggery”, giving up ones cozy position atop a regime to slog through the jungle with disease and asthma to fight corrupt oligarchical regimes which are not your concern - is not a trait commonly attributed to “thugs”. Thugs usually wear neck ties and carry briefcases.

Harriet C. 05.30.09 | 1:47 AM ET

Ernesto “Che” Guevara dreamed of creating the “New Man” at any cost. During the Cuban missile crisis, he was in favor of a nuclear war because he believed that a better world could be built from the ashes, regardless of the cost in millions of lives. By adhering to his anti-American feelings and pro-Soviet stance, he achieved a role in history that stands for one failure after another, both in Cuba, as well as in all the other countries where he went to promote and disseminate Castro’s Revolution.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara had all the characteristics of a ruthless dictator and opponent of freedom. He believed that the end justifies the means, and he fanatically adhered to this gospel. This “idealized icon” is the one who, as a modern day Grand Inquisitor, eliminated many of his foes with a single pistol shot to the back of their heads. And he is also the same one who authored these enhancing words printed in the identity booklets of young Cuban soldiers sent to fight in Angola: “Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.”

Gustavo Rex 05.30.09 | 3:52 AM ET

Thank you so much Harriet.

Gustavo Rex

Gusano Rex = Douche 05.30.09 | 9:58 PM ET

The only dilemma is who in the world will actually want the Cuban exiles once America wises up to the fact that they infest society like cockroaches ?

Haiti, DR, & Jamaica surely won’t want the infestation. Socialist Canada would not be a good option - The Mexican cartels would just kill them all off as they don’t want a competing Mafia.

Nowhere in the WORLD will want the Cuban exiles once South Florida gets rid of them. Everywhere they go = poverty, corruption, vice, crime, and wage slavery follows.

Worm Infestation 05.30.09 | 10:03 PM ET

Gusanos get whiny when you remind them that they tucked in the wieners and fled from a few hundred bearded guys with guns to the comfort of American Capitali$m.

Maybe if they had half the ‘Cajones’ that Che had, they would have tried to start their own revolution and topple Fidel. Hell Fidel at one time was down to 12 men and came out victorious. So what’s their problem ??? - grab 82 of those south beach geezers, load up a yacht, and see how far they get when they land in Cuba like Fidel & Co. did.

Then again Fidel & Che are two of the greatest minds and men of the last century - while most exiles without their Miami mafia connections would only be qualified to cut some rich gringos lawn.

Carmen Pelaez 05.31.09 | 11:46 AM ET

Those of you who want to apologize for Che and attack Cuban exiles and their actual lived experiences are not only sadistic-but the worst kind of ignorant-the kind that propagates the same atrocities you pretend to decry.  You are in the same category as Reagan’s contras, the kkk and cheney/rove—so maybe it does make perfect sense that you would be fans of Che—a sociopathic paris hilton.  Good luck with that-in the meantime I will continue to work to bring human rights to the island of Cuba and teh Caribbean.

Carmen Stop Crying 05.31.09 | 12:33 PM ET

Carmen darling,

just go back to watching MTV’s The Hills. Leave Cuba and these matters to us adults. Your obviously the offsrping of Gusano scum and so naturally you have been brainwashed by Batista’s former Gestapo. The reality however is that you’re not even worthy to speak the name of the heroic El Che. Now go paint your nails.

Yami 05.31.09 | 4:57 PM ET

You people don’t be so ingnorant..i’m a cuban..and no GUSANO as many of youl refere to Cubans..i left CUba just few years ago….and i’m completly desagreed with the way you talk…is so wrong..many of you don’t know what’s really going on in Cuba…and you are just like parrots, repeating what you all listen…CHE is FRAUD….an SCUM OF EARTH…he did nothing for CUBA and for no any other country..he just wanted to kill people..that’s what he knew to do..there is not one single construtive thing he did for my country,not a single one….i wish you tell me at least one of those great things foe what every you glory him…he just kill doesn^‘t matter if they were good or bad,.....people have the right to be judge..and not just kill them the way CHE did to many of them…..My country during 50 years has gone down…more deep and deep….and nobody cares…and at the end the ones suffering are the ones inside there,what are you all doing for a better CUBA???...don’t be so blind…and so square in your head .. ,please don’t offend people, nor families you don’t even know..GUSTAVO REX is a great man,  a great CUBAN..more cuban than many of you writting in here…you all should have more respect and don’t insult so much…there is no need fo the very end,...we CUBANS.. know what’s really going on..and what the truth is…CHE IT IS , IT WAS AND IT WILL FOREVER BE A KILLER….
Now keep insulting if you want…i really don’t care…i know my truth..and my people truth

Violin playing 05.31.09 | 9:43 PM ET

... The brilliant Castro ensures that we get the bottom-feeders like Yami ...


Your unsults make me laugh 06.01.09 | 3:08 PM ET

Wow, such contempt for Cuban exiles. I can just imagine the type of “deep thinking, compassionate people” making the insults on this blog. Kinda reminds me of the hatred towards Jews, still prevalent in many parts of the world. That’s fine, keep hating us, and we’ll just keep getting PHD’s, owning businesses, and buying property. I’ll cry on my way to the bank!

