‘Che’ statue on Salthill Prom sparks outcryMarch 2, 2012 - 8:15am
By Dermot Keys
Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara has become a 20th century icon but plans for his Galway heritage to be celebrated with a five-metre high monument on the Salthill Promenade is already sparking an outcry.
The project is still in the planning stage but the decision to honour Guevara’s Galway connections with a monument has previously received the unanimous approval of Galway City Council. The Argentine revolutionary’s Irish ancestry can be traced back to Galway through his maternal grandmother, Ana Isabel Lynch.
This week, however, businessman Declan Ganley described the plan as having the potential to “damage the reputation of Galway around the world”. And US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Chairperson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also called for the proposed monument to be rejected.
The commemorative sculpture will be entirely funded by the Cuban and Argentine Embassies and a design by Simon McGuiness will now go before the Galway City Council’s Working Group for approval.
Simon McGuinness told the Galway City Tribune that the image is a “total homage” to Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick’s iconic 1968 Che poster, which was based upon a photograph by Alberto Korda.
“It has three plate glass panels of varying heights which represent man, image and ideal,” Mr McGuinness explained.
The monument will feature a number of interactivity features and people visiting it will be able to use their phones to have a photograph taken at the statue and uploaded onto Facebook.
A planned WiFi feature at the monument will allow visitors to access videos and surf the Che Guevara website. They will also be able to post messages on the website.
Businessman Declan Ganley criticised the decision to honour a man he describes as a “mass murderer” and said that it could “damage the reputation of Galway around the world.”
US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Chairperson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also called for the proposed monument to be rejected.
“Che Guevara was a ruthless killer who should not be idealised. Instead of honouring a killer, the City Council of Galway should honour the victims of Che and the Castro dictatorship by rejecting this proposal," she said.
Che Guevara was born in Argentina in 1928 and qualified as a doctor before joining Fidel Castro’s guerrilla army in their war against the Batista regime in Cuba. After success in Cuba, he subsequently took part in failed revolutions in the Congo and later in Bolivia, where he was captured and executed in 1967. Guevara’s daughter, Dr Aleida Guevara, visited Galway City in 2002 to trace her family tree.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.
Have your say. Vote in our online poll here