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The swanky W South Beach hotel offends Cuban-Americans with giant Che Guevara-like photo


Che2Gus Exposito couldn't believe what he saw in the marble walls of South Beach's W Hotel: a larger-than-life framed photograph of what looked like Cuban communist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

"He was a mass murderer, killed thousands of Cubans execution-style," Exposito, 51, wrote in an email, comparing the long-dead Fidel Castro pal to Adolf Hitler or the KKK. "I spoke to the manager and he referred to it as art!"

Turns out, it's probably not Che. It's another artist's rendering of the revolutionary. But Exposito says it's offensive nonetheless, raising the question: Is an image of an offensive image offensive? Is it art? Both?

The W isn't waiting around for answers, a hotel employee said. She said complaints started almost as soon as the photo, which could exceed seven feet in height, was posted about a week ago. It's supposed to come down.

"We've received feedback," she said. "Complaints."

The man in the photo looks a little different than the Che Guevara in iconic image taken by Alberto Díaz “Korda” Gutiérrez in 1959. Is this a younger Che, someone dressed like Che? There's a good chance that the photo is post-modern self portrait of artist Gavin Turk.

In The Guardian, Turk says he made a photo of himself posed as Che to advertise an exhibition: "It was quite a degraded, grainy image, so I could photograph myself in such a way that you wouldn't recognise that it was me and not, in fact, Che. You only need key elements of the photo - the beret, the long hair, the position of the eyes (as with classical icons, looking up and to the right), a bit of beard - to make it function as a symbol."

But it sure looks enough like Che. And if the hotel doesn't take it down, it might get ripped down, said one person who does business with the hotel.

"I can't believe no one has smashed a glass against it," he said, adding that it was part of the private art collection of one of the owners.

"Dude, it's Che Guevara. This is Miami. You don't do stuff like this. When you go to college in New York state, then it's cool at the time to have poster up. But down here, he's looked at a terrorist. He killed people," he said.

"This is a big picture of communist revolutionary hanging in a hotel that charges $900 a night for a single room. Che woulda burned this place down."

Back in the 70s and 80s, when anti-Castro activists were still active and armed, the hotel could have faced some serious trouble. It's possible the owner, who an employee said is from New York, is being intentionally provocative. Or perhaps he had no clue that putting this up in his hotel lobby area near the bar had he known about the sensitivity of the image.

Aside from coolness, after all, the Che image is associated with cluelessness. Just check out the Hispanic heritage month email sent out by the EPA that bore an image of Che.

But the image is common enough and enough time has passed since the 1959 revolution that not every Cuban-American is outraged. When asked about the idea of hanging a Che poster in a South Florida hotel, a regular Miami Herald reader named Mario Iglesias said it's time to grow up.

"I think the Cuban-American community has to mature and learn that the right to put up a picture of Che is the very reason we find Castro and Che so repugnant - because they would act to quash opposing speech," he said in an email. "It is the very result of being in favor of a free society that there will be holocaust survivors who have to tolerate Nazi marches and Cuban-Americans have to recognize that not protesting a Che poster is not the same as supporting Castro."

For Exposito, though, the right to post a Che picture doesn't translate into a good reason to display it. It seemed to ruin his night out.

"We went to dinner with my wife and two couples at Mr. Chow and after dinner we took a walk to the rear to smoke a cigar, and bang their it was we could not believe our eyes!" he wrote. "We went to the front desk and asked for the manager, a gentleman name Max introduced himself as the night manager. When we told him our concern with the picture and explained what it meant to the Cuban community he said " the picture is art and that this was in the owner's house and if we didn't like it to leave, so we left."

And then he started sending emails.

Time for the you-make-the-call portion of the blog: Are these both Che, is one Gavin Turk, and which one is?

2 ches


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Joseph Buff

It is a shame that the Cuban community in Miami has become so lame that the owners of the W hotel can get away with this.

