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Thursday 18 January 2018

Che was hero who deserves stamp - artist

Jim Fitzpatrick created the famous portrait of Che
Jim Fitzpatrick created the famous portrait of Che

Ian Begley

The Irish artist behind the newly commissioned stamp of Che Guevara has defended the revolutionary after facing harsh criticism.

The commemorative stamp has come under both fire and praise since it was officially unveiled by An Post on Friday.

Cuban-American journalist Ninoska Perez said many Cubans who contacted her radio show considered the stamp design as "offensive".

Speaking on 'Morning Ireland', she said Che Guevara was seen as a mass murderer and should not be honoured. Some Irish politicians were also quick to denounce the €1 stamp.

Former Renua leader Lucinda Creighton said An Post was "glorifying a terrorist and murderer". However, speaking on RTÉ's 'Six One', Dublin artist Jim Fitzpatrick said he considered Che Guevara, who had Irish ancestors, as a martyr.

"He remains a hero to me," he said. "It's been 50 years, has been since I [created the image] and I haven't wavered in my extraordinary admiration for him and for what he tried to do. He did not succeed, but he tried."

When asked about the hundreds of people executed under Che Guevara's command during the Cuban revolution, Mr Fitzpatrick compared it to the acts committed during the Irish Civil War. "I'm a pacifist, I don't believe in the death penalty, but in civil war brutal things happened," he said. "We saw it in our own country with the executions by our Irish government of the Republicans.

"[Che Guevara] is a man who is disowned by not just Soviet Communism, disowned by his own country because he condemned Soviet imperialism as well as American imperialism .

"He could have sat happily as the governor of the central bank of Cuba and lived happily ever after. He gave it up to fight for the poor and dispossessed in the poorest part in Latin America where he had no support.

"To me he was a martyr who gave his life where he could have sat back happily ever after, living a life of luxury."

Born in Argentina, Guevara helped Fidel Castro overthrow the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Designed by Red&Grey, the stamp is based on Mr Fitzpatrick's artwork, and is available from main post offices or irishstamps.ie.

Irish Independent

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