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Ireland courts controversy with Che Guevara stamp

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An Post, the post office of Ireland, have issued a single stamp showing the iconic image of the famous and controversial revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, prompting criticism from Irish and American politicians.

The €1 stamp has been issued to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Che Guevara’s death and shows the familiar 1968 portrait by Dublin artist Jim Fitzpatrick, which has been reproduced on t-shirts, posters, badges and clothing and is, according to An Post, rated among the world’s top ten most iconic images.

But the decision to issue the stamp has been strongly criticised by commentators both in Ireland and the USA, due to Guevara’s links with Cuba’s communist government and the alleged execution of Cubans.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond wrote to the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten demanding an explanation.

‘It is my belief that he is most definitely not a suitable candidate for such an honour,’ the letter stated.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Cuban-American radio host Ninoska Perez Castellon has encouraged her listeners to write to An Post asking for the stamp to be scrapped.

Irish links

  • According to An Post, Guevara is of Irish descent on his father’s side.
  • A quote from Guevara Senior, featured on the First Day Cover produced to accompany the stamp, says: ‘in my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels.’

The left-wing revolutionary was born on 14 June 1928 in Argentina and assisted Fidel Castro in overturning the Cuban government in the late 1950s, before becoming a key political figure during Castro’s regime.

He was executed by the Bolivian army on 9 October 1967.

The stamp is designed by Red&Grey and according to reports has been hugely popular since it was issued on 9 October.

UPDATE:

The first print-run of the controversial Che Guevara €1 stamp recently issued by An Post has quickly sold out, according to reports, prompting copies to be sold online for as much as £10.

The stamp has proved to be hugely popular, with the reported 122,000 first print selling out within days. The temporary scarcity of the stamp prompted a flurry of sales online, with single stamps selling on ebay for up to £10 and first day covers fetching £80.

An Post has now re-printed the stamp, meaning the value of the stamp has come down as supply increases. A spokesperson for An Post told RTE: ‘It is necessary to now print extra stock to cover our regular stamp customers and makeup of annual collector products, stamp yearbook, etc.’

Read about Britain's latest stamps in our GB Stamps guide.

 

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