An ultra-expensive hotel in Miami's South Beach is ditching a Che Guevara-inspired artwork after getting an earful from Cuban-American anti-Communists.
The Miami Herald published a photo of the 7-foot-tall piece, which is clearly based on the famous 1959 photo shot by Alberto Korda of Ernesto Guevara, better known by his nickname as "Che." They appear to be self-portraits of the British artist, Gavin Turk, who portrayed himself as the revolutionary icon in a similar series on his website.
The Argentine-born revolutionary is viewed as a hero in some leftwing circles for his commitment to socialism, but Cuban-Americans generally revile him for his role in establishing the island's Communist dictatorship.
Guevara presided over the executions of suspected enemies of the new revolutionary government in 1959. The Cuban government does not make detailed records available to the public, but historians estimate the kangaroo courts he ran killed between 200 and 700 people, according to researcher María Werlau, a co-founder of Cuba Archive, a nonprofit research center.
As one unidentified person told The Miami Herald:
"Dude, it's Che Guevara. This is Miami. You don't do stuff like this. When you go to college in New York state, then it's cool at the time to have poster up. But down here, he's looked at a terrorist. He killed people.
It's unclear what the management for the hotel, which charges $900 per night for its low-end rooms, feels it has in common with the leftwing revolutionary, the Miami Herald's source pointed out.
Carlos Santana of Radio Mambí, a conservative Cuban-American radio station, posted a recording of a phone call to the hotel. When Santana began began speaking in Spanish, the employee said the hotel was taking the Che Guevara art down before he even asked about it.
It's not the only time Che Guevara marketing has landed a company in hot water. Last year Urban Outfitters quietly retired it's Che merchandise after protests in its Miami store and a campaign by the Human Rights Foundation.