Che Guevara stamps sell out in Ireland despite outrage

2 min

Dublin (AFP)

A set of stamps paying tribute to Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the 50th anniversary of his death has sold out in Ireland, a country where the Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary had ancestral roots.

"Our initial print run of the stamps was 122,000... It is necessary now to print extra stock," a spokesman for Ireland's postal service An Post said on Friday.

The one-euro stamp features an iconic image of the guerrilla created by Dublin artist Jim Fitzpatrick in 1968 that became a poster for worldwide rebellion.

The stamps came out last week.

Che Guevara's father Ernesto Guevara Lynch was a civil engineer of Irish descent and a quote from him saying "in my son's veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels" features on an envelope to accompany the stamp.

The stamp has proved controversial, with Irish senator Neale Richmond saying it was "totally objectionable" and asking if there were plans to honour dictators like Cambodia's Pol Pot or Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu.

Ninoska Perez Castellon, a prominent member of the Cuban exile community in Miami, was quoted by Irish public broadcaster RTE as saying that the stamp would "celebrate a man who slaughtered so many people".

Born in the Argentine city of Rosario, Guevara travelled across South America in 1952 and 1953 and was shocked to see the economic disparity across the continent, a road trip that was immortalised in the 2004 film "The Motorcycle Diaries".

It convinced him violence was necessary to overturn South America's unjust social order.

His life changed dramatically when he met Fidel Castro in Mexico in 1955 and joined his guerrilla expedition to Cuba, overthrowing dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

In the early 1960s, he worked with Castro to consolidate the revolution, supervising the repression of counter-revolutionaries, and even for a time heading the Central Bank and industry ministry.

After leaving Cuba to spread revolution elsewhere, he was killed in an ambush by CIA-trained troops in Bolivia in 1967.