Page last updated at 01:28 GMT, Sunday, 15 June 2008 02:28 UK

Statue for Che's '80th birthday'

By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Argentina

The bronze statue of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara is unveiled in Rosario, Argentina, 14 June 2008
Children unveiled the four-tonne Guevara statue in Rosario on Saturday

Thousands of people have witnessed the unveiling of a statue of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in his Argentine birthplace on what would have been his 80th birthday.

Events to mark the life and legacy of the man most simply know as El Che were held around the city of Rosario.

While Guevara was Argentine, born and bred, he had more followers and was better known around the world than in his home country.

He flourished in Cuba, fought in Africa and died in Bolivia.

At home, military governments and Cold War politics helped suppress his ideas and image.

But now the man known simply in Argentina as El Che is home.

Iconic brand

The four-tonne bronze statue that has been unveiled in Rosario joins the numerous Che museums dotted around the country.

It's a brand that encapsulates a whole store of values, a whole load of ideas that people hold
Michael Casey
Guevara expert

Che the revolutionary, Che the icon, Che the seller of everything from vodka to T-shirts is everywhere.

Michael Casey, who has studied the phenomenon and has a book coming out on the subject, said the icon had become a brand but not just in a capitalist way.

"It's a brand that encapsulates a whole store of values, a whole load of ideas that people hold," he said.

"And they therefore sell those ideas, whether it's leftists in Argentina or manufacturers of snowboards wanting to sell snowboards under a revolutionary label."

Che Guevara's children travelled from Cuba to join thousands of followers from Argentina and beyond in Rosario for the birthday celebrations.

But events had to be curtailed because of widespread protests by truck drivers and farmers blocking Argentina's roads.

Che would probably have approved of that kind of radical action far more than his new statue and certainly more than today's ubiquitous Che merchandising.

Archive footage of revolutionary Che Guevara

Cubans treat man who killed Che
02 Oct 07 |  Americas
Cuba honours Comrade Che
15 Jun 03 |  Americas
In pictures: Che's snapshots
24 Feb 03 |  Photo Gallery
Country profile: Cuba
28 Apr 05 |  Country profiles


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