But it’s time we start to talk about Che. He may have died 45 years ago, but his pernicious philosophy is still very much under debate in Latin America. On the one hand, even liberals such as Rory Carroll, the Latin American correspondent for the Guardian in Britain, acknowledge that the Cuban model would have been a “debacle” if exported to other countries. “To challenge the U.S. empire, Che dreamed of creating ‘many Vietnams,’ not least in his Argentine homeland,” Carroll wrote. “Who today can seriously wish he had succeeded? . . . Who needs Che?”
But while overt Communism isn’t on the march in Latin America, Che-style thinking is ascendant in the anti-American authoritarians who today rule Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Che is much more than an image on a T-shirt to leaders in those countries: He is an inspiration on how to seize and maintain power. It’s for that reason that we should push back whenever and wherever Che’s image surfaces. If people wore T-shirts with images of Nazi butchers, most of us wouldn’t let them pass by without comment. The same should be the case with Che, whether his image shows up on college campuses or in EPA e-mails.