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Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, assailed the company that manufactures Mercedez-Benz cars for using the image of controversial revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara during a presentation in Las Vegas.
Dieter Zetsche, the head of Daimler AG’s Mercedes unit, used the image of Guevara – with the Mercedes logo super-imposed on his beret – to draw a parallel between the revolutionary and, as Daimler later put it, “the revolution in automobility enabled by new technologies.”
But the company quickly stopped using the image and apologized after a very vocal condemnation by Cuban-Americans, who said it was outrageous of Daimler to highlight a revolutionary who played in central role in executions and the establishment of a regime that has oppressed the people of Cuba for decades.
“The problem is the glorification of Che as a revolutionary in the ad and his remarks,” said Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat whose parents came to the United States from Cuba. “They’re talking about revolution in automobiles, but Che’s revolution killed people.”
“Che in essence was a murderer, and he hated the United States,” Menendez said. “You want to sell your products in the United States and you use that?”
Menendez said he finds it bewildering to see T-shirts with Guevara’s image.
“I say to people ‘The guy killed people,’” Menendez said. “It’s their lack of knowledge of the history, clearly, that has them falling into these circumstances where they think they’re supporting some idyllic romantic hero.”
“It’s like having a T-shirt with an image of Saddam or Hitler.”
Elizabeth Llorente can be reached email@example.com