‘Monumental shame’ not to accept Guevara gift
As proposer of the motion to Galway City Council to commemorate Dr Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara with funding to be totally accruing from the Argentine and Cuban Embassies could I clarify on some very important points which have been distorted and twisted by opponents to the plan.
The proposed memorial celebrates the most well-known work of Irish art of all time and the most global image of the 20th century. Yet it is a work of art that has never been displayed in an Irish gallery. Is it now to be permitted that a tiny band of right-wing militants based in Miami, Florida, should be granted a veto on the selection of works of art suitable for public display in Ireland?
The words ‘mass murderer’ have been thrown about like snuff at a wake. The total number of Cubans and US mercenaries who lost their lives during the war of independence or revolution (call it what you like) to liberate Cuba is between 180-200, according to the best academic study. Of those, “not one” was innocent of serious crimes including murder, torture, rape for which a military tribunal established their guilt. There were no mass murders or thousands of victims of Che Guevara as some would have you believe.
Che is revered in Latin America and there is a growing tourist trade from Latin America to Ireland as a result of long standing ancestral connections and the high standing of Irish missionaries in educating the poor of Latin America. With growth rates in much of Latin America far outstripping those of the rest of the world, real wages are rising fast in many countries and the number of tourists able to afford to visit Europe is rising fast. Why should Galway deprive itself of the tourist potential of a Che Guevara memorial?
The memorial is equipped with a fixed webcam linked to a Facebook page whereby visitors will be able to record their memories of their visit to Galway, which will build over time to a unique global diaspora centred on Galway City.
Millions of tourists will record their impressions of Galway via the memorial, posting photographs of themselves walking inside the memorial to the website and from there to their friends back home. Each message, photo, or greeting will carry the name of Galway to hundreds of thousands of potential new visitors to Galway each year. For free. As an advertisement for Galway it will be unrivalled, uniquely personal and is likely to eclipse the entire budget of Bord Failte, Ireland West, and Galway City Council combined.
The monument is to be funded entirely by the Argentine and Cuban embassies and gifted to the city of Galway. Major international sports celebrities from Latin America have already declared their support for the memorial and have agreed to visit Ireland to assist with fundraising for the memorial. The global fund-raising efforts will add to the international promotion of Galway as both a tourist destination and as the ancestral home of Che Guevara.
If Galway doesn’t build the memorial this year, there are currently two other city councils in Ireland in discussion with the ambassadors about the situating of major public art memorials dedicated to Che Guevara in their cities.
Finally, the journalist Mary Kenny hits the nail on the head when she says, “Che Guevara is, essentially, a ‘brand’. His portrait on a million t-shirts guarantee that. Once you get to be a ‘brand’ in the realm of marketing, you’ve arrived. Because you can then be sold as a ‘brand’ and everything associated with your ‘brand’ can be merchandised. ‘Brand’ is everything. And Che’s ‘brand’ is global. In marketing terms, therefore, it would be quite shrewd to have a statue of Guevara-Lynch in Galway”.
It would be a monumental shame not to accept this gift.
Cllr Billy Cameron (Labour)