A Che Guevara mural (pictured at left) has been painted over in Kilkee, County Clare by a local authority just weeks ahead of a local Latin-American cultural festival in that town to celebrate links with Guevara. The mural was removed after "upsetting" US tourists. What do you think ... right or wrong?
Read more here.
I suspect the number of complaints was not large. Most people know little or nothing about the details of his life. To many Americans he is simplified into “a man who hated our freedom” because he was a communist, and that is what we are taught to believe about all communists. Like most revolutionaries, however, he was a complex man. He did many things in advancing the cause he believed in that we would not all approve of, but then how many Irishmen today approve of the numerous executions during the Irish Civil War? And yet many of the men involved in the decisions to do that are honored today. How many Americans approve of our history of the treatment of Native Americans? And yet many of the military leaders and politicans involved with that are honored by us.
Most of us have no concept of the abject poverty and degradation Che saw in South America growing up; although he personally grew up in a well to do family. Americans, and many others in the western industrialized world, know a form of capitalism in which a large part of the population benefits from the system. But over decades we have learned that it only works that way when we force it too through labor unions and laws to regulate it. That is most definitely not the form it took in South America. What Che witnessed there was far closer to slavery or indentured servitude, with many countries virtually being run by US corporations who made billions exploiting the natural resources of the region using the native population as as an extremely low paid labor force. Greed is at one time both the reason capitalism can succeed and the reason it has such a great power to exploit people when it is totally uncontrolled. When that happens it chews up working people and spits them out, and it was surely doing that in the South America where Che grew up. Had he been born and raised in the US, with no exposure to any of that, he would probably be a well off, long retired physician (at 85) playing with his grandchildren today.
Eleanor Roosevelt with the Spanish version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice"
UPDATE: There is now a petition to Clare County Council to re-instate the mural.
Will the names of those who sign it be monitored by the CIA?
Amusing 'storm in a teacup' in Kilkee, County Clare, where my dad was born and where we spent every summer holiday. This is my cousin John Nolan's shop, and he must be having a right old chuckle about this 'controversy' and having to remove the famous Jim Fitzpatrick iconic image of Che, the Cuban revolutionary, from his gable. Fact is, Che's maternal grandmother was either born in Galway or her parents were, and yes, in the early sixties, Che did spend a night in Kilkee. Oddly, not the same controversy over our former President, Eamon De Valera having a Cuban father. One's birthright is one's own. Being annoyed at someone else's birthright or otherwise, in history terms, is akin to shouting at the wind. Many thousands of Irish have gone on vacation to Cuba, flying there on the Russian airline, Aeroflot, who used Shannon to stage flights between Moscow and Cuba. Most Americans would enjoy knowing that Ireland did not just produce 'American' patriots. We sent soldiers, in uniform or no, to almost every conflict in the world for the past 250 years, not all of them were the good guys, or the winners!
Clare county council would do well not to be taking the moral high-ground. There are lots of puck goats up there might just take a dislike to them! Personally, the biggest deterrent to American Tourists in Ireland is not Che's mural. Let's start with the astronomical air-fares and then let's talk about paying $20 to see The Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle and Kylemore Abbey, to mention just three 'tourist traps'!
That sums it up well, Brian.. My clients have never complained about murals on buildings...They do complain about airfare...car rental... tourist traps...
Much ado about nothing I would say...but a good way to get free advertisement for the upcoming festivities... Any Press is good Press after all
The Cliffs of Moher is breathtaking and it would still be equally breath taking without the exorbitant parking fee. Clare County Council is greedy, but if tourists continue to let themselves be abused nothing will change.
I'm inclined to agree with your comment..except for the fact that the 'ambush' is at the gates of the car-park, opposite the cliffs, and you have probably dedicated that whole day to 'see the cliffs' and driven perhaps a hundred miles, before you realise that one of the world's natural wonders has been 'commandeered' by a County Council, as a cash cow, to be milked, all day long! Yes, you have a choice, but you really don't have a choice haven made the decision the day before, to visit the cliffs. The disapointment is all yours. Next thing we will start to charge for walking each beach, strolling every promenade, climbing Croagh Patrick. The turf-cutters may indeed have a point!. The point of no return meets the avarice of a cash-hungry council....something's gotta give!
If you get the chance, look up Jim Fitzpatricks remarks on the petition. I like his reply.
Here's a link to Sean Russell on wikipedia It talks about the statue Ronan mentioned
On the issue of what tourists will pay to see certain "attractions," people have a different mindset at that point than they do in their daily lives at home. Some tourist who is visiting Ireland (or anywhere else) is often doing it as a "once in a lifetime" trip. If you show up at the Cliffs of Moher and you think the price for parking is too high, are you going to refuse to pay it, or will your mindset be "I'm only going to be here once, so I'm going to pay what I have to pay." No doubt if the majority of people decided they weren't going to pay the high prices and attendance dropped like as stone the prices would drop. But that is unlikely to happen. Someone who may have traveled over 5,000 miles to see the Cliffs isn't going to leave because they think the price is too high. They may spend the next few days complaining that it was a rip off, but they'l pay it.
Jim Fitzpatrick weighed in on the petition and said
This mural was done by a local artist whose name I do not know and while, i am the creator of the original red and black poster from 1968, I object to the removal. This Che Festival has put a dying, beautiful town back on the tourist map and I am b very proud to be involved. I am a Clare man, though Dublin-Born, and a fanatic Clare GAA supporter. We should not bow to this sort of nonsense. The 'American Tourists' were probably plants. Same stuff we had to listen to in Galway when we proposed a Che memorial in his ancestral town. Hit them where it hurts -with paintbrushes and forget any anti-American rubbish too.
“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”
I rest your case! The 'ambush' is at the gates of the car-park, opposite the cliffs, and you have probably dedicated that whole day to 'see the cliffs' and driven perhaps a hundred miles, before you realise that one of the world's natural wonders has been 'commandeered' by a County Council, as a cash cow, to be milked, all day long! Yes, you have a choice, but you really don't have a choice having made the decision the day before, to visit the cliffs. You going to turn back then? The disapointment is all yours. Next thing we will start to charge for walking each beach, strolling every promenade, photographing every view, climbing Croagh Patrick. It is indeed a slippery slope! The turf-cutters may indeed have a point!. When the 'point of no return' meets the avarice of a cash-strapped council....something's gotta give!