By Beth Stebner
Che Guevara, the famous Argentinian-born revolutionary and military theorist, wore many hats – including that of physician, author, and guerrilla leader.
But he almost certainly never wore one with a Mercedes-Benz logo.
The high-end car company, known for its impeccable – and pricey – motor vehicles, used the late leader to promote a new car-sharing program, much to the horror of Cuban activists and political conservatives.
During an annual Consumer Electronics Show, the company’s chairman Dieter Zetsche said some colleagues ‘still think that car-sharing borders on communism.
‘But if that’s the case, viva la revolucion,’ he said.
He was referring to CarTogether, a new initiative proposed by Mercedes-Benz that allows like-minded strangers to find passengers with whom to carpool.
During the pitch, the famous Alberto Korda photo of Guevara was proximately displayed – but on his beret was the logo of the luxury car brand, msnbc.com reports.
Out of anger, several anti-Castro activists launched petitions against Mercedes.
Cuban-American Ernesto Ariel Suarez launched a Facebook page that says: ‘Tell Mercedes-Benz that it is NOT OK to use the image of a mass murderer.’
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The Heritage Foundation, a conservative political group based out of Washington, wrote a post entitled ‘Mercedes-Benz Uses Communist Madmen Che Guevara to Sell Luxury Cars.’
Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler AG offered an apology for using the altered image after outrage over the use of the revolutionary’s likeness, saying the image was ‘one of many images and videos in the presentation.’
‘Daimler was not condoning the life or actions of this historical figure or the political philosophy he espoused. We sincerely apologise to those who took offense.’
Mr Suarez told msnbc.com that he believed the company did the right thing.
‘The victory, if there is one, is not mine, but belongs to the descendants of (Guevara’s) victims (and) the survivors, to common sense and to civility,’ he said.
CarTogether, however, is a far cry from communism – rather, it is an app allowing drivers to find other people with whom to share rides.
Mr Zetsche said at CES that car sharing is sustainable and will lead to better emissions.
However, it’s strange, CBS News observes, that a luxury car company is worried about its customers saving money on fuel, when indeed the whole pitch is ultimately aimed to sell more cars with these features.