W South Beach: Not Just for Stalinists Anymore!

The W South Beach has

taken down a piece of art inspired by the image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara after it upset some in the Cuban exile community.

The work by British artist Gavin Turk was taken down from the W South Beach on Tuesday. It featured Turk’s own face but with the scraggly beard, beret and revolutionary garb worn by Guevara in a now iconic 1960 photograph by Alberto Korda.

W Hotels want to be cool, and for some reason I’ve never quite managed to fathom (probably because I’m decidedly uncool), Che Guevara is ‘it’ with the trendy set.

A year ago Mercedes-Benz was associating itself with Guevara, too.

Che Guevara:

  • Helped set up Cuba’s secret police and forced labor camps
  • Was responsible for the execution of thousands of political prisoners
  • Tortured prisoners (this included children)
  • Called himself “Stalin II” (though he felt Soviet totalitarianism didn’t go far enough and preferred North Korea as a model

How is it that a man who pushed for a Cuban ban on rock music and jazz became so culturally hip?

Surely the popularity of Guevara emanates from an ignorance of who the man actually was.

As Alvaro Vargas Llosa reported five years ago, young Argentines have taken to sporting shirts emblazoned with the putdown, “I have a Che T-Shirt and I don’t know why.” The Australian band The Clap sings of the “Che Guevara T-Shirt Wearer” who has “no idea” of who he is.

One imagines that the W South Beach just thought the artwork embodied the warmth of cool, but in removing the artwork they’ve declared the property not just for Stalinists anymore!

(HT: @GlobeTrotScott)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Matt: “Kind of like we did in Iraq under Saddam when hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children starved to death because of our sanctions?” Can’t believe you are still peddling this trope. The figures for dead children came from Baath party members who were trying to gain world wide political support for Saddam. Saddam was famous for cold storing the body of every child who died from disease or accident, or murder by his henchmen, and then bringing them out en masse to claim they were murdered by the US.

    Yes, I know a very left wing magazine took these false claims without any investigation at all, and publicized them to discredit GWB, but that doesn’t make them true. For Saddam’s claims to be true, the US would have to have developed a new bomb that only kills women and children, and doesn’t harm the men. No such bomb exists. And the UN sanctions specifically allowed for Saddam to buy food on the international market, only military items were sanctioned.

    Fact: Saddam started an unprovoked war with Iran, which had let it’s military decay, hoping to steal Iran’s oil fields. The death total from the war was over 1 Million, mostly soldiers. He also continually purged, tortured and murdered any person or group that he feared might be disloyal to his regime. This ranged from his two sons-in-law, to thousands of Kurds killed with chemical weapons, and thousands of Marsh Shia in the South of Iraq.

    Most of the “civilians” killed during the 2nd Iraq war were in fact al Quaeda and Iranian terrorists, who were declared civilans simply because they did not wear uniforms. Getting rid of the butcher Saddam was a great gift to the Iraqi people. Case in point:

    Babies found in Iraqi mass grave
    BBC News

    mass grave being excavated in a north Iraqi village has yielded evidence that Iraqi forces executed women and children under Saddam Hussein.

    US-led investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s.

    The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said.

    Someone used this field on significant occasions over time to take bodies up there, and to take people up there and execute them.”

    The victims are believed to be Kurds killed in 1987-88, their bodies bulldozed into the graves after being summarily shot dead.

    One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men.

    The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face.

    Mr Kehoe investigated mass graves in the Balkans for five years but those burials mainly involved men of fighting age and the Iraqi finds were quite different, he said.

    “I’ve been doing grave sites for a long time, but I’ve never seen anything like this, women and children executed for no apparent reason,” he said.
    Source: google BBC Babies found in Iraqi mass grave

    Once again you are defending a mass murderer and accusing the US Government of a policy of genocide instead. By the way, what was Saddam’s political stance? Well, the mass graves make that quite clear, but I’ll also quote from Wikipedia:

    “The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party was a political party… espoused Ba’athism, which is an ideology mixing Arab nationalist, pan-Arabism, Arab socialist and anti-imperialist interests. Ba’athism calls for unification of the Arab world into a single state. Its motto, “Unity, Liberty, Socialism”, refers to Arab unity, and freedom from non-Arab control and interference.”