Would Barry Sternlicht, the CEO of the company that owns the hotel, allow somebody to place a picture of Hitler or a Swastika on the hotel? He's the son of Holocaust survivors.

Evidently, Cubans don't count. This blatant offense is evidence of the anti-Cuban (and anti-Hispanic) bias that unfortunately still exists in the U.S.

Humberto Capiro

216 DOCUMENTED VICTIMS OF CHÉ GUEVARA IN CUBA: 1957 TO 1959 From Armando M. Lago, Ph.D.´s - Cuba: The Human Cost of Social Revolution

Humberto Capiro

LA NUEVA CUBA : "Che Guevara: The Fish Die by the Mouth" - By Humberto (Bert) Corzo*- Columnist, Los Angeles California-January 14, 2009

INTRODUCTION: The saying “The fish die by the mouth”, refers to those who speak more than the necessary until being fooled by their own speech. Can his mythical reputation survive the publication of his own words?

The objective of this article is to expose the truth about Che, to demystify it in the face of those who feel admiration by this mass murderer, exposing the facts based on his writings, diaries, speeches, letters and conversations with those who knew him.

Che never questioned the crimes of Stalin and Mao, nor the totalitarian conceptions of Marxism, incompatible with the ideals of liberty and democracy, defending until his death his Stalinists ideas. His fanaticism made him an implacable enemy of liberty. The French writer Regis Debray, author of "Revolution in the revolution", wrote about the Che that: "He was adept of the totalitarianism up to the last body hair.”



Humberto Capiro

THE TRUE STORY OF CHE GUEVARA- The History Channel presentation:

From his famous motorcycle trips to his historic role in the Cuban Revolution, Argentinean revolutionary Che Guevara is profiled in a documentary produced to explore the life of the man whose visage has become an iconic symbol of hard left politics. This man, who ordered the execution of countless human beings while in charge of the notorious La Cabaña prison in Havana, who terrorized Cuban society and who denied freedom to thousands of citizens whom he considered “deviants” or “anti-revolutionaries” can never be accepted as a hero, martyr or — the shock of it — a saint.


Juan Mist

@Joseph Buff - Before you accuse people, maybe you should do your homework before making any statements. Barry Sternlicht in NOT the CEO or Owner of the W hotel. He is the CEO of Starwood Capital and this company has NOTHING to do with Starwood hotels. Shame on you.

Frederick Stebbins

Why aren't other members of the gay community as offended as I am about this disgusting tribute to one of the most infamous homophobes (and murderers of homosexual men) of the 20th century?

Che Guevara explicitly wrote volumes of vitriolic hatred towards gay men, and considered them deviant/threats to his society. He blatantly, personally executed hundreds of men because they were admitted "homosexuals". When are the hipsters and their wealthy, priviliged, naive New York sponsors going to get an education? So sad...


I'm ashamed of the Cuban community today; my community. Thinking like people from a third world country that have little education. Stop trying to label Che like Hitler. Seriously you're ridiculous and you still think that Cuba is the center of the world. Cuba is a little country in the middle of the ocean that not may people care about (by the way I'm Cuban so don't come to me with your super eggo).

Whatever opinion you have about Che, its your opinion, but apparently all of you ignorants get together a little too often to share your extremist thoughts and the idea of qualifying Che like Hitler sounded strong enough in your minds... You clearly have no idea who Che was or who Hitler was..

For those reading this, Che was in the military, revolting against oppression. Like everyone he had good sides and bad sides. Like everyone he made good things and bad things. I understand the 1% of Cubans who hate him because "he killed their friend or family member" and I respect their opinion. But for the other 99%, please grow up.. Please understand that Cuba is NOT and has NEVER been the center of the world, Please understand that killing during war is sad but it's real and please please please, stop comparing Che to Hitler... You sound, look, taste, smell and give the feeling of being an ignorant and you are because no etremist position displays intelligence.

