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The top act at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week featured Mercedes-Benz Chairman Dieter Zetsche peddling his company’s new gadgetry under a huge picture of Che Guevara, who sported the Mercedes logo on his beret. “Viva la Revolucion!” beamed the cheeky Herr Zetsche while unveiling his brilliant ad campaign.
In other words: to sell cars in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz is relying on the mass appeal in the U.S. of the mass-murdering Stalinist who craved to destroy the U.S.
“The U.S. is the great enemy of mankind!” once raved Mercedes-Benz new U.S. sales icon. “Against those hyenas there is no option but extermination! We will bring the war to the imperialist enemies’ [Americans] very home, to his places of work and recreation. The imperialist enemy [Americans] must feel like a hunted animal wherever he moves. Thus we’ll destroy him! We must keep our hatred [against the U.S.] alive and fan it to paroxysm! If the nuclear missiles had remained [in Cuba] we would have fired them against the heart of the U.S. including New York City. The solutions to the world’s problems lie behind the Iron Curtain. The victory of socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims!”
No doubt Mercedes-Benz chuckles at the ironic cheekiness of using a Communist “man of the people” to tout a luxury product. After all, Time magazine’s encomium to Che Guevara in 1999 as “Hero and Icon of the Century” asserted that: “Nothing could be more vicariously gratifying than Che Guevara’s disdain for material comfort and everyday desires.”
Alas, Time’s (and Mercedes’) “research” overlooked some important details. In fact, quite unwittingly, Mercedes-Benz has chosen an ideal sales emblem—and one utterly devoid of irony. To wit:
“Che’s mansion was among the most luxurious in Cuba,” wrote Cuban journalist Antonio Llano Montes in 1960. After a hard day at the office signing firing squad murder warrants and blasting defenseless teenagers’ skulls apart with the coup-de-grâce, Che Guevara retired to his new domicile just outside Havana on the pristine beachfront (today reserved exclusively for tourists and regime apparatchiks). Until a few weeks prior, it had belonged to Cuba’s most successful building contractor, who escaped Cuba just ahead of a Guevara firing squad. “The mansion had a boat dock, a huge swimming pool, seven bathrooms, a sauna, a massage salon and several television sets,” continues Llano Montes. “One TV had been specially designed in the U.S. and had a screen ten feet wide and was operated by remote control (remember, this was 1959). This was thought to be the only TV of its kind in Latin America. The mansion’s garden had a veritable jungle of imported plants, a pool with waterfall, ponds filled with exotic tropical fish and several bird houses filled with parrots and other exotic birds. The habitation was something out of A Thousand and One Nights.”
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