The "Cult of Che"
In Latin America, the perceived failures of the neo-liberal reforms of the 1990s intensified opposition to the Washington consensus, leading to a resurgence in support for many of Guevara’s political beliefs including Pan-Americanism, support for popular movements in the region, the nationalization of key industries and centralization of government. In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas, a group with ideological roots in Guevarism were re-elected to government after 16 years. Supporters wore Guevara T-Shirts during the 2006 victory celebrations. Bolivian president Evo Morales has paid many tributes to Guevara and installed a portrait of the Argentinian made from local coca leaves in his presidential suite. In 2006, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who has been known to address audiences in a Che Guevara T-shirt, accompanied Fidel Castro on a tour of Guevara’s boyhood home in Córdoba, describing the experience as “a real honor”. Awaiting crowds of thousands responded with calls of “We feel it! Guevara is right with us!" Guevara’s daughter Aleida also transcribed an extensive interview with Chávez where he outlined his plans for “The New Latin America”, releasing the interview in book form. Guevara remains a key inspirational figure to the Colombian guerrilla movement, the FARC, and the Mexican Zapatista group.
In North America, Western Europe and many regions outside Latin America, the image had been likened to a global brand, long since shedding its ideological or political connotations, and the obsession with Guevara has been dismissed by some as merely "adolescent revolutionary romanticism". In the United States, a country often the focus of Guevara inspired protests in the hemisphere, his image was removed from a CD carrying case after significant public opposition which compared Guevara to Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler. Retail group Target Corporation issued a public apology for producing the item. American, Latin American and European writers, Jon Lee Anderson, Régis Debray, Jorge Castañeda and others contributed to demystify the image of Guevara via articles and biographies, which detailed his life and legacy in more unidealistic terms; and, in the case of Octavio Paz, was accompanied by a critical indictment of the Marxism espoused by many in the Latin American left. Political writer Paul Berman went further, asserting that the "modern-day cult of Che" obscures the work of dissidents and what he believes is a "tremendous social struggle" currently taking place in Cuba. Author Christopher Hitchens, a supporter of the Cuban revolution in the 1960s, summarised Guevara's legacy thus: "Che's iconic status was assured because he failed. His story was one of defeat and isolation, and that's why it is so seductive. Had he lived, the myth of Che would have long since died."