Che Guevara was known to most as a ruthless murderer but some still view him as an iconic reveloutionary whose image has been plastered on everything from posters to that shirt your neighborhood hipster won’t stop wearing.
Most of these images of Che can be found adorned on college campuses across the country. So, it’s no surprise that a famous university café in California has named itself “Che Café”.
The café is named after Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who was killed in Bolivia in 1967. “El Che” was a key figure in the Cuban Revolution and fought alongside Fidel Castro.
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His legacy remains a contentious problem even decades after his death.
However, the guerilla leader has found posthumous success with later generations. One contributing factor being the “Guerrillero Heroico” image characterized by some as the world’s most famous photograph.
University of California-San Diego students have run the “Che Café Collective” for three decades. The café is a vegan co-op and concert venue boasting “extremely low” prices and volunteer staffing.
The downside to this business model is that the venue is constantly in the red, no pun intended, and has cost the student body at least a million dollars over the years.
Not to mention that it’s currently violating several fire and safety codes, because of this school officials are threatening to shut down the long running campus fixture. But not without a fight, a group of students has organized and is opposed to its closing.
“The venue has been operating for 34 years and its the longest running volunteer space in Southern California, if not all of California,” café volunteer Rene Vera said in an interview with Fox. “And our building is covered in murals that document a lot of that history.”
In its heyday Che Café hosted up-and-coming headliners like Nirvana and Green Day. Volunteer staffers would feed the band with food that was donated and the audience would eat the leftovers.
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Che Café’s business model, though it went against Capitalist notions, worked for a while. Until crowds began to dwindle, the structure of the facility deteriorated, and student groups got tired of subsidizing it.
The student-run newspaper “The Guardian” is quoted as saying:
“Many students also don’t realize that the money being spent on the café’s renovation comes directly from student fees; in other words, we are collectively pouring out one million dollars of our money into repairing a cooperative that the vast majority of us didn’t even use.”
The venues fate was tabled again late Tuesday, however, a decision has yet to be made. It’s the third time the student lead advisory board has met on whether to cut its funding or not.
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“I do not believe Che Café closing will be a severe blow to the campus’ overall aesthetic, ” said soon-to-be graduate Marco Vasquez, a political science major and vice chair of the university’s College Republicans, in an email to a news organization.
“The majority of students that I have spoken to do not know what or where the Che Café is, given that it is on the edge of campus. Those who do know either visit regularly or describe it as creepy.”