    In other words Fascism. Not surprising since it was founded in 1940 in imitation of Nazi Fascism, merely replacing Arab for Aryan in it’s propaganda.

    “Its founders, Aflaq and Bitar were both associated with left-wing politics.”

    Who could have seen that one coming?

    Socialism=poverty=tyranny=mass murder. Though not necessarily in that order.

  2. Left this part out:

    There are mass graves like this all over Iraq, no one knows how many, but certainly hundreds of them, maybe thousands. Some have only a few dozen bodies, others a thousand or more.

    In Saddam’s Killing Fields
    BBC News

    “And it’s not just one site. There are other sites being uncovered all the time and not just in southern Iraq, but also in the north.”

    “I was at another mass grave site this week – also in the centre of Iraq – where about 1,000 political prisoners appear to have been shot in the head, executed during the 1980s.”

    Saddam was a butcher who not only started a war that claimed a Million lives, he murdered another Million, this time Iraqi civilians, who belonged to the wrong political party, wrong race, wrong religious sect, or were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was an Arab Hitler wannabe, and it’s a worldwide disgrace that he was allowed to continue his murderous ways for so long.

  3. “I would suggest next time you use your frequent flyer miles to travel to some glorious destination, talk to the regular people around there and maybe it’ll open your eyes a bit.”

    I’ve been to Western Europe dozens of times, always traveling on my own or as a couple, never in a group. Traveling that way, I frequently meet locals, often end up going to dinner with them. Especially in Germany, where it is local custom to share a table with strangers when there are no empty tables.

    I’ve also been to Egypt, Mexico, Greece, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. I took a public bus from Santiago to the coast, the only non-Chilean on it, and spent several hours talking with “regular people”.

    The Chilean people I met were very warm, outgoing and industrious. I took a city bus up into the hills above Valparaiso, not realizing that the hills are where the slums are, since no utilities make it up that far. The bus ended at the top, and I had to wait a half an hour on the side of the road for a ride back down. I felt very safe there, despite being an obvious lone tourist who lost his way.

    I was utterly amazed to see people come out of their one room shacks, without water or electricity, on their way to work. Their appearance very neat and clean, despite the hardships of their lives. They were not going to wallow in poverty, they were going to do their best with whatever they had, however little it was at that moment.

    It gives me a wonderful feeling every time I read about the increasing prosperity in Chile, and I love to buy wine and fruit from there to add my part to it.

    But Egypt, between grinding poverty, government corruption, and the frustrated guy with a Engineering degree whose only life prospect was to continue working as a clerk in a camera store, was very, very sad.

  4. @Andrew This comment thread is not about travel, miles, points, or credit cards. Just the first few paragraphs of Gary’s post should have made that clear. So if you don’t find any of this useful or interesting, just don’t keep reading.

    Personally, I’ve been so bombarded with this anti-American disinformation for so many years, occasionally I get so sick of it I need to get my disgust with it out of my system. But don’t worry, this blog will return to it’s regular programming any moment now. 😀

  5. @Robert Hanson

    “Yes, I know a very left wing magazine took these false claims without any investigation at all, and publicized them to discredit GWB, but that doesn’t make them true.”

    Um… you must be confused. I’m talking about the sanctions in the 1990s. And it’s news to me that the United Nations is a “very left wing magazine”.

    And nothing about what I’m saying is “anti-American”. I’m just as American as you and am proud of the bright spots in our past as a country, but I’m also willing to acknowledge the cold hard truths that we’ve (or our gov’t) also done things (or supported people who did things) that can easily be labeled terrorism and whatever dumb word you can use to make this debate emotionally charged.

    You’d with all that travel you just outlined you would have picked up a more global, non-American-centric view of history and the world. The American propaganda system (abetted by a media that never truly questions the government or the centers of power) appears to have done a good job with you. Please tell me about the “city on the hill”, won’t you?

  6. “One of the central characteristics of Communism is to portray competing groups as “revisionists”. ”

    You sure seem to know everything about revisionism indeed.

  7. Pinochet’s version of Goebbels seems to have found a home here in making up excuses for his favorite kind of violence.

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