Che Guevara image used in Mercedes Benz presentation causes furore: Daimler sends out apology statement

Last month, Daimler AG chose an oft used and abused famous Alberto Korda photo of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara at a promotional presentation for Mercedes-Benz cars. Keeping in mind that the Argentine communist was at the head of the revolution in Cuba that brought Fidel Castro to power, activists, political conservatives, and Cuban-Americans consider him to be a mass murderer who played a pivotal role in overpowering Cuba.

While the photo gained prominence as symbol of communist revolution back in the 60s and ’70s, using it at a presentation with head of Daimler’s Mercedes unit, Dieter Zetsche, taking center stage at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas seems out of place. To personalize the reason behind using the image, in place of the usual star on Guevara’s beret, Mercedes Benz used their star.

Daimler sent a statement to this effect to “In his keynote speech at CES, Dr. Zetsche addressed the revolution in automobility enabled by new technologies, in particular those associated with connectivity. To illustrate this point, the company briefly used a photo of revolutionary Che Guevara (it was one of many images and videos in the presentation). Daimler was not condoning the life or actions of this historical figure or the political philosophy he espoused. We sincerely apologize to those who took offense.”

The apology was due considering Mercedes Benz had to face quite a backlash. Heritage Foundation Vice President, Mike Gonzalez blogged, “Mercedes-Benz Uses Communist Madman Che Guevara to Sell Luxury Cars.” “Che Guevara, not to put too fine a point on it, was a psychopath whose sadistic lust for blood was not easily quenched. He killed for pleasure.”

Ernesto Suarez organized an online petition that called for an apology from Mercedes-Benz for using the image. The petition made a reference to Che Guevara as “a racist, homophobic, anti-semitic and tyrannical killer who admitted in his own writing to his endless blood thirst.” In response to Mercedes Bez’s apology, Ernesto had this to say. “I’m very satisfied with the reaction from Mercedes-Benz,” Suarez, a Cuban-American who lives in Kansas City, Mo., told Thursday evening. “I believe that they have done the right thing.” “The victory, if there is one, is not mine, but belongs to the descendants of [Guevara’s] victims [and] the survivors, to common sense and to civility.”