“I want to emphasize, we are not opposed to commercial use of Che’s image or his ideas. Those days are past. But the law of our country is explicit. All goods sold in his name or reflecting his image must be properly licensed by the government of Cuba,” said the country’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz.
The ministry sought the assistance of the U.S. State Department and the independent U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council in explaining Cuba’s trademark and copyright laws.
Thousands of U.S. businesses are lining up to open trade links with Cuba. But Malmierca Dias said that none will be approved for entry into the country until the U.S. acknowledges – and enforces – Cuba’s licensing requirements related to Guevara.
“We cannot waver on this. Che remains one of the most recognizable and important revolutionaries in history. He is a venerated figure in Cuba, and this must be affirmed by other nations who wish to conduct business in Cuba or with Cuban companies,” he said.
While Cuba’s focus is on the U.S., other nations big and small, will be held to the same trade standards, Malmierca Diaz said. He specifically mentioned China, France and Guevara’s native Argentina.
Cuba said it had commissioned a marketing survey and found that Guevara’s signature beret is the most widely recognized head covering in the world, surpassing the Pope’s distinctive white Mitre. And the Ministry cited the following entry from Wikipedia about Cuban photographer Alberto Korda’s famed portrait of the Marxist revolutionary: “…the Maryland Institute College of Art called the picture a symbol of the 20th century and the world's most famous photo. Versions of it have been painted, printed, digitized, embroidered, tattooed, silk-screened, sculpted or sketched on nearly every surface imaginable, leading the Victoria and Albert Museum to say that the photo has been reproduced more than any other image in photography.”
Malmierca Diaz said the cost of licenses to sell Guevara berets or photographic reproductions were still under consideration. But he urged businesses to proceed so that applications can be processed in timely fashion once the fee schedule is announced.
Proceeds from the license fees will be used to maintain the Che Guevara mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba, and expand museum exhibits elsewhere to tell the story of this national hero. Guevara’s mausoleum is topped by a statute of the revolutionary wearing, of course, his timeless beret.