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Threat to shut down “Che Café” stirs controversy in California

Costing nearly a million dollars to fix Che Cafe in danger of closing doors
Costing nearly a million dollars to fix Che Cafe in danger of closing doors

Che Café at the University of California-San Diego is close to being closed down (Photo Courtesy of cheunderground.com)

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.

Che Guevera's iconic photo that is worn by millions on shirts and stickers

Che Guevera’s iconic photo “Guerrillero Heroico”( ( Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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.”

Save the Che from Closing petition is going around campus

Students post threads like this asking for support to prevent the potential closing of the Che Café (worldpees.tumblr.com)

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.”

 

 

mattrobertson87@gmail.com

Matt Robertson obtained a BA in History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MA in Museum Studies from Morgan State University in Baltimore. Robertson's a major sports enthusiast, avid golfer, passionate Jets fan and enjoys surfing. He's also a talented barista. Follow him on Facebook/MattRobertson and on Instagram @gingerbeardedbarista.

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5 COMMENTS
  • progressiverevolutionary June 12, 2014

    Press Pass Latino, where is your evidence that Ernesto “Che” Guevara was a “ruthless murderer”? Also, legitimate testimony stands wholly opposed to your ignorant blasphemy. Che, as he was affectionately called by his friends and followers, denounced the United Nation’s inability to halt “brutal policy of apartheid” and the United States’ “…punishing the black population because they demand their legitimate rights as free men…” during the 1960s. This Che is no different from the Che who championed the Cuban Literacy Campaign, in which 707,212 adults were instructed to read and write, and the national literacy rate was elevated to a stunning 96% for a nation in which intellectuals had been persecuted by the previous regime. This Che often labored on thirty-six hour shifts drafting the Agrarian Reform Law, in which agricultural land previously owned by wealthy bourgeois and foreign monopolists was redistributed to deprived and impoverished peasants. This so-called “murderer’ denounced terrorism in his tactical treatise Guerrilla Warfare, writing “We sincerely believe that terrorism of negative value” and “…terrorism, a measure that is generally ineffective and indiscriminate in its results, since it often makes victims of innocent people and destroys a large number of individuals who would be valuable to the revolution.” More life-giver than assassin, Che provided free healthcare to peasants during his campaigns in Cuba, the Congo, and Bolivia. As inscribed in his Bolivian Diary in his tragically penultimate revolutionary struggle, Che describes an occasion when after detaining peasants during a tactically vulnerable situation, “…set the four peasants free, paying each $10 for the day.” Instead of cruelly torturing and executing prisoner as the Barrientos regime of Bolivia did to Che’s comrade Jorge Vázquez Viaña who “after being tortured, was dropped into the woods from a helicopter”, Che’s revolutionaries, after a successful ambush, “set the soldiers free, after giving them a lecture.” Regarding the controversy of the revolutionary tribunals and executions(hypocritically attacked by the United States despite the fact that the United States has executed and will continue to execute far more prisoners than that of Cuba), Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, proclaimed “I have yet to find a single credible source pointing to a case where Che executed ‘an innocent’. Those persons executed by Guevara or on his orders were condemned for the usual crimes punishable by death at times of war or in its aftermath: desertion, treason or crimes such as rape, torture or murder.” Lastly, I do acknowledge Che had a palpable and intense hatred of capitalism, monopolists, and foreign imperialism. Nevertheless, after witnessing countries such as the United States employ subterfuge, assassination, and terrorism to enforce their neo-imperialist agendas and innocent peasants brutalized by autocratic forces, would you not feel a degree of hatred towards those who orchestrated such attacks? Lacking substantial and corroborating evidence, the allegations that Che was a sadistic butcher simply illuminate the desperation of the status quo to erase this valiant social crusader from history and any rational intellectual should dismiss these charges as ludicrous bogus. If you feel the need to expose a “mass murderer”, I suggest you look to the Truman, Lyndon, Nixon, and Reagan administrations.

    P.S. At least don’t be a coward and approve my comment. You can never silence the truth!

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