Matthew 06.01.09 | 3:39 PM ET

Although Cuba and America have had quite a few tussles when it comes to political standings in the world, a considerable amount of the Cuban population managed to migrate to America and become well known. In fact, Cuban-American personalities are held in honor in quite a few fields of human life. They have managed to show that Cubans can be good at anything they do. You will find that Cuban-Americans have established themselves as a prominent part of American society, including members of Congress, heads of major US corporations, journalists, musicians, medical professionals, and sports personalities, to name a few.

George B. 06.01.09 | 9:41 PM ET

“Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!” ...Che Guevara

In actual combat (puerile skirmishes, actually) his imbecilities defy belief. Compared to Che “The Lionhearted” Guevara, Groucho Marx in “Duck Soup” comes across like Hannibal. The century’s most famous guerrilla fighter in fact never fought in anything properly describable as a guerrilla war. When he finally started getting a tiny taste of one in Bolivia, he was promptly defeated.

Child of Earth 06.02.09 | 4:06 PM ET

All ye faithful followers of the mighty grand oompapa Che, may thy adoration of his enlightened path lead you to a deeper understanding of true brotherly love and peace on earth. And may the bird of eternal wisdom drop doodoo on your head.

Andre' 06.03.09 | 2:54 AM ET

Re: Matthew,
That is because the Cuban exiles benefit from 1. Being White, 2. Having Mafia connections, 3. Having CIA ties to terrorism, 4. Havin stolen millions from the anti-Cuba ponzi sheme. + 5. They don’t care about setting up wage slavery for their fellow hispanics. There “success” is to be expected.

Re: George B,
copy and pasting Humberto Fontova the Nazi clown is not a good sign of intelligence. This hack is about as reliable as a drunk circus clown. Nearly every line of his screeds are disproven with reality.

Re:  Che Haters,
His words are proven more prophetic by the day. History will absolve him as it has Fidel. Capitalism is running out of blood to suck and will soon die. I can only hope that the American underclass will not show mercy to the oligrachs as Che did.

Andre' 06.03.09 | 3:01 AM ET

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality… We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.”——CHE GUEVARA

Che has proven to be right on so many things, far before the majority.
- Che called out South Africa’s Apartheid in 1964 !!! 30 years before the West.
- Che defended Paul Robeson from the FBI goons, and predicted the civil rights movement ... while America looked the other way.
- Che spoke of the dangers of the IMF, 3 decades before most of the developing world realized they had been scammed into debt slavery.
- Che denounced the alienation that arises from unbridled capitalism and the degeneration of a society where the law of value rules all - an idea which is now fact to anyone paying attention.

Che was not only a grand hero & martyr of the people ... but a prophet to the world.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre ! El Che Vive !

My Dear "Andre..." 06.03.09 | 1:02 PM ET

“Andre/Violin Playing/Worm Infestation/Carmen Stop Crying/Some Relevant Quotes and so on”... funny how “you all” sound alike…almost like written by the same person…hmmm….I wonder. Did you get fired from your jobs by a successful, rich, Cuban exile or something? Because you sure hate the “evil Cuban exile” a lot.


Betty 06.04.09 | 5:58 PM ET

If a masa crown embelishes the martyr’s head, laced curtains will not block the blinding light. Like the great thinkers of yesteryear, the writings teach us of passages not frequented by lichen. Beware of the thickened paste that fools desire. Should they loudly proclaim their righteous Foie gras, pierce Minerva’s membrane with cotton arrows, or skip along a winding river holding wreaths of wheat? I think not. Let them be. Let them be. Let them jubilantly flutter for Che…for Che…for Che!!!

Betty 06.06.09 | 12:31 AM ET

For Che…for Che…for Che!!! His followers like remnants of a vivisection gone wrong, shine their beacons of slather. Let he who denies the fruits of his lifelong pursuits, bow to the greatness of the mighty papaya. Like Portnoy Freemont once said “His finger nails were inspirational to say the least, and his use of sifting divices, unparallelled in modern history.” Let us go forward, with our heads held high, proud of a legacy which continues to be calcareous to this day!

Thanks Betty! 06.08.09 | 7:05 PM ET

Thank you Betty. Finally, somebody making sense on this blog!

Betty = Skank 06.10.09 | 9:38 PM ET

Che = Hero

Rigoberta Menchu 06.10.09 | 9:40 PM ET

“In these present times, when for many, ethics and other profound moral values are seen to be so easily bought and sold, the example of Che Guevara takes on an even greater dimension.”

Alfredo López 06.10.09 | 9:42 PM ET

“Physician, brilliant intellect, competent soldier, charismatic leader, developed—and eventually creative—Marxist economist, always a man able to capture the spirit of an experience in his own being, Che remains one of the four or five greatest revolutionaries in modern history.”

Herbert L. Matthews 06.10.09 | 9:43 PM ET

“Che’s dedication to his revolutionary beliefs was deeply religious. Che had a missionary’s faith in the innate goodness of man, in the ability of workers to dedicate themselves to ideals and to overcome selfishness and prejudices. It was the other side of the coin of his passionate indignation against injustice and exploitation of the humble. He saw the solution in an exalted form of Marxism that would bring freedom and brotherhood. Such men are born to be martyrs.”

And you know who you are 06.10.09 | 10:55 PM ET

Rigoberta Menchu, Herbert L. Matthews, Alfredo Lopez, along with several other ones (Andre, Worm Infestation, etc.) you’re the same person posting under different names, and you’re the same idiot regardless of your post name. An idiot by any other name is still an idiot! Just like Che. At least you have that in common with your idol.

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