By the way, the article says Che was a communist. This is false. Che became a communist Icon because Castro made him one. Che never agreed with communism being the system to be applied in Cuba. In fact, he disagreed with Castro and showed his disagreement in public. Do some research of the speeches (in video), do a little homework and stop sounding like a fool. Castro chose the communist system to be applied in Cuba AFTER he gained power, not before; get your facts right.

The picture IS art, it is a mere game played by the artist meant to entertain and work the viewers mind. Viewers from the whole planet. And you, ignorant retrogrades only manage to see the trees when there is a whole forest in front of you. Cuba is not the center of the world, get used to it.


Regardless of whether you are Republican or Democrat, Che Guevara murdered in cold blood and had hundreds of men shot in Cuba just for not agreeing with the Castro regime. This is an insult to humanity not just to the Cuban people. How can W South Beach Hotel consider his picture art, they have a seven foot painting of Che Guevara why don't they put Hitlers picture up instead its basically the same thing.

Norman Sanders

How many typos can you find within this article? Caputo, get it together.

John Collins

Pity those pygmies that write here.

Compare with Che they are cockroaches, the symbol of vermin.


Cuba may be a small country, but it is the biggest country in the world for a lot of real Cubans . We are not comparing Hitler to Che, what we said is " Che represents to the cuban community the same as Hitler does to the Jewish community and what the KKK is to the African Americans.So are you justifying the millions of Jews that were killed during WW II by hitler because it was conducted during a war? NETO you are very ignorant and uneducated, you have no knowledge of history. And Cuba is the center of the world for many of us.


I can understand all of the outrage people are feeling.. but the portrait is not Che. It is a Che like portrait of the artist Gavin Turk. When you compare the two you can see that the facial features are not the same. He also has a couple of other portraits mimicking other famous figures like Elvis for example. However, even though it is not the actual Che, the idea that they would hang this "art" in a place that is home to many people who have an emotional connection to the atrocities that were carried out by Guevara and Castro is way, way insensitive. It needs to come down.

W South Beach

W South Beach respects the concerns of our community, which has been so supportive of us, and we have removed British artist Gavin Turk’s self-portrait as Che Guevara from the property.

Humberto Capiro


Pablo Suarez

Shame on the Miami Herald for posting the photos of Che Guevara to accompany this article. Do they not realize the hurt it brings upon this community every time that picture is published?


The only reason the W South Beach took down the Che Guevara painting was due to Telemundo and the Miami Herald visiting them I believe they had no intention whatsoever on removing it and still are considering it art


This is a man that would shoot people point blank in the head without any form of fair trial. He is the equivalent to an Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Hitler and other mad men that have sought to strip people of their vested human rights of life, liberty and property. They are disgusting cold blooded murderers. They should never be printed on art. Makes my stomach turn. Shame on the W for being so ignorant, unprincipled and immoral.


Would the W in New York hang an artist's portrait of Bin Laden? Maybe an artist's rendering of one of the plane's crashing into the twin towers? You know, because it's art and all... It is outrageous that the owner of this hotel would be that insensitive. I am almost inclined to think that this is somehow a publicity stunt. If my conspiracy theory is correct, I hope it backfires on them! I would not stay there. Plenty of nice hotels in the beach. I will black list this one.


Wait a minute... I just checked online and the Sheraton in San Juan, P.R. has a restaurant named Che's. On their website it states it is named after Che Guevara. So, I will just black list all Starwood Hotels!

Gus Exposito

Visited the "W" Hotel and was disgusted the huge picture of Che Guevara, the murderer!
It is very sad. Pop culture and media have manipulated and Sold the image of Guevara as rebellious and Trendy to ignorant youth, who buy and wear t-shirts, memorabilia, ect, bearing the face of a mass murderer... It's no different than wearing t-shirts covered with the nazi swatchka. I could not believe a large hotel like yours would be so ignorant to place this picture Miami Beach

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