Communists: The Cult of Che

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The mystique of Che has created not only a cult but a new source of profits for composers, poster makers and book publishers. "Everybody is jumping on the Guevara bandwagon," says Vice Chairman Rayner Unwin of the London publishing house of Allen & Unwin. Four Italian publishers are working the field, including Milan's Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, whose 95¢ version of Che's handbook. Guerrilla Warfare, has gone into three editions totaling 40,000 copies. At least half a dozen moviemakers are scrambling to get on-screen first with a Guevara biography. Most of them are Europeans, but in the U.S., Director Richard Fleischer, who has just completed The Boston Strangler, is ready to begin work for 20th Century-Fox on a film entitled simply Che.

More Zeal than Wit. Little of the Guevara fervor has touched the world of elders in Europe or North America, but South Americans take it more seriously. Former Argentine President Juan Peron has praised Guevara as a great hero. Says Liberal Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara: "The Guevara cult is being fueled by the indefinite postponement of basic reforms by Latin American governments." In Paris on a speaking tour, the archbishop recently hailed Guevara as "unforgettable," and warned that the violence he preached is "the only alternative" to rapid South American social reform.

Only a few governments have so far tried to stifle the spread of the Guevara legend. Lest it become a shrine, the two-room schoolhouse where Che was shot to death in the tiny mountain hamlet of Higueras has been razed by the Bolivian army. After a Barcelona publisher printed an edition of The Writings of Che Guevara without first submitting it to the Ministry of Information, the Franco government obtained a court order that all copies be destroyed. Brazil's political police gave battle with somewhat more zeal than wit. Bursting into a chic Rio boutique not long ago, they confiscated a batch of women's blouses emblazoned with Che's visage across the breast. Amused. Brazilians promptly nicknamed the boutique "Chez Guevara."

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