Babalu reader Jennifer Herrera takes offense, as many of us have, and responds to Urban Outfitters recent display of t-shirts with that image.
From: Herrera, Jennifer
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 3:04 PM
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘email@example.com’
Subject: Recent Display of Che Guevara Graphic T-Shirt in Miami
I write this letter from the heart and I sincerely hope that you take the time to read my thoughts. I have been a loyal Urban Outfitter s and Anthropoligie customer for a very long time, my wardrobe consists of many your retail jewels. My home is adorned with the funky finds from your stores. However, today my heart is broken after the display I witnessed at the Urban Outfitters Sunset Place (Miami) store. A graphic t-shirt of Che Guevara, in between t-shirts of President Obama and the great Gandhi.
I am disheartened and have made a moral decision to boycott your stores entirely. Additionally, the I belong to a Facebook group that has asked its 55,196 members to boycott your stores as well. We don’t expect our boycott to put a dent in your sales – but we would like to be heard. We have also discussed organizing a protest in Miami at your stores – but many feel that Urban Outfitters is undeserving of such publicity.
A simple analogy should illustrate my sentiments in a nutshell: as a Cuban-American, Che Guevara is to me as Hitler is to the Jewish community. Comprende?
Though he has been labeled by some as a “hero”, opponents of Argentinean Che Guevara, including most Cuban exiles, think of him as a killer and terrorist. They stick to the less appealing aspects of Guevara’s life, taking the viewpoint that he was enthusiastic about executing opponents of the Cuban Revolution. They know he was responsible for the torture and execution of thousands of people in Cuban prisons, and for the murder of many more peasants in regions controlled or visited by his guerrilla forces.
In 2005, after Carlos Santana wore a Che shirt to the Academy Awards, Cuban-born musician Paquito D’Rivera wrote a letter castigating Santana for supporting “The Butcher of the Cabaña.” The Cabaña is the name of a prison where Guevara oversaw the execution of many of those who disagreed with the revolution, including D’Rivera’s own cousin, who, according to D’Rivera, was imprisoned there for being a Christian.
Frankly, it is embarrassing that Che Guevara was ever a staple of pop couture. It is even more frightening that our peers don’t know that he massacred innocent people, including women and children! The modern-day cult of Che blinds us not only to the past, but also to the present. Right now, a tremendous social struggle is taking place in Cuba. Liberation movements are now filled with revolutionaries preaching smart passion, peaceful protests, freedom, and education. Let’s put a face on those activists. I’ll buy that t-shirt.
Regardless if you consider Ernesto “Che” Guevara the ultimate Latin American revolutionary leader, a man who gave his life to free the people of the Americas from U.S. imperialism, or a cold-blooded killer, the man who ran Fidel Castro’s firing squads after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, I think it is important for Urban Outfitters to learn it’s facts before selling such merchandise in a market that doesn’t agree and is deeply offended as a result.
Thank you for your time.
Sincerely, Jennifer Herrera
I know, it’s discouraging, they are everywhere, but standing up for truth and jusitice does not have an expiration date.
Jennifer thanks for sharing, and bravo!
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