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Che- the Image that Transformed the World


The Image that Transformed the World: 60th Anniversary of famous Che Guevara Photo

From Telesur

 Mar 5, 2020


The legendary photograph of Che was taken 60 years ago, and since then has traveled the world. Today it is more than an image, it is the identification of a common struggle in different regions of the planet.


Among the hundreds of images that Cuban photographer Alberto Díaz , known as Korda , captured with his camera during the Cuban Revolution , there was one that, among so many outstanding ones, became a legend: Che’s historic photo , taken 60 years ago today, the March 5, 1960.

The story behind the photograph

The image was baptized by its author as “Heroic Guerrilla“, and is considered by critics as one of the ten best photographic portraits of all time. It is also, to this day, the most reproduced photograph in history.

The classic image, Havana, 1960. | Photo: Alberto Korda.


Korda caught the serene and firm look of Ernesto Che Guevara , one of the leaders of the Cuban Revolution , on March 5, 1960, while the guerrilla was watching the funeral procession of the victims of La Coubre, who died from an explosive attack by the American CIA on the island.

The image was published in 1961, and became famous in 1968, after Che’s death in Bolivia, when Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli turned into posters several of Korda’s photographs , including the ” Heroic Guerrilla “, to take them to Europe and encourage the struggle of the social movements of 1968 in that continent, where the image was catapulted.

Korda next to the legendary image. | Source: TodoCuba


The impact of photography was such that it quickly ran through the world, becoming an icon of the struggle of poor people.

El Dato: Korda  was a leftist photographer who shared the principles of the Cuban Revolution , therefore, he never charged for copyright. The only time he claimed responsibility for the photo was to prohibit its use by a vodka brand. 


According to Korda , many years later, the photo was taken only in a minute and a half, because the guerrilla was at that time with the rest of his companions, behind Fidel Castro , and only a moment looked out to see a funeral passage.

“I was impressed by his look of pure rage at the deaths that occurred the day before,” said the Cuban artist, who did not hesitate to portray him with his lens, twice: one horizontal and one vertical. The one he decided to use was the first one, because in the second one someone’s head poked behind Che’s shoulder , he said.




Che’s photo as a symbol of struggle in the world

The use of Che’s face as a commercial object was a response by businessmen to the representativeness and strength of the image among the peoples.

To counteract the revolutionary icon in which the image had become, capitalism incorporated it as part of its consumer offer, stamping it in different costumes such as t-shirts and caps; In addition to other items and everyday objects.

However, the commercial exploitation strategy did not diminish its true essence and to this day the image is linked to social struggles and just causes of the left in the world. [As Lenin infamously said – the bourgeoisie will sell you the very rope that you hang him with – ed, J. Flores]

The face is a way of identification and popular recognition, its significance not only encompasses the Cuban struggle but also symbolizes everything that encompasses the ” Revolution ” concept .

Che has been raised from the struggles of the social movements of 1968 in several countries of the world to this day. In countries like Turkey, Ireland, Libya, Serbia, Greece, Syria, Venezuela, Palestine, and even the U.S, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements use it on flags and paint his face on the walls of their cities. 


Also, his passage through Africa set an additional precedent, and here the legendary image of his face tops the social struggles of the most beaten peoples on the planet.

In the Latin America to which he was born, his gaze to infinity is reproduced in marches and protests in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, in the Caribbean and even in the United States itself.

The former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and the soccer star Diego Armando Maradona; both proudly showing Che’s face. 


Many leaders of the Latin American and world left have charged their image with respect and admiration, identifying themselves universally with the battles of the united peoples, because as Che said : “The revolution is something that is carried in the soul “. And it is that his face crossed borders; Today it is more than a photograph, it is the identification of a common struggle in different regions of the planet.


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