Dieter Zetsche, Chairman, was there to talk about a cool new Iphone car-pooling app called 'Cartogether', but as part of the presentation he stood in front of a huge poster of Che Guevara wearing his iconic beret not with the customary small star, but rather the Mercedes logo in its place. To make matters worse, Zetsche said
“Some colleagues still think that car-sharing borders on communism. But if that’s the case, viva la revolución!”
Excuse me, but what does carpooling have to do with communism?
Naturally, Cuban exiles who know the truth about the real Che Guevara, and not the watered down, Hollywood version of the ruthless revolutionary, were outraged.
One of them is Felix Rodriguez, who was recruited by the CIA to aid Bolivian soldiers in tracking down and killing Guevara in 1967.
“I know who Che Guevara was," Rodriguez reportedly wrote, "and he was a criminal, a murderer and a person who hated the United States of America.”
And Michael Gonzalez wrote in an article on the Huffington Post:
"Che Guevara, not to put too fine a point on it, was a psychopath whose sadistic lust for blood was not easily quenched. He killed for pleasure."Che was also rabidly racist, ordering the execution of young boys and men without a trial.
So yes, the promo ruffled more than a few Cuban feathers.
Cuban American Ernesto Ariel Suarez took to Facebook and created a page "Tell Mercedes-Benz that it is NOT OK to use the image of a mass murderer."
Daimler did eventually apologize:
"Daimler was not condoning the life or actions of this historical figure or the political philosophy he espoused. We sincerely apologize to those who took offense"
What were they thinking?