Che’s Dead, baby. And dead is dead.

No more Che watches at the New York Public Library.

A message from Cuba Archive Org:

The New York Public Library has responded to our letter campaign and the Che Guevara watches are no longer for sale!


Last week I went to the Library Shop and verified that the watches were not being sold. The saleswoman was well informed of the situation and of the article on The New York Sun. The following day, the page on the watches was no longer on the website. I confirmed this by phone with the President’s office and offered my thanks to Mr. LeClerc, but requested confirmation by telephone. A written response, I was told, was already on the way. This letter arrived yesterday, dated December 17, 2004:

Thank you for your letter to Dr. LeClerc expressing your concern about the Che Guevara watches sold through the website of the Library Shop. Those watches are no longer in stock and we have no plans to reorder them.

Your interest in The New York Public Library is very much appreciated.


Betsy Bradley
Special Assistant to the President

This is a welcome development and accomplishes what we requested. However, the lack of acknowledgment of the merits or our complaints and/or the absence of any hint of apology is disappointing and disheartening. I have the feeling they would have reacted differently if any other interest group -say Blacks, Jews, or Puerto Ricans, had led efforts to express similar concerns or complaints. Nonetheless, i see the usefulness of taking “yes” as an answer and will respond in accordingly.

It should be noted that the NYPL’s Public Relations office did a pretty awful public relations job regarding this matter. They never returned any of my calls (very polite and not at all hostile) to discuss this matter with them, via phone or in person.

FYI, when I visited the NYPL, I checked their catalogue on Che Guevara and found at least 220 offerings, including many of Che’s own writings and his major biographies. Thus, there is no excuse for ignoring who Che was, what he stood for, and the crimes he committed.

Going forward

Here’s a few suggestions:

1. If you wrote to the NYPL and receive a letter from them, write back briefly acknowledging their positive response and, if you are so inclined, express your disappointment of the lack of recognition of your concerns.

2. Cases such as the Library or other public or educational institutions merit a similar response to the NYPL’s. Initiate your own grassroots response or let us know, so we can.

3. The proliferation of merchandise with the image of Che is evident and seems to be growing. Contact the management of stores that carry any Che items and very politely educate them on Che, tell them that participating in the romanticizing of Che Guevara is wrong, ignorant, and offensive. Most store managers or salespersons won’t have a clue. Ask for the contact information on company headquarters and write a letter with relevant information. Tell them that you will not sponsor their stores nor buy anything it sells until the merchandise is removed and will ask your friends to do so. Get your friends to also write.

4. Write letters to your newspapers, respond to articles or news coverage that romanticizes Che Guevara, and get your message across to media outlets whenever the opportunity arises.

5. Help us identify family members of the victims of Che Guevara or witnesses to his killings.

Our follow-up

1. A colleague is working with us to establish a website on “the real Che Guevara.” Any help you can offer, content-wise, financial, etc., is very welcome and encouraged. If anyone wants to volunteer to help administer the site, please let me know.

2. I will contact U.S. government representatives to inquire whether Che merchandise sold in the U.S. is in any way violating U.S. Treasury embargo regulations. I understand that the photographer Korda, who is in Cuba, receives royalties, but am not sure what role the Cuban government may have. If you have any information on this specific issue, please let me know.

To those of you who participated directly in this effort -writing or calling the NYPL, circulating the message, or otherwise- THANKS! Know that you made a difference.

Feel free to circulate this message as you wish.

Best wishes and many blessings to you and your loved ones for Christmas and the New Year.


Maria C. Werlau
President, Free Society Project, Inc

7 thoughts on “Che’s Dead, baby. And dead is dead.”

  1. This is good news. I will continue the letter writing, emails and phone calls in response to any offensive che or castro merchandising, posts, or ads.

  2. Ché Watches on the Asheap of History?

    Once in a while, efforts bear fruit.

    Val Prieto reports that the New York Public Library has apparently seen the idiocy of its ways and has dropped the Ché Guevara wrist watch from their gift catalogs. Val received a message from Maria C. Wer…

  3. These days, you’re lucky to get a written response. I think the Free Society guy is wishing on a star to get an admission of anything from a large institution like the NYPL.

    The most he’d be likely to get would be one of those weasel apologies like “we deeply regret that you feel negatively about our actions.”

    Just getting the watches removed was a great step.

  4. I sent an email to Paul LeClerc, as well as the General Counsel of the NYPL about two weeks ago and recieved a similar reply from his assistant. I appreciate their responsiveness, as well as their apparent sensitivity to the issue. Now if we can only do something about all the blogs and forums out there that are romanticizing him to impressionable youths.

    BTW, would like to hear any comments about the new film “The Motorcyle Diaries”

  5. If you watch the trailer from” Motorcyle Diaries”, you’ll see it opens with the following quote …

    “Che Guevara is an inspiration for every human being that loves freedom”

    It is attributed to NELSON MANDELA

  6. I don’t know if Che should be an inspiration to all, but since he’s dead I can only hope that other Commies follow in his footsteps.

    The only good communist is a dead communist.

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